1st January 2014
There was an interview with a young sounding British surgeon on PM last night about his experiences doing what he could to help the wounded and dying in Syria. It was unconscionably harrowing. The man said he is not religious. Yet God was available if he needed to speak to him. When in danger of not being able to cope he found himself on a different wavelength and the celestial being was there to help.
A BBC Kent webpage reports this morning that a Margate NHS hosptital is having to leave some patients in A&E for up to 10 hours before they can be admilled to wards, because that department is being clogged up by people with minor ailments. Individuals are turning up in taxis even after they have been advised by ambulance crews that they should obtain treatment from their local pharmacy or GP. The fact that Gang helpers feel obliged to act in that way, when asked by their friends, is no excuse in my view. They should not have got themselves in that position in the first palce. If they have the will power they can extract themselves from having such persuasion applied to them. They are preventing ill people from being properly treated.
I recall the Queen spoke about duty and service in her Christmas Day message. Justin Welby expresses much the same sentiment in his New Year’s address. A duty of his Church to create justice for the poor in our society and to serve those who wish to interact with it. He asks each one of us to try and change the world a bit, for the good of those where we are.
I wrote about Colorado legalising the cultivation and sale of Cannabis on 6th December 2012. From today some 30 stores around the American state will have it on sale, with 136 licensed to do so in the future, to qalifying persons. The substance will be taxed in the same way as alchohol with revenue raised being used for school construction.
I am not quite sure what to make of a BBC webpage I have just read about North Korea. Besides confidently talking about the loss of his uncle as the elimination of fractionalist filth, Kim Jong-un has also referred to South Korea and the US of being warmongers and working frantically to bring nuclear weapons to the Korean peninsular. If that is genuine sentiment my note of 15th December 2013 wasn’t looking at the situation quite right. I can only assume that the back channels are a bit more subterranean than I thought and the leader is not fully aware how his country came into possession of the information about his uncle.
2nd January 2014
For mainly political purposes I am sure Keith Vaz, Labour, and Mark Reckless, Conservative, visited Luton Airport yesterday to greet passengers coming off a plane from Romania. It was just about the first opportunity it’s nationals would have had, under the new immigration rules, to freely come and live in this country if they wished. The two politicians both sit on the Commons Home Affairs Select committee.
The Prince’s Trust, set up by Prince Charles in 1976, wish to help disadvantaged young people make the best of themselves. It has been publicising a survey it has carried out this morning of 2,161 youngsters. 9% agreed they have nothing to live for, rising to 21% for those not in employment, training or education.
I wrote about some of the judiciary’s views on the European Court of Human Rights on Saturday, and 12th December 2013. It seems likely there has also been a discussion going on amongst politicians on the subject behind the scenes. However politics is a complicated picture so what we see now is not necessarily what we might get. The government has announced today it is thinking of changing our law so that the Supreme Court has seniority over ECHR rulings. Mention is made that we might bring in 100 year sentences for some murders as they have in the Sates. However I suspect the devil is in the detail. It appears, if we did that, the prisoner would have a right of review to his term at a later stage which is what the ECHR want. For some reason that provision can’t exist for the present full life terms we have.
Since he had a stroke in 2006 the former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has been in a permanent vegetative state. His doctors have announced today he is now critically ill. It does not appear to me that news is in the public interest. We should be told after he has died not before. I imagine it will be pretty upsetting for members of his family if they see TV satellite vans from all over the world camped outside the hospital when they leave after spending several private hours at his bedside.
Up to 75,000 people have now left their homes because of the fighting in South Sudan. Peace talks are starting in Ethiopia today but neither side can bring themselves to pledge to stop fighting. It is difficult therefore to be optimistic about the situation.
A Russian research ship has been stuck in unexpected pack ice on the edge of Antartica for a few days now. Ice breaking ships have not been able to get through to it. No one owns that continent and countries with outposts there I think do cooperate with each other. It was especially nice to view a Chinese helicpter rescue the passengers today under an Australian organised rescue mission.
In yesterday’s edition of Today BBC correspondents were crystal gazing. Mark Easton feels the issue of our time, especially in this age is social media, is who do we want to be. Should our identities be defensive, thinking just of ourselves or do we want to be part of the advancing world out there. Which way do we want to look. Then we have to decide how to spend any extra GDP that might accumulate this year. That of course is a nice problem to have. Robert Peston said he is worried about the poor performace of the French economy which could have a knock on effect to the whole of the EU. Another tension he detects is between America and Saudi Arabia. Perhaps America wants to become friendly with Iran and the Kingdom could feel threatened by that relationship. It might start doing silly things.
John Lewis had a very good Christmas and naturally it’s managing director wanted to appear on a financial section of Today this morning to tell us all about it. Shop sales only increased by 1.2% but online purchases were up almost 23%. Interestingly though the answer is not to shut any of your stores. Apparently a lot of people walk in though the retailer’s doors to pick up the choice made in their sitting room. The buzz phrase is that bricks and clicks are absolutely connected.
A professor commented on the New Year message given by Kim Jong-un. He said it was made in old fashioned communist terms. It was a very political speech delivered for consumption by his own people.
There was an artistic feel to the edition. The pieces were longer than usual, there was music and prose. The programme ended with a poem delivered with attention seeking emotion going right into the pips, meaning there were no final credits. It was all different and entertaining. Everything was designed by the guest editor and musician P J Harvey MBE. She said her ambition is to make sense of the world through her work.
To illustrate that our financial crash has been nothing new an academic went through the history of the South Sea Bubble affair in 1720. The shares of the company went up from £100 to £1000 in a year then crashed . Some influential people had their fingers burnt so, then as now, an inquiry was set up. Fraud was found going to the very top. Ministers were impeached and the Lord Chancellor imprisoned. Then a financial journalist brings us up to the present day. We are obsessed with bankers yet they only make up 332,00 of the 4 million workers in London. It is the inequality of wealth which enthrals us and since the middle 1980s we have wanted to attract the richest and best paid people in the world. Our capital city has several thousand bankers taking home over £1 million a year each. The next place for that threshold is under 200 for the whole of Germany. London is one of the most unequal cities on the planet. The value of property in the leafy suburb of Elmbridge is as much as all homes in Glasgow. London is a geat place. I love going there. But we do need to ensure every person can afford to live where they want.
A former official was lamenting the ineffectiveness of the UN Security Council. The permanent country members on it are our main players in the world and when difficult decisions arise one or more of them are highly likely to be disadvantaged in some way whichever way a vote should go. With unanimity required for decision making it is hardly surprising nothing ever gets done. The presenter suggests the whole globe should be spit up into representative blocks of land massess. Voting power should be on the basis of population not economic might. That would allow all shades of opinion to be expressed and for ultimate decision making to be truly democratic. Cloud cuckoo land I know but I am irrationally hopeful enough to write it down.
A reflective view of the NHS was given by the founder of Reprieve. He went to a hospital to get feedback on the ground. The staff are proud of what they do. They do wish however that critiscism from managers was a bit more positive. I am sure they would also like their working lives to be slightly easier. The NHS is free to everyone who lives here. At it’s best it creates a public service culture for us all to follow. It can be a beacon for the world.
In his piece on the broadcast the journalist John Pilger reminded us that most of the 9/11 hijackers came from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In his view the country is a source of destabilisation in it’s region. As it is a closed society his argument might well be correct. In writing this note I have discovered that a few days ago it made a $3 billion grant to the Sunni government of Lebanon to fight back against Shia Hezzbollah. The money will be used to buy weapons from France.
Having recorded that I had better mention that about an hour ago I saw there has been a sectarian bomb blast in Beirut today. In a Hezzbollah area five people have been killed and more than 60 killed. I look upon it as the Gang stirring the pot.
Getting back to Today, from a newspaper review I understand Ed Davey has told The Independent the best way to sort out our uncompetitive electicity supply structure is to include it as part of a pan European network. That he believes would circumvent the present set up of entrenched vested interests.
There were two Thought for the Days, one given by the former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. P J Harvey asked him to read one of his poems. Doctor Williams repaid the compliment by talking about the importance of song. It is a good vehicle for expression of one’s genuine emotion. It allows you to say things you otherwise might find difficult to relate.
The editor wanted a discussion about torture. When I wrote of the five techniques employed by the state in Northern Ireland in the 1970s in chapter 10 of my book I did not realise how entrenched that behaviour was in our intelligence services. We acted very badly in human rights terms towards the Mau Mau rebels apparently in Kenya in the 1950s. A lawyer suggested we were still doing similar unlawful things in recent times in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
The second Thought for the Day was read by Julian Assange, no doubt from the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Julian is in a difficult current situation and I thought his words were deep. His message was that knowledge is power. Throughout history it has normally been that those with power decide they do not wish people under them to have good information which of course could challenge their masterful position. That is how he sees the role of our secret intelligence agencies today.
Liam Dutton confirmed on Channel 4 News this evening that it is essentially the speed of the jet stream which is causing our bad weather at the moment. I imagine all that energy is being transferred to the normal westerly winds below. Liam says the indications are the upper level turbulance will quieten down in the middle of the month wnich I hope will help us all.
The programme briefly interviewed the Prime Minister in Southampton where he was visiting a lady who has taken advantage of the goverment’s Help to Buy scheme for first time buyers. 6,000 have now applied in the first two months of the project. Then Faisal Islam went to John Lewis’ flagship London store to ask it’s managing director about the robustness of our nascent consumer led economic recovery.
3rd January 2014
Until I read a BBC webpage this morning I didn’t realise just how limited are the rights of travellers through the United States. Although I don’t think it extends to internal travel, on the country’s borders officials can examine any item you are carrying, without giving a reason, including all items in your suitcase and any laptop hardrive. The computer information can be copied before it is given back to you. Apparently those powers were brought in after 9/11. You could argue of course that if you don’t have anything to hide it doesn’t matter. Even so it does not appear very civilised behaviour if you are a law abiding person. For some it will destroy their trust in officialdom.
A bad snow storm has started in the north eastern USA affecting both New york and Washington. More than 4,000 flights have been cancelled and and wind chill temperatures are down to -25C.
I wrote about the delay in getting Syrian chemical wepons to Lataki on Tuesday. It seems the containers for transporting them are American and the trucks being used, Russian. Today reported this morning that Chinese and Russian ships are also going to Cyprus to help with the evacuation. It is openly said the intention is to show political cohesiveness.
To fit in with the Big Data story it was highlighted on Today that pharmaceutical companies have always been selective with the trial information they publish when applying to have a new drug passed for public use. The suspicion is they only divulge details which they consider assist the success of their product. I would agree that is quite small minded.
On Christmas Eve 2012 Alan Greaves was beaten to death in an unprovoked attack as he walked to play the organ at a church service in Sheffield. His widow was on the broadcast. I think she displayed great emotional intelligence. It would be impossible for her not to feel badly, to some extent, towards the two young men who did it. Yet she is content to say she forgives them, as God would. She uses reasoning which matches the emotions within her. That then all ties in with what she perceives is the right thing to believe.
The subject of obesity was also covered. It occurs throughout the world apparently when people move out of poverty. One in three people on the planet are now obese or overweight. The view was put forward that there is no reason why excessive saturated fat, salt and sugar in unhealthy food should not be taxed in exactly the same way as tobacco or alchohol. Currently healthy food is far more expensive than the junk we put down our throats. The interviewee said it is the world turned upside down.
An interesting item was about a change in the law in Cuba. People are now able to buy any imported car of their choice. Previously they would use all sorts of tricks to get around the strict rules. The guest opinioned it could help society generally. To act in a criminal way will not be quite as acceptable as before.
4th January 2014
There was a discussion between BBC correspondents on Radio 4 at lunchtime looking into the year ahead. I felt there was general unease about what the unexpected might bring, elections in Europe and America for example. Then there are the tensions between China and Japan. It would only take one hot headed general to put the most massive cat amongst the pidgeons. Lyse Doucet raised the possibility that the health of Ayatollah Khomeini might suddenly fail. If that happens of course all bets on a positive outcome for the Iranian nuclear talks are off. Both Lyse and James Robbins were cautiously optimistic for progress in talks between Palestinians and Israelis. I was pleased to hear Mark Mardell say that, although he thinks Turkey will have a difficult year, it’s government will remain stable.
The person taken out to lunch in Paris in last Saturday’s FT was 69 year old Elisabeth Badinter, the daughter of the founder of the Publicis advertising agency. Ms Badinter refers to herself as a bizarre feminist. She strongly disagrees with the new French law restricting prostitution which I wrote about on 2nd November 2013. She says if a woman wants to rent out her body that is no one’s business except her own. I agree with that sentiment.
There was an interesting interview with a South Sudanese minister on Today this morning. Mishal Hussain was clearly able to establish with the gentleman that he saw no need to offer any compromises in the Addis Abbaba peace talks. That responsibility was entirely for the rebels to fulfil. If that really is the case it is clear many more innocent people will suffer and probably die.
Following my note about Alan Greaves’ widow yesterday Today wanted to pursue the concept of forgiveness on this morning’s programme. They spoke to two lady relatives affected by the Brighton and 7/7 bombings. They agreed that to show kindness to evil is the personal concept of the individual concerned. If affected people can marry in all their conflicting emotions to conclude they forgive that is fine. However it is by no means the best course for everyone.
An item squashed out of the edition when Michael Palin was guest editor was broadcast this morning. He was interested to know how it goes when journalists and politicians meet over lunch. Nick Robinson spoke to Tessa Jowell, Menzies Campbell and Ken Clarke in a busy restaurant. It is a symbiotic, gossipy relationship. Nick emphasised the essence is building trust so each side can pass on confidences helpful to the other and know it will go no further. I read elsewhere this morning that journalists report the news, they do not make it. Nevertheless Nick said it is not uncommon for a print journalist to construct a contentious front page story from unattributed sources. Broadcast journalists however are out there in the visual eye of the public. Such practices are not possible for them.
It does seem to me though that popular newspapers are now more interested in real news than they used to be. I see the Daily Mail have sent FoI requests to all NHS trusts. From the 86 who replied they have been able to publish a story this morning that 36 employ GPs in their A&E departments. Payments for 12 hour shifts ranged from £600 to £1440. You could call that moonlighting or look upon it as something a bit more sinister.
Michael Schumacher’s condition is critical but stable. Although his family and friends clearly do not want to tempt fate it seems likely he will survive. My guess is they are being treated entirely correctly by the authorities. However within that they have picked up the police are extremely keen to try and find out whther Michael’s present state is natural or not. The family have given them his ski helmet with camera on and have allowed his son to be interviewed.
The radio news reported that the government are funding, to the tune of £25 million, the hiring of mental health workers in police stations and courts to counsel those who might benefit from their services. The pilot will run in 10 areas initially.
5th January 2014
America is under the weather cosh at the moment. From a BBC forecast I have just watched, a winter storm is currently runing up the east of the country towards the Great Lakes. Beind that are warm southerly air flows which could cause quick and extreme snow melt in the Washington and New York areas. Tomorrow a blast of cold air from the artic will come straight down to the plains then envelope the whole of the east down to the coast. In places, with the wind chill factor, temperatures are expected to get down to a record breaking -50C. Ten minutes exposure of your extremities in those conditions would give you frost bite.
I went to my local town this morning on a somewhat bizarre errand for a friend of a friend. The train station is currently being modernised and a big crane was lifting a new footbridge into place. When I drove over the road bridge about 100 yards away there wasn’t much going on. Even so a dozen people stood there watching. In previous times it would have struck me as odd but I would have thought no more about it. Today I look upon those people as predominantly Gang helpers doing favours for their friends. I think it probably also produces a certain type of mind set. Without Gang influence I suspect we would have less social media trolls and not so many would be interested in the misfortune of others as they drive past motorway accidents.
Following my note on Thursday I read this morning that a US ice breaker is to help out the now two ice bound ships in Antartica at the request of the Australians, Russians and Chinese. The American ship was on it’s way to Antartica via Australia but wasn’t due to arrive yet. Safety of life at sea is always it’s priority the US Coast Guard statement says.
It is reported today that Al-Qaeda militants with the help of local tribes have taken control of Fallujah about 40 miles west of Baghdad. John Kerry has said he is confident it will be recaptured. He said America will do everything it can to help, short of sending troops to the country.
Ed Miliband has highlighted our strange relationship with immigrant labour today. Apparently some employment agencies only use foreign workers from cheap cost countries. Employers naturally wish to keep their labour charges low. The Labour leader contends the practice is putting unfair downward pressure on the pay of UK employees.
I heard it mentioned on the radio this morning that Douglas Alexander had written a piece in the Daily Telegraph just before Christmas suggesting that politicians should speak out more about the persecution of Christians in the Middle East. I mentioned Prince Charles’ comments about the subject on 18th December 2013. Looking at the article I see the shadow Foreign Secretary said the Prince appeared to be a lone voice.
Some people are arguing apparently that we should pay compensation for our slave trading activities over 200 years ago. The driving force on behalf of the Carribean nations is the pro vice chancellor of the University of the West Indies. He was interviewed from Barbados on the World this Weekend at lunchtime. He is totally sincere in his views in my opinion. My worry though is that he is being manipulated by some pretty dark minded gentlemen.
Just before that both a minister at the London Japanese embassy and and his counterpart at the Chinese embassy accepted invitations to speak about the present differences of view over each other’s nationalistic aspirations. That is a very civilised approach and I was pleased to listen to their arguments.
6th January 2014
There is a clip from BBC televison on one of their webpages this morning about the American weather. It is all down to the jetsteam again. Because it has been running so strongly this season it has trapped all the cold air over the Artic ice cap. That has been building up into a great mass. Now that the upper atmosphere wind is easing off it is allowing that cold air to escape. Because of it’s high density and size it will spread further south than it has for 20 years.
There is a call today for there to be a single inquiry into the now established sexual and child abuse Jimmy Saville carried out during his career, and why is was never stopped. I think that would be a good idea. Apparently there are over 30 investigations being carried out, including charities, the BBC and every NHS Trust. The concern is that any one on it’s own will not be able to get to a full assessment. If a single examiner does look into it I believe they will find it an extremely complicated picture going to the essence of why human beings act as they do. I suspect the answer would come down to motive; and fear. Fear that your own misdeeds might come out, or your own cosy practices, or that you could become a target for for some harsh words, or it might just make life that little more difficult for you that it already is. If it does ever happen it would be a tale of our times I believe, what makes us as we are. Something the Gang know only too well. You assess an individual, pinpoint their emotional and psychological weaknesses and take advantage of them. It is a process which has always worked like a dream for them, at least that is until recent times.
Quite a few barristers and solicitors are not working today in protest at the government’s planned changes to reduce their income for representing defendents on legal aid in criminal trials. The politicians say we should all be tightening our belts at the moment, the lawyers that you cannot buy justice on the cheap. The two sides give you conflicting information so it is difficult to decide which has the best case. Apparently there is a complex fraud trial in progress at Southwark Crown Court at the moment which might collapse because no barristers can be found, from 17 chambers approached, to act for some of the defendants at such low rates.
When she was out doing some cross country skiing with her bodyguards in Switzerland over Christmas Angela Merkel took a heavy fall. She went to the doctors on Friday and found she has fractured a bone in her pelvis. She will have to take it quietly over the next three weeks and intends to work from home.
The Gang can come up with some incredibly complicated schemes when they are not under pressure. The Great Great Train Robbery is an example in my view. The public players are always innocent so there are no beans to spill. The objective is destabilisation. And invariably there will be at least one victim. This time it was Yvonne Fletcher killed by a guman shooting from the Libyan embassy in London in April 1984 whilst she was policing a demonstration there. The story comes out in secret state papers released last week under the 30 years passage of time rule. The evening before it happened the British ambassador in Tripoli was called into their foreign ministry and told the protest must not go ahead. He did the right thing and passed the warning onto London. Libyan officials in the UK also went to our Foreign Office with the same message. If our authorities had taken action they would have been preventing free speech, as it was they ignored a true prediction. As a nice little twist GCHQ also intercepted a message planning the killing. However that wasn’t passed onto their masters until after after the event. On reflection perhaps, if you have the capacity to do something like that the execution is in fact very straightforward and simple. I win and you lose whatever the outcome.
Today this morning was a joint venture between Radio 4 and the BBC World Service. It came from the latter’s Lagos studio with Evan Davis being there for the duration. Amongst various discussions was one with the trade and investment minister. Evan suggested that for a country of great natural and human resoureces Nigeria’s recent history evey since independence in 1960 is one of false dawns, mainly down to political instability and corruption. His interviwee said that this time the quality of leadership will not let that happen.
For the first time I heard the acronym Mint on the broadcast. It stands for Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey, five counties who have the potential to be some of our economic giants of the future.
George Osborne was on the edition. With the general election some way off, but in the mode, he wanted to talk about values not specific policies. As the chancellor he is the prudent holder of our purse strings. There are still hard economic measures to come such as cutting public spending by £25 billion. His decision to increase the state retirement age, to 67 for both sexes by 2028, in line with life expectation has alone saved the country £500 billion.
I wrote about the blocked gap in the hedge with my neighbour’s garden on 27th October 2013. Since then the wooden barricade has been put back up but it is by been no means stable. As I walk past it every morning I have seen it gradually lean from vertical towards my lawn. It was obvious at some point it would fall over onto my land. That duly happened just before Christmas whilst I was in my garden office but out of it’s sight. I noticed the result as I was going out somewhere. However I made sure my feelings did not get the better of me. No mention was made to anyone I saw on that trip. I left it where it was when I went away for Christmas. It had been reconstructed by the time I got back. That day was when I found the lane outside shut for the power outage as I mentioned on 26th December. The road was opened on 28th December but the blue police accident board and the red road closed sign were left on the verge near my top gate. I moved them up to the top road where I hoped they would attract enough attention for removal. When I next went out they were back in their original position. And so the toing and froing process started. Every time I was out there, and they had been moved, I put them where I wanted. Then someone else, possibly my neighbour but I doubt it, within a few hours showed me they were not happy with that. I was content with the little game which was doing no one any harm, until my adversary upped the stakes. Within the last few days I have noticed my neighbour’s fence infilling is leaning again, this time towards his garden. I am waiting for the torrent of abuse when he notices, thinking I am the culprit. He has probably been led to believe I am in some sort of opposing gang scheming against his best interests. That is a scenario we have seen for deacades amongst the drug gangs of Mexico. There is no reason though, in my view, why it should not also apply in the leafy lanes of Kent.
Then this morning the dustmen did not pick up my two dustbin sacks by the gate on their normal weekly visit. I expect that was my mistake with it being just after Christams. However by mid morning when I went out there were three on the ground. I have little doubt the third is my neighbour’s. I have brought them inside until next week. Whether he has been part of the local gang decision to do that I am not sure but I expect not. When you trust your friends you come to understand that you are excluded from knowledge of some plans for your own protection. Nevertheless when things start to get to such a heated stage the law of unintended consequences can arise I believe. I have thought it best to remove the source of the friction. When I went out this afternoon I dropped in the two signs to my local police station. They were suitably thankful, and embarrassed. If there are more notable developments on the story I shall let my diary know.
Last Monday’s FT reported that the first fatality on the Lebsnaese-Israeli border since 2010 happened on 16th December 2013. An Isaeli soldier was shot by a Lebanese military man over some form of dispute.
The editorial suggests a rising economy makes a lot of difference to how people think. If Americans do start feeling better off President Obama might find it a lot easier to push through policies which currently he finds extremely difficult.
I have referred several times now to a heavy black and white helicopter which flies around here occasionally. I read a website this evening which identifies it as the Kent Air Ambulance. I am pretty sure I have also seen it in the skies over London so perhaps it does things up there as well.
7th January 2014
There was a disturbance involving up to 20 prisoners at HMP Oakwood near Wolverhampton on Sunday afternoon. It is Britain’s largest prison, opened in April 2012 and is run by G4S. I heard a managing director of part of the company on Today this morning say he was there on Thursday when the atmosphere was good. Apparently the cost of our penal system can be £100,000 a year for each prisoner in our older establishments lowering to as little as £15,000 for the newer ones.
There is a BBC webpage up this morning saying 350 police officers have been removed from their posts in Ankara under allegations of corruption. The chiefs of the units investigating fraud, smuggling and organised crime have also been dismissed. I am pleased the artical refers to no political comment from Prime Minister Erdogan at all. I feel that is the correct apoproach.
Last Tuesday’s FT notes that on New Year’s day Latvia would adopt the euro, the 18th country to join the currency zone. Lithuania is hoping to sign up in 12 months’ time. However there are no more countries lined up after that.
The present position in Iraq was covered by Channel 4 News last night and Today this morning. The comment by the radio contributor was that Mr Maliki is not a competent politician. He has alienated the Sunni’s in his country so that they have turned to al-Qaeda for succour. The terrorists have said thank you very much and are in the process of creating an Islamic state on the borders of Iraq and Syria. Even so the suggestion was that if America had given the Iraqi prime minister more support he would not have become so sectarian in his outlook.
Although it is early days, and I can’t quite put my finger on it, you do get a sense this year that the nature of politics is changing. For a start all those we elect seem to be happy that voters are the ones in charge. We may be silly in many ways but we are well able to say what we feel when asked and actually I think are a lot more sensible than many politicians have previously given us credit for.
One of today’s main stories is about immigration. A British Social Attitudes Survey shows 75% of us think immigration should be cut. In many ways new blood in our society is good for us but, perhaps through a lack of past leadership, we do not see it that way. It has become a frightening subject, for us and for those who should have been creating a debate. As far as Nigel Farage is concerned the job of trying to demonise him has ended. He represents a real constituency. If you rubbish him you rubbish those people as well. Nick Robinson presented a TV programme on BBC 2 about the subject this evening. He had a really good line up of senior politicians of all hues quietly and calmly putting their point of view and giving historical context. All accepted the issue is a problem for citizens of this country.
That leads me to my second point. I have a hunch our political class are beginning to feel more confident. Yes, they are watching each other like hawks and you should rigorously oppose in a vibrant democracy. But with a certainty of direction it isn’t quite so important to say shout yaboo at each other all the time. Hopefully Parliamentarians know where they want to go to and know how to get there.
8th January 2014
All four crew members were killed last night when a US airforce helicopter from RAF Lakenhealth crashed. The model was a Pave Hawk used in search and rescue missions. It went down in a wildlife nature reserve on the north Norfolf coast.
This morning it was announced that Labour MP Paul Coggins, aged 60, has died. He was out running with his son on 31st December 2013, I think near his home in Manchester, when he became unwell.
On Sunday the Guardian journalist and parliamentary sketchwriter Simon Hoggart died aged 67. He was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer three and a half years ago.
A director of the Wellcome Trust was on Today this morning talking about antibiotic resistance. I thought he expressed it imaginatively when he said that if bugs are attacked by a medicine the only thing they can do to protect themselves is to mutate and evolve into a form which can’t be touched: a germ’s eye view of the world if you like. As time goes by our continuing good health gets nearer and nearer the edge as I wrote on 14th December 2013. It is only a matter of time before it falls off.
Early on the programme was a discussion about sexual education and the principle of consent. The lady from the Sex Education Forum was saying the idea goes much deeper than just sex itself. She posed the question whether it is alright for a five year old to be pushed into giving granny a kiss. I would put it in the form that there is nothing wrong with making the suggestion to the child but if it doesn’t want to comply no one should be embarrassed or upset. A little one was asked to kiss me over Christmas and declined. I thought it was perfectly natural. The youngster just did not know me well enough to go along with the idea.
9th January 2014
It has been revealed today that on 23rd May 2013 a Sikorsky herlicopter had to make an unexpected landing at Denham aerodrome in Buckinghamshire. It was taking Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall to the Hay festival in Wales. The couple continued their journey by road. A loss of hydraulic oil pressure had made the craft unstable. The Air Accidents Investigation Branch say the cause was a fractured metal ball which split open allowing oil to flow past. It seems likely the fault had been present since the component had been manufactured. It could have failed at any time.nationally
The first nationally publicised incident of an A&E department being swamped by too many patients has come through. It happened last night at the Royal Victoria hospital in Belfast. Some patients had to wait for many hours before being seen. Extra nurses and doctors were broght in under the hospital’s major incident plan and the situation was brought under control. Fortunately there were no big accidents in the city during the period which would have made things so much worse.
Yesterday the 10 person Coroner’s court jury decided that Mark Duggan was lawfully killed by the police on 4th August 2011. It seems in order to reach that end conclusion they were also asked to decide on the intermediary steps. Those were that Mark did have a gun in the car with him but that when he was shot he only had a mobile phone in his hand. Consequently they believed the policeman that he feared for his life when he pulled the trigger even though Mark was not armed at the time. I am happy with that. It is a fine judgement to make and they heard all the evidence not me.
I have heard that the riots only started after the IPCC incorrectly briefed the media that Mark had been killed in a firefight and did not withdraw the statement as soon as they knew it was wrong. That misinformation caused Mark’s family and friends to march down to the police station to vehemently protest. Indeed I suspect immediately his car had been stopped Mark realised he was being set up. As soon as he could he threw his gun away over a fence so it could not be used as an excuse for making the first blow. Unfortunately it still didn’t help him.
This morning the Metropolitian Police have tried to tread the difficult line of moving forward in a positive way. They are supporting their officers, respecting the decision of the jury but recognising the deep hurt felt by Mark’s family and supporters who feel they have not received justice. Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe is meeting community leaders this morning. In future he wants firearms officer to wear cameras on their helmets so there can’t be any dispute about what happened at serious incidents. Boris Johnson points out that over the last four years armed police were activated 10,000 times but only fired on six occassions.
I remember in October 2012 seeing the Republican governor of New Jersey Chris Christie survey the storm damage in the New York area with Democratic president Barack Obama caused by Hurricane Sandy. I thought the opposing politicians standing together in time of national misfortune presented a constructive example. However I expect the Gang had a very different outlook. It has probably rankled with them ever since to see a human bipartisan approach like that.
It was on the radio news this morning that emails and texts have been made available to American media showing that an aide of Mr Christie deliberately arranged for two of the three lanes leading to the George Washinton Bridge, taking traffic from New Jersey to New York, to be closed for several days last September under cover of a traffic study. Gridlock was produced over the period in the borough of Fort Lee. The allegation is that it was payback to the Democratic mayor there for refusing to support Mr Christie’s re-election campain for New Jersey which he comfortably won two months later. Mr Christie says he had no idea what his lieutenants were doing. I expect that is probably correct, however it will likely be politically very damaging for the possible White House candidate. It reminds me of the Damion McBride story we had in No 10 Downing Street in April 2009.
Today is the first time we have been without any severe weather warnings in force since 1st Decemeber 2013. There will be flood warnings around though for a bit yet.
The BBC London website has this evening alerted me to a story about the sisters acquitted of fraud in the Saatch-Lawson trial. In the 1980s their father went to jail in Italy for 15 years after carrying out kidnappings for the ‘Ndrangheta Mafia clan. I wrote about the ‘Ndrangheta on 1st and 2nd May 2013. He has now been arrested again for alleged Mafia linked crimes related to drugs and extortion in the Milan area.
I saw a very interesting story this evening about a lady who was punched and raped by a sixteen year old youth on her way home from work in 2006. She has forgiven him and told him so in prison. Her name and photograph are on the BBC webpage. My reading of the situation is that the woman is a much stronger person that the man. She quickly realised that he acted out of weakness. It was more a reflection of the sadness of our society than a personal thing. I think she will have found it empowering that she had it within herself to turn the metaphoric table on her attacker through kindess.
In the early 1990s Fergus and Judith Wilson, two teachers from south London, started investing in property in Ashford and Maidstone using buy to let mortgages. They currently own nearly 1,000 homes. They have been interviewed a couple of times this week on Channel 4 News because they have decided to end the shorthold tenancies of all their tenants whom they are aware are receiving housing benefit. Their justification for the action is that 52% of that category are in arrears with their rent; a bit hard though on the other 48%. I have no doubt Mr and Mrs Wilson are genuine but I believe their thought processes are erroneous. They are doing what is possible in a Gang influenced world.
I have just heard an audio clip of David Cameron giving his combined support to Mark Duggan’s aunt, who asked for calm on Today this morning, Sir Bernard Hogan Howe and the principle of British justice.
Another piece on the programme was about the rise of supermarket dark stores. They are branches on the high street which customers never enter. They just pick up their orders at the front desk which have been made online. Employees walk up and down the ailes packing them for collection.
Last Friday’s FT said the 1,600 French and 4,500 African troops in the Central African Republic do not seem to be containing the violence there. An estimate is made that possibly a force of another 4,000 is needed. There aren’t any countries queuing up to assist though. Channel 4 News reported this evening that the president has just left for a conference in Chad. However no one is quiet sure whether he intends to return.
10th January 2014
I wrote about Colorado and Washington State legalising the use of cannabis on 6th December 2013 and 1st January 2014. The editorial in last Saturday’s FT remarks the change is likely to lose Mexico’s drug cartels about $3 billion in revenue over an unspecified period. The paper says it, and I am sure lots of us, will be watching keenly to see how the experiment goes.
In the magazine Gillian Tett suggests we should all try and be a bit more honest, with ourselves and others, when we do not understand what is said to us. It is extremely easy to become confused by gobbledygook. The example she gives is where a computer geek recommends a new technical system to a board of directors. He sounds very plausible so they trust him and nod the project through. However of course it is their responsibilty to get the venture right. If it goes wrong they are the ones who should be carrying the can. If they don’t understand they should say so, ask questions and persist until they do. In essence it is probably how the financial crash happened.
Monday’s FT notes that New York is set to become the 21st American state to allow the use of marijuana in it’s medical establishments. It will be prescribed to alleviate the pain associated with such serious illnesses as cancer and glaucoma.
Jessica Ennis has announced today she will miss the Commonwealth Games in July because she has fallen pregnant. She says the news is unexpected but she and her husband are thrilled. Although it is obviously a complete guess I wonder if contraception which the couple were entitled to expect would work, did not in fact do so. Someone told me once, who also became pregnant not by design, that by coincidence a new birth was anticipated by several of her friends all at roughly the same time.
10th January 2014
After hearing a radio newspaper review I have read this morning’s online Independent. It refers to Operation Tiberius from 2002 in which a small group of officers led by Andy Hayman investigated corruption within the Metropolitan Police. Their report identified 80 bad individuals with links to the underworld including 42 serving officers and 19 former detectives. It was all pretty brazen with some officers sharing ownership of properties and racehorses with one of Britain’s leading criminals. Indeed it was so bad just about the best response the report could think of was to put all the outed criminals within the police into their own unit where someone could keep a close eye on them. A senior officer who has just retired from the force has told the paper the Met is every bit as corrupt now as it was 12 years ago.
I am interested to know why the story has come out at this point. I would like to think it is because the Met’s leadership have sufficient confidence to allow it to happen. Whether that is wishful thinking though, I am not sure.
On 7th December 2013 I noted about the Civil Aviation Authority ruling on future landing charges at London’s three airports. It now appears that was only an interim decision with the final determination announced today. It is removing all oversight from Stansted, capping increased fees at Heathrow to a rate below inflation and reducing the amount of return on capital investment at Gatwick. Operators of the last two airports are not happy and might appeal. At Stansted the owner is content. However Ryanair, the largest user of the airport is aggrieved. They feel threatened because they suspect Manchester Airports Group will effectively be able to put up their charges to pretty much what they can get away with.
John Rizzo retired from the CIA in 2009. Soon after 9/11 he became Acting General Counsel. In the following year he was asked to give his legal stamp of approval to it’s leadership’s wish to conduct enhanced interrogation techniques, such as waterboarding, on supects which the spies were picking up around the world. My information has come from an interview he gave on Newsnight last night. It was a long time ago and I felt he wanted to make a clean breast of things. I don’t think he is proud of what happened. He speaks of walking around the CIA building wondering what he should do for the best. Quite naturally in my view he succumbed to the pressure which was being imposed on him. It was unfair he should have had to have taken all that weight on his shoulders. Barack Obama shut down the programme when he became President in 2009. In it’s place he greatly expanded the unmanned aerial vehicle or drone operation. Mr Rizzo points out that arrangement constitutes extrajudical killing without the direct involvement of human hand.
Kevin Connolly authored a piece on Today this morning about Jonathon Pollard who was convicted in America in 1987 of spying for Israel. Mr Pollard is due to be releaased from prison next year. I feel Kevin wanted to highlight the consequences of how humans are with each other. The Israelis were happy to pay Mr Pollard for his secrets and as such they really can’t complain if Edward Snowden’s files show the Americans have been spying on them too. If you don’t trust your friends you should not be surprised when you find out they don’t trust you either. It does seem though there is a train of thought in Israel that in a post Snowden world Mr Pollard should be set free because he has done no worse than many others. I think that is confusing the difference between right and wrong.
Channel 4 are showing a documentary series at the moment called Benefits Street. It is about the people who live in an inner city road in Birmingham several of whom are on state benefits. There was an episode on last night which concentrated apparently on a petty criminal and shoplifter resident. A BBC reporter visited the houses and obtained the upset comments of many householders who felt their situation hadn’t been fairly represented. I feel Today also thought it might be beneficial to obtain a detached inpartial view, in the form of an advocate. The person chosen for the broadcast was Ann Begg, chair of the Commons Work and Pensions Committee. I thought she spoke very well.
They was a discussion on the edition as to whether the government undersold Royal Mail when it privatised it three months ago. The share price now is 70% more than the flotation level which would have realised £1.4 billion more than actually obtained. Robert Peston’s view is that ministers were given pretty dreadful advice from their retained brokers UBS, Goldman Sachs and Lazards. If a form of auction process had been used we would probably all now be that little bit richer.
The was an interesting interview about us having driverless cars in the reasonably near future. I have often thought travelling along the motorway that if we were all going at the same speed with uniform distancing, the capacity of the same road would be increased no end. I feel to have robotic control, on motorways at least, would be an extremely good idea.
Richard Haass has tried to increase the pressure on Northern Ireland politicians by saying it was the two unionist and Alliance parties who would not accept his compromise proposals to settle some differences in the Province. Peter Robinson has quickly said though that Mr Haas is talking out of turn. I heard it said on the evening radio news that nothing is now likely to happen until elections this spring.
The diplomatic protection group police officer who emailed his MP to say he witnessed, as a passer by, Andrew Mitchell verbally abuse the No 10 police officer, has pleaded guilty at court today. When sentenced I understand his counsel will plead the gentleman has poor mental health. I heard Michael Crick say on Channel 4 News this evening that in a way Mr Michell would have preferred a not guilty plea so that all sides’ arguments would have been heard. As it is he will have to wait for his libel case against The Sun to come to court, for that partially to happen.
11th January 2014
The vigil for Mark Duggan outside Tottenham police station this afternoon with up to 500 people, went off without incident. Earlier the police had let it be known they had intelligence some troublemakers would be there and they had provided for all eventualities. A BBC webpage reports that during the speeches senior officers were within the crowd. In my mind that signals calm confidence and an open interest to hear what was being said. The officers knew they would come to no harm. The Gang will not have been pleased at all.
The French edition of Closer magazine invaded the privacy of Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge in September 2012 when they took photos of them sunbathing on private property. They have been at it again this week snapping pictures of the French President on a street in Paris. Mr Hollande has also called it an infringement of his privacy. I think however that is pushing it a bit. Especially as the publication has shown him disguising himself behind a motorbike helmet. If he thought he had something to hide, and was acting in a childish way, I am not sure he can complain too much. In my view he should make a clean breast of things to all concerned.
That being said I suspect if he hadn’t asked his people to try and get to the bottom of how Michael Schumacher’s injuries came about he might still be enjoying his privacy now. The Gang don’t like being challenged. As for all of us he is entitled, within reason, to do whatever he likes. But not in such a way that he feels guilty about it. A man of his standing should not play Russian roulette with the fortunes of his public in that way.
Ariel Sharon has died today at the age of 85.
I was with my bonfire at the bottom of the garden this moring about 50 yards from the house and within sight of it. Whilst there I believe someone entered my home from the other side. I think that because when I came in for a coffee the power supply to the radio in the kitchen had been turned off, not as I had left it. Last night when I got back the setting on my bed electric blanket had changed. Then there are the light bulbs I am getting though at the moment, so many I am now keeping a record. Most, if not all those things are being carried out by a youth I do not know, I suspect, under 16. If he is unlucky enough to be caught, and I tell the police, I expect they would give him a good ticking off and tell him not to do it again. It would be nice to think that as he gets older he will change his ways.
Yesterday the Muslim acting President and Prime Minister of the Central African Republic resigned whilst they were at their Chadadian meeting. They had taken power last January after the Seleka uprising in the country. The fighting though is still continuing. Today an evacuation of foreign nationals has started arranged by the International Organisation for Migration.
It has been officially announced that no mayday was sent by the pilot of the crashed US helicopter from RAF Lakenheath on Tuesday. The craft was crewed by two sergeants and two captains. This morning’s radio news reported that the American Air Force Office of Special Investigations is examining whether nine lieutenants and one captain have been involved in acquiring and holding illegal drugs. The officers are based at five US air bases as well as RAF Lakenheath. I see the story broke in America on Thursday.
With the Winter Olympics soon to start, Today had a piece this morning about gene doping. Some diseases, such as muscle wasting conditions, can be traeted by genetic manipulation. In this world where, if it is possible it will happen some athletes apparently are injecting themselves with such substances irrespective of the risk to their own long term health.
It was an interesting edition of Farming Today This Week on Radio 4 this morning. As a property surveyor I have had involvement with commercial leases. I feel they are divisive and stacked against the tenant’s interests. Any service charges are normally excessive and rent charged invariably can only go up not down. I was pleased therefore to hear a land agent talk about the concept of share farming on the programme. It is where an agricultural landlord and tenant not only share in the revenues of the business conducted on the land but also in any increase in property value that the tenant’s endeavours, or good fortune, produce.
The programme visited the plebgate affair a couple of times once with Ken Livingston, and Michael Ellis of the Home affairs Select Committee. Mr Livingstone, it seemed to me, wished to bring up some old grievances and present the story as the radical left of politics battling the establishment right. I feel the issue is too important to be presented in that way.
After that Hazell Blears MP and a former black police officer contributed to the discussion. She said how important neighbourhood policing is to community involvement and interest in law and order. He thought senior officers should be prepared to get out their hands dirty on the street so they can fully appreciate what is going on.
Earlier one of Mr Mitchell’s friends also used the word establishment saying that last autumn it had distanced itself from him, in his hour of need, for it’s own convenience. I think he is probably right. However you can see why it happens. It is just one of those things. I saw my GP on Thursday, who I look upon as a friend, and chided him that I am perfectly capable of looking after myself. If anyone wishes to show me support I will naturally welcome it with open arms. But I am not going to cry over the spilt milk about it.
To argue against myself though perhaps, I was quite shocked how unfocused the discussion on Any Questions was at lunchtime about plebgate. All that has happened so far is an off duty policeman has admitted he has lied. He could have been a fireman, an ambulance driver or a banker. The on duty policeman says it is Mr Mitchell who lied. I am at a loss therefore to understand why so many people say trust in the police has been shattered over that one incident. It is much more of a cumulative thing I feel. When Jonathan Dimbleby asked his audience in the London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea whether their trust of the police was waning just over half apparently agreed. However I suspect they were thinking as much about the Mark Duggan inquest as plebgate. Anyway with a perception like that perhaps I should tear up all the copies of my book in the garage and throw them away.
Last month the all party Commons European Scrutiny Committee recommended we introduce legislation so that we can reject any old or new EU laws we don’t like. As publicised in today’s Sunday Telegraph 95 Conservative MPs have written to the Prime Minister pressing the point home. William Hague has said you cannot pick and chose like that, it would make the single market unworkable. Chris Grayling remarks it is not a realistic proposal.
After the Geneva agreement with Iran on 24th November 2013 technical talks between the sides have proceded. They have gone well. The political announcement has come today. On 20th January the interim deal for Iran to stop enriching and neutralise some of it’s uranium, in return for western concessions on sanctions, will come into effect. The position on the ground in Iran will be monitored by the IAEA. Talks for a comprehensive permanent settlement will then start. Whether the announcement has got anything to do with a four person Parliamentary group which visited Iran on a goodwill mission on Tuesday, led by Jack Straw, I am not sure.
A radio newspaper review mentioned this morning that the Sunday Times passes on that BBC Worldwide are negotiating with North Korea to show various lightweight programmes on their state television. The British Broadcasting Corporation are being advised by the Foreign Office. That is what soft power is all about I suppose.
There didn’t seem to be much on so I watched The Golden Age of Steam Railways on BBC Four this evening. It featured the Talyllyn narrow gauge railway in mid Wales. It was built to take slate from the quarry down to the coast and also provided a passenger service. Mining ceased in 1946. A railway society took over the track in 1951 and started to use it as a tourist attraction. In 1957 the BBC visited and broadcast live from the railway. Their archives show Huw Wheldon interviewing a local dignitary near the line. Some out of contol sheep, barking dogs and a man with a shepherd’s crook mill about in the background spoiling the whole effect. It made me think of my note about Jon Snow of 9th July 2013. The Gang are very set in their ways. They currently face quite a few challenges. Unless they adapt they will wither away.
After that I turned over to watch BBC One and the last episode of Sherlock. I wasn’t following it particularly but I did prick up my ears when I heard Sherlock say to John Watson that they were off to meet the most dangerous man they had ever come across. The security of the United Kingdom depended on them. The man was a newspaper proprietor with easy access to top politicians. Before Sherlock shot him dead when they got to his home the man had a face to face conversation with John. He started flicking John’s cheek with the nail of his index finger, sprung each time from the hold of his thumb. He said that if John did not allow him to do it he would suffer personal Armageddon. The man said he did the same thing to whole countries all the time. At the end we realised the man was not the Godfather we thought he was after all. A younger man told every live televison screen in the country that we should await retribution. The story continues.
I forgot to mention it at the time but Paul Duggan lived on the Broadwater Farm Esate a few miles from Tottenham police station. It was where PC Keith Blacklock was stabbed to death by a riotous crowd in 1985.
13th January 2014
From a ten most popular BBC webpage this morning I see that last night’s episode of Sherlock was watched by an average of 8.8 million viewers. That is a heck of a lot of people to get subliminal messages about what goes on in this world, and how good ultimately triumps over evil.
The Daily Mail have reported extra developments in the Madeline McCann enquiry today. Last week the police wrote to Portuguese authorities asking for specific information in accordance with international protocols. My suspicion is that our intelligence services have told them what they should be asking. It seems that in the five months before Madeline disappeared in 2007 there was a four fold increase in burglaries in Praia da Luz. It seems we want to question three named individuals who might have been responsible for some of those crimes. Of course once you have committed wrong like that you are an easy blackmail target.
Mark Bridger has today dropped his appeal, set for 24th January, against his sentence for the murder of April Jones. That means he, and anyone who wanted to watch his application, will no longer need to travel to the Royal Courts of Justice in London for the case.
An inquiry set up by Northern Ireland’s politicians starts today to investigate allegations of institutional child abuse in the Province between 1922 and 1995. So far 434 people have made contact saying they were victims. Witnesses will not be cross examined. The team just want to hear what individuals have to say to them.
A British man from Rochdale, Khuram Shaikh, was stabbed to death whilst on holiday at a Sri Lankan hotel on Christmas Day 2011. Six men have been charged with his murder. One of them is a local government political associate of the Sri Lankan president. That man has now jumped bail. The suspicion is that he will not be caught due to the favours he receives from well connected people.
Shortly after, the programme highlighted the case of a nine year old Afghan girl who was told by her grown up brother, with the support of other family mebers, to use a suicide vest to blow herself up by a military checkpoint. She did not do so. Her experiences have made her mature beyond her years. She refuses to go back to her family even though that is what the provincial government, holding her, would normally arrange. It is hoped a guardian will be found for her.
William Hague was on the edition in part I think hoping to persuade the Syrian opposition they should attend the upcoming Syrian talks. Later in the day he announced in Parliament that we too, with the Russians and Chinese, are sending a supporting naval vessel to oversee the Scandanavian transportation of chemical waepons out of Syria. I see from a BBC webpage the most toxic substances are being taken to an Italian port. Possible the presence of the former Italian prime minister, Mr Monti, in the studio talking about our relations with Europe, might indicate he was involved with that decision.
The senior Conservative backbencher Davd Davis was interviewed on his return from a trip to America. It seems the NSA has claimed their Prism programme had prevented 54 terrorists attacks. However when the claim was looked into by a judge he only found one low level moneylaundering fraudster had been caught. Mr Davis said the political culture in America is so different to ours. They openly talk about big issues and don’t mind disagreeing. There is no deference or shyness. It is much more likely in that atmosphere I feel that the better argument will win the day.
14th January 2014
Since he was elected last march I don’t think the Pope has said a lot about abortion. However he has just made his position plain. He calls the practice horrific and frightful, a sympton of a throwaway culture. I think he is right to speak as he feels. However his message is of harsh criticism towards every woman in this world who has ever had a termination. The foetuses involved have not heard his words because they were never given consciousness. I expect some Catholic woman will now examine their consciences and decide their future relationship with the teachings of their church.
During the First World War the adjutant of each regiment had to keep a diary of activities. I am sure there were many more memories also recorded besides those. Last year a team of 25 volunteers at the National Archives in Kew started scanning the documents for our digitalised age. So far 300,000 pages have been processed out of 1.5 million. Those have today been made available online for anybody to view as part of the 100th anniversay commemorations of the conflict.
Egyptians have started voting in a two day referedum to replace the constitution which President Morsi introduced when he was in power. That of course is how a democracy should function, so that the people’s will can be followed. However the public, in my view, do also expect their leaders to produce stability for them. Top men though in Egypt seem to be so busy falling out with each other it is not happening. I hope they will get the hang of things soon.
A story in the news for the last couple of days is about some of the portraits which are hung in the MPs’ building of Portcullis House opposite the Houses of Parliament. Apparently The Speaker’s Advisory Committee on Works of Art have commissioned them since 1995 and spent a total of œ250,000 on it. The one of our first black MP, Dianne Abbott, is I consider unflattering and a poor representation of her likeness. If it had been me I would have sent it back to the artist and told him or her to try again. I feel the one of Ken Clarke could be better. The image of Tony Blair for me presents a sturdy, quite flattering pose. It also reminds me of John McEnroe.
In September 2012 a retired Indian Lietenant General was walking on a London street with his wife. He was attacked by three Sikh men who slashed his throat. They were convicted of wounding with intent. It was a revenge attack because the military man had led the Indian government’s assault on the Golden Temple at Amritsar in June 1984 in which 500 Sikh separatists were killed. The Holy Place had been occupied by those militants for two years and the Indian Prime Minister, Indira Ghandi, had decided something must been done. It has emerged today, from 30 year old classified papers released at the beginning of the month, that a SAS officer travelled to India to advise her on the operation she was planning. That obviously raises the question of just how minvolved in the affair we were. Especially as Mrs Ghandi was assasinated by two of her Sikh bodyguards in retaliation in September 1984. And 3,000 were killed in anti-Sikh riots across India in the month after that.
David Cameron senses the importance of the story, in my view, and is immediately proceding in the same way as for the Andrew Mitchell incident. He has appointed the Cabinet Secretary, Jeremy Heywood, to investigate all the facts. I am sure Mr Cameron will now liase with Mr Heywood within No 10 in a more sure footed way than last time.
I wrote about Peter Francis’ appearance on Channel 4 News on 18th Septemebr 2013. The man carrying out the police Operation Herne investigation into Mr Francis’ claims, the Derbyshire chief constable Mick Creedon, has been in a difficult position. Mr Francis will not cooperate with him, as he wants a public inquiry, but Mr Creedon wants as many facts as possible. Apparently from a report in today’s Guardian the policeman has asked the broadcaster for all the details it holds via Mr Francis. It seems he may have referred to legal process if details are not handed over. Channel 4 are upset. They feel their obligation of confidentiality to their informants has been threatened. Mr Creedon has backed down. He says it was all a misunderstanding. Perhaps a public inquiry might be the best option.
I have mentioned before how difficult accusations of sexual impropriety can sometimes be to decide. It looks as though the allegations against Dave Lee Travis, and his denials, are going to fit exactly into the category. His trial started today. He was working at the same time as Jimmy Saville and knew him. It is said some of the things he did, such as assaulting women standing next to him whilst on camera, were just the same actions as Mr Saville clearly committed. Other than that association it looks as though it is going to be the word of one man, who refers to financially motivated attention seekers, against those of 11 women who do not know each other. I think it unlikely Mr Travis is an angel. But that does not mean he is guilty of the offences as charged. I doubt if the members of the jury know what I know about the Gang story. I wish them the best of luck in their deliberations.
15th January 2014
Witness have been giving evidence at Southwark Crown Court today. One says that she was groped three times by Mr Travis when they both worked in the same radio studios in the Home Counties. On the third occasion she snapped and there was a scene involving other people. As I noted yesterday I do feel smoke indicates some form of fire underneath. I hope Mr Travis will be completely honest and transparent when he gives his own evidence. People are not stupid, they should be told the truth.
Sometimes when I am using my computer I have the television channel Bliss on. It plays music hits accompanied by videos. I usually watch towards the end of the day although on a couple of occasions, as now, I have turned to it at teatime. In my view the images are much more sexually suggestive and explict at this time of day than later on. I suspect that is not a coincidence.
A presenter who works for Sky TV has revealed how she was sexually groomed and assaulted when she was a teenager. She was a promising athlete and her male coach was a role model for her. Gradually over a period of time he abused his position. I think she was probably vunerable to his advances. He was jailed for 10 years. In her view he should never have touched her. Because she was probably unconciously looking for affection it never occured to her it was wrong at the time. I imagine, if he had genuinely felt warmly towards her, her memories of her experiences now might well be different. She says that when it happened 16 years ago sexual abuse was a taboo subject. Today in her view that category now applies to domestic abuse.
I wrote about some GPs deciding, or being persuaded, to work extra hours in our A&E departments on 4th January 2014. The Labour Party have now ascertained through FoI requests to NHS Trusts that the cost of all locum doctors in A&E departments has increased from £52 million in 2009/10 to £83.3 million last year. The story was covered by Today yesterday. A government Health Minister said we need to make working in that part of the hospital more attractive to young doctors. If we get the package right for them the currently unfilled vacancies will soon disappear.
A historian was speaking about the Sherlock Homes programmes. She said we need our fictional detectives to overcome the anxiety and nuerosis of modern day life. Sherlock has many weaknesses. Mr Watson has the emotional intelligence to show him the right path forward.
The Knights Templar were a secretive organisation formed in the 12th century. The edition said there is also a drugs cartel of the name currently operating in Western Mexico. That area of the country has become quite lawless and since the beginning of last year local vigilante groups started to fight back againsy them. They seem to be very well equipped and coordinated. No one quite knows how that has happened. Anyway the state has decided they should reimpose there writ. The soldiers have moved in.
The Syrian deputy foreign minister has exclusively told the BBC he has been visited in Damascus by unspecified western intelligence officilas. Lyse Doucet on the broadcast said her understanding is that they were from America, Britain and Germany. The UK government denies it. Whatever the truth may be you just hope some good might arise.
Although he was not introduced as having any specialisation the Derbyshire chief constable contributed to a piece about a National Audit Office report just published. It says that a lot of court orders confiscating criminals’ assets are not being enforced. It is one of those falling between two stools situations. No one currently has real power to see the job though. As one of the contributing authorities you tend to think it is someone else’s responsibility so it never gets done.
Norman Baker, MP for Lewes and Home Office Minister, was on my local TV news this evening. He said in his opinion legals highs are a bigger threat to a stable society than traditional illegal drugs. We know so little about them consumers are playing Russian roulette with their health. Mr Baker says we are doing more about the problem than other European countries.
Gordon Brown has been interviewed on BBC television today about Syria. He says it’s conflict has produced the worst humanitarian crisis since the Second World War. Even if a peace settlement were made tomorrow it would take years before all the refugees could to get back to their homes. On behalf of the UN he is asking western governments to contribute $200 million so that schooling can be provided for all the extra children currently in Lebaanon. Plans are in place, it just needs the money. The scheme could be up and running in a couple of weeks.
Last Wednesday the FT reported on an appearance the day before at the Commons Treasury Select Committee by the man at the FSA who approved the appointment of Mr Flowers to the Coop bank. The decision was made on the basis of a 90 minute interview and in the knowledge that Mr Flowers had a previous criminal conviction. He agreed it fell short of what was required and said such a thing would not happen again in his new role at the FCA.
An article in the paper notes that US oil producion has increased 60% since it’s low in 2008. Shale apparently not only produces gas but oil can be extracted from it’s formations. Some people are talking about an American surplus and are lobbying for licences to export.
Another piece suggests that Russia gives aid of between $7-12 billion annually to Belarus to encourage it to remain a member of the Eurasian Union. I would have thought that is a bit like giving candy to a baby. And if it is clever the little thing will take contol. When you have the Russians by the goolies their hearts and minds follow. They become hung on a hook they can’t remove themselves from.
16th January 2014
Robert Gates was US Defense Sercretary from 2006 until 2011. Barack Obama became President in 2009. Thursday’s FT previewed Mr Gates’ new book of memoires. He relates the massive amount of mistrust the White House felt towards it’s military as the President was trying to work out his Afghanistan strategy. It was right in the middle of my story so I remember it very well too. The discussions seemed to go on for ever. However Mr Gates says the end result was the right one with which I also concur.
An academic in Friday’s FT asks for politics to be based on thoughts, not tribal loyalties. Voters want to feel events are being managed for them, that their leaders know where they want to go. Power without ideas is just improvisation.
Big data is a marvellous thing. After listening to the World at One yesterday which mentioned it I have looked at a report in The Independent. By analysing returns from the 2011 National Census it has found there is an imbalance, towards the boys, in the numbers of male and female babies born into some immigrant communities. It reasons that the only way that can be explained is because pre-natal scans are taking place to identify the sex of the foetus and, if disapproved of, an illegal abortion is performed. A BBC website says that male children are much more valued in such countries as India and China due to their cultural values.
Also on the programme was a discussion between three politicians, Michael Fallon for the Conservatives, Douglas Alexander for Labour and Stewart Hosie for the SNP. It was all domestic politics, on the future size of bankers’ bonuses and our choices for an EU membership referendum.
In 2012 Northamptonshire Police routinely visited the home of a registered sex offender and inspected his computer. That led to a joint operation by UK, American and Australian law enforement agencies which has identified about 750 suspected paedophiles in 17 countries throughout the world. The men would approach poor families in the Philippines and pay for parents to sexually abuse their children between six and 15 to order in their homes on webcams when the little ones got home from school. If you strip the emotion out of that it was like a normal commercial transaction. The men wanted a service which they were prepared to pay for. The parents wanted money and had no moral values. It is what the Gang arrange for us every day of the week. It will only get worse, not better, until we understand how these things work. When you put the emotion back in your feelings show you, as is always the case, that it is the weak and vunerable who come off worse. In this story it is the children. Unless they are particularly remarkable they will be traumatised probably for the rest of their lives.
Last Saturday the FT had lunch with the mayor of a Calabrian town right in the south of Italy. It is home territory for the ‘Ndrangheta which the paper says, whilst probably less well known, is the richer, most secretive and crueler of the three Mafia sects. The others are the Scicilian Mafia and the Neapolitan Camorra in the north. The mayor asks for the woman of the ‘Ndrangheta to change it’s course. It isn’t as if the clan operate by consensus. She estimates they have about 10% of the population under their control. However that appears to be enough to rule everytbody. That number can sway elections and specific administrative measures. And of course if you plan well enough you can get the percentage considerably higher for specific tasks. For jury fixing you might be able to get to nearly 100%. The lady says that by European standards she lives in an area of extreme poverty. It is not good enough. I wrote about the ‘Ndrangheta last Thursday.
The edition has a piece about private company involvement, by G4S, Serco and Sodexo in the administration of our prisons following the disturbance at G4S’ Oakwood a few days before. 14 of our 119 jails in England and Wales are privately managed, a high level by European standards apparantly. It does mean though that they have a media spotlight thrown upon them. Three similar disturbances to Oakwood’s, at Nottingham gaol in early January, hardly received any publicity at all.
After our terrible weather over Christmas the paper reports the Prime Minister as saying he very much suspects it was something to do with climate change. It seems we now have 4% more moisture content in the air over oceans than we did in the 1970s which is bound to have some form of effect. 2013 was the hottest year on record for Australia.
The issue records Mr Khodorkovsky as saying he had promised in writing to President Putin before he left Russia that he would not engage in the county’s politics nor fight for the return of Yukos’ assets. I think that shows, no matter who you are, if you talk to each other you can normally sort something out. At the time Mr Khodorkovsky was in Israel conferring with former business associates.
On 8th November 2013 I suggested regulators are at a bit of a loss to know what to do with our banks. The editorial there notes that JPMorgan were fined $20 billion for various misdemmeanors last year. It doesn’t think that will work either. I am sure some inventive answers would be well received.
Monday’s FT informs me that Ken Clarke had left on a week long trip to China to promote trade in the healthcare sector. It seems Mr Clarke could also be involved in the trade liberalisation talks between America and the EU.
Edward Luce writes there that 42% of young Americans look upon themselsves as not politically aligned, to either Democrat or Republican. Their attitude he feels is libertarian. Perhaps they would be willing to follow a new kind of charismatic leader.
Following my note yesterday about Russia and Belarus the day’s FT added that Moscow is also lending 10 billion euros to Bupapest to finance the puchase of two reactors from Russian in Hungary’s only nuclear power plant. Overall Russian will supply the bulk of Hungary’s energy needs for the foreseeable future.
Whilst I accept the Gang are clever, in my view they certainly are not innovative. They consume themselves with game playing below their level which, if you rise above them, can cause them to despair. I feel David Gardner used a similar argument in the edition in respect of al-Qaeda and it’s affiliates. They had a clear run in Iraq in 2003 when the home military was disbanded. However they squandered it. With the troubles in Syria they have been allowed to build another power base in the name of Isis on the Iraqi-Syrian border. Mr al-Maliki’s recent ineptitude around Fallujah has pushed Iraqi Sunnis back into their arms. And yet David suspects their leaders, without the discipline of their watching Gang mentors, will still manage to squander all the present opportunities as well. Not that we won’t continue to help them as much as we can. He suggests the current military crackdown in Egypt has presented a heaven sent opening for al-Qaeda to create a power base away from prying eyes out in the Sinai peninsula.
Channel 4 News led this evening on the Dishfire story derived from Edward Snowden files. It is the name of a programme the NSA have been using to scoop up all international text messages such as when your provider contacts you as you arrive in a new country with details of your roaming charges. That event apparently triggers the collection system. Using GPS technology it can be used therefore to keep track of where targeted people are away from home for as long as their phones are turned on. The information was made available to GCHQ. Apparenty their staff were making so many requests to the Americans for individual mobile phone numbers they had to be resticted on the volume they could ask for at one go. Our spys are not allowed access to any of our internal text messaging and movements under British privacy laws.
The timing of the story will not be coincidental in my view. Perhaps it has something to do with the announcement Barack Obama will be making tomorrow on NSA oversight. A BBC webpage says he has spoken to David Cameron about it on the phone today.
I don’t think I have written about the Liberal Democratic peer, and senior party official, 53 year old Lord Rennard before. It was a story which Channel 4 News broke in February 2013. Four lady members of the party accused him of being in the habit of touching them inappropriately. The police did investigate but decided no laws had been broken. This week it has been concluded he cannot be disciplined under party rules because a beyond reasonable doubt standard has not been reached. However Nick Clegg has made his position clear. He feels the accusations are credible and asks the Lord to apologise. Mr Rennard has declined. Some ladies have said as he shows no remorse they will have no option but to leave the party themselves.
It all strikes me as similar to when a family falls out. Not only is it bad for the members themselves but the squabbling creates a terrible impression for outsiders. The comment I have heard makes a distinction between young and old. Those of Mr Rennard’s age do not look upon sexual touching as a terrible crime. If he did do it, and he has not got into trouble, I can well understand he is not going to admit it to his friends.
The electoral consequences for his party though could be pretty damaging. Young woman, and men, who see things differently are not likely to feel so kindly towards the values he seems to represent. If the mountain won’t come to Muhammed then Muhammed must go to the mountain. It seems to me the aggrieved ladies can treat Lord Lennard as they like in private. For public consumption though they should try to move forward as a cohesive whole.
17th January 2014
I see that Francois Hollande has visited his partner in hospital this morning. I am pleased that information has been freely made available to the media.
Speaking in Moscow Syria’s foreign minister has said this morning his government is willing to exchange prisoners with the rebels and agree a ceasefire in Aleppo. John Kerry has urged the opposition coalition to be reasonable. I feel a pincer movement is being put on the dissidents ahead of their meeting in Turkey, to encourage them to attend next week’s Geneva II talks. I am pretty impressed to see two super powers, with so much negative history between them, cooperating in tandem like that. I am sure they will push for their own interests as much as they always do but they see the larger picture. The most important thing is that people should stop killing each other. On that they can work as one.
It is difficult to know what to make of the disappearance of Mikaeel Kular. His mum put him to bed on Wednesday evening at their home in Muirhouse, Edinburgh and in the morning he had gone. His coat is also missing. It is thought he couldn’t have opened the front door on his own. I suspect he might not be found. I hope I am wrong.
William Hague and Danny Alexander have been in Glasgow today promoting the case for a no vote in Scotland’s independence referendum later this year.
After hearing a radio newspaper review I see that after a campaign the Daily Mail feels it has secured a change in the way our family courts and the Court of Protection have operated for nearly the last 100 years. Under directions of the President of the Family Division their judgements will now be made public unless there are specific reasons to the contrary. Expert witnesses, social workers and councils involved in procedings will no longer be entitled to anonymity. I know a little of that world. It is a fantastic step forward. I applaud the Daily Mail.
The European chief executive of Tata Steel was telling Today yesteray that foundation industries such as his, which provide the raw materials for all the glitzy end products we see around us, should be better appreciated in our society. They account for 30% of GDP and provide emploment in blackspot areas. Their contribution should not be forgotten.
I don’t think flood ponds are a new idea. You see them at the side of new roads. The programme was saying though that they should be used much more extensively than now. Simply blocking a stream on a moor with felled trees and branches can stop the village below from flooding when it rains heavily. It is just something which needs to be carefully thought through in a multi agency and private partnership approach. Land owners can be given financial incentives as appropriate.
I wrote about Robert Gates yesterday. He is in London at the moment and was interviewed by Justin Webb for the programme. He took the line that the UK should not cut it’s military capability too much. After that Liam Fox was in the studio. Mr Fox pointed out that America is cutting defence spending by $500 billion over the next six years. We are the world’s eighth biggest economy but going forward will have the fourth largest armed forces spend.
Those in the know are getting quite worried about the situation in the Central Arfican Republic as mentioned on the broadcast. Ordinary people are losing their sense of reason. The word genocide is being used. The solution of course is obvious. We need more boots on the ground. But we live in a complicated world.
Currently 70% of young miscreants who are locked up reoffend. There was a discussion about the government’s plan to try and get around that by introducing secure colleges, residential schools with fences. There would be a head teacher working alongside an offender manager. The first one, to be built for 320 12-17 year olds, will open in Leicestershire in 2017.
Mark Mardell noted on the programme that today, with President Obama’s speech, should see the first rowing back of the intelligence state since 9/11, all those years ago. Mr Obama has gone about it, in my view, in exactly the same way as he formulated his Afghanistan policy. He has talked to as many people as possible, Congress, technology company representatives, and members of America’s 17 intelligence organisations. That methodical, calm approach will, I believe, carry the decision he makes. Alan Rusbriger in the studio made the very valid comment I feel that the process has all been brought about due to the activities of investigative journalists. He suggests that our oversight body, Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee which meets weekly on a Thursday afternoon, is a bit of an amateurish set up. It has an annual budget of £1 million to check over our security services who spend £2 billion. It is under resourced and lacks expertise.
Later on it was explained that Evan Davis is fascinated by a a youngish man from Southampton who has made a name for himself by doing things which the rest of us consider completely mad. His most audacious act has been to hang from a 350 foot high crane by one hand. Evan went to meet him. The story is that the adveturer used to be a bit wayward. He stopped going to school when he was 14. Then he turned into a recluse staying at home all day playing oline computer games. He was told he needed to get a life. Finally he saw a clip of a man jumping over roof tops. He reckoned he could do it too. And now he is famous. He sees himself as an artist. Whatever turns you on.
I think the Metropolitan Police would like the option of using water cannon on London streets against seriously rebellious crowds, as their colleagues can in Northern Ireland. Boris Johnson is just about to start a consultation exercise about it. Shami Chakrabarti on the edition said she looks upon it as a military tactic. It should not be used against civilians. It would create far more problems, in the form of disaffection and upset, than it would solve.
18th January 2014
The police announced at 1am this morning that they had found the body of a young child at a site in Kircaldy. They think it is Mikaeel Kular who was reported missing by his family on Thursday morning. They have taken his mother into custody. When I looked on the internet this morning I found a website called Aangirfan. It says the body was found at the property of Mikaeel’s mother’s aunt. It shows a social photograph of Makaeel’s 33 year old mum with an alleged drugs gangster, Mohammed Omar Abdi, who was shot and killed in Edinburgh last year. It says that Mikaeel’s apparent father, and his mother’s husband, is a 69 year old doctor and property developer originally from Pakistan.
On Thursday morning, after making some online searches over the previous two days, I sent an email to a gentleman in London with a foreign sounding name. I mentioned my website to him. I have looked the name up this evening on the internet and it appears to be Sicilian. When I looked at my website Google analysis yesterday afternoon I discovered some very unusual viewings during last week from abroad. Also on Thursday I wrote about Mafia gangs one of which is the Sicilian clan. I would imagine they and my Gang hate each other’s guts.
I suspect Mrs Kular could be associated with the Sicilian Mafia. If I am right about that I don’t think she will look upon the police as her friends. If you or I found a dead child in our house I expect we would ring 999 immediately. Possibly a women moving in those circles wouldn’t. Following that line of thought further, Mrs Kular has just experienced a life changing tragedy. She should, undoubtedly in my opinion, now tell the truth. If she does I have every expectation the police will carry out a professional investigation based on the evidence they find.
Having written all that I do note a BBC webpage records that three year old Mikaeel had not been to his nursery since the Christmas break.
Tom Winsor, the Chief Inspector of Constabulary, has given an interview for this morning’s Times. He says that some ethnic communities, and mentions the Midlands, which cause no trouble to others choose to function under their own code of law and order. They do not call the police if bad things happen, even involving loss of life. They would rather deal with it themselves.
The story was covered by PM this afternoon. They spoke to the chief executive of a charity supporting women and girls who are pressurised by their families into predetermined marriage and who suffer domestic violence. She fully agreed with Mr Winsor. She said that victims in the communities she knows get into trouble if they shout too loudly. They are told to be discreet and go to the elders for advice. 18 Mosques in Britain apparently are willing to illegally marry girls under 14. You do wonder why law enforcement agencies are not doing something about that. She commented that invariably a code of silence pervades, just like the Mafia. The victims she represents need to trust the police. But it is very difficult when the police only listen to official community representatives. Immediately after that the chief constable of West Midlands police took the trouble to give a telephone interview to the programme. He did not feel the problem was as great as was being suggested.
Lord McAlpine of McAlpine construction died at his Italian home last night, aged 71. I think he may have been unwell for some time. In November 2012 Newsnight incorrectly suggested he might be implicated in the North Wales sexual child abuse story from the 1970s-80s.
The Ghananian BBC World TV’s presenter, Komla Dumor aged 41, has died suddenly at his London home today from a heart attack.
There has been an intruiging BBC website published today about the current inactivity of the sun. Normally a continuous stream of solar flares break out from it’s surface. It hasn’t been as quiet as this for about 100 years. That means of course it isn’t sending so much heat to us. The last time it went through a prolonged quiet phase, in the late 17th century, people were able to skate on the Thames.
There has been a quite barbaric Taliban attack on a restuarant in Kabul today frequented by journalists and westerners. It will be a great shock to them all. A suicide bomber detonated his vest immediately outside the protected building in oder to cause confusion no doubt. Then two gunmen rushed in. 21 people died including an IMF official, two Britons and two Americans. One of the fatalities was the Lebanese proprietor. I heard Lyse Doucet say on the radio today that he was the nicest man you could wish to meet.
Taking into account that the Taliban aspire to be Afghanistan’s future captains you really wonder what the thought processes are which lead to an attack like that. You can only guesss it must have been revenge for some perceived slight. A person who thinks like that is not worthy to have desires of leadership in my view. I hope his colleagues take note.
Barack Obama’s speech yesterday lasted 45 minutes. I suspect it was politically slanted towards his home constituency. Hopefully things will be substantially tightened up on the intelligence front, possibly out of the public eye. As always it is the culture of organisations which matter. The concrete reforms are that metadata will still be collected but held by a third party. The NSA access to it will be judicially approved in each case. In that process the interests of targeted individuals, unknown to them I think, will be represented by independent advocates. It doesn’t seem difficult to conclude that might work, or it might not.
The Syrian National Council have agreed today to attend next week’s Geneva II peace talks. It was all very tansparently done apparently, by ballot. 58 of the voting delegates were for and 14 against. The Russians also want Iran to be there. However Mr Kerry is saying they must agree to the principle of a political transition first.
On the World at One yesterday David Davis quoted an American intelligence analyst following his recent visit there. Apparently the person said that although America doesn’t live in a facist state all the tools are already in place which a totalitarian goverment would use.
Dame Anne Owers, chairwoman since March 2012, told the BBC yesterday that following the Paul Duggan inquest the IPCC is going to issue statutory enforceable guidance to police forces that they must not let their officers confer, prior to statements being made, when they are involved in contentious fatalities. The IPCC have now apologised to Mark’s family about the unprofessional way they acted in the hours immediately after his death. They say they still have to interview witnesses and conduct inquiries of the police in relation to Mark’s death.
The police are experts in tackling organised crime. They do invariable produce some really good results. I recount in chapter six of my book how the very nasty group who had been persecuting the employees and associates of Huntington Life Sciences for over five years years were finally brought to book at Winchster Crown Court in December 2008. The team was lead I believe by a detective from Kent Police. It is quite staggering therefore to learn that when the police are investigating themselves that whole process goes out of the window. After Mark Duggan was shot the firearms officers were allowed to congregate in a room on their own and compose their statements together. Unsurprisingly they were remarkably similar. I bet many chilren taking exams wish they could work like that.
One of the questions on Any Questions at lunchtime was whether the panelists trust the police. They all said they did, with some qualifications. Andy Burnham is MP for Leigh in Manchester. He suggested things were far worse in the past than they are now. After Hillsborough in 1989 apparently 200 police logs were altered after the event. The MP said there was an establishment conspiracy to blame Liverpool fans, and by implication all the people of Liverpool, for something which was not their fault. It very, very nearly came off. He said police used exactly the same tactics to discredit striking miners in 1984.
19th January 2014
Mrs Kular was arrested last night in connection with the death of her son. She will appear in court tomorrow. The police have been very careful, in my view, not to disclose the charges against her. They say their investigations are moving apace. Mikaeel’s body was found in woodland immediately behind the relative’s bungalow. I saw an aerial view on the TV last night which appeared to show no rear gate or gap in the fence from the property’s back garden to the woodland. I have also just looked at a map on a BBC webpage. It seems to show farmland on the other side of the wood.
I recall that Andrew Marr travelled to Washington in May 2011 to interview Barack Obama. This time he has been off to Sotchi to do the same with Vladimir Putin. They were warm with each other. Mr Putin said he has nothing against gays personally. Some are his friends.
A man was jailed for six years on Friday for killing his baby daughter. 18 months earlier he had witnessed five of his soldier colleagues being killed in Afghanistan and was seriously injured himself. I don’t feel it takes a lot of imagination to understand that an event like that can turn your mind. It is a natural consequence of nature which the Gang recognise extremely well in my view. It’s proper name is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. There was a forensic psychiatrist on Today yesterday saying that the NHS and MOD are much better now dealing with the condition than they were previously.
The programme also spoke to an evangelical Christian. Approaching his last year at university in America in April 2011 he happened to read an atricle in the Huffington Post online about Khalid Sheikh Mohammed who is alleged to have orchestrated the attacks on the Twin Towers. He thought he should be aware that God loves him. He looked up the address of Guantanamo Bay and the inmate’s prison number using Google and wrote to him. He has recently received a 27 page reply via The Observer. The young man sounded quite gob smacked about it all. He will definitely write to the Sheikh again.
A BBC webpage says today there are 120 members of the Syrian National Council. In that context the 58 votes cast yesterday to go to Geneva II don’t look so impressive. Nearly 50 delegates simply didn’t turn up. The strategy in my view is looking pretty clear. Russia is backing the Syrian government to the hilt. America is absolutely behind the SNC. As with everything in this world it is all politics. What to do with Mr Assad? He says he won’t go. The opposition say they won’t agree to anything unless he does. It is a bit like my Muhammed note from yesterday I feel. The only way I can see a way forward is if Mr Assad decides the humanitarian needs of his people are more important than his personal position. The danger then of course would be that Syria turns out like Libya, a den of lawlessness.
Sunday this morning had a piece about marriage. The Conservative MP Sir Edward Leigh says we should be more judgemental about the institution; to keep with it is the best way of ensuring your own happiness. The Bishop of Oxford wouldn’t go that far. The church is very keen on marriage but that does not stop it listening to the difficulties of the individuals concerned. Simon Hughes MP agrees. The state should support couples to stay together where possible but also help them to sort out their affairs amicably and orderly if it isn’t. Mediation is much better than court appearances.
The edition also dealt with a dispute within Girlguiding. Last year a girl’s promise on joining was made less religious. Some guide leaders on the ground are upset because they want to have the option of using the old vow if they wish. They have been told that is not pssible. It would be nice of course to think that both sides wanted to put the best interests of the youngsters first. But things don’t always work like that. It is so like the current dispute in the Liberal Democratic Party, it seems to me. Once people get unduly upset they take hardened positions and everything goes from bad to worse. After you get to that stage recovering the situation becomes ten times harder. As far as Girlguiding is concerned I can’t see it will cause great harm if those who feel strongly about it are allowed to continue with the old promise for a limited period.
The broadcast ended with information about Fresh Expressions. It is an independent organisation working in partnership mainly with mainstream religous organisations such as the Church of England. It’s aim I think is to draw people, who don’t go to church, into a supportive, communual way of life based on Christian values. Apparently it seems to touch quite a few areas others can’t reach.
The World at One at lunchtime interviewed a student who in June 2011 took part in a demonstration outside The School of Oriental and African Studies in London. He says he saw a police officer pushing another student. He went to ask why and the officer became aggressive. Several policemen then pinned him to the ground. He was taken to court on the basis that he had gratuitously assaulted the police. Fortunately for him at that stage a video of the incident came to light proving his version of events to be true. Otherwise he has little doubt he would have been convicted. In the event he was awarded £20,000 compensation. I wrote about my current experiences with the police on 20th November 2010. A policeman unexpectedly called at my home this morning in that connection. At the moment it is not going particularly well for me.
Two men have been arrested and bailed today, on information supplied by members of the public, for alleged racist tweets in connection with the death of Mikaeel Kular. Police Scotland have been liasing with Derbyshire and Hampshire Constabularies about it.
The person who set up this website for me in the autumn of 2012 also kindly created a Google Analytics account which allows me to check the traffic passing through. I make a record every Friday afternoon when I do my computer back up. In my opinion it has always been suspiciously low and remarkably constant. Since I went onto monthly updates at the beginning of September 2013 it has never been more than six views a week and mostly a lot less. No change in pattern appears just after the month’s end. I have concluded it must be either because it is quite easy to hide your access from Google or someone who works for them has been interfering with my recording system. Since my first visitor in November 2012 to the turn of last year Google shows there have been viewings from 20 countries. 86% of pages seen were from customers of British ISPs, 4% were based in the United States and 2% in India. All the rest were 1% or less. However as I mentioned yesterday that all changed last week. My email to the gentleman with the Sicilian sounding name went on Thursday morning. I started to make internet searches relating to it on Tuesday evening. From Wednesday to Saturday Google says I had 46 new visitors, with the first from Mexico being the only interest on the Wednesday. Over the four days 17 were from Brazil and five from Mexico; Peru and Italy were four each. Two onlookers each came from Argentina, Britain, Honduras and Ecuador. Single observers were recorded as being in Columbia, Spain, Estonia, Greece, Mongolia, Netherlands, Romania and Portugal.
If seems to me it would be sensible for the Gang to mess around with my knowledge of my readers. If that is right they might also positively like me to be aware of the other people who have been visiting over the last few days. They don’t look upon that lot as their friends.
20th January 2014
Nick Robinson was explaining on Today this morning that some senior figures in the Lib Dems see Lord Rennard as a more significant figure in the party that Nick Clegg. He oversaw their General Election campaign strategy in 1997 when they increased their number of parliamentary seats from 18 to 46. I expect they now see some as acting like traitors towards him. As I was listening Jimmy Saville came into my mind. He was a man who came to believe over the years, I suspect, that he could walk on water. He was able to do whatever he liked and nobody would dare tell him off. I have never heard Lord Rennard speak or seen him on television. However I got to know Jimmy quite well over time by his appearances on television. I would say Jimmy was far too arrogant to ever apologise for anything. Because I know nothing of Lord Rennard I have no way of knowing whether a similar thought of mind might apply to him or not.
I have read on a BBC webpage that in the 1860s between 20 and 30 million people people were killed in a rebellion in southern China, more than the 17 million who expired in World War I. That was never mentioned to me at school.
Ban Ki-moon has put the cat among the pidgeons this morning by inviting Iran along to the Geneva II talks. The very expected reaction from the Syrian opposition is that if Iran turns up, they won’t. The Americans seem to be accepting that position. Then on a BBC webpage I have seen a video of President Assad speaking to a Syrian journalist I think. He wishes to emphasise that the Syrian problem is essentially one of security for Syrians to sort out for themselves. He still wants to run for president in the planned June 2014 elections.
Mikaeel Kular’s mother, whose name I see is Mrs Adekoya, has been charged with his murder and attempting to defeat the ends of justice in a private Scottish hearing. Another court hearing is set for next week.
The Police Federation represents 127,000 officers in England and Wales up to the rank of chief inspector. It has commissioned an independent report into it’s workings by an organisation, with the initials RSA, which reported today. That says it could do with fundamental change. 91% of it’s members are not happy with the ineffectual way it operates. Amazingly it has reserve funds of £64.5 million, £35 million of which is held by autonomous local branches.
I have just read Kim Ghattas’ analysis of the current position on the Geneva II talks. It seems it was a big misunderstanding designed by the Gang I suspect to damage the reputations of the UN and the American government. Those two parties thought a private agreement with Iran had been secured that they would support the principles of Geneva I. However when Ban Ki-moon made his announcement the Iranians refused to support him publicly. Chaos has ensued. Perhaps Catherine Ashton should have been floating around there somewhere.
Having just completed that paragraph I see the UN invitation to Iran has now been withdrawn.
Lord Rennard was suspended from the Liberal Democratic party this afternoon. In a written statement he has said he regrets if he has unintentionally hurt any of the four women who have made accusations against him. Assertions of the destabilised psychological state of man and women are now flying thick and fast. There is probably truth in all of the statements.
Nick Clegg has launched a new governmental mental health strategy today. Ministers will be telling NHS Trusts to in future give mental disbility the same priority as physical ailments. However as it is a culture thing the deputy Prime Minister accepts it will take some time to get complete parity between the two.
The uneasy truce between protesters and police in central Kiev broke down last night. In the violence about 100 people were injured and 20 arrests made.
From a newspaper review on Today this morning I know the Daily Telegraph reports that it was quite windy everywhere on the sixth of this month. At 7pm that day our wind turbines were supplying 14% of our national electricity needs. Pretty impressive.
There was a piece from the town of Borg in South Sudan. In the country’s month long civil war it has been fought over three times now. Every one of the 25,000 population have fled. It is deserted.
I saw on the local BBC TV news last night that Medway has the second highest death rate due to mesothelioma, asbestos related cancer, in the country. At least 104 people died in the four years to 2010. Many of them worked I think at Chatham Dockyard. The government are bringing in a compensation scheme for those without medical insurance. I dedicate my book to a friend, who did not work in Medway, who died from asbestosis.
21st January 2014
When I went out today I stopped off at Bluewater to redeem a voucher. I had the normal crowding having my coffee, from a group of three, a couple and a single lady on her mobile phone. However I did not expect officialdom to act in the same way. When I got back to my rooftop parked car there were two MI5 chaps I would say, a man 50 yards away in one direction and another in the opposite direction. They made sure they didn’t look at me but even so it makes your pulse race. You naturally assume you must be in danger. If their chiefs were asked I expect they would say they are keeping me safe. I would beg to disagree. I have the responsibility for looking after myself. They are exhibiting paranoid behaviour in my view. Letting me see them is not helpful at all. I note I came to exactly the same conclusion in chapter 5 of my book for the day I went to the British Open golf at Sandwich in 2011. I hope I don’t feel the desire to come back to the subject again in three year’s time. Our spies should be sorting themselves out by now.
I also used the word paranoid when I was visited by the Kent police office on Sunday. The Monday before I drove down my lane following a police car with flashing blue lights. It stopped a few yards from my gate. I believe there were three cars, a van and a motorcylist. I heard a young voice say there were eight officers present. He thought it was stupid too. All that commotion was to take away a single juvenile who was misbehaving himself. By a remarkable coincidence of course the gentleman I was speaking to turned out to be one of the officers in attendance.
The day before the Geneva II talks start a report commissioned by Qatar has been released alleging, probably correctly, that Syrian authorities have systematically tortured or killed 11,000 detainess since their uprising began. I don’t think that will get the two sides thinking warmly towards each other.
Following my note about Brazil yesterday I am pleased to comment on a BBC webpage I read this morning. It says that before the Second World War it is known that about 40,000 facists in Brazil had strong links with the German Nazis. In particular a farm has been found 100 miles from Sao Paulo where it is believed 50 non white orphan boys were taken to be used as slave labour.
Another BBC story today has been about a new potentially fatal disease affecting dogs. Vets see it mainly in the New Forest but it has also occured in Surrey, Cornwall, Worcestershire and County Durham. The pets first get lesions on their skin and can die from kidney failure. The cause hasn’t yet been established but it is suspected to be a bacterial infection. It seems the pathology of the disease is very similar to the canine Alabama Rot which was a problem in America in the 1980s. It reminds me as well of Lyme disease affecting humans which I wrote about on 12th May 2013.
The BBC website also highlighed this morning a court case about a youth worker driving a minibus which knocked a man off his bike in December 2012, killing him. A photograph shows the accident happened on a straight stretch of road in Southampton. The wing mirror of the vehicle clipped the man.
Following my paragraph about Robert Gates last Thursday I forgot to mention that shortly after I saw a TV clip of him calling Edward Snowden a traitor. From a man of high recent office I was surpised to hear such a black and white view.
Simon Israel was saying on Channel 4 News last Thursday, from his intelligence agency sources no doubt, it is believed 300 British Jihadists have gone to fight in Syria and 150 have returned. About 20 have been killed there apparently. Then the programme’s website reports that on Saturday two men flying into Heathrow fron Turkey were charged with being engaged in acts of terrorism inside Syria. You can see why MI5 are so worried about the situation. With that flow of hardened minds coming back to Britain there is bound to come a point where a certain critical mass is built up. No matter how much listening of them you do, if they are determined enough they will find a way, with hidden Gang help, of doing us harm. The best course therefore in my view is that the public should have an element of knowledge about what is going on so we can help in the fight of resistance.
The appeal court have today quashed the convictions of 29 people who were protesting about the use of the Drax coal powered station near Selby, on environment grounds. They probably illegally boarded a fright train delivery fuel there in June 2008. It has been decided that the past judgements were unsound because they were partially based on the evidence of undercover police office Mark Kennedy from the National Public Order Intelligence Unit whose status the judge nor defence were informed about. I wrote about a similar undercocover unit, the Special Demonstration Squad, on 24th and 25th June 2013. A spokesperson for the group of 29 was on PM this afternoon. Amazingly it still hasn’t been satisfactorily explained why disclosure was not made by the police, the Crown Prosecution Service or the prosecution barrister and his team. I suspect it was an unspoken conspiracy of silence. Those who did know about the NPOIU thought it was above their pay grade to spill the beans thereby getting themselves and lots of other people into trouble. It takes bravery to be a whistleblower. The lady said we do need an independent public inquiry to get to the bottom of everything. I wish her the best of luck. My joint letter to the Home Secretary and Prime Minister which I wrote about on 26th August 2013 didn’t help greatly except to produce vicious Gang bile.
22nd January 2014
Independence Square has seen it’s first fatalities. After a quiet night police stormed the protesters’ barricades at 8am this morning. Two demonstrators were killed by gunfire. The President is referring to terrorists just as the Syrian government do. Tonight it is extremely tense in Kiev.
I wrote about the Camorra last Thursday. Today Italian police carried out dawn raids against members of one of their clans in Florence, Rome and Naples. Property worth £181 million was confiscated. A BBC webpage say the Camorra are based in Naples.
After my note yesterday on Brazil I have looked at the atlas. It is a massive country taking up 48% of the land mass of South America. My theory is that the European Gang, as I have called them in the past, like to keep their heads down away from home. I reckon Columbia, Ecuador and Peru are American Gang territory. Venezuela provides seaboard access out to the Carribean and Europe for the other lot. I also record in the 1st March 2010 notes in my book how a Boeing 727 full of drugs from Venezuela crashed in Mali in November 2009. It is really interesting to think that little Uruguay, on Brazil’s southern border, is leading a world experiment in the decrimilisation of illegal drugs.
I understand from last night’s Newsnight that the Guardian has teamed up with investigative journalists to delve into the finacial affairs of some top Chinese officials including the brother-in-law of the President. Apparently some 21,000 people have money hidden away in offshore bank accounts, some in the British Virgin Islands. As the money leaves and comes back into the country it is creating a substantial black economy which could have a destibilising effect on the finances of their whole system.
The chief executive of Npower was on Today this morning having a bit of a moan at politicians. He says they change the goal posts all the time which makes business life difficult. For example the Labour Party policy of freezing energy prices for consumers, if they are elected, has created a lot of uncertainty in his industry. Multi national power companies are not happy about investing in the UK at the moment with that cloud hanging over us.
A later interview criticised Twitter for looking the other way when offensive tweets appear on it’s platform. Their attitude seems to be to ignore things for a few weeks in the hope everything will die down. The guest was saying that policy is actually emboldening the worst offenders, hiddenly egged on by the Gang in my view. As they are getting away with it, it makes them worse. In October 2013 I started a County Court case aganist Amazon and another defendant as an unhappy customer. At the moment it is totally bogged down. The larger company have completely ignored both my views and the somewhat dysfunctional workings of the legal process. They have refunded my account against my wishes and seem to think that will be an end of the matter.
The two sides in Montreux were going at each other like cats and dogs today. It is amazing they have got themselves to the same location at the same time really. You can only hope that venting of built of tensions will relieve some pressure. It doesn’t seem very likely though.
A BBC Kent webpage says today that police papers are now with the Crown Prosecution Service to see if there is enough evidence to charge a particular individual with a 1993 crime. 16 year old Claire Tiltman was murdered through stabbing in an alleyway in Greenhithe, north Kent. It seems the information for the report has come from the CPS themselves, possibly given to the BBC’s Danny Shaw. I sent an email about the case on Monday.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine was founded in 1948 and today provides services to some 4 million Palestinian refugees in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. It’s funding however is not secure and since last month 4,500 of it’s staff have been on strike for more pay. That has caused a vacuum of order on the West Bank which, with Gang encouragement in my view, is allowing disorder by some youths. Those details appeared in last Thursday’s FT.
An article in Friday’s paper says the private medical and hospital sector in this country, worth £4.1 billion, is dominated by a few large firms creating little competition. That will tend to make medical insurance premiums higher than need be. The Competition Commission is calling for nine hospitals to be sold to see if it can shake things up a bit.
Clare Balding, Tessa Jowell, Samantha Cameron and Miriam Gonzalez were all together mixing with pupils in a hall at a Basildon girls school today. They were there to participate in an Inspiring Women careers event. I believe Nick Clegg’s wife has scurrilously been attibuted by some sections of the press as disagreeing with her husband’s handling of the Lord Rennard affair. She took the opportunity of publicly putting the record straight. I think it likely Mrs cameron made herself available to support Mrs Clegg.
23rd January 2014
I had a training day today for some volunteering I hope to do at privately run premises within the criminal justice system. It was extremely noticeable how relaxed and self assured the staff were. It seems a very well run establishment. However I do wonder whether the location is starting to be targeted by the Gang. Since last summer I understand there have been problems about use of the staff car park and inconsiderate speeding vehicles on the private approach road. Both are probably getting worse. I was surprised to be told that the very top management tier appear to be getting involved in what you would have thought would be a minor administration issue. I did not feel that was a good sign. Everyone is talking about it, as people do.
There is some doubt whether police crime figures are entirely accurate bearing in mind they are produced by human beings with targets to meet. However that does not apply to The Crime Survey of England and Wales carried out annually since 1981. It comprises citizen’s experiences of crime, whether reported to the police or not. To last September the poll records that crime fell by 10% from the autumn before. Crime is now a half of what is was at it’s peak in the mid 1990’s. I feel it would fit in with the perspective that was the time when the Gang were at their strongest, before they finally started destroying themselves on 9/11. Mark Easton was asked on PM this afternoon why violent crime worldwide is now at it’s lowest ever level, irrespective of the nature of the developed nation concerned. He went through the various theories but I think his favourite was that as civilisation develops over time we simply become more considerate of each other. Any overall increase in crime in the second half of the 20th century was just one of those historical aberrations, caused by some people getting too big for their boots.
Just to show how emotion, and hidden suggestion making I suspect, can turn your mind I note that a woman has been convicted today of throwing acid in her friend’s face, causing severe disfigurement. It was over an argument about a boyfriend. She disguised herself and followed her mate home from work before comitting the act. Afterwards she sent her a supportive text. When she was questioned by police she argued I understand that she was providing cover for her friend who wanted to harm herself. Her state of mind had obviously got to the stage by then that she thought she could dupe people into believing anything she said.
Danny Shaw was saying on Today this morning that there are currently eight individuals subject to supervision without charge under TPIMs, Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures. There will shortly be none as they only last for two years. It seems the regime could be on it’s way out. Probably the police and MI5 have found there are better ways to pursue their enquiries into the activities of such people. They really don’t need to be afraid of them in my view.
The opposing sides in the South Sudanese conflict have agreed a ceasefire in Addis Ababa today. 500,000 people have now been displaced and an estimated 1,000 killed. The UN peacekeeping force is being increased to 12,500 in the hope it can prevent hostilities breaking out again. If that works further talks will take place in a couple of weeks.
I see that Mr Rouhani is at the Davos World Economic Forum today basking in the limelight. I am pleased for Iran. I hope it’s President will also have some serious discussions behind closed doors.
24th January 2014
Once you are elected in a democratic vote you need to do what is expected of you by the majority of the people. It seems to me that is where both the Muslim Botherhood and the generals have gone wrong since the Egyptian plebiscite in 2011. The Gang will always take advantage of a lack of legitimacy created in a situation like that. On the eve of the third anniversary of the fall of Hosni Musbarack militants have bombed Cairo’s police headquarters, just so that they appreciate the size of the power against the state, and other targets. Six have been killed and about 100 wounded.
It is all so terribly fragile but at least the sides are willing to meet each other face to face at the Geneva II talks tomorrow. I feel they are going to have to concentrate on some small humanitarian goals before they start thinking about anything else.
I had my second and last day of training today with a larger group than before. I got a bit upset half way through the briefing session as I thought I was being deceived by a gang of four. However at the end I checked the identity of the mature man sitting besides the presenters and found him to be a delegate like me. That made me feel much better. Before that I had taken him, after I made a particular comment, to be with the others. The subject on the projector screen was a person displaying pressure. We were asked to think of single words to describe the physical tell tale signs of the condition and then other single words to describe how it may have come about. For the second I suggested secrecy on the basis that once you aware you are the subject of it, it destroys your trust and creates pressure. The man opposite me simply squirmed with embarrassment. I naturally assumed he was in on the conspiracy. At the start of the programme I am sure non of the presenters knew of my status. After the first break the first two male speakers had become aware somehow. After the second the third female knew as well. When I had worked it out though I realised the seated mature man was a Gang helper, no doubt placed where he was in the hope I would reach the initial conclusion I did. At the opposite end of the second table was the second younger Gang helper in the room, in my opinion. He was positioned to look directly at me where I was sitting earlier to see how I got on with a particular colleague. That gentleman was within a Gang circle I feel, under strong influence from his wife, knowing for example that they have the ability to listen to any phone call at will. That position makes him volatile in my view but not directly yet under Gang control.
Reflecting on it all this evening, and comparing the demeanour of those three people in comparison with a more specialist lady I spent part of yesterday morning with, my conclusion is the tutors came into their knowledge through a tip off from the Gang. If anyone was aware, in my view, it should have been the first lady, involved in the appropriate line of work. I also bumped into her on the second day at lunch and I am sure she had no knowledge about me at all.
Then I have also given thought to the car park problem I wrote about yesterday. In my opinion the director should let it be known she cares for the working environmemnt of her staff but distance herself from this particular destabilising issue. She should appoint a trobleshooter who has the confidence of all concerned to investigate the matter and listen to all representations. Once that person’s report is received she took take decisive, if necessary hard hitting, action. She is in charge, no one else.
There is no point sticking your head in the sand about things. More rain and spring tides are forecast for the west country this weekend. The Somerset Levels are already completely full. There is a risk there could be the worst flooding for over 100 years. Somerset County Council have declared a major incident. That will prepare them for calling in national resources, such as to ask for help from the army, if it is needed.
25th January 2014
The chairman of the National Institute of Care and Excellence has told the Daily Telegraph that patients should be more proactive with their GPs, especially in the medicines they chose to prescribe for us. Our doctors have lots of influences on them fron drug companies and the like. We only have our own body to think about and what is best for it. For something so important we shoud not treat doctors deferentially.
I look upon the subject of sexual relations in much the same way. It is up to us to decide what we allow to happen to our bodies. It is a big thing for a women to allow a man to enter her. For someone she does not know it is a violation of her personal space. Prostitues have thought about the subject and decided what they think is best for them. For most women though it is probably, I feel, a matter of emotion; whether that input is telling you you care for someone sufficiently to venture outside of your normal boundary.
The Department for Work and Pensions says this morning that nearly a million people who claimed sickness benefit between 2008 and early 2013 were found fit to work. That is such a large number I should think it has made a measurable difference to the nation’s finances. Mike Penning, the Disability Minister, says that with the right support such people can find useful employment.
After listening to Yesterday in Paliament on Today yesterday I am aware of the Shrewsbury 24. They were pickets who took part in the first ever national building workers strike in 1972 campaigning for better employment conditions. They were charged five months after the end of the stike under the Conspiracy Act 1895. Six went to prison. The day before MPs voted for the government to make public, state papers associated with the case which have never been released even under the 30 year rule. In the Commons the Minister of State for Justice and Civil Liberties since December 2013, Simon Hughes, gave his reply. He indicated the papers show one of those reds under the bed scares which seemed to be prevalent at the time. No publication of documents is being made now but the matter will be reviewed next year.
On the radio news I heard the result of a review by Derby Safeguarding Children Board into the Philpott family fire deaths of May 2012. It has concluded that the actions of the adults could not have reasonably been foreseen. The children were happy and no family members, neighbours, teachers or agencies had raised any concerns about their welfare.
Mishal Hussain has been in Davos for the last two days and this morning she spoke to some woman delegates who only make up 16% of the total. It is by no means certain how the percentage of top powerful women in the world can be increased.
I wrote about Jihadists returning from Syria on Tuesday. The broadcast took up the theme by talking to a moderate Imam and the ACPO lead on the prevent stategy for terrorism we operate in this country. Sir Peter Fahy explained that it’s fist element is to engage with influenced young people to try and explain that Syria would not be a good place for them. They might have high ideals before they go but their ability to empathise might be very different when they come back. The stick is to point out that law enforcement will intervene when they fly into Heathrow. So far this month 16 returnees have been stopped at our borders and subsequently watched I guess. I have little doubt the story is intelligence service led. In that connection Sir Peter remarked that we liase closely with agencies across Europe. I imagine he is particularly thinking of France, Germany and Turkey.
A BBC webpage reports this morning that the Academics Ball takes place in the Hofburg palace in Vienna at this time every year. It is suspected to be a gathering of far right extremists and Nazi sympathisers. 6,000 people gathered in Vienna yesterday to protest against the function taking place in their city.
Simon Kuper was writing about the little matter of war and peace in last Saturday’s FT. Bad news sells newspapers so that is what we read but really things aren’t as bad out there as many of us perceive. He is careful not to be too optimistic but he lists how things are getting better. If the public then had had the politicians, journalists and social media we have today World War I would not have happened. We also have the benefit of history, right up to Iraq and Afghanistan, to show us how terrible military conflict is for innocent people. Simon says politicians are probably beginning to lose status in today’s world. It is a natural process of the passage of time.
To fill that out a bit journalists today, in my opinion, make sure they turn a spotlight on the things we should know about. Hopefully we can interpret the message they cannot speak and work things out for ourselves. Certainly, I feel, we would not be where we are now if we didn’t have the key politicians currently on the world stage. They are not egotistical or want the glory for themselves. As long as it gets done that is what matters. President Obama is the lynchpin in that culture I believe.
Gillian Tett there relates a story about some research, Bank of America conducted at one of it’s call centres a few years ago. With their consent they electronically tagged their employees’ work lives over a period of six weeks. They found that because of the practice of staggering coffee breaks, so the phones were always manned, their staff existed in unhappy, isolated bubbles. Once they changed the work pattern so that normal human chatting and social interaction took place productivity soared. It saved the company $15 million a year. Gillian says the age of big data is here to stay. It is for us to decide whether it is used for good or secretive bad purposes. There is no going back.
A front page report in the paper noted that the advent of internet connected home appliances, such as TVs, home entertainment centres and even fridges are fertile ground for computer hackers. They tend not to have virus protection. Apparently over Christmas more than 750,000 malicious emails were sent from over 100,000 such smart devices acting in botnet chains.
An article inside reported that David Cameron has resurrected the annual correspondents dinner not seen at Westminster in 40 years. In the week before all key journalists were invited together with their partners. It seems the Prime Minister made a very witty speech cracking plenty of jokes, several about himself. I understand Mr Clegg and Mr Miliband decided not to go. Perhaps they have a few fences to mend with those present. I hope they will be seen next year.
The edition also sensed a turning point in the political balance in Ukriane which caused a blow up a few days later. It passed on that the president had sacked his chief of staff and signed anti protest legislation into law. I suspect that gave the Gang the confidence they needed to do some meddling.
I heard a piece on PM yesterday afternoon about Brazilian flash mobs. Today I have read about the story in more depth in that paper. With the country being in the news at the moment in my world I see they are protests against the culture of unspoken racial discrimination and inequality many black people feel in society. They are gatherings in plush shopping centres that started last month as a bit of fun but which have now snowballed into a something more political, and possibly sinister. More than 8,000 people were expected last weekend at one Rio de Janeiro shopping venue alone. I wrote about previous Brazilian unrest on 20th June 2013.
Misha Glenny in his article speculates that shale extraction could provide a big bonanza for this country. If that happens he asks that we do not fritter it away as we did North Sea oil revenues. His example of what can be done is Norway with their carbon reservoir on the other side of the North Sea. They set up an oil fund, to ring fence cash in, which has allowed them to create one of the best welfare and public service states in the world. For a population of 5 million it is probably the leading philanthropist country on the planet.
Ahead of the Davos gathering Oxfam reported last week that 85 people own half the wealth of the world. That is truely incredible. Newsnight spoke to one of them, Bill Gates, on Thursday. Like Norway though Mr Gates, with his wife, is one of the world’s philanthropists. He says he personally has paid $6 billion in tax over time. Neither does he see present inequality on the globe in cash terms. Absolutely less people are dying young and a smaller number are sick than ever before. It is a matter of whether your glass is half full or half empty.
In a LBC radio interview yesterday Nigel Farage said the UKIP 2010 general election manifesto was drivel. For 2013 the party is starting with a blank sheet of paper.
The evening radio news last night reported on a crash for cash scam from June 2011 between a bus and a car in Sheffield. Normally the bus would have been quiet but on this occasion the police subsequently established it contained 26 passengers all of whom knew what was about to happen. The driver and claims company was in on it too. The single decker crashed into a car which suddenly stopped in front of it. It was a minor incident. The innocent people on board however decscribed how everyone shouted and screamed in apparent pain. One man even ran down the isle and head butted the windscreen to hurt himself. The three ring leaders have just been sentenced for their organisation of the crime.
26th January 2014
The BBC first learnt of the police practice of detaining unruly children for over 24 hours, possibly in station cells, in 2012. They have that power under the mental health acts. When a young person has disgraced themselves and can’t be left where they are, there might be no alternative for our service of last resort. Everyone agrees it is an unsatisfactory situation though. However the World This Weekend will report today that the numbers are not coming down. They are still runnning at over 300 detentions a year where minors are being held, for some hours at least, in unsatisfactory accommodation. It should not be a difficult situation to solve I feel. Resources could be allocated nationally so that a suitable designated home or hospital in every area takes a child at short notice in pleasant surroundings.
I wrote about the addictive nature of e-cigarettes on 11th February 2013. The government have announced today that their sale to under eighteen year olds is going to be banned.
Sunday this morning told us about an 83 year old American nun who in July 2012 wanted to protest, with two male colleagues, against the existence of an uraniun enriching facility in Tennessee. It is where the Hiroshima nuclear bomb was partially made. She walked through the perimeter fence and then up to the building on which she daubed liquids and did other things. It is possible she will be sentenced to six years in gaol. The shocking thing about it of course to the American establishment is that she was actually able to carry out her protest to fruition so easily. To be horrible to her will perhaps make them feel better.
Then immediately afterwards I heard that only about one in three Church of England dioceses in this country advise their clergy on precautions for protection of themselves and their families against unruly behaviour. A good pastor wants to make himself or herself always available to their community. Their door should always be open. However, especially when dealing with people who are unwell mentally, that can present dangers. Apparently it is not a subject national church leaders wish to involve themselves with though. I think that is a shame.
I feel those last two paragraphs are about bullying, trust and risk. Terrorists are bullies. However, because of Gang infiltration and knowledge I supect, the Tenessee facility trusted absolutely it would not be attacked. However there is more than one gang in this world. They should have taken sensible precautions. Then, for the church, you think about the worst that silly bullies could do to you. You make an assessment of the risk and draw up written manuals accordingly. The fact that you are prepared to think about it, and act responsibility, gives you confidence. It also frees you up to trust the vast majority of normal people out there.
Monday’s FT notes that the Bitcoin virtual currency has really taken off. The world stock has risen from $150 million to $10 billion in the last 12 months. States worry that the system is a conduit for tax evasion and money laundering. As you might imagine different countries are coming up with different regulatory solutions. I feel that is unfortunate. The Gang will just be drawn to the weakest. And it is suprising how often victims are just left to cope with things on their own.
The paper also reports that the EU are likely to send a contingent of between 500 and 1,000 troops to the CAR before the end of February to assist the existing African Union peacekeepers. Contibuting countries will probably be France, Belgium, Poland and Estonia.
The edition has one of it’s in depth analysis pieces on al-Qaeda. It’s map is salutary in that it reminds me Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Yemen are in one vast land block, all with porous borders no doubt. In north Africa the potential mass of the terrorist influence is even greater. That weight goes from Algeria in the north to Nigeria in the south, and Mauritania on the west coast through to Niger in the east.
An item there records the reaction in Congress to President Obama’s speech on the NSA. It seems his language has given hope to both sides, those who want to restrict it’s activities and others who feel it needs protection from vicious comment. I hope they will now start talking to each other and reach some common views. I suspect the level of Mr Obam’s pitch was quite deliberate making it a pretty smart political move in my view.
In true al-Qaeda fashion I see from Tuesday’s edition that the terrorist group which carried out the recent bomb attacks in Volgograd has posted a video on the internet boasting it’s prowess. It also wants us to be fearful of course of what might happen at the Winter Olympics itself.
There was article in that paper by Indian steel chief Lakshmi Mittal and a separate opinion insertion on energy prices. Mr Mittal said that if his European plants were in the States his company would save $1 billion a year. EU electricity prices are double those of the USA and 20% higher than in China. For gas costs the differences are over three times and 12% respectively. The EU Commission is just about to examine it’s energy policies. Mr Mittal warns it needs to close the gap.
The paper notes that Bahrain’s Royal family is Sunni and it’s disturbances have been Shia led. I see Shia account for about 65% of the population. Dubai it seems is pretty friendly towards Iran.
The editorial in Wednesday’s paper writes about Italian politics. It seems the new mayor of Florence, Matteo Renzi, has struck a pact on behalf of his Democratic Party with Silvio Berluscini’s Forza Italia grouping. That could lead to a loss of power for the Senate which might enable the Prime Minister, Enricho Letta, to get some much needed reforms through the legislature.
A short report in Thursda’s edition says that Dyson will be taking on 3,000 extra staff at it’s Wiltshire headquarters. Even so, for the country as a whole, our manufacturing workforce of 2.4 million is still 300,000 less than before the financial crash.
Another article relates an announcement made at Davos. A 25 member Global Commission on Internet Governance is to be set up to report, in two years time, on the way governments use internet data and how the rights of private citizens can be best protected.
Friday’s paper highlighted that, in the past at least, the Deaprtment of Education has authorised academy schools to pay up to £50,000 to leaving staff without oversight. Those payments no doubt can be looked upon as hush money with the corresponding written agreements containing gagging clauses so that the reason for departure could not be revealed to anyone by the departing individual. A representative of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers called the position scandalous.
Jonty Bloom was explaining on The World at One that even before the recession our companies were not competitively productive in global terms. When things went pear shaped they did not make as many workers redundant as expected and now the economy is growing they are taking on staff at a higher rate than their profits are increasing. That means in an export market we will lose out to foreign competitors who have lower wage costs than ours. We will become poorer and poorer in comparison with other countries.
I obviously don’t really have a better idea than anyone else as to why that may be, however I can think of a reason which would fit in with the picture seen. In a way I hope I am wrong as it would mean there is no quick nor easy solution.
The financial crash was caused I believe by money men, possibly unconsciously, realising the Gang were very unhappy. It panicked them. They lost trust in each other. In the same way perhaps businessmen have understood for a long time it is better for the health of the profits they do have to keep on staff they don’t actually require. Now the signal is they should take on staff they do not really need.
That I think would fit in with how the Gang heirarchy wish things to be. The top level decide the modus operandi for British society. It is that ordinary individuals in the community, depending on their charachters, are either controlled in groups, such as working environments or put into solitary confinement. If you are just one soul in a factory say, the peer pressure or culture you feel is overwhelming. You have no option but to toe the line. From the Gang’s point of view it is far easier to influence large numbers of people in that way rather than have them outside of their immediate vision where they could get up to some form of mischief. Perhaps I have made them paranoid.
From a low point admittedly I would say the Geneva II talks have had a good day at the UN headquarters in Geneva. With the sides only talking through the chairman it is hoped an evacuation of civilians will start from Homs in the morning. If that comes off it will be solely down to Mr Brahimi. It is up to him to assess the people sitting in front of him and to work out how best to get them acting in positive ways. It is a massive responsibility for one man.
27th January 2014
I am spending three days on my holidays and flew into Gibralta today. As I turned into the airport concourse from passport control I walked past two policeman with machine guns. I needed to go to the airline handling desk for a query I had. The two policeman followed me around the corner. I have a couple ofthings I want to say about that.
Firstly the men must have seen a photograph of me before I arrived. I am pretty sure the snap was taken on the evening of 20th August 2013 when I went to a public meeting held by my Police and Crime Commissioner. There was an energetic man in a suit walking around the room with the strap of a very expensive looking camera around his neck. If I am correct I am not sure I am happy about the underhand way it was done. Should anyone have wanted a photo of me I would have been pleased to supply it.
Then as I said in my note last Tuesday about going to Bluewater it is not very nice when the state appears to want to pressurise you. Men with guns frightened me when I visited the Scottish parliament building on 6th April 2009 with my former wife. That, together with other crowding by government employees on the short break, caused us to have a very stressful and unhappy trip as I indicate in chapter five of my book.
I feel all of you senior people who know about my story, journalists, top politicians and security chiefs need to enagage in some hard thinking. If I suffer a fatal accident next week you will all be able to say you did not influence that in any way. You were doing your best to protect me. I personally do not think that is acceptable. I have already written I am the one who is responsible for keeping myself safe, no one else. By isolating me you are unfairly putting me under a great amount of strain. You are playing into the Gang’s hands. If you would talk to me we could work as a team. I can envisage that happening as a good marriage would. You have a single person you trust and in whom you confide your deepest thoughts. The rest of the world is pretty immaterial. Through such a process possibly you could explain what you want of me and I would try and make you understand what it is I need from you. And perhaps, more importantly than all that, I cannot begin to tell you how the contact and support through me would help those with whom I share my private world. Please converse with each other and get your act together.
I expect Gibralta is like many other parts of the world, a distinct physical division between the immensely rich and the not so well off. The old town is quaint, the sort of place I like because it has so much charachter. On the other side of the old fortifications though, on the reclaimed flat land to the sea, is the new stuff. Lots of security protected high rise developments orientated towards the water. The most recent apartments look as though they are part of a film set. I had a vision of a giant walking around trying to eat them because he thought they were made of gingerbread.
As I paced around down there I came across the most massive modern building, probably at least 50 yards long. It displayed the euphemistic nameplate of Europort without any other indication whatsoever of what goes on inside. Naively you might have thought it has something to do with imported goods handling. However a quick look at my tourist map tells me it stands for what the rock is famous for. It is the finance centre of the colony. The office block cannot be hidden but I did gain the impression it represents some form of guilty secret.
Amazingly I came across a big Morrisons supermarket. It sold everthing as at home at parity with the British pound. The cost of unleaded at the petrol station is 107.9 pence per litre. The cheapest supermarket price in my home town at the moment is 126.7p. That is a difference of over 17% for the same product in an equivalent currency. Very strange.
As far as the hard end of the Gang is concerned it is very much a different character than at home, possibly because the same level of surveillance facilities are not available here. I was on my own pretty much all day, even having a tourist coffee in the morning. The only exception was when I had an outside coffee in Main Street in the afternoon. Lots of people turned up with none, I would guess, understanding I was the centre of attraction. I found it okay. The American Gang director was just saying this is my territory, I want you to know that. Perhaps for all he knew I might have been one of his gang enemies.
28th January 2014
Today had a slightly different feel about it. I went up to the upper rock which is physically cut off from the rest of the island. Everyday traffic and public transport do not go there. It is just tourists and the military. It makes you realise what a strategic gem Gibralta must be for British and American intelligence. There are three or four sites up there which British forces make it plain should not be entered. I felt pretty much like piggy in the middle. People coming out of the woodwork on both sides presumably wanting to say how big and confident they feel. However I do have to say janitors with ear pieces in their ears cleaning up mountain roads with long armed pans and brushes does not stike me as a group on top of their game. Something I didn’t mention yesterday about my experience in Main Street yesterday was that in the middle of it all a young chap went walking through wearing large black headphonesjust as I saw in Edinburgh of April 2009. If he was a security man he was pretty ineffectual to what was going on. No one took any notice of him at all.
When you enter the upper rock area you are charged a single price for the vistor attractions there. The sites are listed for you. As a first time entrant you naturally assume the ticket covers everything available. However as I walked around I discovered from an attendant that two sites in fact are not included. You have to pay extra for them. His boss started running them about ten years ago. Apparently the tourist board did not think at the time it would be cost effective to take them on as well. That is fine. However today’s visitor should not be mislead into thinking something is the case which isn’t. Transparency should apply. It looks to me as though some people could have a guilty conscience about what happened in the past and don’t know how to deal with it.
One thing I have picked up I think is that this Gang director is into intimidation using big dogs. Yesterday I was exploring the town’s old ramparts. Large parts have new buildings on the tops but some areas are still like flat roofs. One such section had been cordoned off but I could see others had made holes in the fence and a man was there giving his dog some exercise. I decided to go that way. As I approached the big animal ran at me and attacked in a half hearted sort of way. I had my jacket on and kept my hands in my pockets so his single bite caused no harm. The man didn’t see me coming so could not have prevented it. He was embarressed. He immediately leashed his animal to it’s heavy duty harness. Then this morning I was walking across the airport car park after having been to the information desk inside the main building. This time the large dog had been taken out of the back of a van. A man was showing it to our equivalent of a PCSO. She was a small, mature women. He had given her a chew to feed the animal, no doubt saying there was nothing to be afraid of. My worry though is that in a few days or weeks the same lady will bump into the same dog when off duty and under the control of a different man, say his brother. The dog will not act so kindly towards her. Her confidence will be shattered. When in that state of mind the Gang will ask her to do them a favour. Once you have them by the goolies their hearts and minds follow.
29th January 2014
I have just got off the flight from Gibralta and want to write this down while it is fresh in my mind. I did have an allocated aircraft seat going out but did not use it. Coming back I was by the aisle. All was quiet for the first half of the flight but then the Scottish chap immediately in front of me started drinking. In an hour I think he had four minature bottles of Bacardi. That gave him the cover to start to become quite loud, not with me but those immediately around him and the cabin crew. He was one of a group of 14 in the neighbouring rows one of his companions told me. They were crew members of a ship going home on leave who had just had a changeover in Gibralta. It was the airline staff reaction that was interesting though.
My guess is that after takeoff the captain and senior stewardess received a code which told them to be aware of any unusual happenings and, if that occured, to take advice. A single passenger suddenly starting to drink I imagine comes within that category. A problem arose because the man wanted to pay for his last drinks in Gibralta pounds which Easyjet do not accept. The head lady dealt with it herself. I think she changed some euros for him. She handled the situation extremely well, with great charm. Prior to that she had been at the front of the cabin. Afterwards she went to sit on a collapsable seat in the back galley which gave her a clear view down the aircraft. At about the same time the pilot or co-pilot came out of the flight deck and stood at the front of the cabin looking at us all. After about five minutes he went to the lavatory and returned to his control room. The effect was immediate. My chap went very quiet. He only got his high spirits back again about half an hour later.
The point I would like to make about it is that people are not stupid. I am sure nothing was specifically said to either Easyjet staff member but they both worked out it was all about me. As they dare not say a word to you, or even look at you directly, that makes you feel isolated and unhappy. As things stand there is absolutely no way I could take a companion on a trip like that, unless they were fully aware of the position and accepted it. It simply would not be fair. At the end though I was very grateful to the uniformed man who come off the flight deck as we disembarked and told me to take care. I returned the supportive remark.
A pretty similar thing happened at the departure airport. There I was able to use my laptop for the first time for a few days online. I sat at a breakfast type bar just behind a check in desk for another flight. The two girls were there ready but the plane was still being prepared for it’s return flight. I did see a man talking to them out of the corner of my eye. I am sure he will have been a security man and suspect he was under cover. He stood so that I was directly in his line of vision. Again the interesting thing was the effect that had on the attractive young lady. She knew who he was even if no one else did and she worked out the person he was interested in. As soon as he had gone she started messing about with her chair and flirted with me in a sort of way. A bit later some bored young runway airport chaps started congregating around her. She flirted with them as well. She had found the incident exciting. It had made her feel full of life.
Monday was National Holocaust Memorial Day. I was up early and listened to Prayer for the Day with Rabbi Rubinstein on Radio 4. Apparently a senior Nazi was asked once why it was his party’s policy to starve jews in captivity when they were to be killed anyway under the regime’s racial extermination policy. The answer was to condition those involved in the killing so they would carry out orders. Once you have already treated others inhumanely it is not a great step to finish off the job. I suspect not many of us realise how easy it is to influence and control human minds.
Today reported on an interview Edward Snowden has given to German television. Edward suggested, without saying why he thought it apparently, that America’s snooping in Germany went far beyond the Chancellor. He intimated industrial espionage might also have been involved against such companies as Siemens.
Yesterday the programme reported on the Malawian cashgate scandal. A maliciously programmed computer system it seems allowed corrupt government officials to divert £150 million into private hands. Up to 40% of Malawi’s budget is donor funded so that trickery has caused a loss of confidence in the country from those previously happy to give it their support. President Joyce Banda is seeking re-election in May.
Barack Obama has given a pragmatic message in his State of the Union address I feel. My understanding is that it was based almost entirely on internal politics. He wants to help those who are still losing out now their economy is growing. He will by pass Congress as necessary using his administrative powers to better the lot of the poorest in American society.
30th January 2014
Simon Kuper was writing in last weekend’s FT Magazine about a recently published book of economists’ predictions for the future. From that academic viewpoint one contributor suggests our increasing life span, and smaller proportion of it needed to raise children, could mean we will turn to forms of polygamy in our lifetime relationships. I think that is a generational thing. I have no wish to be a polygamist but I can image a baby born into a completely different culture might view things otherwise when it reaches adulthood. Another contributor writes that once we reach a certain level of income more money doesn’t make you happier. Bankers please note.
Something I have always been quite clear about is that I will not look upon myself as a victim. I want to fight back. That is what my book is about. I think Gillian Tett probably looks at things in the same way. The point she makes in her piece in the magazine is that victims act passively, they do not actively influence. So, I feel, if the weather say appears against you, society as a whole should protect itself for the future and then mutually supports everyone so that we all get on with our lives in a spirit of self confidence.
In the paper Emma Jacobs writes about unwanted advances from men, something she has experienced in the past. Emma thinks the fundamental problem is one of a mismatch of power. Men feel more favoured than women so believe they can get away with things they shouldn’t. As for our greedy bankers any changes are going to be slow. However she says it is an issue where women should be willing to enagage with men, and men to talk about among themselves. Ladies and gents should be on the same side not in separate camps. The war of the sexes should be a thing of the past.
That publication says rumours are starting to circulate in the States that it’s administration would like to see an accommodation with Edward Snowden on the basis he pleads guilty to the charges brought. The fugitive has effectively said apparently he would like to return home. I do feel it is an issue that politically could blow up in the American government’s face. Certainly no artificial pressure should be allowed to build by allowing the problem to remain unresolved close to the expiry of his temporary Russian visa. Apparantly 73% of the American public think Edward should face prosecution. That, in my view, is partially down to what they have been told. Obviously public order is paramount. So is doing the right thing. I hope it should be possible to be compassionate towards an idealistic younger man and not lose the trust of your electorate.
Last week the Argentinian peso dropped 17%. The markets have lost confidence in it’s government’s ability to manage the economy. The paper says some are suggesting we are at a point analagous to the 1997 Asian emerging economies’ finacial crash. That was caused by the situation in Thailand. However more measured voices are saying that is being alarmist. It is true Venezuela, Ukraine, Turkey, Brazil, South Africa, India and Russia all exhibit deficiencies but individual problems apply to each. You cannot blanket them all together.
The editorial writes specifically about the Latin American countries. There the weak economies apparently are Chile, Columbia, Mexico and Peru. Brazil is stronger but it’s credibility is compromised by slow growth and fudged statistics.
The issue highlights the remarks made by Nigel Farage that we should liberalise our handgun laws. Those were considerably strentghened after the Dumblane killings in 1996. Mr Farage says the change did not help. Gun crime doubled in the five years after the legislation was introduced. At the moment apparently the British handgun shooting team have to travel to France to train for the next Olympics.
I wrote about the recent Mafia crackdown on 22nd January 2014. The paper covers that news and quotes a Rome politician explaining how the mob easily put honest companies out of business. They have the financial resources to undercut the prices of a competitor until they have to close or sucumb to their overtures. In a village I know is a parade of about 10 retail businesses. Until a couple of years ago there was one general grocery outlet. Now there are three. I suspect one of them, not the most recent, is Gang financed.
One gets the feeling of frayed nerves when you read about events in the Commons today over immigration. It reminds me of the frenetic manouverings which seemed to be taking place at the time of the Syrian chemical weapons vote there in August 2013. On this occasion Theresa May introduced a late amendment to the Immigration Bill to remove British citizenship from some naturalised foreigners here, suspected of terrorist activities. Possibly that was hoped to take the wind from the sails of about 100 Tory backbenchers. They had arranged a vote to prevent litigants from citing EU human rights law for families to resist deportation for proved criminal activities of themselves within those families. However it didn’t work out like that and, unbeknown to Mrs May in the chamber, No 10 sent out the message to government ministers that the rebels should not be openly resisted. It seems that cohesivenees of the Conservative Party had become a higher priority than possibly breaking European law. In the event though crisis was averted. Labour and Lib Dem MPs voted against the Consevative dissenters so their motion lost by a mile. Pure politics I am afraid.
A story which yesterday’s Today concentrated on was the government’s change of mind in deciding to offer at least a temporary home here to some hundreds of particularly vunerable Syrian refugees. The announcement came shortly before a Labour led Commons debate on the issue was to take place.
Steve Rosenburgh was on this morning’s programme bringing us up to date with events in Ukraine. After the protestors were not cowed by some trigger happy policemen the government blinked. They rescinded the recent law to restrict the right of demonstration. Next the prime minister and his cabinet resigned, with posts being offered to the opposition. They refused. Now a law has been passed to provide amnesty to detained protesters under certain conditions. However those on the barricades are still upset, they suspect a trap and have stopped talking to some journalists. The president is current off work, sick. Then pulling like mad off stage still are those on the east and west. Russia has suspended payment of it’s bail out funds asking for clarification and Catherine Ashton has been on a visit asking the government to pull itself together.
31st January 2014
Altough I haven’t written about it my dealings with Hampshire Constabulary have been ongoing since my note of 20th Novemebr 2013. I have been corresponding with my PC about whether he would be prepared to interview me at my local police station and if he would register my own allegation about the young lady being in a gent’s toilet when she shouldn’t. On 10th January 2014 he send me an email dealing with the second subject but I was still waiting to hear about the first. I was a bit surprised therefore to have the Kent Police officer knock on my door on 19th January and arrest me on suspicion of exposing myself to a woman in a gent’s toilet on 19th October 2013. He told me his office had received the request from Hampshire the previous day. He immediately bailed me and I travelled to Basingstoke at my own expense today. When I arrived I was arrested again, had all my property removed, my finger prints and photograph taken and a DNA sample obtained. When I was being booked in at the desk I was asked if I would consent to those procedures. I said I would rather not. The lady then made it plain they would be performed by force if necessary. The only logical reason I can think of for her asking me therefore is that she wished, possibly unconsciously, to point out the powerful position she held over me now I was in a police domain. I think it was an ungenerous act to use her dominant position in that way.
I was put in a locked cell and told I would not be allowed to leave until the police had decided what to do with me. In the event no charges were made as it was one person’s word against another’s and I left after three hours.
I do not think I should have been arrested in Kent without the Hampshie police first informing me that was their intention. I am not stupid. If they had done that I would have agreed to their request to voluntarily visit them.
I was interviewed by my Basingstoke PC with his sergeant sitting beside him. The more senior man put forward the view that if the lady’s bladder was full it was quite reasonably for her to use the men’s room. I disagreed and said that when young the membrane will always have sufficient flexibility to wait a few moments, enough for her own cubicle to become free. There was no long queue. He also suggested the form of words I used to her, as I describe in my note of 20th October 2013, was meant to be intimidatory. I dissented. I said I thought she should have remained in the cubicle for the three minutes or so I was in the gents. The silence when I entered showed she had completely finished any business she was doing before I got there. If she was still inside as I walked in there was no reason why she should not have waited a couple of minutes more.
One thing is certain. One of us is lying about the act of exposure and possibly other matters. The reader must decide who they think is telling the truth. On the basis I am the one I have a few further comments to make.
From the interview and a subsequent conversation with the PC I understand the young lady said she made quite a bit of noise, such as banging on the cubicle door, before she emerged. In fact she was a bit like a church mouse. I suspect her version is what was meant to have happened. In that case I think it would have been quite expected for the lady in the corridor to have entered the room to see what all the fuss was about. I believe it likely I would then have been accused of exposing myself to two ladies, who I have little doubt did not know each other, at the same time. One man’s word against two witnesses could have been a very different kettle of fish.
Additionally I understand the young lady said it was not her idea to enter my toilet. However her state of discomfort somehow came up in conversation as a man was walking back to the shop. He told her the gents was empty and suggested she go in. Neither was it her idea to report the incident to police. But when she was chatting with her friends they said she should so as to prevent a similar thing happening to a vunerable young girl for example. Also she did not investigate me in any way. For her it was an encounter with a stranger. Identification of me and my car was down to the police using CCTV footage obtained from the filling station. There was no camera cover in the toilets. With those extra bits I feel the lady might easily have come over as a reluctant aggrieved woman you would want to help in a court appearance.
Just as I was leaving I told the PC about another diary note I wrote on 14th July 2012 about me visiting the same services on the opposite carriageway. That appears in the chapter 10 appendix of my book. It describes the invasion of my personal space by a man I experienced when I was queuing to pay there. I also told him I thought the apparent heavy Gang presence at both sets of services would be associated with the small airfield immediately adjacent which I suspect is sometimes used for criminal purposes. I asked if he would make a report to his intelligence section which I believe he will do.
In that conversation I also discussed with him the provisions of section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986. He advised that it could possibly cover the lady’s admitted actions in the toilet but he own personal view was that any complaint I made under the provision would not succeed. I have decided to take a foregiving view and will not be pursuing the matter any further.
Even so for me it is not really the end of it. I am going to have to be extremely careful when I go into men’s toilets in the future. A single unproven allegation in police files is one thing. Two or more will begin to look a bit more than a coincidence.