1st March 2014
Crimea was within the USSR. In 1954 Nikita Kruschov decided it should become part of Ukraine but it’s loyalty has always looked east. For over 50% of the population Russian is their first language. It is also home to the Russian Black Sea fleet. Those factors, it seems to me, have led to the position we see at the moment. Yesterday morning men with guns were seen at Crimea’s main civilian airport. Russian troops, based there, have also been observed moving around in military vehicles. A Russian naval ship is blocking the entrance to the port of Balaklava. President Obama has warned Russia that any violation of Ukrainian sovereignty will incur costs to Russia. This morning the prime minister of Crimea has said he has asked Russia to provide peace and order to his republic.
2nd March 2014
The Queen and Prince Philip went to have lunch at Chequers on Friday with David and Samantha Cameron. It is only the third time Her Majesty has been there. The last visit was in 1996.
When I found out Mrs Merkel was visiting us I tried to look up when the trip was arranged. Nothing came to light although it started to be talked about just over seven days ago. Last weekend’s FT mentioned the away day where it incorrectly said she would be giving her speech in the Robing Room at the Houses of Parliament. That makes me think it was quite a last minute arrangement.
At the time that paper was published Ukranian elections were set for December but things did not look good. It said that Mr Yanukovich’s inner circle is known as The Family. One of those, who was head of presidential administration, has extensive business interests apparently which are incorporated or controlled through companies in Austria.
Yesterday Presidents Obama and Putin spoke on the phone for 90 minutes. I feel that is a positive sign. They had things they both wanted to talk about. I suspect Mr Putin is not in charge of his administration as much as he would like. The bribing of Ukraine did not work. I think some will want to produce the same result by more direct means. Unlike the Georgian military action in 2008 I believe Mr Putin has decided to transparently obtain the authority of parliament this time, which he did yesterday, in case force be used later. I hope he and Mr Lavrov can keep a lid on things. They need to open up some channels of communication with their opponents.
The other side of the equation is the Kiev government. If they do anything provocative that will give Russia the cover to hit back hard. To try and give them confidence I think, there have been lots of emergency meetings and strong language from senior European politicians against the Russians. Non violent consequences will follow if Russia acts unilaterally.
Another thing that seems to be happening I feel is that Mr Obama and Mr Cameron do not want to rely too much on their intelligence services as this plays out. After the President spoke to Mr Putin I imagine there was a diplomatic briefing to the Foreign Office. Mr Hague left for Kiev soon after lunch. No doubt he will report back to No 10 Downing Street on his discussions there. Mr Cameron will be speaking to Mr Obama this evening. Not a spy in sight.
I wrote about Mr Hague being due to visit Colombia on 12th February 2014. Strangely when I do a Google search for that the only thing that comes up is the London Colombian embassy website. I see the Foreign Secretary made a three day goodwill visit on 18th February. The site also informs me that the week before their new ambassador arrived here from his previous post at the United Nations.
It seems the Gang Master could be upset with China. A terrorist assault has been carried out in the north western Xinjian region, near to Pakistan and Afghanistan. To fit in with the culture of the place I expect, knives were used. Attackers dressed in black, randomly approached strangers at a railway station killing at least 29 and wounding 130. The culprits are thought to be part of the minority Uighur Muslim population who want autonomy from Chinese rule.
3rd March 2014
The deed has been done. This morning Russian troops are in control of Crimea. The vehicles and uniforms of those out in public do not identify themselves as such but that is who they are. It is not a very transparent way for the Russian state to be acting. It reminds me of my note of 11th February 2014. The law of force is being used not the force of law. The two million residents of Crimea have not been consulted in any way about their fate. That should now happen in a proper democratic manner. And their wishes then respected.
Recently Today interviewed a radical Islamist preacher. I wrote about it on 21st and 22nd December 2013. This morning they had a former member of al-Qaeda on, speaking anonymously. He said he was trained to look forward to death through martyrdom but fear imprisonment. He finally decided though that it is not fair to kill civilians. Immediately afterwards Sir Malcombe Rifkind spoke. His view was that the Imams have an important role to play. They are the most suitable people to explain to the young men in their congregations what the true meaning of Islam is.
Before that a man spoke from near the Somerset Levels. Some of his land is still under 13 foot of water. Currently there is one foot in his home, down from five foot.
Following my note last Monday about motorcycle clubs, and an earlier one on 1st May 2013, I have done a bit of research on the internet today. The Hells Angels were formed in California in 1948 three years after the end of the second world war. The London chapter started in 1969 and Eastern Europe became part of the fold around 2000. There are now groupings in 29 countries around the world with about 2,000 members in America. They are the biggest club in Canada. Hells Angels and the Outlaws gang are categorised as organised crime syndicates by the US Department of Justice. The Outlaws started in Illinois in 1935. They spread to Canada in 1977 and Europe in 1993. They too now have chapters all over the world. Jersey joined in 2001 and Russia in 2005. I feel the Hells Angels are aligned to the American Gang and the Outlaws to the European Gang.
That means that they live cheek by jowl with each other everywhere on the planet, as they do in their original home of Italy. Territory and spheres of influence no doubt are vigorously protected with, in my view, the American Gang being the bigger and cleverer. The European lot I feel are much easier to read as we have seen over the last few days. The Russian move into Crimea was well planned and set up, but predictable. It followed past patterns of history. That doesn’t mean the Americans are not strong in Russia too though. The apparent meteor falling into Lake Chebarkul in February 2013 epitomises them down to a tee. But, in Russia at least, they do not reside in the echelons of power.
Last Monday’s FT quotes the director of public prosecutions as saying that proceeds of crime are the lifeblood of organised criminals and fraudsters. She was announcing in Madrid that her office is assigning six specialist lawyers abroad to get as much of that stashed away cash back to the UK as possible. The first postings will be to Spain and the UAE.
4th March 2014
I don’t wish to be disrespectful to either man but, as far as America and Russia are concerned, I think you could argue that over the last couple of days their presidents have been acting as mouthpieces for the American and European Gangs respectively. It is interesting to note that Mr Putin has referred to Neo Nazis and anti-Semites roaming the streets of Ukraine this morning. Those groups though are only interested in hidden power and money. They have no compassion for anyone outside their own clans. Mr Obama and Mr Putin however have different values than that. I think we may be over the worse. The two men need to use their open powers of influence and persuasion to find a peaceful way forward.
I was writing about calcium, chalk and limestone the other day, all the same atomic substance. Mixed with clay it is the raw material for cement, heated to high temperatures and then powdered. I see from a BBC webpage this morning that making a ton of the product produces almost a ton of CO2. It is thought cement making accounts for 5% of total world greenhouse gas emissions.
I have just spent 15 minutes trying to find an email address for Google. The contact page on their website says they will give you one but, for me at least, didn’t. I received what I suspect was a fraudulent email this morning supposedly from Gmail support, to an account I no longer officially use. It wanted me to click a link to view a message. Unfortunately I was not able to tell Google about it.
There was a bit of a fuss yesterday about a civil servant walking into No 10. He was holding a piece of paper with some confidential, possibly embarrassing information about the government’s position on Ukraine. He was holding it partially downwards so how the press photographers got a readable image of it seems surprising but apparently they did. It is the third or fourth time that has happened I think since Bob Quick first did it in April 2009.
I imagine the occurrence got a few people talking and led to another story which broke this morning. The deputy head of the policy unit at No 10 resigned last month, the day before he was apparently arrested by the NCA on suspicion of holding images of child abuse on his computer. The man apparently was working on strategies to deal with internet child abuse at the time.
After not say saying anything publicly since Russia took their actions regarding Crimea, President Putin conducted an hour long informal press conference with local journalists this afternoon. I have heard it reported he was confident and relaxed. Then this evening the Russians fired an international ballistic missile from one of their test sites. The Americans say they were notified of the intended firing earlier in the week under bilateral arms treaties. My private life is very much two steps forward, one and a half steps back at the moment. I imagine it might be like that for others too.
Today this morning were concentrating on the high cost of childcare. A full time nursery place for a child under two now costs just under £10,000 a year. That is a strong disincentive for mothers who wish to work in my view. The story might also show a business sector where it is more important to make as much money as possible rather than be fair to your clients.
The Lib Dem Home Office minister, Norman Baker, said on the programme that our legislation for regulating secret service intelligence gathering is archaic. Technology has changed out of all recognition since current law was created at the end of the 1990s. On his own initiative Nick Clegg has arranged for RUSI to prepare an independent report on the situation to be ready after the next general election. It will be chaired by the RUSI chief and comprise experts in technology, civil liberties, state intelligence and law.
Today interviewed a German author this morning who apparently knows Vladimir Puin well. He was speaking in terms of soft and hard power. I remember seeing a clip of President Putin alone, shirtless and bareback on a horse some time ago. He does not hide he is an ex-KGB officer and is openly friendly I understand with motorbike groups. That all strikes me as projection of hard power. Indeed it seems easy to conclude that part of Russia’s interest in Syria is retention of it’s harbour facility at Tartus, and it’s main concern for Crimea is over it’s naval berthing at Sevastopol. The world should be for ordinary people though in my view. There is no need to be obsessed with military might. I know Mr Putin thinks that way too. It is why he wrote his letter to the New York Times last September. My only worry is that he does not seem to apply that standard where he lives. I must say it seems pretty rude of Mr Lavrov to have refused to speak to the Ukrainian foreign minister in Paris his evening, especially when Mr Deshchytsia had been hanging around for hours to offer him that option. Those who wish to control don’t like talking to others with opposing views. It means they might have to be flexible and bend to powers of rational persuasion. I believe it is silly to look upon discussion as weak. If that is the general perception though only a real leader can change how his followers sees things.
Another item on the programme was an interview with the co-author of a report for the European Agency for Fundamental Rights. 42,000 women across the continent were interviewed. A third, equivalent to 62 million for the whole population, said they had been physically or sexually abused since the age of 15. The country reporting the highest incidence was Denmark, followed by Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands, the UK and France. There could be all sorts of reasons to explain the numbers thrown up. Probably some more research would be helpful.
It is reported this evening that Legoland near Windsor will have a precautionary shutdown this weekend. The Muslim Research and Development Foundation were to have a private event there on Sunday. However we have such hateful people in this world, and there was so much fuss about it on social media, it has been called off. I wrote about the new Lego film on 11th February 2014.
In 2002 the World Health Organisation recommended that no more than 10% of our normal daily calorie intake should be accounted for by sugar. Quite a few of us since then have become pretty obese. Today the WHO are reducing their advisory percentage down to 5.
I have just watched an interview on Newsnight recorded yesterday, on the subject of stop and search, with Bernard Hogan-Howe. He was confident and relaxed, The main point he wanted to get over I thought was that his service has listened to the views of Londoners and acted on them. The process is used less often, is focused and suspects are treated with sensitivity. Crime has dropped. Even after plebgate he said he thought senior politicians and the Met have a mutually trustful relationship.
6th March 2014
When I was looking into the Hells Angels and Outlaws gangs the other day I came across a consequence I feel of the 12th August 2007 killing of Gerry Tobin. On 20th January 2008 there was a dust up between the groups, for a reason not explained, at Birmingham International Airport. Five Hells Angels and seven Outlaws were charged. No guns were recovered but plenty of knives and other potential weapons were. All men were jailed for six years after a six week trial. I read on Wikipedia that the court policing cost came to £1 million.
I don’t think I would have wanted to write this note except for the obvious intimidation as I was leaving. Yesterday there was a group of about six people looking at me, of foreign ethnicity, on the forecourt. They had also parked a car there making it very difficult for me to safely back out from the tyre bay and drive off. I last wrote about my car tyres on 21st February 2014. When I left the Midlands on 27th February I noticed an unusual feel in the steering wheel but did not think too much about it. Three hours later when I got home I looked and one of my front tyres was deflated but not entirely flat. I have been trying to work out since whether it has a slow puncture or someone is letting it down overnight when I am asleep. By the beginning of this week I had decided it was a puncture. The on desk manager at the tyre centre was very courteous and helpful. When he looked at my tyres he said the two at the front were illegal, the others alright. I bought the car from new a few years ago and this was the first tyre change. When he examined the slightly spongy tyre he could feel the inner metal cord on the back surface, out of sight. The tyre could have popped, as he put it, at any time. When I got back twenty minutes later he tried to find it to show me. However someone had removed it.
Immediately before that I had been to redeeem a gift voucher in a large prestigious shopping centre. I visited a national clothing chain for a sweater. To make sure my selection was the right size I took my jacket and jumper off and put them on top of a clothes rack. I walked five paces to the mirror wearing my intended purchase. About 10 seconds later I was walking back. I wouldn’t even have noticed him if he hadn’t said anything. The store assistant was standing by the rail and asked if the jacket was mine. I said it was. He was obviously concerned it might have been left behind by someone. However for something unusual like that to happen to me rings all my alarm bells. I checked my jacket pockets and found my wallet to be missing. I immediately went to find him. He walked back with me, stooped down and picked it up off the floor hidden by the clothes on the rail. If he had put it there of course he had done nothing wrong. He had not stolen anything. And if I had gone off without noticing, for a shopper to walk in and pick it up would have been virtually a risk free act. I was extremely fortunate he had said something to me. If it was a set up, to realise that strangers you converse with hate you that much, just for what you stand for, is not nice. It took me quite a few hours to get back to normal. The tyre incident was far easier to deal with. It was not so much in my face.
A BBC webpage reports this afternoon that Dell have been charging buyers of their computers £16.25 to install the free browser Mozilla Firefox. The download takes about 10 minutes from the internet so that is a charging rate of just under £100 per hour. Mozilla are not happy. It must be a pure coincidence but I installed Firefox this week and find it good. Google Analytics, which is my means of looking at traffic through this website, has been upgraded recently and I was having difficulty using it with Internet Explorer and Google Chrome on my admittedly very old desktop computer. There was a two second power cut just as I was doing it.
Another page informs me that a nuclear submarine test reactor at Dounreay, near to Thurso in Scotland, is to be replaced at a cost of £120 million. It seems there is some form of leak meaning that the cooling waters around it have become slightly radioactive. The fault was found in 2012.
Last Thursday’s FT says that one of our waste management company’s, French owned Veolia, has a contract with the Ministry of Defence to detoxify 150 tonnes of chemical weapon liquid from Syria. A Finnish company is doing the same thing. The material will be burnt with salt in a standard industrial process to produce inert material for landfill. Some people who live near the Ellesmere Port plant are naturally worried about it all. However for reassurance the month long process will be overseen by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
Another article relates that after the fall of it’s Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood president, Mohamed Morsi, last year the UAE has promised almost $10 billion in aid. Saudi Arabia has pledged $5 billion and Kuwait given $4 billion. Apparently the UAE wish to introduce checks to ensure that their most recent instalment is wisely spent.
That day the Guardian reported GCHQ has been cooperating with the NSA in operation Optic Nerve. Friday’s FT passed on the details. It’s processes have intercepted and stored 1.8 million images from the webcams of Yahoo customers by taking a snap every five minutes whilst users were logged into their accounts. It does seem a pretty strange thing to do. I find it difficult to think of a logical reason to target one set of customers in that way. How it can be anything to do with national security is not easy to fathom. Yahoo have said they are shocked to have found out about it all.
I wrote on 8th February 2014 how America’s Trans-Pacific Partnership trade talks did not seem to be going very well. The US vice-president, Joe Biden, authored an article in the edition asking Congress to provide the trade promotion authority which the administration will need to push the project forward. It doesn’t seem reasonable to expect a government to ask for permission to do things, as a young child would; it’s quite controlling really.
After Mr Hogan-Howe’s Newsnight interview the evening before last this morning’s radio news reported that the Home Office recommended to Ministers four months ago that the rules for police being able to stop and search individuals in the street should be tightened up. The word is that a regressive attitude in No 10 is holding things up.
The charity Rape Crisis has reported that that violation is much more on ladies’ minds nowadays. Today visited the issue this morning, particularly on the aspect that young people do not understand what it is. From a detached standpoint of course it cannot be simpler. It is when a girl says no and that does not happen. When you are in the thick of it I am not sure it is not that simple. But nevertheless if you have a caring attitude towards someone you are with you must accept what they say even if non verbal signals seem to be different. It is actually I believe a very complicated subject. But for the young especially that straightforward approach must be the only sensible course to adopt.
In one of the chapters in my book I argue that sexual drive is just about the most positive attribute a person has. I believe both men and women have it. It is universal and I consider all of us have sexual awareness which can be used to counteract sometimes negative aspects of our lives. It is not a golden rule though as grooming activity shows. The best thing I feel is that the subject is openly talked about, so that men can see how women see it and vice versa.
As a facet of their religion strict Muslims and Jews require the animals they eat to have bled to death. The soon to be president of the British Veterinary Association was on the programme saying it is not a very humane way of slaughter. A Jewish representative countered that their methodology is humane to the animal. I do not know which is right but on the more general point I do feel it would be useful for youngsters to go on school trips to slaughterhouses to see how meat comes to their dinner table. I make the point in chapter seven of my book.
It has been a busy day on the Ukraine front. A former EU official was on the broadcast saying that the hastily arranged meeting of EU leaders in Brussels today, attended by David Cameron, was primarily to show support for their new interim prime minister who also went along. Even Nick Robinson was there giving his astute political commentary of what was going on. I also heard another contributor say that Ukrainian shale gas is a factor in the geopolitical considerations. Shell, ExxonMobile and Chevron have all signed deals with Ukraine over the last few months, one worth $10 billion. There are more reserves off the Crimean coast. This morning the Crimean regional parliament decided to have a referendum at the end of next week to become part of the Russian Federation. Then Mr Kerry and Mr Lavrov have been having more discussions today, this time on the fringes of a conference in Rome about Libya. It seems that Mr Obama is putting the suggestion to Mr Putin that for the moment Ukraine must be treated as a single entity. International monitors should be allowed into all parts. Russia should talk to the legitimate government of Ukraine and wait for the result of the presidential elections now set for May.
Somehow I missed it but I have just read a BBC webpage published in the evening of 15th August 2013 saying that the Home Secretary had appointed Mark Ellison QC and a colleague to carry out a review into the police investigations following the murder of Stephen Lawrence. It would be submitted by the end of the year. My letter to Mrs May, referred to in my note of 26th August 2013, was posted on 14h August.
Mr Ellison’s report was ordered to be published today by the House of Commons. It concludes that corruption and dishonest practice probably did compromise police actions. Mrs May has today announced a judge led public enquiry into the matter and undercover policing generally. No date for that inquiry however is currently being set so that any appropriate criminal investigations can be pursued. She is asking the director of the National Crime Agency to look into that aspect. In the meantime the Home Secretary is going ahead with introducing a new criminal offence of police corruption to replace the existing misconduct in public office.
7th March 2014
I wrote on Wednesday about Mr Hogan-Howe’s confident interview given to Kirtsy Wark the evening before. Yesterday he did not make himself available for interview by the media. I have written two recent emails pertinent to the Stephen Lawrence case, the last on Tuesday morning after one dated 24th February 2014. I consider the Police Commissioner should have been aware of what I had written. So, putting that together, I feel there are two interpretations of his actions. Either he did know and was happy about it or he was in complete ignorance. If he was unaware I simply cannot understand what MI5 think they are doing. On balance I think it must be the former.
This morning’s radio news says that Mr Obama and Mr Putin have had another hour long phone conversation but no progress was made. I suspect the fundamental difference of view is that Mr Putin want’s the people of Crimea alone to decide their future, Mr Obama says it must be all Ukrainians jointly. The American President has international law on his side. But, in a home context, the English and Welsh do not expect to vote in the Scottish referendum. You see exactly the same scenario playing out in Thailand at the moment with the differencies between the rural and urban constituencies . I hope the circle can be squared somehow. Thinking about my visit to Europa Point on Gibralta which I wrote about on 11th February 2014 perhaps it should be, we do not want the law of force nor the force of law. What we need is force of will expressed by a viable group of peaceful people.
I am pleased to see that the Ukranian Paralympic team have decided not to boycott the Sochi Winter Paralympics starting today. There is no need to create victims unless it is forced on you.
A BBC webpage reports this morning that in 1994 the then Met Commissioner, Paul Condon, set up the outside based Operation Othona to investigate corruption within his force. It lasted four years. Last year it emerged that all records regarding the investigation have been lost except for some details still on an old computer found in a cardboard box.
Something on yesterday’s edition of Today I forgot to mention was a piece about the effect of music on human memory and psyche. When I was young my parents went out every Saturday evening and brought back fish and chips from the shop on their return. They would always walk through the door just as Match of the Day was starting. Later Saturday highlights went to commercial competitors and I forgot all about it. Then, in 2004 I see, they came back to the BBC. The used the same signature tune from the 1960s. Every time I hear it now, including tomorrow evening, I remember the smell of bought fish and chips. It is really odd.
Then I also wrote on 3rd November 2013 about feeling guilty listening to music which used to make me happy. I am still like that I am afraid. Hopefully one day it will change.
I had heard a few negative comments about a new Waitrose loyalty scheme but never quite picked up on what is was all about. Last Saturday’s FT tells me. Once you have a myWaitrose loyalty card you are entitled to a free cup of coffee or tea per day of any type in any of their instore cafes. There is no need to make a purchase. If you do spend over £5 you can take a free daily newspaper to read whilst you are having your beverage and then take it home with you afterwards. The Labour party shadow communities minister has said the scheme is having a stark effect on small coffee shops and newsagents throughout Britain. The same criticism is often made of Tesco. I have written before I think that Bicester, population 29,000, has six Tescos. John Lewis, who own Waitrose, are a big rapidly expanding company. I suppose they can afford to give away 1 million cups of coffe and nearly the same number of newspapers every week. However it does seem a bit unfair. The paper quotes Waitrose’s top man as saying the fuss fails to understand how the word is moving. It is only moving there, it seems to me, because we are pushing it. I hope the gentlemen realises that his shops will now become awash with Gang helpers who inevitably will have a destabilising effect on the good management of his business.
Also on the front page of the paper is a photo of the leader of the Russian motorbike group the Night Wolves at a rally in Crimea. Apparently they are strongly associated with Mr Putin.
I have written before that in many ways Gillian Tett provided the inspiration for me telling my story. When I realised the financial crash was nothing new, that she saw it coming after she had experienced the same thing when working in Tokyo in 1997, it made a difference. Perhaps I was witnessing something that was following an historical pattern. There was something pretty important to be said. Anyway Gillian was at it again in last weekend’s FT Magazine. This time she informed us that what we have witnessed in Ukraine in the last couple of weeks occurred in Tajikistan in 1992. She was there as a post graduate student at the time. The young protestors, with their high ideals of democracy, thought it was going so well initially. But then the guns came out terrorising everyone. Those particular bullies did melt away when they realised the depth of public support for change. Tragically though the men behind the scenes did later force the country into full scale civil war which did not end until 1997. The worst of it was that it was a hidden part of the world and no one really ever found out what had gone on. In one respect however Gillian says things are very different today. An ordinary person’s access to technology and social media means events can be recorded and passed on immediately. That horrible world of isolation and secrecy has been shattered. I suppose you could say it is what this blog is all about.
In his piece in the periodical Simon Kuper suggests politicians aren’t as powerful as they once thought; they now recognise that which is a good thing. It means they concentrate more on what is achievable and not on impossible dreams which inevitably go wrong. His suggestion is that in future they should try strategies on a small scale. If they work they can be built on, if not they can quietly be dropped. Leaders should be pragmatic and practical. The euro was a really good idea on paper. In reality it did not work out as people hoped. However it was such a visionary project that it is now impossible to undo. When things go wrong we just have to make the best of it.
In the centre of the paper a professor of history writes about the power of the people as exemplified by the protests in the Maidan in Kiev, Tahir Square in Egypt, Gezi Park in Instanbul, Zucotti Park in New York and St Pauls churhyard in London. There have been other such events in Brazil, Caracas, Sarajavo and Bangkok. He looks upon it all as immensely hopeful. Yet people in the street cannot really be expected to have a long term vision. We need responsible politicians and leaders for that.
In the financial pages I see that the Chinese microblogging site, Weibo, is going for a New York stock market listing. It hopes to raise up to $8 billion.
The first independent investigation into the Stephen Lawrence case was by the Macpherson Committee which reported in February 1999. A member was on the World at One yesterday and had clearly been disillusioned by the whole process. He referred to having been led by the nose. In his view not only the panel must be completely independent but it’s secretary as well. In his case that person was supplied by the Home Office I believe.
An author was saying on Today this morning that Afghanistan is the most corrupt country in the world, followed by Somalia and North Korea. He argued in that situation we should be pretty mindful about what happens to British funds, through DFID for example, which we send there. There is no point in it all being diverted to buy residential property in Dubai. His suggestion is that we should keep our focus small and concentrate on projects which we can control ourselves. In that context he mentioned the Halo initiative clearing mines which has worked, as has a road building programme involving British forces. As Simon Kuper remarks you start small, find something that works and build up from there.
Wi-fi in public areas was also covered. Criminals can now sit in such a place with no more than a mobile phone and set up a spoof network which you might well connect to. If you buy something online they will take all your credit card payment details thank you very much. Even if you are on an apparently encrypted http site it seems criminals can now work around that. The only sure thing probably is not to display any sensitive information when you are away from home.
Another item dealt with a report by the House of Commons transport committee saying that in the past Network Rail has shown a callous disregard for the feelings of bereaved families whose loved ones have died on their track. It is another of those culture stories I am afraid where you have wicked, hidden, unspoken things going on in the workplace. Good people are too afraid to say anything against it. The new boss of the railways just taking over was on air saying that he will see they do better in future.
Whether the process has been blown off course by events in Ukraine I am not sure but Monday’s FT reported that John Kerry was just about to unveil his plans for an Israeli-Palestinian peace. The editorial there considers his likely proposals favour the Jews too much. Mr Netanyahu was in Washington that day with a bevvy of advisers to meet with President Obama. It seems unlikely it will all work unless Palestinian leaders have a package they can realistically sell to their people. I doubt if the world will be pleased about the present situation.
Mr Putin has said he wants to maintain good relations with the West. In Tuesday’s FT Gideon Rachman suggests he cannot act as though we are in a new cold war but expect everything else in economic terms to be business as normal.
8th March 2014
During the week a Royal Mail advice came through the door that I had received an underpaid item. It asked me to go to the sorting office five miles away to collect it and pay the surcharge. When I got there this morning I saw it was an individually addressed envelope written with fountain pen. It had personal on it. I asked the man if I could check whether it was junk or not. Apologetically he said no. I paid £1.09, nine pence of which was the short postage. Inside I found correspondence from my old school which I have not heard sight or sound from since I left in 1969. From then to now I have changed my address six times. It was asking me to contribute to a fund to build some new fives courts, a sport in which I used to participate when I was there. You play fives in what looks like an open backed squash court and hit a small ball with gloved hands.
Ed Miliband has been visiting our troops in Afghanistan today. Apparently surveys show one in five members of our armed forces suffer discrimination when in uniform in public. He pledged that a Labour government would introduce legislation to stop it. He said he supported our Libya operation in March 2011 because it protected innocent civilians.
Coming back to my note on Friday about the Ellison report I see Mr Ellison is the barrister who successfully prosecuted Gary Dobson and David Norris for Stephen’s murder in January 2012. Mr Norris is reputedly the son of a notorious south London organised criminal. Mrs May asked Mr Ellison to make his review into alleged corrupt practices within the Metropolitan Police flowing from Stephen’s murder, in July 2012. Then on 15th August 2013 Mr Ellison let it be known he would specifically look into whether undercover police officers deliberately set out to smear the Lawrence family. Stephen’s 35 year old teacher brother and family man, Stuart, has spoken to the BBC today. He says we would like to sit on the inquiry panel to be set up. Mr Cameron says will probably meet with Baroness and Mr Lawrence and Mr Hogan-Howe has said the same.
It seems possible the Today team might have suspected the BBC are being picked on when they told us about the government’s current thinking on the TV licence fee this morning. Apparently in 2012 180,000 people were prosecuted for not paying 40 pence per day for watching their colour televisions. I am surprised the number is so high. Ministers might change the offence from being criminal to civil, in part apparently to free up criminal court resources. I imagine the BBC might argue it will make recovery after non payment that much harder to achieve. A Corporation webpage reports a spokesman for the culture secretary as saying the BBC needs to get it’s house in order.
In another part of the programme, when Danny Alexander was asked whether he employed immigrants in his home he very transparently replied that he has a British childminder and a Portuguese cleaner. The journalistic question was perfectly proper in my view in light of current political debate on immigration but Mr Alexander also commented, again quite reasonably I feel, that it is a pity such information is viewed as being in the public interest. It almost predisposes some form of guilt, without due thought, and borders on gossip.
In his interview the Nato Secretary General intimated that proper defence of a country should be looked upon as insurance. If things flare up it will cost you much more than taking prior defensive precautions. As far as NATO is concerned it is now doing it’s utmost to see that the small Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, near Ukraine, are adequately protected.
Bridget Kendall opinioned that she thinks President Putin looks upon the recent turn of events in Ukraine as being about much more than just one country alone. It is East against West. He accepts he is the smaller party but still perhaps believes we are too big for our boots. Possibly he does see it as a battle between the European aligned and American Gangs and he needs the help of the dark men on his patch. I hope however he does not consider himself to be one of them.
Ukraine’s interim government has asked the Vienna based Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe to go to Crimea to document what is going on. They have tried to do that three times now, most recently today, without success. This morning shots were fired from within Crimea to warn them not to cross the border. Also today Russia’s deputy foreign minister has had talks with Ukraine’s ambassador in Moscow.
Overnight a Malaysia Airlines plane with 239 people on board flying from Kuala Lumpur to Bejing became lost over the South China Sea. Most of the passengers were Chinese. The aircraft was being flown by one of the company’s most experience pilots. Distress signals were not received and by this evening no wreckage has been sighted. The Boeing 777 concerned is the same model that crashed at Heathrow in January 2008 and overshot the runway at San Francisco airport in July 2013. The Air France Airbus flight which went down over the Atlantic Ocean in June 2009, caused by pilot error, similarly made no distress call. In that case the ocean was so deep it took years to recover the plane’s black boxes. Here it is not so far to the sea bed.
At any rate the priority is to find out for the relatives where the plane is now. It is not a time for politics or national rivalries. Everyone should be pulling together in that effort.
9th March 2014
Following my note of 23rd February 2014, what I decided to do in the end was restrict myself to the minimum number of bulbs I feel I need for adequate lighting, three in the kitchen and two in the office. I would then change them as soon as they failed rather than leaving it for a few days hoping that would calm things down. I stocked up with bulbs during the week and set up the arrangement yesterday. When I came down this morning one of the bulbs in the kitchen had blown.
I see from Wikipedia that a fatwa is a new instruction, in accordance with established principles, to Muslims in relation to the practising of their faith. It must come from a person or body with legal authority. Sunday reported this morning that Indonesia’s highest clerical body has issued a fatwa that Muslims must protect threatened wildlife. It is apparently the first one of it’s kind. A man from the Alliance of Religions and Conservation, was explaining a bit more about it.
William Hague seemed pretty confident on the Andrew Marr show this morning that the Ukrainian situation will work out alright for the West in the long run. There was a three way phone call during the day between Mr Putin, Mr Cameron and Mrs Merkel. Yesterday Mr Obama spoke to Mr Cameron, Mrs Merkel, Mr Hollande, Mr Renzi and the presidents of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.
The BBC evening TV news has reported that Baroness Ashton has been in Iran today talking with Mr Zarif. Everyone looked extremely positive. I am sure Lady Ashton would not have acted so publicly unless things are going well.
10th March 2014
There is still no sign of the Malaysia Airlines plane. Ten countries are involved in the search for evidence of a crash, using 40 ships and 34 aircraft. Additional information is that the aircraft changed course before contact with it was lost. No signals are being received from any black boxes. From CCTV it is known, I think, that two black men were on board using one stolen Austrian passport and one from Italy.
I think it likely the loss wiil be the work of the American Gang. If it was the European lot they would have had to have learnt some new tricks pretty quickly. I feel it must be that all on board have perished and the plane is now on the floor of the ocean. It seems plausible the two black men were terrorists but did not act in a normal terrorist fashion. If the plane had blown up or disintegrated it is puzzling no wreckage has been found by now. But if it remained in one large piece you would have thought radar would have tracked it’s movement. It seems possible communications systems involving the plane could have been sabotaged before it took off. I recall it said that five items of baggage were put in the hold but then taken off when the owning passengers did not make it from the airport terminal to the plane.
I last wrote about the Knights Templar on 3rd February 2014. It seems it’s predecessor, La Famililia Michoacana, formed in the 1980s. I suspect that drug cartel group was the most closely aligned to the Gang in Mexico. Wikipedia says it’s leader Nazarion Moreno Gonzalez was killed by state authorities in 2010 leading to formation of the Knights Templar. However a body was never recovered. Today reported this morning that Moreno was finally eliminated yesterday. DNA samples have been taken from the body as proof.
Another item was about eight women who it is believed were in long term relationships with undercover officers from the Special Demonstration Squad. As soon as the men were unmasked they left the ladies’ lives. They are seeking compensation from the Metropolitan Police for the way they were deceived but it seems have had little success in obtaining any information on which to base their claims. Indeed the Met are arguing they cannot even confirm or deny the men were their officers because of the sensitive work involved. Talk about having your cake and eating it. The issue is going to court in a couple of weeks.
On the subject of what to do about prostitution Tom Bateman reported from Ipswich. In February 2008 Steve Wright was found guilty of murdering five prostitutes in the town. That has focused effort and resources and the local police have since eliminated kerb crawling. They tolerate brothels. They say they wish to prevent coercion and exploitation. For the girls themselves, 28 have been helped to leave street based activity but at a cost of £7,000 each.
A few days before Catherine Ashton’s trip to Tehran, Israel apparently discovered some Syrian made rockets on a Panamanian ship sailing from Iran to Syria. They allege the weapons were on their way to militants in the Gaza Strip. Hamas has called it all a silly joke.
After hearing about it on Today last week I have just watched a video clip on a BBC webpage of Christian Fraser reporting from Sevastopol. He boarded a Ukrainian warship in port whose exit to the sea has been blocked by six Russian ships. It was such a tense situation that the ammunition had been removed from all the ship’s weapons. Commanders were worried that if any excuse were given to the opposing forces to overreact it would be gratefully received.
11th March 2014
A bit more information is beginning to be released about the Malaysian airliner disappearance. I think that is the right approach. It shows we are not panicking and getting on with things in a methodical fashion. The two imposters were not black as I heard on the radio yesterday but apparently young Iranian men on their way to Europe to seek asylum. That would indicate they were in the hands of human traffickers so I would be suspicious about what might have been in their hand baggage. Then it seems civilian radar did stop working. Military sources though say that, without any communication, the plane turned west and flew over the Malaysain peninsular to the Malacca Strait. It is undoubtedly a test of the experts to get to the bottom of it all for we who are so perplexed.
It must be a massive confidence booster for the Gang global network. It shows, in my view, that they still have the capacity to arrange a mysterious loss of life incident which four days later the best minds in the world haven’t even started to fathom out. Their perhaps hundreds of thousands of helpers around the world can clearly see who is on top. The Gang hierarchy are not to be meddled with, you must do as you are told.
It also illustrates I feel, in comparison with Ukraine, the very different approaches of the two hidden forces. Both are driven by the desire for money but the European Gang are all about the weight of obvious physical power, if that proves necessary. The Americans will always use psychological means to shackle the minds of people to them.
Bob Crow died suddenly last night, at the age of 52, from a suspected heart attack. His politics were extreme, for the common man, but everyone I have heard has recognised his genuine, sincere passion.
The new Coop Group chief executive, Euan Sutherland, resigned last night after 11 months in the post. It seems he was upset because of briefings to the media over the weekend about his £3 million plus remuneration package, He decided that his colleagues, and the mutual society governance structure, was a combination with which he could not work.
The radio news reported this morning that Colorado has raised $2 million in taxes from selling cannabis for recreational use. Initially that money will be spent on new school construction.
I heard the word collusion used this morning on Today in relation to the manipulation of foreign exchange rates both between market dealers and their regulator , the Bank of England. I think that is a nice word for corruption. It seems some private bank executives told the Bank of England in 2006 of their suspicions but no action was taken. The essence of why it could happen I feel is the massive sums of money involved. During the morning say a client would instruct it’s bank to buy a billion pounds worth of foreign currency. The rate prevailing when the order is received would be used. However the transaction itself is not made until the daily dealing time of 4pm. If the trader can get his friends to make their own orders to move the market rate his way by just a hundredth of 1% before 4pm, that would produce a profit of £100,000 for his bank. Then the normal workings of the Gang would come into full force with kickbacks handed out to all those in the circle, including no doubt some in the accounts department of the Bank of England itself. It is one of those win/win situations so loved by the Gang. The employer is likely not to seek to complain because it is gaining from the transaction and will probably feel guilty if it tries to argue that some little people shouldn’t do well out of it either.
The programme focused on postal ballots at elections. Anyone can apply for one and the worry is that people are persuaded to do so and then vote in a particular way against their personal inclinations. It all happens in such a hidden way no one can really say how prevalent it is. Perhaps the best placed to see are returning officers from the patterns on the counting tables in front of them. The returning officer for Woking was interviewed. He said that none of the annual elections he had overseen since 2006 has been fair.
Mark Mardell was talking about Mr Putin’s offer to speak to Mr Kerry about Ukraine in Moscow. That for me implies an degree of weakness on the one who is doing the visiting and, if nothing came of it, would show solidity of the petitioned with his followers. Mr Putin might have politely listened but remained steadfast. Mark was saying that Mr Kerry did not refuse outright but put forward loaded questions which Mr Putin would not be prepared to answer. There was no prospect of a dialogue on those terms so it would be pointless for the session to take place. Mr Putin should be talking to Mr Yatsenyuk not him.
Lord Sacks presented Thought for the Day. He has been teaching in New York recently. He said it was the worst winter there in living memory.
12th March 2014
Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the world wide web, has called this morning for a Magna Carta to protect it’s operation. His idea is that a set of values of conduct should be written down which everyone would obey, including governments and intelligence agencies.
My impression of Darwin is that it is a conurbation in an isolated part of Australia, a bit like Barnstaple in North Devon. I must visit it one day to see if I am right. It was mentioned on the radio news this morning because it, and all towns within about 200 miles, have just suffered a power cut due to a tripped switch at a sub-station. The city of 130,000 was without electricity for 12 hours.
Moving forward on the Malaysian airplane search is proving difficult. I heard on the TV news last night that communication was lost just as it passed into Vietnamese airspace. It does seem to me that a lot of false leads have been coming from Vietnam. Then the Malaysian air force chief has denied reports that his radar tracked the plane all the way to the Malacca Strait. His information seems more in the form of an object being noted on a screen as being above that area about an hour later. That would fit in. If his equipment was clearly showing where the plane went down it’s wreckage would already have been found. With modern technology being so present today, it is amazing so little is known.
I heard on the Newspaper Review on Today that it is being said the pilot of the Malaysia Airways plane had a liking for young women. Apparently he had been known to have them in the cockpit with him and invite them to his stopover hotel. That has resonances I recall with the captain of the Costa Concordia. If it did happen on the lost flight I am sure any female would have been completely innocent. She or they are now dead like everybody else. However it could have provided quite a distraction, at a crucial time, for the person in charge. I am beginning to suspect there was a least one man on board who wanted to end his life, with all his companions, in as clever a way as possible. The Gang will have been more than happy to assist him, I have no doubt. If that is correct we will have to wait for the wreckage to be found which hopefully might give us some more clues.
Robert Peston was on the programme again after speaking some more to Euan Sutherland. It seems Mr Sutherland’s decision to resign was not quite as sudden as might have appeared. He has told Robert he had been thinking about it for some time and hopes it may produce a catalyst for the Coop to bring about true change. He said that whilst he was ostensibly getting full support over the months, in practice it was obvious to him that elected officials were briefing against him.
Ed Miliband has announced overnight that a Labour government will not call a referendum on our EU membership unless they want to change our existing arrangements with them. Lord Mandelson appeared on the broadcast saying he thought it was an extremely brave personal decision by the Labour leader. In his view it is a principled stance which probably at the moment doesn’t have a lot of popular support.
David Cameron has arrived in the Middle East after putting off his trip a couple of weeks ago to deal with our floods. Today he is in Israel and tomorrow the West Bank. Although he has gone with 17 business leaders I feel his purpose is inescapable. He wants to help with the peace process. His approach is all carrot with no stick. He wants the Israelis to think about how good their country could be if they were able to forgive the Palestinians for the perceived wrongs of the past. Thankfully Mr Netanyahu fully recognises the effort being made by the Prime Minister. He has said Mr Cameron has powerfully affirmed the two countries’ relationship.
Crimea’s referendum is due on Sunday and that prospect seems to be increasing tensions for the politicians. The G7 countries of us, the US, Germany, France, Italy, Japan and Canada have ganged up as one against Russia on the basis they have violated international law by force. Although Mr Kerry declined to meet Mr Putin he is seeing Mr Lavrov on neutral ground here in London on Friday.
I have just watched the end of yesterday’s Newsnight again. The first time round I could hardly believe what I had witnessed, it was so shocking. Now I realise the clip wasn’t serious. The interviewer was Zach Galifianakis, an American comedian. The other person was a chap called Barack Obama. They were being so rude to each other. The acting was superb.
Last Wednesday’s FT records that East Timor alleges Australia stole it’s confidential information to negotiate a better deal made by the countries in 2006. It was a maritime agreement dividing up gas reserves lying under the Timor Sea between them. In recent times of course it has also become known that Australia, America, Britain, New Zealand and Canada are members of the secret Five Eyes intelligence gathering arrangement. International disputes go the International Court of Justice in The Hague and the body, in light of that knowledge no doubt, has ruled no snooping must take place of East Timor’s privileged discussions with it’s legal advisers.
The editorial there says that Venezuela, despite having the largest oil reserves in the world, is in institutional and economic disarray. Inflation is running at 56% and shortages occur of even basic goods. It suggests there should be a meaningful dialogue between the government and it’s detractors.
I heard David Miliband say on Newsnight this evening that from his experience as a former Foreign Secretary he believes the Russians want respect but they respect strength.
Another resonant printed sound bite, in Wednesday’s FT, came from Martin Wolf. In his view government accountable to the governed is the only type suitable for adults. Otherwise you are treating people like children.
There was a gas main blast from a leak in East Harlem, New York this morning. It caused two buildings to collapse and the fire took fighters five hours to extinguish. So far two people are known to have died and 60 have been found injured. I imagine it must have been big news in the States. My sources have hardly mentioned it. I think that will be under the reasoning that it must be seen as a straightforward accident and it is proper therefore to view the unfortunate result as a North American neighbourhood incident. I don’t think the Gang Master will be very pleased.
13th March 2014
I have been into my local town this morning to swear a property Statutory Declaration which I arranged a couple of days ago directly with the solicitor concerned. As you walk through the door the reception area is part of a general office where five ladies sit. While I was waiting the eldest asked me if she could photocopy my proof of identity I had brought, in this case my passport. I innocently introduced a confusion and it didn’t actually happen. When I asked the solicitor he said the lady must have mistakenly thought I was a new client in which case details for their records would have been required.
I have just heard Jeremy Hunt interviewed on the World at One after he had got back from one of his frequent get to know you visits to a NHS hospital. As you see in a non focused world, in my view, he was told he is being talked about as a future Conservative party leader. He said that is absolute rubbish. He wants his legacy to be that he turned round in difficult circumstances our somewhat dysfunctional health service to a caring, cost effective institution stretching far into the future. If he achieves that he will indeed be worth his weight in gold.
It was being reported this morning that Chinese satellites had found three pieces of plane wreckage in the South China Sea. Chinese state TV apparently is still pushing that line. However during the day the Malaysian transport minister, whom we have not seen before, said it was a mistake. He also told us there are no indications at the moment that the plane continued flying after is disappeared from radar screens. It is getting quite confusing.
The death toll in the New York buildings collapse has now reached seven. When I was writing about it yesterday I had not realised it was the day the Ukranian interim prime minister, Mr Yatsenyuk, was meeting Mr Obama down the road in Washington. Today Mr Yatsenuk has been addressing the UN Security Council in New York itself.
The inquiry into the 2009 North Sea helicopter crash in which 16 oil rig workers died, has found mistakes were made. When the Gang are hiddenly hassling you it probably doesn’t seem so important to dot all the i’s. However when everything goes wrong the consequences do flow. The faulty gearbox was known about a week before the crash and should have been looked at. The inquiry conclusion of course makes it terribly hard for the families of the deceased.
Sir Roger Boyle is not your average whistleblower. He was the head of the National Institute for Cardiovascular Outcomes Research when he raised concerns about the children’s heart surgery unit at Leeds General Infirmary a year ago. A review just published has found that although surgical operations were safe the care and consideration given to worried families was often pretty appalling. Sir Roger, since resigned, was on Today this morning and has obviously had a rough time since. He said he can fully understand why Stephen Bolsin took his family off to Australia to live in 1996 after going public on the inadequate paediatric cardiac surgery procedures taking place at the Bristol Royal Infirmiry in the early 1990s.
I have not heard of it before but the programme was telling us about the Vienna Non Governmental Organisation Committee on Narcotic Drugs who are currently conducting their annual gathering. I think the forum provides a conduit for providing new thought on the subject into official UN circles. As part of that emphasis Sarah Montague interviewed the mother of 15 year old Martha Fernback who died last year from an ecstacy overdose. She was a lovely lady. Full of grief and emotion but determined she would channel that sentiment in a positive way. She said Martha was like any other normal youngster. She wanted to reach out into the world, finding her boundaries in an experimental way. The small amount of powder she took should not have harmed her. But because of the unregulated environment she was in, it’s unexplained 91% purity killed her. She should not be dead.
The top man at Morrisons, Dalton Philips, was on the business section. His company has not been trading well for some time now. He has obviously given it some thought and is embarking on a brave, radical strategy. He and his board have decided to permanently reduced their prices and profit margins in order to take on the discounters coming up in the retail food market, Aldi and Lidl. The move will not please Morrison investors. I noticed that shares of all the supermarkets were hit during the day.
I see from Wikipedia that both Lidl and Aldi are German. Lidl was founded in the 1930s by a member of the Schwarz family and now has 10,000 stores across Europe of which 580 are in the UK. Aldi is split into two independent parts, originally one for each of two brothers. Aldi Sud is still personally owned and that brother is the richest man in Germany. The other part is Aldi Markt or Nord. Ours is the first one with 512 stores here. It also has 311 branches in Australia. In America Aldi Nord, trading as Trader Joe’s, has 399 stores and Aldi Sud 1200. Between them the two Aldi parts have over 9,200 supermarkets worldwide. Wikipedia says Lidl is also hoping to expand to America and Australia.
Mr Cameron met Mr Abbas in Bethlehem today after having a 20 minute discussion with Tony Blair who is promoting the Palestinian economy for the UN, US, EU and Russia. Afterwards Mr Blair said the British government is relatively trusted by both sides which presents us with an opportunity to do good. I am pleased about that.
John Gapper noted in last Thursday’s FT that 110 Russian oligarchs control 35% of the country’s wealth.
Sir David Frost OBE died unexpectedly on 31st August 2013. He had a really good turnout at his memorial service in Westminster Abbey today. More than 2,000 great and good people attended. A memorial stone has been placed for him in Poet’s Corner.
14th March 2014
The undercarriage of an Airbus 320 plane collapsed as it was taking off from Philadelphia to Florida yesterday. No one was hurt.
Trained police negotiators spoke to a 20 year old man in a 10 hour siege at Hucknall snooker club in Nottinghamshire yesterday. They eventually arrested him on suspicion of possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence. I know some people who live near there. They came back from holiday yesterday.
I wrote about the richest man in Germany yesterday. Last night the richest man in Northern Ireland, according to Wikipedia, died in Norfolk. He was a gentleman I have never heard of before, Lord Ballyedmond. He was flying in a helicopter from one of his homes near Beccles to Ireland when it came down in fog. The aircraft was made by the Italian company AgustaWestland who have a site in Yeovil Somerset. I know someone who works there. Three companions also perished. Yesterday the results of the Super Puma helicopter crash inquiry were published.
Lord Ballyedmond started a veterinary pharmaceutical manufacturing business in 1968 based in Newry where it employs 1,000 people. The company website says it has global presence and a Wikipedia page records it as having 3,000 employees worldwide.
John Kerry starts two days of talks with Sergei Lavrov on Ukraine today at Winfield House, the American ambassador’s residence in Regents Park. It is good of Mr Lavrov I feel to go onto American property for that. At least all the ducks seem to be in a row on both sides. Mr Kerry and Mr Lavrov have been having almost daily conversations apparently over the last two weeks. After being refused entry the Russians are now asking for OSCE observers to go to Crimea to witness the conduct of Sunday’s referendum. Hopefully they will be allowed to stay afterwards. Ukraine’s interim prime minister will have been fully briefed on how America sees things during his recent trip to the States. Mr Kerry met with Mr Cameron this morning. The BBC says Mr Kerry has indicated the Ukraine parliament might be willing to recognise a proper and fair Crimean referendum. The trouble though of course is that everything has been done in such a rush, without people being able to think properly. If anything is agreed it must not unravel.
There is a lovely story on the BBC Kent website at the moment. A Green Party councillor wishes a cannabis cafe to be opened in Broadstairs. Kent Police have pointed out however it is their duty to uphold the law and cannabis is a Class B controlled drug. You can’t get any fairer than that.
Yesterday afternoon private payroll details of 100,000 Morrison employees were sent to the Telegraph and Argus newspaper in Bradford. They have also been published online. The suspicion is that they came from a disgruntled member of staff following Morrison’s morning announcement. The company are working with West Yorkshire police and cyber crime authorities to see if they can apprehend the culprit and limit possible financial damage to their people.
Iran does not have a national health service. Currently citizens have to pay 70% of their medical bills. Last Friday’s FT records that healthcare costs there increased fourfold between 2005 and 2012. President Rouhani wants to increase the states share to 70% of expenses by 2015. Many commentators think that is unachievable.
The editorial in that paper notes that Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Fethullah Gulen were once allies. The prime minister acted favourably towards Islamists and Mr Gulen encouraged his followers to vote for the AKP. That changed about two years ago apparently when Mr Erdogan began to see his contemporary as a rival not a collaborator. The paper suggests things are beginning to get out of hand. Turkey’s standing in the world is being affected. It thinks the president, Mr Gul, might have to step in.
Tony Benn died this morning at the age of 88 after a long illness. He was not a person who ever enthused me personally but I heard Nick Robinson say on Today this morning that he suspects future generations will be very grateful in due course to have his writings and recordings for reference. Apparently he assiduously chronicled the passage of British post war politics in eight volumes of diaries. Nick said Tony was convinced there was a conspiracy of the establishment against the people.
The programme was giving Margaret Hodge’s Commons Public Accounts Committee publicity in it’s campaign to produce greater transparency from the government in disclosing details of it’s private sector sourced contracts. From a BBC webpage I see Ms Hodge is calling for providers to be subject to Freedom of Information requests from journalists and their client civil servants alike, and for the National Audit office to also have similar access rights. That seems quite common sensical. Perversely though it appears that while the companies themselves are happy government departments are not. Still they are not ready to accept scrutiny from outside.
A BBC webpage reports this afternoon that HMS Argyll accidentally fired an unarmed torpedo on Wednesday whilst in Devonport dockyard. Minor damage was caused. How silly.
The BBC said this afternoon that a London company was receiving automated signals via satellite from the Malaysia Airways aircraft five hours after it’s last known contact. Nothing has been said though about whether it is possible to obtain a fix of position from those pings.
We are now just about a week out from the event and are hardly any nearer finding the plane. I am therefore going to write down a scenario which fits in with the details I know. It is far fetched but it is a unique situation. I hope I am wrong because, if it does turn out to be something along these lines, it wiil bring the Gang story much nearer to public consciousness. Something I have picked up over time is our politicians and leaders don’t want that. It would mean there was clearly a large scale conspiracy at play.
Two certainties are who was on the plane and the amount of fuel it had on board. That restricts the search area and will allow an in depth investigation about who on board might have wanted to commit suicide. Once that person or persons were identified you could start looking at their recent movements and associates.
My hunch is that the pilots, and possibly the passengers too, were disabled at the time the aircraft stopped officially identifying it’s position. It was then flown by someone else, probably westwards as has been indicated over the last couple of days. It could have been landed on the water and either allowed to sink naturally or holes made in the floor of the cabin to assist that process. In that way no evidence of it’s sinking would show on the surface presumably for a considerable time.
15th March 2014
There was a feature in last weekend’s FT Magazine on the current position in Iraq. A friend of the journalist working for the UN in Baghdad said he was thinking of applying for a posting to Syria. It would be safer. He would be in a secure compound and his family could move to a nice apartment in Lebanon. They would spend pleasant weekends together. Weekly extremist attacks in Iraq last August were running at about 100 per week. In one week last month there were over 300. It is how the Gang are I am afraid. When they become angry themselves they go about upsetting everyone else as well. And if you are of a violent bent in the first place that is not good news.
In his column Simon Kuper was telling Americans how to sort themselves out, from experience he gained when lecturing at a southern military base there in 2007-8. He was saying how relaxed and tolerant the atmosphere was with no political nor racial tensions at all. Funnily enough the US military are not allowed to carry guns on their sites on an everyday basis. That of course is like our police here. There is no incentive for bullies to try and wind people up on base in the hope they will do something silly.
For the paper the Person in the News was Vladimir Putin. It said as Russian president he was generous to the west after 9/11. He offered Washington the use of military bases in central Asia to fight the Taliban and vacated outposts in Cuba and Vietnam. Perhaps he thought that wasn’t particularly appreciated by the other side. It suggests the big turning point for him was the Orange Revolution in Ukraine at the end of 2004. Looking into that I see Mr Yanukoych was originally elected president then but with allegations of fraud. After popular protests there was a re-run and he lost. It seems Mr Putin did not look upon that process as correct. At the next election in 2010 Mr Yanukoych won in what was considered a fair plebiscite. The piece also suggests the recent annexation of Crimea was planned well in advance. All the statements of western leaders since indicate they think it too. If that is all accurate my comment would be that I don’t feel important decisions affecting the future lives of millions of people should be made secretly in private rooms. You should be trying to give to citizens what they reasonably want and leaders can only do that by acting transparently. If you decide what you think is best for others, without being prepared to truthfully explain your reasons to them, that in itself I would have thought indicates you are not certain of your own position.
The front page relates that a cyber programme called Snake was targeting computer systems, including those of government, during last year. Experts say it is as complicated as the Stuxnet virus which was around in the middle east and Iran in 2010. The code apparently was identified at BAE Systems who say it must have been state sponsored. As some Russian script has been found within it it seems that country must be the source.
A few pages in Tony Barber writes that the Baltic States feel their worries about Russia’s true intentions over recent years have now been vindicated. The most vunerable apparently is Moldova, created in 1991. Like Ukraine on it’s east is has a sinificant number of Russian speakers and Russian orientated political thinkers.
Before yesterday I hadn’t written about Turkey for a bit but that edition suggests Mr Erdogan is getting extremely upset with what he considers is the hidden political force working against him, in the form of the Gulen movement. I am sure he is right but I don’t feel getting hot and bothered about it is the right way. Some steely determination might work better. If he thought about it Mr Erdogan might conclude the American Gang have been manipulating him somewhat over the years. At the moment the prime minister is particularly picking on the judiciary the piece says.
Just below that it is suggested Qatar, with a Shia community about 10% the size of it’s total population, is feeling the heat from it’s Sunni neighbours, particularly the United Arab Emirates. It seems a particular Muslim Botherhood leaning cleric, with publicity provided by the Al Jazeera Qatari based TV station, has been saying extreme things. As well as the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have withdrawn their ambassadors from the kingdom. There you have it, those two Gangs going at each other tooth and nail again.
Two steps forward and one back. First it was the military man, then the acting Transport Minister. This morning it has been the Malaysian Prime Minister himself telling us there is more about the lost plane than we have so far been told. One of it’s automatic communications systems was turned off just before it passed over the Malaysian coast. After that, at about the time of the last verbal contact with the pilot it’s automatic transponder was also disabled. Military ground based radar shows it then turned round, flew back over the Malaysian peninsular and out over the Malacca Strait. The one step back is our next piece of information. We do not know whether it then turned north or south. Those are diametrically opposite directions folks. It seems hardly credible that supposedly clever people know so much, yet undersand so little.
I feel it is also noteworthy that the depth of knowledge we have this morning has probably been triggered by a private company source, Immarsat based in London as I mentioned yesterday. The people we look upon to reassure us they know what is going on in the world, our national intelligence agencies, appear to have been remarkably reclusive.
Along the lines then of what I did yesterday I will have a go at putting myself in the mind of the Gang Master. He is all about arranging clever multi threads for his big events. Where the plane and corpses are ultimately found will be important to him. My guess is there has been a European Gang and Chinese connection. However if the spies do know a bit about that I don’t think there is much liklihood of us ever being told.
There were six hours of one on one talks yesterday at Winfield House, inside and around it’s lovely grounds in the warm sunshine. Where we go next is down to four men, Mr Obama, Mr Putin, Mr Kerry and Mr Lavrov. The provision for talks today will not be needed as Mr Putin has said he wants to see the result of tomorrow’s referendum first. I feel that is entirely sensible. Once you know what the people want, even at short notice, you should be able to construct a robust arrangement which meets as many diverse views as possible. I hope the four realise they will be letting us all down unless they come up with a viable solution during next week.
In the tension currently being experienced in Ukraine two people were killed in clashes in Kharkiv overnight and five injured.
I haven’t written about my milk for a long time now. I still keep it in a small fridge in my bedroom overnight but in the last few weeks have got out of the habit of securing the plastic screw cap, by making a hole and threading a plastic tie though it, when I am out during the day. That doesn’t seem to have had any adverse effect on my mouth at all. However last night I forgot to take the bottle out of the kitchen fridge. My gums are really hurting this morning. The person who floats around here at night I suspect is in a completely different category to those on daytime duty.
The Daily Mail reported yesterday that Lord Ballyedmond was suing Augusta Westland for £10.7 million due to alleged defects with his helicopter. The claim was proceeding through the courts.
Lord Haskins of Northern Foods suggested this morning, after Morrisons’ announcement yesterday, that the three other big supermarkets of Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s are about to be squeezed. The food retailing discounters in the form of Aldi and Lidl are gaining ground as are the quality aisles in Waitrose and Marks and Spencer. I am sure that is going to unsettle investors. They like predictable dividend streams. It is something I suspect the Gang feels it has a right to provide for them. It keeps the financiers happy and gives influence to our hidden men of power. Morrisons upset the apple cart yesterday. Perhaps that was what their payroll problem was all about.
As I compose these notes I now express my views I think more than I used to. Because I am kept in isolation I have no idea really whether other people see things as I do. Something I do feel strongly about is that prostitution should be regulated by the state in a caring environment. The idea that men should be criminalised for paid sex, and women not, to me is plain daft. It is disrespectful to the standing of women in our society and places men on an apparently powerful pedestal they do not deserve. Do we think men and women are equal or not?
I was interested then to hear Any Questions at lunchtime. The lady asked if it would benefit woman should men be criminalised in the financial sexual transaction. Jonathon Dimbleby asked the Scottish audience their view. Apparently 99% thought it would not be helpful to the fairer sex.
Philip Hammond said at the Scottish Conservative party conference today, when talking about the Scottish independence debate, that we know the primary responsibility of government is security. I feel that is an important point to make.
Russia vetoed a draft UN Security Council motion today calling on all nations to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity and referring to tomorrow’s referendum as illegal. China abstained. In Moscow there was the largest anti government demonstration, of tens of thousand of people, for two years about the situation. There was also a pro government gathering, possibly just as large, nearby.
16th March 2014
This morning Malaysian authorities are asking other countries to help them find their missing plane. Those listed by the BBC are Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, China, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Australia and France. It seems to me we are now in a police type investigation. The passengers came from at least 14 different countries. Any combination of them could be in the frame as well, of course, as any of the crew. There will be a massive amount of detail to go through there looking for clues. The difficulty I feel is that at the moment we have no single traditional organisation for the task. We are breaking new ground. When we finally got to the bottom of the mendacious attacks against Huntingdon Life Sciences in 2009, after 10 years of trying, it was through setting up a single investigating force which had the ability to follow the evidence wherever it led. Countries in our world though are still pretty nationalistic I fear. You would think the most suitable body for the current job might be Interpol, supported by 190 countries: either that perhaps or a taskforce set up under the auspices of the Unity Nations who might be able to attract more conspicuous support. The important thing I think is that whatever is done it should all be out in the open. That is the best way to ensure no backsliding takes place.
The Gang Master is a criminal, pure and simple. He has been one all his life and will always be like that. Ultimately, in my view, the best way of dealing with him is to set up a criminal investigation force to go after him, wherever he may run in he world. It would be lovely to think that could be done out in the open too.
Pope Francis was affirmed a year ago now. Archbishop Welby was also installed in March 2013. Sunday was talking about the two men and their Churches this morning. The consensus was that they wish to tread their own paths but have a genuine friendship and respect for each other. Justin Welby, and his people, have stamped their way of doing things on the Church of England. He gets out and listens to people. Where there are differences or difficulties he states his values clearly so that others know where he stands. He has no wish to be an iconic leader as the Pope must be. The story of women bishops seems to be going well. Thus the conclusion must be he is doing it right, for his particular college.
Last week the skies over Paris became badly polluted due to stagnant weather conditions. Unsafe readings for health were recorded on five consecutive days. From tomorrow authorities have ordered that the number of vehicles on Parisian roads will be halved. Number plates ending in an even digit can only be driven on alternate days with the same applying to uneven numbers.
As it was getting dark on Friday evening there was a fire at the multi storey car park next to the Assembly Rooms in Derby. From the photograph on the BBC website all floors were well ablaze. It started in a top floor plant room apparently.
Although it isn’t a completely new story George Osborne has announced today that a 15,000 dwelling garden city is to be built in the the former chalk pit next to the one occupied by Bluewater in Kent. Building is to be coordinated by an urban development corporation.
Gordon Corera presented Crypto Wars on Radio 4 this afternoon, an investigation into the conflict between privacy and state security in our modern age. Apparently from the time that internet messaging started in the 1970s America’s National Security Agency argued against encryption on the basis it might not be able to read emails if it thought that necessary. It seems they lost that pitch but as we know from the Prism programme mass surveillance has come about in more recent times. It also appears that, unbeknown to our best technology companies, the NSA hid back doors into their logorithms so they could read virtually any data they wanted anyway. To Gordon’s surprise he was granted an interview with the just left Deputy Director of the NSA. That must be I feel because they now recognise they have a position to justify to the outside world. During my story, in 2011, the PM Programme Privacy Commission focused on the issue of protection for a citizen’s private life. I made two submissions both of which are published in my book.
17th March 2014
There are now 26 countries helping to look for the Malaysia Airlines plane. Although I recall it was denied last week it seems it was tracked throughout by military radar from the top of it’s climb out of Kuala Lumpur airport, flying due west to the Strait of Malacca. What hasn’t been explained to us so far is how it is known it then changed course, either north or south, and did not for example carry straight on.
In 1999 a Sicilian man was convicted in Italy for Mafia association and extortion. He was sentenced to 7 years imprisonment but fled the country. Last August he was found living with his wife in Uxbridge and Italy issued an extradition warrant for his return there. At the hearing today the judge said he could not agree the deportation because of a hearing last week in a higher court which binds him under the law of precedent. In that first case, about which I can find no detail at all, extradition was refused because of apparently deficiencies in the humane treatment of prisoners within Italian jails. The Italian government are appealing. Last week’s outcome could indicate, it seems to me, that the European Gang have friends within our judicial system.
The prospect for dialogue does seem to be getting more and more remote over Ukraine. I do not criticise my side of the fence. Ultimately you must do the right thing. Yesterday’s Crimea referendum resulted in a 97% vote to join Russia. That seems remarkably high. Wikipedia records 59% of Crimeans as being ethnically Russian. This evening President Putin has signed a decree recognising Crimea as a sovereign and independent state. Earlier the EU and America issued their own separate sanctions against named Russian and Ukrainian individuals, 21 for the EU and 11 for the States. The USA list includes the Russian Deputy Prime Minister. If it comes down to a trial of strength I cannot see how Russian can possibly come off best.
Following my note of 15th April 2013 the BBC Trust have looked into the making of the Panorama programme and decided the team did not properly inform the LSE students of what it was planning to do in North Korea. The corporation has sent letters of apology to the father of one of the students involved and the LSE itself.
The chairman of the developer, High Speed Two Ltd, of our new London-to-the-north railway line was on Today this morning. The scheme is politically sensitive and moving ahead at a snail’s pace. His suggestion therefore is that we get on with some of the less controversial northern works, from Birmingham to Crewe, as soon as we can. I suspect he wants to build up a bit of momentum for the project.
An interesting interview was included with a former British senior soldier who did some dispatches for the programme in 2010 when he was stationed in Afghanistan. I recall they all came across as compassionate and thoughtful. The issue this morning was whether it was correct of him to be less than truthful about the efficacy of equipment and training to keep soldiers safe from Taliban attacks. On a single occasion he made it appear he was happy with the situation, so as not to give succour to the enemy, when that was not his real position. I have no particular perspective on that either way but I recognise others will have stronger views than me. If he was comfortable with what he said I would not wish to demur, although he does agree he now regrets that particular remark.
On Thought for the Day the Bishop was wondering how the families of the passengers and crew on the Malaysian plane will be coping. Although he of course feels sorry for them he does not wish to separate himself from them in that way. His emotion runs deeper than that. By putting himself in their shoes and imagining what they must be going through he gains a much better understanding and appreciation of the unnecessary sufferings of some of our companions in life. It is called empathy.
Bernard Jenkin MP was on the broadcast talking about the Royal Mail privatisation. His Public Accounts committee thinks it was a mistake that post code data was included in the sale. It will now be a financial commodity for businessmen to make as much money out of as they can. Philosophically he believes data like that should be available and open to us all, just like the weather forecast or what’s on television tonight. I personally think that to monetarise everything is demeaning. We are actually better than that.
From the Newspaper Review I understand the Guardian reports that our five richest families have greater wealth than the poorest 20% of the population. Also there has been a writing by Boris Johnson that there are 200 countries in the world. That makes Interpol’s membership of 190 look pretty good. His context was that the tragedy of the lost plane has united the emphathetic people of the world like never before.
There was a lady on the World at one saying it is now clear there was someone involved with the Malaysian airliner who was expert in systems engineering. The sequence of the communications channels being turned off was highly deceptive. She said, because of the newness and computer dependability of the plane, those instructions could have been generated in cyber space, not necessarily by anyone on board. She thinks investigators should be running cockpit stimulations to see if they can work out a pattern from our existing knowledge of events so far.
There was a 4.4 magnitude earthquake in America today not far from the San Andreas fault. The epicentre was 5 miles under the surface a few miles outside Los Angeles. No one was hurt.
I can’t say I understand it but from a piece I have just seen on Newsnight it seems the north-south corridor for the last communication with the lost plane, has been sourced from the Immarsat satellite. From it’s position in the sky, and the satellite’s direction of movement I imagine, it knows that the ping must have come from somewhere inside the shaded area. To get an accurate fix you would have needed a second satellite in a different position, and moving in a different orbit presumably, to get a cross channel cutting the first. I know it was getting hourly pings so I assume all the north-south corridor tracks initially showed the aircraft must be travelling weswards. If though the corridor suddenly remained constant for the hourly pings I think that must mean it had turned north or south. Apparently at the time of the last ping there would only have been enough fuel for a few minutes more flying, although it doesn’t necessarily mean the plane was in the air at the time.
An article in last Monday’s FT says the American Congress has collapsed into bickering, partisan and suspicious tribes. They are so busy fighting each other they haven’t got time to represent the people who voted them there.
There was an item on the radio news this morning recording that 4000 NHS employees have been made redundant over the last few years. Their average payout was £43,000. Now over half of them have been re-employed on permanent contracts. The shadow Health Secretary, Andy Burnham, has referred to the position as handing cheques out like confetti.
18th March 2014
A local BBC webpage reports this morning that Tunbridge Wells Borough Council is going to employ a contractor to enforce it’s litter laws. Maidstone already do that and issued 4,000 fixed penalty last year as against the spa town’s 50 using it’s three enforcement officers. Yesterday I said I don’t like introducing money into everything. But I am a complicated person. I hate litter louts so much I think that is an extremely good idea.
Today steps are being followed in the Russian parliament to make Crimea part of Russia. One interpretation of that I feel is Mr Putin is riding an unmanageable horse which is very nearly out of control. He can do nothing about what is happening, and the loss of respect his country enjoys in the world, but hang on and make sure he doesn’t fall, or be pushed, off. What little authority he appears to have, hopefully can be exercised at a later time. There is no way a world leader can want the opprobrium Russia will reap unless it starts to listen to what the rest of us are saying.
The BBC has finally published a map this morning showing a circle within which the Malaysian plane could have flown on a full tank of fuel from, I think, it’s take off point. I feel that is helpful. It brings some certainty to what has been a pretty confusing situation. The area involved apparently is 2.24 million square miles. It is like looking for a needle in a haystack. I would have thought it should be possible to narrow down the search area a bit, provided we are certain about the hourly readings from the Immarsat satellite, and even taking into account any jiggery pokery there may be about how much fuel the plane took off with. No one is suggesting it landed to take on any more kerosene.
The long term partner of Mick Jagger, the designer L’Wren Scott, was found hanged in her New York apartment on Monday. No suicide note was found. Her London company had apparently been in financial difficulties. She was a well connected lady in the entertainment world and I think there is a lot of shock around. Everyone says how nice she was. The Rolling stones are just about to start a five venue tour in Australia. Their first concert, in Perth tomorrow, has been cancelled.
Sir Malcombe Rifkind was speaking on Today this morning about Ukraine. I thought he sounded pretty worried. There is nothing wrong with that genuine emotion of course but he gave no specific reasons for his feeling. That leads to uncertainty in his audience I believe which could result in unconscious input for them of some irrational thoughts of their own.
I haven’t thought about the word curator before. However Sarah Montague had been out for the programme to the home of the 19th century architect Sir John Sloane who, after his time, wanted it used to display all the artifacts he had collected. She met the curator of the collection who explained it is his job to look after everything, decide what is put on display and preserve it for posterity. Also there was the digital curator of the British Library whose role of stewardship is exactly the same. Since I last wrote about the subject on 5th April 2013 her team have catalogued and stored 3.8 milliom websites, including this one I hope.
Danny Shaw gave an update on corruption allegations in the Metropolitan Police. It seems likely he has been speaking to the QC, Mark Ellison, who recently published his review on the Stephen Lawrence case. I wrote about the lost files of Operation Othona on 7th March 2014. Apparently they were all shredded over a two day period in 2003. There were so many of them, Danny says, there is no way it could have been accidental.
Another subject covered was the future of the television licence fee. Since my last note on 8th March 2014 a political headwind for change has come from somewhere. 150 MPs have indicated they would like a change to civil punishment for non payment as soon as possible. Ministers have been careful to acknowledge that strength of feeling but ask that the final decision should be left until the BBC charter comes up for renewal at the end of 2016.
Stephen Hawking was on the broadcast following the announcement yesterday that some American astrophysicists think their telescope at the South Pole has found irregular light patterns left over from the beginning of the universe. If they are right it means that inflation, massive expansion faster than the speed of light in a fraction of a second, occurred then. From that apparently we would know we have only had one big bang and not many after past oscillations of expansion and contraction of our universe. If it was inflation we will be expanding for ever until everything finally goes cold. Not all scientists are convinced yet though.
Following my note of 10th March 2014 about undercover police officers and sexual relations I see that last week the Met dropped their legal challenge against the ladies’ court actions. Senior officers said it would not be appropriate to go down that route now an Inquiry into undercover policing will be held.
There was a bit of a strange interview on Newsnight last night. It was with Noel Edmonds who represents a group who would like to buy the BBC off the government. They would replace the licence fee with adverts and product placement but not make a profit. They must be extremely philanthropic to do all that out of the goodness of their hearts I think.
Channel 4 News led this evening on the story of an 84 year old man with Alzheimer’s on his way from Canada to Slovenia. He was stopped at Gatwick airport for some kind of irregularity and inappropriately taken to a detention centre where he died three weeks later. Keith Vaz MP was interviewed about it. He called the case shameful and would be asking the Home Office, on behalf his Home Affairs committee, some serious questions about what happened.
Later the Prime Minister and his deputy were shown having a look at a London children’s nursery both in extremely casual attire. They also went and saw some youngsters together on the day before the Budget last year. The political temperature has changed quite a bit since then though.
The head of the Gulen Movement, Fethullah Gulen, wrote in last Tuesday’s FT. He comes over as a thoughtful moderate. He makes no accusations against Mr Erdogan and does not mention his name. He asserts he has never taken a political stance and will not be doing so in the future. He implies he has no intention to return to his homeland from America. He asks the administration to renew it’s commitment to universal human rights, the rule of law and accountable governance. I expect Mr Erdogan might argue that not all Mr Gulen’s followers seem to have the same high ideals.
19th March 2014
I saw an advert on television for Schwartz spices last night. It is a name in which I have an interest and jogged my memory. I know from my business that their UK headquarters are in Haddenham, a Buckinghamshire village I mentioned on 17th February 2014. Looking at the company’s website I see it was founded in Canada in 1889 by the son of a German immigrant. The brand entered the British market in 1959.
The Russian takeover of Crimea is continuing apace. Yesterday President Putin gave a speech in the Kremlin to both houses of Parliament and after to the crowds in Red Square. Both speech maker and internal audience were emotional I thought. I noticed that as he started the President received a standing ovation. It was not spontaneous though, a few people stood up first then there were more and more. I look upon that as very much an American Gang trick. You have a few well placed people in the audience who act in a coordinated way. Soon you have the whole crowd under your influence. Perhaps the European Gang types have worked out how badly they have been outwitted over the decades. They think they are on more of an even footing now and are out for revenge.
A named lady who was duped in the early 1990s by a married undercover police officer has given an interview to the BBC which was broadcast on Today this morning. She said that after living together for a year, with him mostly being away apparently working on building sites during the week, he disappeared. She was worried he might have committed suicide. At some time later she went to look up his name details in the birth, marriage and death certificates building. She found he had taken the identity of a child who had died when eight. Knowing the Gang as I do I would say she became interested to search the public records at their hidden prompting. Her discovery has changed her life. She has to work on trusting other people. As far as having intimate relationships are concerned it has knocked that out of her.
With it being Budget day Evan Davis and Simon Jack were in a makeshift studio by the check in desks at Newcastle airport. It is quite possible to act in a sensible, confident manner in this world.
For the last two mornings the programme, and Newsnight last night, has concentrated on the Central African Republic. The country has been unstable ever since it’s independence from France in 1958. At any point since, I would argue, a suitable benevolent military grouping could have helped it progress. Guns which could be fired, but weren’t, would have kept the warring factions apart. However it seems it has no strategic interest to the west, nor natural resources for China to mine, so it has been left to cope on it’s own. Last spring the Muslim Seleka rebels seized power. However their leader, Michel Djotodia, did nothing to stop the continuing fighting in a predominantly Christian country. He finally went in January. And now some Christians in the country have a blood lust to kill every Muslim they can find.
Following my note on Saturday about gender equality an author was interviewed on how we can better achieve it. Males should not always be looked upon by women as the weaker sex. It is about talking to each other and throwing away your stereotypes. The lady suggested there is a degree of prejudice around against men, the thought that we make babies cry, can’t nurture young children and definitely are no good around the house. It is not necessarily so.
Farming Today had a piece on a disease which has killed up to four million pigs in America. It is called porcine epidemic diarrhoea virus and was first noticed in May last year. It is has been found on 4,500 farms in 27 states. The price of pork there has gone up 40% there in the last month.
Apparently the American Senate intelligence committee have been investigating allegations that the CIA became involved in activities of torture during the Bush administration. An article in last Wednesday’s FT says they have been looking through documents in a room provided for them at the CIA headquarters. The suspicion is that someone in the CIA has been spying on what they have been doing. The CIA director denies it. No reasons are given in the report why the conjecture is being made.
An analysis page there suggests North Korea is strengthening it’s economic ties with China. Trade is increasing. It is hoped some of that wealth generation might trickle down to ordinary people and open their eyes to new ways of existence.
20th March 2014
As soon as I turned on my non digital radio this morning it started making that electronic galloping sound that I used to hear many moons ago. It has never been so bad before and lasted until I left the room. I heard the other day, in relation to the missing plane story, that it is something to do with it answering a signal to identify itself.
I completed an Avaaz poll yesterday and have looked at the overall results this morning. 55% of respondents put fighting governmental, political and corporate corruption as in their top three concerns. For me it was top. The next two highest priorities, at 43% each are to evenly spread wealth among us all and preventing catastrophic climate change.
A BBC Kent webpage reports that last May EDF Energy spent £7.3 million in building a flood wall and internal defences to protect the Dungeness B nuclear power station against a once in 10,000 years sea deluge. That is caution for you. Both reactors were shut down for two months while the work was carried out. They have been criticised for not explaining properly at the time what they were doing and why.
I have tried not to go on about it too much before but I am so pleased Mrs Merkel is finally it seems taking an outspoken public interest in world changing events. Germany is the most important country in Europe and as such has a major role to play. She is a cautious lady but has a very good view I feel of the complexities of the larger picture. She is a person I instinctively trust.
Today she has told the Bundestag the G8 no longer exists. It would be unconscionable that Russia should remain a member. Economic and political sanctions will be introduced commensurate with their actions. The West will not use force. The sanctity of human life is inviable but we will not let the matter drop.
If we can stay together it seems a fundamental shift could take place in our relationship with Russia. European leaders have said they want to become less dependent on Russian natural resources, especially gas. That will allow Europeans to be more principled in their dealings with the Federation. I suspect the Ukranian military have been asked to withdraw their forces from Crimea so there is no unnecessary bloodshed. In the meantime Ban Ki-Moon will be speaking to President Putin in Moscow today and travelling to Kiev tomorrow. Neighbours should be talking to each other.
I wrote a letter to the Home Secretary on Monday and sent am email to the letters page of the FT on Tuesday. I haven’t looked yet to see if the latter was published. I know it will be a massive emotional input for me when I find out and I want to delay it for as long as reasonable. Also on Tuesday, from Edward Snowden files, the Washington Post revealed that the NSA’s programme called Mystic became fully operational in 2011. It is designed to target a single country, and has been applied to one already apparently. It records every phone call made on a 30 day rolling basis. When a month old deletion takes place to free up space for the current day’s storage. Any of those calls can then be listened to for the 30 day period.
Yesterday the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall visited Yalding on the river Medway which was badly affected by the Christmas floods. From there they went to the former home of Rudyard Kipling in East Sussex, Bateman’s, now owned by the National Trust.
I have just listened to a report on PM from Chicago about Mexican heroin addiction there. It is cheaper and more easily available than ever before. Use has spread from the city centre to rural areas and the suburbs. 30,000 12-17 year olds try it for the first time each year. A law enforcement agent said the drug is like a weapon of mass destruction. It destroys lives. Social services just can’t cope with the pressures created.
New comment started to come through on the missing plane search about 24 hours ago. Little bits and pieces of information are being released. For example we are told the FBI are assisting in the operation. I trust that means there is a degree of confidence we are moving in the right direction. The pilots home, and flight simulator there, was searched a few days ago now. I suspect something was found suggesting he could be implicated in the disappearance. Perhaps from there it was decided the intention was to hide the wreckage of the plane for as long as possible. That would be corroboration for it having turned south, towards the South Pole, rather than northwards over land where radar stations would be placed. This morning it was announced the Australians are coordinating a search over the far south of the Indian Ocean. The country is one of the Five Eyes secret intelligence sharing club. Wreckage might have been sighted by satellite, last Sunday we are told, but no one seems sure. The hypothesis appears to be that the plane just kept flying until it ran out of fuel. Then it went down in water which is two and a half miles deep.
I have just seen on Channel 4 News that it is rumoured the wife of the pilot left him the day before his flight. Comment was also made that information from surveillance satellites and the like is not being shared between countries as you would like.
Shortly after that, today’s start of the EU meeting in Brussels was covered. I knew that Russia is close in business to Cyprus as testified by my note of 11th April 2013. The other country which is most against sanctions over Crimea apparently is Hungary. Doing a word search for Hungary through my notes shows I have mentioned it a few times before, for example on 11th December 2012. All fit it with it being very close to Russia.
Having written warmly about Chancellor Merkel earlier I feel I should also say I have seen this evening a video clip of President Obama on the White House lawn as he was off somewhere in a helicopter. He spoke with measure and truth. When all said and done it is for the Ukrainians themselves to decide their own future without unfair pressure from outside.
As I have indicated before victim is not a word I like. It has connotations of someone being weak and requiring pity, unable to help themselves. It undermines responsibility from you to try and deal with the problems you encounter in your own life. My experience at the services in Hampshire, which I wrote about on 20th October 2013, were in my opinion an attempt to victimise me using the law. The Moral Maze on Radio 4 last night covered the subject. Since the 1960s laws criminalising suicide, homosexuality and blasphemy have all been repealed. I think that is the right way to go. As George Osborne said in his Budget speech yesterday, in relation to pension pots, he wants to treat people as free, sensible adults who can be left to live their lives as they wish.
One of the success stories in this country is our car manufacturing industry. I heard it said on Today that, although it is a organic process, over time you find that suppliers start to base themselves near to those manufacturing centres. It all creates jobs. Then in the same vein it was announced this morning that Japanese Hitachi is to base it’s global train building business here. Last year it won a £1.2 billion contract to build some inter city trains for us. We should not upon ourselves as little Englanders.
Last Thursday’s FT records that on the day David Cameron was in Israel last week the Knesset voted to require all students to participate in national military service. Since Israel was born in 1948 ultra Orthodox Jews had been exempt for religious reasons. Before the January 2013 general election the vote would not have been possible as ultra Orthodox parties formed part of the ruling coalition. The grouping make up a tenth of the country’s eight million population and do not seem to be very well integrated into society.
There were further details in the paper about the Senate intelligence committee investigation led by Dianne Feinstein which I mentioned yesterday. The lady says the CIA also obstructed her staff’s investigation. The spying allegation concerns an internal CIA document which comes to much the same conclusions apparently as her team that illegal torture did take place. After the CIA found it in their room they tried to start criminal proceedings against her aides on the basis it had been stolen. That bullying culture again.
Thought for the Day on Today this morning was authored by the Muslim chaplain of the Uiversity of Cambridge. He was talking about Bitcoins and whether those who use them are wise to put their trust in an almost imaginary assessment of value.
21st March 2014
Although nothing has yet been found it does seem likely the authorities are now pretty sure the Malaysian plane did go as far as it could to the south of the Indian Ocean. It’s exact resting place will depend on how fast it was flying. I don’t think the Australian prime minister would be speaking in such strong terms otherwise. Mr Abbott remarks that the search area is the most inaccessible spot on earth but we owe it to the families to find the plane. I have heard an expert say it will be a far more difficult job than raising the Air France aircraft which crashed into the Atlantic in June 2009. That took two years to find and recover. If our plane glided down to the ocean I fear there may be hardly any wreckage yet to be found. However it will surely come to the surface eventually.
A local BBC webpage up this morning says that the MP for Canterbury is campaigning for the closure of a shop in the city which sells legal highs. He thinks provisions in the 1972 Local Government Act would allow councils to do that. He has had a meeting with the Home Office Drugs Minister about it. Mr Baker has said he will look at the Conservative MP’s suggestions and see where it takes him.
A heard a trailer on the radio this morning for an Archive on 4 programme going out tomorrow on Patty Hearst. The clips played were that her kidnapping was the start of our obsession with celebrity. The media turned it into a circus all of their own. Patty was the granddaughter of the newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst and is still alive. In February 1974 she was kidnapped from the apartment where she lived with her boyfriend in Berkeley, California by the left wing urban guerrilla group the Symbionese Liberation Army. The faction made demands for release of their members from jail and for distribution of food to the poor. However after three months it emerged that Patty had become a willing member of the SLA. She was arrested in September 1975 and sentenced to 35 years in prison, reduced to seven years on judicial review, for participation in a bank robbery in April 1974. The viciousness of that original term is quite salutary in my view. The sentence was commuted to two years in 1978 by Jimmy Carter meaning she was then released. On his last day in office in January 2001 Bill Clinton completely pardoned her. A strange tale indeed. Both Presidents obviously felt there had been a miscarriage of justice, under that basic philosophy I suspect, that when you have someone by their private parts their hearts and minds follow.
Mr Erdogan has been a bit silly. So much so that Today had a piece about him this morning. As I have mentioned he is being weighed down at the moment by allegations of corruption which may, or may not, be true. However he has found it all very upsetting and yesterday gave an emotional speech that he was banning the use if Twitter in his country which had refused to block links to recordings of him apparently acting inappropriately. Mr Erdgogan wishes to use the law for his own purposes. Especially with a social media vehicle like Twitter, it will not work. I think Mr Erdogan should look up the story of King Canute and the sea.
The Pope is meeting families of Mafia victims today. It was covered in the programme and in the studio was a London professor who presented a broadcast on BBC2 about Italian Organised Crime groupings last spring which I wrote about on 1st May 2013. He said that until 1993 the Catholic Church had never admitted the Mafia exist. They were culpably silent. Under Pope Francis things are getting better but in Italian society vested interests, not necessarily criminally based, are so strong it will take a long time for new perceptions to work their way through.
That interview was not highlighted on the Today Programme website. During the week they have stopped leaving their intended running order after broadcast for reference purposes. If I had not been listening live, as I will not be next week when I am away, I would not have known it took place.
A piece that was picked out though involved the heads of Ofsted and the Association of School and College leaders before they went off to the ASCL conference. Ofsted have decided they will change their inspection regime for the 60% of schools who have a historical marking of good. Instead of being visited by a team of four over three days it will now be a single senior person going for one day only. Many schools it seems find Ofsted visits intimidatory and disruptive. Ofsted inspectors are currently contracted to it by three large firms. At the moment Ofsted visitors to schools do not have to pass an accreditation exam. I received an email on 6th March 2014 in my private life which referred to an Ofsted inspection. Although I am sure it was not the motive of the person who sent it it did put pressure on me, in my opinion, for no good reason.
Ofsted was also mentioned in the broadcast for categorising the childrens’ services department at Coventry City Council as being inadequate. In March 2012 four year old Daniel Pelka died after being starved and abused by his mother and her boyfriend. The director of the department however did point out that after such a case people are bound to become much more cautious. Referrals to his office have increased by 48% over the last two years and his staff simply can’t cope. Extra funding of £5.6 million is now going to be provided for his section.
There was also a report from Afghanistan about an attack on the most prominent and secure hotel in Kabul where all foreign dignitaries stay. It seems four teenage gunmen had pistols in their socks as they walked through the security screens. Then they went to the toilets until they were ready to strike. Nine people were killed without discrimination. I think it is fair to call that an act of Taliban terrorism, who have admitted responsibility. The significance of the timing is that elections are due in two weeks and last night was the Persian New Year’s Eve, celebrated in Afghanistan. Everyone was in partying mood. I am not an expert but I anticipate any airport worker would tell you the only way that could have happened is if the screening machine was turned off or not being looked at.
There was a really interesting segment about the power of social media and, for me, making the right connections. A group of ladies I imagine decided to post online mobile phone selfies of their faces without make up on. In struck a chord and, because it was so easy to do I guess, took off. Then some of them started adding the hashtag breast cancer self awareness. That could possibly have been suggested by others. Since then in a few days the charity Cancer Research has had over £1 million in donations tweeted to it. I am not sure what you would decide is going on there but I feel there must be an element of you being afraid and wanting to do something about it. Make up is a mask. It hides your true identity from the world. You have a need to make yourself as attractive as possible to compete with all the perfect female images you see on screens every day. Consequently you feel unsure of yourself and that makes you unconsciously worry of what might happen to you in the future. 23% of all cancer detections are in the breasts so you can understand the concern. Over 450,000 women, and men, died from the condition worldwide in 2008. There are no solutions of course. Essentially I feel the best remedy is about being confident in yourself. The really horrible thing though in my view is that bad people will see, or already know, how we are and plot to take advantage of us.
Last Friday’s FT had an article about the news. The BBC TV News at Ten was watched last year by an average of 15.4 million people, as against 16.9 million in 2004. I feel that is pretty good. But it is youngsters who are not engaging. To my surprise my two modern sons do use the BBC website as a source of news. However I suspect that is because, consciously or unconsciously, they realise something is going on out there. For the rest broadcasters need to present the news in an interesting, consumable way relevant to the way young people spend their lives.
The paper also reports that two days before, an Ukrainian oligarch was arrested in Austria at the request of the FBI, presumably on corruption charges. Legal processes will now take place to see if he can be extradited, although the article doesn’t say where to. He has strong links with the UK. His group controls much of Ukraine’s chemical industry which uses imported gas from Russia. The piece suggests he has business interests with one of Mr Putin’s close friends. An analyst says the arrest sends a strong signal to former Soviet Union oligarchs that if they wish to do business with the west we will expect them to comply with our values.
On the same page is reported a leader’s speech, in the Bundestag. Mrs Merkel accused Russia of resorting to the law of the jungle. Their behaviour is threatening. Without using violent force she will not put up with it.
Further in I notice that Hassan Rouhani has been on a visit to Oman. A contract has been signed for Iran to supply natural gas to the Arabian state. I feel that is hopeful news for the over 70 million peace loving ordinary people residing in Iran. It will get economic activity going. I hope Sunni Arab states in the region will not get too upset about it.
Philip Stephen’s article there refers to Mr Putin’s considered action over Crimea to be a strategic mistake. I think Peter also worries for the future of Ukraine. It will now become a political football, being tugged two ways. Russia will desperately want it to fail as a successful state. That is hardly kind on the 45 million people who live there.
22nd March 2014
A record raised amount of at least £51 million was announced during the Sports Relief event at the Olympic Park last night. It is undoubtedly what we should be striving for, in my view. You need to have a feel good factor. But that should as part of a group, not selfish in any way. Then if you are doing good as well for those less fortunate than yourself, with a bit of luck you will hit the eureka of happiness.
The Pope’s vigil, which I mentioned yesterday, took place with 842 others at a Rome church near the Vatican. He told Mafia members that they cannot take their blood stained money with them to the next life. They should repent.
In my note of 14th March 2014 I thought Russia wished foreign observers to monitor the Crimea election conducted by their Electoral Commission and we would be happy with that. I have not seen it mentioned again so with hindsight I think I was probably being naive. However I see last Sunday Mrs Merkel did ask Mr Putin in a phone call to drop his objections to OSCE officials travelling to flash point areas in eastern Ukraine to document what is going on there. A BBC webpage reports this morning that is now going to happen, by a 100 strong team.
There was an short item of the radio news this morning, followed up on Today itself, about the relatives of those on the lost plane. Some believe it has been hijacked and that their loved ones are safe. A man is quoted as saying that they are probably cheating themselves seeing it like that but there is no other way for them to think. The theme was taken up later by the Reverend Roy Jenkins in Thought for the Day. He believes God is there to help those in such mental torture if he can.
There were some harsh words for Russian from two writers during the transmission. The argument was that business there is not as we would know it. It is an arm of the state. It is also a country rich in natural resources so the same principles of governmental influence and control apply in the administrative sphere as well. When those values come into contact with the outside word you either resist or you tend to become corrupted by the power of money too.
Another report came from Venezuela, which I wrote about on 12th March 2014. Apparently current difficulties all started at the beginning of February when a 17 year student was raped. The government acted with repression to the resulting protests against the crime and everything has got downhill since. Demonstrations now occur daily and at least 29 people have been killed so far. The Cuban advised socialist government, in a country with the richest oil reserves in the world, do not really know what to do I suspect. They say it must be an American backed facist conspiracy to do them down. It seems to me the European Gang are not part of the state in Venezuela. But when things go wrong, as they always will when money is the God of those really pulling the strings, those out in the open just become paralysed. It is the history of Italy I believe.
At the end of the programme there was a psychological discussion about the unknown, connecting to the missing plane. Will Self proffered the view that conspiracy theorists are actually seeking God. He suggested that when we walk out of our house this morning we turn left, instead of right as we always do. People however do not like exposing themselves to such uncertainty. But sometimes you do have to jump off the edge of cliff, as in the film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and see what happens. It is what I have done. It can work.
As he was in the question and answer session of his daily briefing this morning the Malaysian acting transport minister was given a piece of paper. It told him, from the Chinese Malaysian embassy, that on Tuesday one of China’s satellites saw a large object floating in the sea in the same area as the Australians are already interested in. He immediately passed the information on to the journalists he was with. It did seem a bit stage managed to me, much as I thought when I saw John Kerry speak in the London American embassy on that day last year.
From a Brussels based website I see a report from Wednesday that the Chinese president’s trip to Europe was announced in the week before. At that time it was thought it would be after a G7 meeting and Nuclear Security Meeting next week in The Hague which President Obama is attending. However Mr Xi has landed at Schiphol airport today where he was greeted by King Willem-Alexander. He came with 200 businessmen. Besides the Netherlands, he will travel to the EU headquarters in Belgium, France and Germany before leaving on 1st April.
Simon Kuper was writing about the difference between facts and perceptions in his Weekend FT Magazine article just gone. Over 200,000 Irishmen voluntarily fought in the First World War. While they were away the Irish Republicans gained ground and the Easter Rising took place in 1916. Those men at home subsequently became heroes in the eyes of most Irish people. When Simon first started visiting Ireland in 1995 he noticed how much anti British feeling there was amongst ordinary citizens. Gradually since then most have begun to recognise the tragedy of violent human conflict whichever side you are on. The past was perhaps finally left behind when the Queen visited in 2011 and paid homage to all the dead of the 1914-18 period. It is good to be able to empathise with other people.
Simon makes a connection with the Arab-Israeli peace process. After the Great War we administered Palestine until partition in 1948. We probably didn’t do a very good job. Perhaps Jews were favoured too much. Arab disturbances started in 1936. In any event if the two sides could look again at the history of the time they might decide non of the locals were really to blame. I am sure none of us would mind if they find common cause in blaming the Brits for getting them into such a mess in the first place. The important thing is they now reach a permanent accommodation between themselves.
The man with whom the paper had lunch with for the week was Prince Turki al-Faisal. He is the youngest son of King Faisal of Saudi Arabia who was assassinated in 1975. The journalist interviewer was Edward Luce based in New York. Mr al-Faisal has been going to America since the 1960s and is fully westernised. He travels the world and loves it. He especially likes Americans whom he finds warm and engaging. From 1977 until 2001 he was head of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence service. He resigned 10 days before 9/11. Paris Match have accused him of prior knowledge of that attack but subsequently had to pay him damages for libel. He obviously loves his current life. Everything is going well for him. Reading the piece I got the feeling Edward looked upon it as a challenge. There were potential pitfalls he needed to avoid. He wanted to get the gentleman talking freely. Invariably he managed that but just one misplaced question made his fellow diner go quiet. There was lots of good information there.
One interesting aside for example was that Saudi Arabia does not seem to feel valued by America any more. The States now have their shale gas and oil which has freed them up to be interested in other things. The kingdom sees it must become more self resilient.
There was a high profile interview with Michael Gove written up in both the Magazine and the paper. Mr Gove wants every child to be the author of their own lives. He is the product of a state education and says it is ridiculous that four of the Prime Minister’s inner political circle went to Eton, as did Mr Cameron. He does like them all though. For a politician to say something like that about his own side does of course take spunk. The FT journalists say he is instinctively courteous but can be as rude as the rest if he thinks it necessary. Surprising he says he does not think he is leadership material as he lacks that spark of star quality. I think he is wrong. We will not elect him, it will be his fellow MP’s. I suspect they will go more on philosophy than charisma. And the public are a pretty accommodating lot. We would give him the benefit of the doubt until we had reason to think otherwise.
The person in the News was 80 year old Dianne Feinstein who I also wrote about yesterday. A Senate colleague has called her associated speech the most important in Congress for 40 years. She is noted as one of three high profile female Democrats from California, with the others being Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Boxer. Like Margaret Hodge here perhaps she has the maturity to just speak as she sees. She has always been a strong supporter of America’s spy agencies. She has called Edward Snowden a traitor. Yet she has also been a keen advocate of gun control and in this particular instance has told the CIA they have tried to intimidate her team for no more than wishing to pass on the truth.
Elsewhere the paper informs us that half of MI5 resources are now being spent on keeping tabs on Brits fighting in Syria and preparing for what they might do when they get back.
The editorial gives a bit more detail about Germany’s relationship with Russia. 300,000 jobs are dependent on trade with it’s eastern compatriot which also supplies a third of it’s oil and gas. Apparently Mrs Merkel had more telephone discussions with Mr Putin over the Crimean crisis than any other western leader. The fact that she speaks fluent Russian must help. Mr Putin’s English I believe is awkward.
I found a small insight into the power of social media in Christopher Caldwell’s column. The attention grabbing internet appearance by Barack Obama I mentioned on 12th March 2014 has had 13 million hits. Apparently, because it was discussed and linked to it as well no doubt, it also created more traffic to the Healthcare.gov website than any other source.
On the Morrisons story I see there that in January the company’s treasurer was suspended. He had been arrested on suspicion of insider share dealing associated with Ocado being appointed Morrison’s delivery provider for online purchases.
Bridget Kendall was saying on PM on Thursday that the American sanctions announced that day on 20 individuals were getting very close to Vladimir Putin. They included his personal banker and some of his longest standing friends. Bridget suggested Mr Putin might not have not been surprised by their action taken.
I heard Ann Clwyd MP and a lady from the Welsh Royal College of Nursing talking on the radio during the week about the state of National Health Service Wales, and University Hospital Cardiff in particular. Mrs Clywd’s husband died at that hospital in 2012. She feels the standard of care in her husband’s and other cases, could indicate the same attitude towards patients that used to exist at Stafford hospital.
23rd March 2014
Syria seems to have been off the world’s radar recently. However today Turkey has shot down a Syrian military jet. Prime Minister Erdogen says it was in Turkish airspace without permission. Syria says it wasn’t.
The Royal College of GPs says today that demands on local doctors are increasing. Consultations rose to 340 million in 2012 from 300 million in 2008. Yet funding for the service in real terms is going down. That is the wrong direction.
Someone has shown me a definition of bullying today. It is a deliberate act done to cause distress solely in order to give a feeling of power, status or other gratification to the person bullying. It can range from ostracising, name-calling, teasing, threats and extortion, through to physical assault on persons and/or their property. It is to be found in a primary school prospectus.
I feel that explains the American Gang in a nutshell, especially through attacking someone’s property. Simply put they want to entice as many as possible into their clique with them. If you don’t have their values though they will bully you. And one reason they think like that I believe is because they know there will always be at least one other Gang in the world who oppose them. It will never be possible for us all to be in he same grouping. They need to be as strong as possible. They are quite obsessive about it.
The flooding on the Somerset Levels was an instance of bullying in my view. However no matter how bad the example you always seem to have someone who shows us all how to apparently pass serenely through it. In this case his name is James. His family have farmed on the levels for three generations. I heard he and his wife on On Your Farm this morning. He speaks in a perfectly matter of fact way without disclosing any of the negative emotion he must undoubtedly feel. You can ask him anything you like and he will answer. He speaks to anyone. So far it is nine UK media programme outlets and five from oversees. He shows consideration and respect, especially for his wife and, I am sure, his three young children whom I did not hear. The flooding started on 1st January 2014. For some weeks the water in his fields was no more than a foot deep. Then 2-3 inches of rain fell from the sky in one week. When it came over the road they decided they should think about evacuating animals and people. Then he received a phone call telling him a swell a meter high was flowing down the River Tone in Taunton. As quickly as they could they started moving the cattle on Wednesday afternoon. They finished in the early hours of Friday morning. In the space of forty eight hours the water depth had increased from his ankles to just below his armpits when the final animal left.
Peter Spiegel writes in Monday’s FT that one unintended consequence of the Crimean annexation is that it seems to have galvonised EU leaders into raising their horizons. Instead of worrying where next year’s increase in GDP might come from they are looking further out. As a group it looks like they are discussing the kind of continent we want to pass onto our children.
I am away at the moment and this afternoon told someone something about what had been said at a gathering at which they were not present, because they had expressed an interest. I did so for one reason only, it was the truth. It has changed an intended action the person was going to make and has definitely altered their thought processes, for not too long a period I hope. It has brought home to me how easy it must be to manipulate, in an entirely predictable way, if your intention is not good.
24th March 2014
A Panorama programme will say this evening that, out of an annual NHS budget of £100 billion, £7 billion is being lost to fraud and errors. It is only an estimate, coming from the former NHS anti fraud chief who left in 2006 but he is presumably someone who should know. The government’s own fraud loss figure is a twentieth of £5 billion. The gentleman says fraud is one of the last great unreduced healthcare costs.
The 22 year old lady who had acid thrown in her face when she got off a bus in Dagenham in December 2012 was on Today this morning. I wrote about her on 23rd January 2014. For a lot of the time she was totally composed. Then for a moment you would understand what total despair she feels looking forward to the rest of her life. The police and legal authorities treated her unkindly in my view. After the police had investigated and found she had looked on the internet at a well known person whose face had been disfigured by acid, that was used by the defence at the trial to argue she must have done the deed herself to seek celebrity. However CCTV evidence clearly indicated that her disguised, convicted friend and assailant was following her down the street. The lady said she had been in a long term abusive, bullying relationship with her friend. She finds that deeply upsetting.
I am now away for a few days in North Devon with no internet or television access, only radio. From that last source I heard on PM that the plane relatives have been told they must consider their loved ones as deceased. It seems that over the weekend Inmarsat have been working with the Air Accident Investigations Branch of the Department of Transport. They have carried out some complicated calculations. For example they have used the doppler effect to indicate the direction of motion of the plane when it sent it’s periodic signal to their satellite. And also previous data to eliminate other planes sending out similar satellite responses. The conclusion is it definitely turned south. That no doubt has given the Malaysian government confidence to make their public announcement. It has also been worked out that the plane was flying at a constant cruising height of 30,000 feet.
A contributor on PM also said that ships send out SMS type low cost text messages every six hours to identify their position. He is at a loss to understand why that doesn’t happen with planes.
The first surprise of my stay has just happened. My centre accommodation was booked for me. It is a twin room. My room mate has just walked in. His first name sounds foreign but he is English. He is now in his forties and changed it when he was 19 because he did not like his previous name. He is white, was born in Essex and now lives in Bristol. There he works in the Information Technology division of the department which operators the NHS organ donor database. When he is on call, and something goes wrong with the software, he has to be on site within an hour.
The Ukrainian government has today ordered all it’s military personnel to leave Crimea. President Obama has arrived at The Hague today where an emergency meeting of the G7 has taken place. Sergei Lavrov has met with the Ukrainian foreign minister, Andrii Deschytsia, on the sidelines of the gathering.
25th March 2014
After the G7 meeting yesterday Mr Obama said that the west is prepared to impose sanctions against sectors of the Russian economy to the extent for European countries that their own prosperity is affected. He referred to Russia as a regional power. That implies I feel that Mr Putin is acting in a weak manner by not accepting the reality of the situation, as it’s leader, which his country is facing.
An acronym a friend told me about yesterday is ARA. It stands for Authority, Responsibility and Accountable. In a business environment everyone should be given a degree of authority. That will provide them self esteem and encourage responsibility. Provided they are accountable for their actions in a transparent way that means their bosses will know that everything is moving ahead as they have directed.
Today’s Times reports that Mr Lavrov has effectively said Russia will accept the stance of the west on his country’s Crimea actions. They will wait for a year or two before hoping to rejoin the G7. I remember one of the first resignations from Mr Cameron’s cabinet, in May 2010, was David Laws. He returned to government in the 2012 reshuffle.
26th March 2014
The National Crime Agency was set up in October 2013. Last Saturday’s Independent reports that two of it’s officers, a man and a women, are being prosecuted by the Information Commissioner for offences under the Data Protection Act. It is alleged both were involved with obtaining secret intelligence reports form office files and passing that information on. The third person charged, who presumably received the details, is a former Essex and Norfolk Constabulary policeman who is currently a co-director of a corporate security consultancy firm. I wrote a letter to the head of the NCA just after it’s launch. I received a typed, what I thought to be defensive, reply in an envelope which I believe the director general had hand written himself. I suspect I heard from him only because someone else asked him to show me that courtesy.
From Yesterday in Parliament on Today this morning I know that the Home Affairs Select Committee questioned Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe yesterday. I would say it was an emotionally charged occasion but the chairman and the policeman maintained their politeness with each other, just, whilst pointing out what they considered needed to be said.
I go to daily lectures where I am staying. Yesterday in a question and answer session a gentleman in his sixties who I now consider to be a Gang Member, made a comment about the origins of the Freemasons which I took to be out of context for the subject being discussed. This morning he was sitting on my left in the room. The single lady next to be seemed a bit agitated. After the coffee break the lady, a Gang helper I believe, was in my seat and the man had moved to be directly opposite me. She was now entirely calm, as though being part of that surrealistic Gang fold which sometimes comes to visit her, gave her that wanted feeling again.
I am currently sat in an internet cafe so am able to do a bit of catching up.
The BBC webpage published this morning makes a point of saying that North Korea fired two medium range ballistic missiles just hours after the nuclear talks started in The Hague. Japan and South Korea were present at those apparently. The US State Department has called the action provocative.
I see the Malaysians have set up a Remote Sensing Agency for locating the lost plane. So far over 120 interesting objects have been identified floating on the surface of the sea. Malaysia Airlines have decided to conduct it’s own press conferences in future and communicate directly with the families rather than through third parties.
One of the big six energy companies, Scottish and Southern Energy, now SSE, has announced it is freezing it’s domestic gas and electricity prices until 2016, after the next General Election. The company said it would lower it’s profits but it will also reduce it’s costs to make up for the smaller income.
In 1998 a man bought a laptop under a credit agreement from PC World in Aberdeen believing it had an internal modem. On unpacking he found it hadn’t. Even though he returned the item to the shop the bank concerned, a subsidiary of HSBC, would not let him out of his finance contract with them. The gentleman lost his good credit rating meaning he could not buy a house. The case trundled through the Scottish courts and eventually arrived at the Supreme Court in London. The man has been awarded £8000 in damages.
I started a County Court claim against a major international retailer in October 2013. After much pushing I received a court hearing date, months hence, on 1st March 2014. Snails travel faster than that. If the action ever reaches a conclusion I shall write about it.
27th March 2014
In many ways it is difficult for me being away from home. I don’t think things have been going as the Gang would have liked during my visit and they are getting fed up with me. I suspect the Gang member watching over me is getting it in the neck and being made to do menial tasks. There is no mobile phone signal and at the moment I am alone in my room listening to the 8am radio news on my mobile phone. A few moments ago it went quiet. When I looked it had changed into time setting mode all on it’s own.
Last night during the meal one of the centre helpers accidentally spilt the serving dish over one of the guests. He had to change his trousers. The lady concerned sat next to me during the welcome session on Monday evening. In my language she is a Gang helper. I also look upon her as a victim. If you are bullied you either retreat into yourself I feel or look aside of you, as Patty Hearst did perhaps, for comfort. That I think is how sexual grooming works. I believe the lady concerned is probably involved in sexual grooming activity of her own sex. The hardness of the situation you are subjected to makes you hard too. You start playing silly games ostensibly just for kicks and stop caring for people.
Something I found out yesterday is that when a baby is born the receiving ovum increases it’s chromosomes from two to four, two being from the sperm. Those four are reduced down to the normal two through a process called meiosis. It is a mystery to science how meiosis came about. It’s working cannot be rationalised by normal evolutionary explanation.
The man who I believe is a Gang member asked a question of one of our speakers about how education impacts on our subject. It caused the lecturer to mention that his son is a teacher. The tutor thought nothing of it. However I suspect something coincidental might happen in a few days to make him rethink that.
Last night we watched the 1989 film the The Dead Poets Society. It was about a boy, encouraged by his class mates and teacher, who wanted to be an actor. His father forbade him and the boy shot himself dead. For me it was a tale of a good gang and a bad gang of the type I mention on 5th May 2013. The goodies were the boys, and their teacher who wanted them to discover the passion of prose. The baddies were the boy’s father, his headmaster and the parents of the other pupils who forced them to snitch on the teacher. None of the ignorant could connect or accept that it was they who drained the life from the young man. Instead they had to find a scapegoat in the form of the teacher who was sacked for teaching outside of the curriculum.
Yesterday the defence was presenting it’s case in the Max Clifford trial which was reported on PM. The team gave out a health warning before passing on this information but in my view it was fully appropriate for it to be broadcast. Mr Clifford’s accusers were asked about the size of his penis. Answers varied from minuscule to huge. Defence witnesses, such as a doctor, will give evidence that it is average. The 6pm radio news took the editorial decision not to air that detail of the day’s proceedings.
At one of the meals yesterday I was sitting next to a single Australian lady in her twenties. I asked if she knew the search for the missing plane was based in her country. I don’t think she did. Indeed she only seemed to have a vague idea of what was going on. She referred to the aircraft as having 700 passengers. One thing she was quite clear about however was that she was going to be pretty frightened next time she got on a plane. Perhaps it was just as well Sir Malombe Rifkind wasn’t speaking about the loss on the Today Programme a week last Tuesday.
28th March 2014
I have just looked at the Daily Mail online. I do not recall having seen President Obama look so, well, happy, for a long time. I think he must feel things are going well for him. Perhaps he will get that place in history after all. The pictures are of him meeting Pope Francis in Rome for the first time, where he also conferred with Prime Minister Renzi. Because the Pontiff is highly thought of, I suppose it was not difficult for Mr Obama to be reflective and generous about him. Along the same lines of people being on your side perhaps, Mr Obama seems to feel comfortable in taking the moral high ground in his differences with Mr Putin. Without considering it necessary to be horrible in any way Mr Obama has quietly made the point that it is out of the ordinary for Russia to be amassing 50,000 troops on it’s border with Ukraine. As the west is not making any threats of force towards Russia that can only be because they wish to intimidate the smaller country or are still working though preconceived plans. Either way it isn’t very nice.
The President left this morning for Saudi Arabia where I suspect he hopes to calm things down a bit.
In the car coming back today somebody was explaining to me the meaning of Deus. As I understand it it is the concept of God creating all the laws for operation of the universe from the big bang onwards and then letting life within it, including ultimately us on our small patch of land, to get on with it. That would certainly fit in with what I see as I look around me. I would also add that, with all things being equal, the weight of good seems to be just a little bit stronger than that of evil.
Following my note of 17th March 2014 about the Mafia boss, he was in court again yesterday. He was allowed to walk free. It seems that although the Crown Prosecution Service had lodged appeal papers with the court they omitted to serve those on the defence counsel as is required by law. I heard the director of public prosecutions say on PM this afternoon that the embarrassing administrative mistake should not have happened. She has apologised to Italian authorities and is looking into what can be done about the situation.
29th March 2014
A 4.4 magnitude earthquake occurred under the Los Angeles area this morning at a depth of 1.2 miles. There have been no reports of significant damage or injuries.
For some reason there is a BBC website about Syria in the most popular list this morning, dated 3rd April 2012. Unrest started in Syria in the spring of spring of 2011 and twelve months later the United Nations were optimistic they would be able to get peacekeeping observers into the country within a few days to keep a lid on things. The interesting thing for me from the page is the comment about President Assad’s uncle who now lives in Paris. Apparently he was in charge of putting down the uprising in Hama in 1982 when 10-25,000 people died. The rebellion was by the Muslim Brotherhood who I now feel must be aligned to the European Gang, the network who I also believe rule the roost in Russia. If that is right it makes you realise the complexity of allegiances which are influencing things below the observable, clear happenings in our world. Indeed when I was away last week I did think that normal American Gang tactics will work in any environment. Destructive psychology will have the same effect in the best connected circles in Moscow as anywhere else.
Last night there was a major instance of inmate indiscipline at HMP Northumberland run by the private company Sodexo. About 50 prisoners refused to return to their cells. The situation was resolved without physical conflict. It seems authorities now have Tornado back up teams of prison officers in place which they can call up at short notice to deal with such situations.
It is reported this morning that President Putin has phoned his counterpart, now in Saudi Arabia, to discuss Ukraine in an hour long conversation. It seems joint proposals of the Ukrainians, EU and Americans were put to Mr Lavrov in The Hague last week and Mr Putin was giving Mr Obama his considered response to that diplomatic initiative.
A former nurse originally from the Philippines was yesterday charged with the murder of three patients at Stepping Hill hospital in Stockport in 2011. One allegation is that he deliberately contaminated saline sachets with insulin.
After my note on Sunday there was a discussion on Today the following day about the big increase in workload GPs have experienced in recent years. Apparently 60% are considering retiring early. The Department of Health in England says it intends to increase GP numbers using trainees as a source, as quickly as possible.
On Tuesday MP’s voted to add a clause to the Deregulation Bill to allow non payment of the TV Licence fee to be made a civil offence only. The BBC will now have discussions with government about an orderly change and new enforcement practices.
I heard on the evening radio news on Thursday that not only have the Met shredded Operation Othona files but corresponding computer databases also seem to have become corrupted. The details came out in questioning of a police officer by the London Assembly. When I looked into it this morning I came across a report in Wednesday’s Independent. Besides Othona it appears the Met leadership have carried various investigations into corruption and links to Organised Crime within their own ranks over the years. Names mentioned are Zloty, Tiberius and Centaur. Those should be overlapping so perhaps not all Othona information has been lost. It seems that when Mark Ellison made enquiries for his review he was not told about Zloty. Keith Vaz, of the Home Affairs Select Committee, says he will want to find out why.
Last Saturday the side of a mountain collapsed above the Stillaguamish River in northern Washington state after, presumably, days of heavy rain. It created a mudslide in the valley below covering a square mile and enveloping 30 homes in the small remote town of Oso. So far 17 bodies have been recovered from the debris field. At the moment 170 are said to be missing.
Manchester United lost to Manchester City on Tuesday evening. Nick Robinson is a United fan so it was entirely appropriate he appeared on Today that morning to give his political insight into the state of play at the club. Nick says he thinks David Moye’s position will be safe as long as he retains the support of Sir Alex Ferguson.
Also on that edition Mark Field was explaining about the new campaign group Managed Migration which he has created with 20 other Tory MPs. He wishes to have a calm, rational debate about our immigration policy and not be led by arbitrary box ticking targets.
The chief executive of the German company Siemens confirmed on the broadcast that his firm is going to double it’s investment in our electricity generation wind turbine programme, to £160 million. Our commitment to produce 30% of our future energy requirements from renewable sources has encouraged the decision. I expect he may also have been speaking privately with Angela Merkel.
The evening radio news that day reported an orchestrated attempt has been discovered to increase the membership, in a selective way, of Middlesborough Labour Party. Apparently 100 postal applications were received in a six week period all paid for by non traceable postal order. The suspicion will have been presumably that those individuals did not pay themselves for their requests and would have voted as others wanted them to. The story also illustrates in my view that gang behaviour is not clever. It is complacent and arrogant. In a case like that it will have been assumed that anyone who noticed would be too afraid or not interested enough to do anything about it.
The same bulletin told us that the chief of the Garda police service in Ireland had resigned. In January 2014 he had called claims by two police service whistleblowers, disgusting. Those were that senior police officers were wiping motoring penalty notices from the driving licences of well connected individuals to order. However on Tuesday it emerged from proceedings in a court case that telephone calls in and out of many Garda police stations had been monitored by somebody over a period of years. That was obviously the final straw. A man in such denial had to go. The government has instigated a judge led inquiry into the allegations.
The polio virus lives in water, contaminated food and sewage. The disease was eradicated in Syria in 1999 but with the civil war vaccination rates have reduced to 68% of children and it has returned. Wednesday’s Today covered the story. At least 110 children are now thought to have polio and that means apparently that there could be 1000 people carrying the virus with the ability to spread it through human to human contact. The worry is that it could soon be found in neighbouring countries.
Yesterday’s Today featured a trial being conducted by West Yorkshire Police, providing the fingerprints found at crime scenes, and Sheffield Hallam University owning the analysis equipment. Within the ridges of the fingerprint are minute substance traces which can be investigated in the laboratory. The proteins there will tell you if the person is male or female. You should be able to find out if the individual deals or consumes drugs. Various tell tale evidence can be accumulated giving scientists an insight into the criminal’s lifestyle.
There was a discussion on Today this morning about a Family Division judge criticising Kent County Council. It failed to notify a Latvian father of his rights when his son was taken into care after his mother brought him to the county. The commentary was that in the past no details of the case at all could have been broadcast; that court division had a particularly secretive nature. It’s culture has changed a lot though in recent times. I see Today’s Sanchia Berg has authored a BBC Kent webpage about the case.
During the week it was reported that two people have caught tuberculosis in connection with an outbreak of the disease amongst nine cats in Hampshire and Berkshire. The outbreak was picked up I believe by an observant vet. The lives of the humans are not threatened.
I have just watched the UN special envoy on school education, Gordon Brown, say that for families to marry off young girls is not acceptable. It deprives a child of her education and childhood. He says that David Cameron supports that view. He announced an aid package of £89 million from the UN and EU to help Pakistani girls into school.
Whilst I was away I got behind with my online FT reading. In Tuesday’s FT from the week before last was a piece on the new Formula One season with the changed rules on more environmentally friendly engine performance. From that I know eight of the 11 F1 teams are based in this country employing, with suppliers, 5,000 people and generating sales of £2 billion a year.
Trans Dniester is a breakaway region of Moldova on it’s border with Russia. A BBC webpage says it is often portrayed as a hotbed of crime. Since it’s self proclaimed independence in 1990 it is one of Europe’s frozen conflicts and the territory is not recognised by any UN member. The FT writes about it in the next day’s edition. About one third of it’s 500,000 inhabitants are Russian and 29% Ukrainian. Russia does not seem to want it particularly, even though there was a resounding referendum to ultimately join Russia in 2006. The fact that is the only time I have seen it mentioned in the last couple of weeks means, I feel, that no one wants to talk about it. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on the way you look at it, it has no strategic importance. I suspect it is ruled by an autonomous gang.
The Iranian foreign minister, Javad Zarif, wrote for that paper. He thinks there will be a deal on his country’s nuclear programme. He says nuclear weapons are obsolete tools of the past.
On the same page Martin Wolf quite correctly says, in my view, that Russia’s actions over Crimea must be challenged, if only for Russia’s own sake. A bully should always be told it is not the right way to act.
Thursday’s edition gives publicity to a report by the South African Office of the Public Protector. It says that the $23 million cost to the public purse of renovation to President Zuma’s private home and grounds cannot be justified. It recommends that a reasonable proportion of the expense should be reimbursed by Mr Zuma.
The next page confirms that the Mayor of London and Metropolitan Police Commissioner would like to buy three second hand water cannon for crowd control, from Germany. The final decision lies with the Home Secretary.
An article quotes John Kerry as saying that distrust between Palestinians and Israelis is greater than ever. The Palestinians feel the Americans are not being even handed towards them. I am very pleased to see them say, there is no prospect of them resorting to violence whatever happens. In that respect of course they are following America’s example over Crimea. If the stronger Israelis pick on them after that it will be most unfair in my view. Both sides appear to be preparing for failure when talks end at the end of April. Next time the Palestinians think they would like to go down a more open route than currently. Once we know what is being said, and the arguments between the sides, it will be easier for world opinion to express it’s view.
Neil Buckley remembers in Friday’s paper that two weeks before it happened Mr Putin said he had not considered the possibility of Crimea joining Russia. Either he changed his mind very quickly or he was being less than honest at the time.
Further in the chairman of the Bundestag’s foreign affairs committe, Norbert Rotten, writes about Crimea. He sounds genuinely shocked by what has happened. Yet he is careful not to overreact. Germany must responsibly show Russia the consequences of it’s action but not seek to punish. Mr Putin should realise he has brought his future discomfort on himself. Mr Rottgen hopes the situation will bring the rest of Europe closer together.
Now I have reached the end of that paper I think it is fair to say my letter, emailed on the Tuesday, was not published. I have mixed emotions. I do not court publicity. Perversely for the situation I am in, I am an extremely private person. Yet I think it was well written. I am proud of it so would have liked other people to have read it. Overall I am disappointed.
Last Saturday’s FT reported that the Thursday before Michelle Obama, her mother and daughters arrived in China as the guests of the president’s wife, Peng Liyuan. A few days later Ms Peng left for Europe with her husband. Mrs Obama wished to promore education and cultural exchange during her trip.
An article there notes that the report on the 2009 Air France crash over the Altantic published in 2012 recommended that a plane should be wired to automatically send details about itself once unusual happenings occurred and should incorporate an automatic release mechanism for black boxes. If that had happened I imagine a lot of money would have been saved in looking for our current lost plane.
As you would imagine the edition focuses closely on Russia. Neil Buckley writes that the sanctions raised by America do personally target President Putin. The individuals who run his financial empire are sanctioned as is the bank he uses.
Just how complicated it can be trying to read the battles going on between the American and European gangs is shown, in my view, by another piece there. It is about the Syrian town of Yaboud near the Lebanese border, used for the supply of men and materials, which has just fallen to government troops. The paper’s informant is a doctor working in the area. There had been a stalemate between opposing forces but the town then capitulated in the space of two days. The man puts that down to psychological pressure. There had been mass infiltration by collaborators and sleeper cells, up to 50% apparently in some units. Trust had completely broken down. At the given word those saboteurs spread fear and disarray so that most fighters simply fled. The suspicion is that moderate Sunni Saudi Arabia is quite happy about it. They were not pleased with the colour of the rebels being backed by Qatar who have become associated with the Muslim Brotherhood. The Saudis perhaps will now get their own people in.
30th March 2014
There are 800 police superintendents in England and Wales. From next week a new recruitment scheme becomes available for forces to bring in outside blood directly to such posts. Until now a talented person had to join as a constable and rise up through the ranks. David Cameron says he wants every service in due course to use it and hopes it will bring new ideas and a fresh approach to policing.
On Friday there was a conference at Lambeth Palace for 67 religious communities within the Church of England, to support their work. Edward Stourton interviewed Archbishop Welby for the Sunday broadcast this morning, during the lunch break. I might well be wrong but I thought the Archbishop sounded a little bit testy as though he wasn’t having a good day at the office.
I have broken my journey back from the West Country in Buckinghamshire. At lunch today I was with a lady and her four year old daughter who goes to nursery school. Mum was saying that recently daughter was heard saying at school that Mum’s partner hits her. Mum was called in by the authorities. The allegation is totally untrue. The little girl did not understand what she was saying. It could have seriously damaged the relationship between mother and child. However the bond of trust is as strong as ever.
Last Thursday the United Nations resolved that the Russian invasion of Crimea was in breach of international law. The motion was passed by 100 hands to 11 with 58 abstentions. Some diplomats alleged apparently that such countries as Moldova, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and some African countries were told by Russia that there would be consequences for them if their vote showed they were no longer Russia’s friend.
On my way back to Kent this evening I heard on the radio news that John Kerry, on his return journey from Saudi Arabia to Washington, decided during a refuelling stop in Ireland that he should instead travel to the Russian embassy in Paris to discuss things with Sergei Lavrov. Now I have read a BBC webpage about it. What would fit in with the details available are that Mr Putin made that invitation to Mr Obama on the phone yesterday who declined it. However during the day intelligence has come in that unusual movements are taking place on the Russian side of the Ukranian border. The Americans have been bounced into changing their position.
If that is right it is pretty nasty. However for the moment I am not going to cast any aspersions. America says Russia has more military resources on the border, such as field hospitals, than are needed for exercises. The Russians say that Nato are making military manoeuvres nearby. Both sides profess they have no intention to use physical force. At least they are still talking I suppose.
Then after my note yesterday about Trans-Dniester that also appears on one of today’s webpages. Russia says it wants that problem sorted out too.
I see Chinese president Xi Jinping and his wife dined at Versailles on Thursday evening. Today he is in Brussels on his low profile European tour. If he did have any contact with other world leaders in Europe last week there has been no press coverage of it.
31st March 2014
I wrote a diary note on 17th May 2012, in chapter 12 of my book, on us selling pork meat to China. Last Monday’s FT reports that last year our exports of pork rose by 92% and Scottish salmon by 90%. China is now our second biggest food market outside of the EU.
Yesterday it is reported Mr Kerry told Mr Lavrov that no decision could be made on Ukraine’s future without Kiev’s involvement. Today Russia’s prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev, is visiting Simferopol in Crimea with a delegation of Russian ministers.
I have just watched a video clip of George Osborne speaking at Tilbury Port today. He says we are creating more jobs than at any time in our recent history and faster than almost any other country in the world. I am sure he would not have said it if it wasn’t true. Good news indeed.
After the original accidental death inquest verdicts were overturned in December 2102 the new inquests into the 96 deaths at Hillsborough in 1989, starts today. A building on a Warrington business park has been converted for the duration. The coroner is an appeal court judge and his jury of 11 will have to allocate a year of their lives to get all the answers right this time.
In his first annual report out today the Chief Inspector of Constabulary writes that the public’s confidence in the police has been badly shaken but not broken. He says good leadership will see them through. It is essential they maintain the goodwill and cooperation of citizens which is essential for their work. The five policing failings he highlights are the inappropriate deceitfulness of undercover police officers from the late 1960s onwards, the alleged misdemeanours associated with clashes at Orgreave Colliery in 1984, Hillsborough in 1989, police actions after Stephen Lawrence was murdered in 1993 and the plebgate affair in 2012. The period covered there is over 40 years.
I have just had one of those nuisance phone calls from abroad. A few hours ago I left a message for a person to phone me back. It has become a familiar pattern. When I am expecting a call the phone goes and it is nothing. I expect somebody thinks they are being frightfully clever.