1st May 2014
A complex fraud case being brought by the Financial Conduct Authority against eight defendants collapsed at Southwark Crown Court today. No barristers, after 70 chambers were approached, could be found to represent the defendants and the judge accepted it would be unfair to let matters drag on. Lawyers were not prepared to accept the brief because, after the recent cuts in legal aid, they did not feel the pay rate on that basis to be reasonable. The barrister who argued for the trial to be stopped, without charging the eight men for his work, was David Cameron’s elder brother Alexander.
There was a discussion on Newsnight tonight about increasing disease and bug resistance to our range of antibiotic drugs. It is quite some time since I last wrote about it but we don’t appear to be making any progress. It is a global problem so the UK’s ability to do good on it’s own is limited. Nevertheless the Chief Medical Officer commented that it is a subject in which the Prime Minister is taking an interest and discussions are occurring at the top of government to work out some strategies. The man from the Welcome Trust said pharmaceutical companies should be given the incentive to invest the large sums needed to find solutions.
2nd May 2014
Microsoft support for Windows XP ended on 8th April 2014. A few days later it was discovered a significant security issue, allowing an attacker to take control of your system, had been found in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. In my view that was the Gang laughing at Microsoft. The company’s response, as reported on a BBC webpage published this morning, has been to include XP users on their update to fix the flaw. Mine was there when I turned my computer on just now.
A preliminary hearing for Peaches Geldof’s inquest took place yesterday. Kent Police say Peaches had considerable amounts of heroin in her body when she died. She was in her home with her baby at the time. Her husband was away visiting family with their second child, for the weekend I think, a normal arrangement. He became concerned when he could not contact her on the Monday morning. The police will see if they can find out where the heroin came from. A puzzling aspect for me is that Peaches’ body was found lying on top of the bed in the spare room with one leg tucked underneath her and the other falling off the side of the bed.
I heard the Archbishop of Canterbury speaking on the Jeremy Vine Radio 2 show this morning. Doctor Welby laid large parts of his private life bare. It was appropriate as Jeremy was telling him some details about his father, which have been published by the media I think, he did not know himself. Dad, by all accounts, was a colourful figure. It seems some people have been spending a lot of time and effort recently, delving into his past. Even though his seven months old daughter died as long ago as 1983 in a car crash he says he, and his wife no doubt, think about her every day.
On Tuesday a lady on a group tour of Wells Cathedral had an accident. She was walking across a roof pitch I think between two towers when she slipped and fell 20 foot to the gully below. She suffered non life threatening injuries and was taken to hospital by a RAF rescue helicopter.
3rd May 2014
I first became aware of the Jimmy Saville story after Newsnight were involved with it at the end of 2011. However after listening to PM yesterday I realise an investigative journalist and former Surrey policeman, Mark Williams-Thomas, first aired the claims in an ITV documentary broadcast in October 2010. It was based on the experiences of five brave women who allowed their stories to be told. A few days after the transmission he received an email from a lady who had been abused by Max Clifford. He met her and, with her permission, those allegations were passed to the police. Everything went from there. If you were a powerful, nefarious hidden figure, the culmination of that process with the jury verdicts on Thursday, must have made you boil with rage. At the time the Gang Master thought there would be no harm in allowing the ITV broadcast to go ahead. His judgement has been found gravely flawed.
Mr Clifford was yesterday given terms of between six months and two years for the eight offences of which he was found guilty. He has been told he must serve at least half of his full eight year sentence in jail. There is a link on a BBC webpage this morning to the judge’s sentencing remarks. Mr Clifford’s offences started in 1977 when he was 34 and lasted until he was 41. Included in those was an act of penetration into a woman’s vagina with two of his fingers. On one occasion after he had instructed a woman to masturbate him he said she had not done a very good job. In his grooming process he would sometimes ring up vulnerable women he was apparently helping and pretend to be someone else, to destabilise them.
From the evidence it is clear Mr Clifford was highly manipulative and set out to deceive women to satisfy his own sexual desires. That was highly damaging for them. Even today he does not appear to realise it. I have sympathy for him because over the last 40 years he appears to have changed his ways, to a degree at least. I think his wife and daughter have believed what he has been saying to them. It would have too horrible for them not to. They were not at court yesterday for his sentencing, to support him. Mr Clifford has been shown to be a blatant liar. To the last moment he has said anything he thought would save him, irrespective of the effects on anyone else. If he had honestly said what he perceived to be the truth when he was first spoken to by the police in 2010 things might have turned out differently for him.
Last night I watched the 1942 film Random Harvest at a friend’s house. It was made in America whilst we were fighting the Second World War. The story related how a man who came back from the First World War suffered from loss of memory. While out for the day from his asylum in an English town he met a singer. She thought he was lovely and swept him off his feet. They ran away and married. The first day he was away from her he had a minor street accident, bumping his head. His old memory came back but he forget about her. Some time later she saw his name in the paper and went to work for him as his personal assistance. Her psychiatrist friend told her the only way of getting him back was for he himself to remember who she was. If she told him herself it would just create a barrier and he would go into denial. It was quite painful watching him know he liked her a lot without understanding why. With it being an old film the morals displayed were impeccable throughout. The final scene is when everything finally clicks for him. It was super.
I also see a connection with where we are today. Somehow ordinary people need to find out about the Gang story. Just telling then though will not work. It will have to be done in a more subtle way than that.
37 year widowed mother of 10, Jean McConville, was at home in Belfast with her children one evening in December 1972. Six IRA men and four women, known to the children, entered and took their Mum away at gunpoint. They never saw her again. Her remains were found on a beach in County Louth in the Irish Republic after a storm exposed them in 2003. In 1999 the IRA gave some information to the authorities on the whereabouts of the body but not with sufficient accuracy for it to be found. The IRA killed Mrs McConville because they thought she was a paid informer of the British Army. A subsequent state investigation held that to be false. Obviously people should be prosecuted for the crime if possible. In that connection an American university, Boston College, carried out an academic study in 2001 called the Belfast Project. It sought to record an oral history of The Troubles. IRA men and others contributed under condition of anonymity during their lifetimes. However they were identified by their initials. An IRA commander who has since died told them that Jerry Adams was in charge of the group who killed Mrs McConville. Mr Adams says he was not involved in any way. Mrs McConville’s son appeared on Today on Thursday and said he knows the men and women who took away his mother when he was 11. However he has never told anyone and wouldn’t be prepared to tell the police now as he would be afraid of reprisals against him and his family. Then his sister, also there in 1972, appeared on Newsnight in the evening. She said the cruelty of the IRA towards her over the years had beaten the fear out of her. She would give police names if they asked her.
Sinn Fein have four candidates in the island of Ireland for the EU elections later this month. Gerry Adams, President of the Party, is not one as he already has a seat in the Irish parliament but he has naturally been out campaigning. He had to interrupt that activity on Wednesday when he was invited to travel to Antrim police station for questioning. He accepted. On arrival he was arrested, in connection with murder of Mrs McConville, and with the authority of that legal process he has been appropriately kept there since. Another man, the leader of the Provisional IRA in the 1970s, was charged in connection with Mrs McConville’s murder last month using evidence from the Boston tapes. I understand at that time Mr Adams told the police he would be happy to cooperate with their enquiries. Nevertheless the timing of the arrest is unfortunate. David Cameron, in my view, immediately saw the significance. On Thursday he said the police are independent of politicians and as such we must all wait for their enquiries to run their course. Nevertheless members of Sinn Fein are pretty upset. They see themselves as being bullied when they want voters to think well of them. Martin McGuinness has spoken of dark, politically motivated, forces at work within the PSNI. Thankfully those on the Loyalist side of the equation have kept their own counsel. They could so easily have made things ten times worse. The police have until Sunday to decide whether to charge Mr Adams or let him go.
I am biased but the most terrible aspect of the situation for me is the connection with the current most fragile of relationships in Israel and Palestine. An author on PM on Thursday was saying that Mr Adams’ arrest will be used for all it’s worth by sceptics within Sein Fein. They will argue for the mistake of IRA leaders all those years ago in reaching an accommodation with the British state. I expect at the time they could have been given private hints that, for a deal, Ministers would not ask the police to pursue their past crimes too vigorously. That should have been done openly of course, if it was done at all, but some within Sein Fein will now no doubt be saying that IRA leaders were fools for trusting us in the first place. They only have themselves to blame. And that message, I fear, is being given loud and clear by the Gang to Hamas leaders today.
The chief negotiator for the Palestinian Authority and Mark Regev, Mr Netanyahu’s representantive, were on Today this morning setting out their positions. I noted that Mr Regev, although he did not entirely manage it, did his best to remain calm. The party we did not hear from was Hamas. I feel that was a shame. I do not know whether the BBC asked them but if they did I hope the organisation would have had the confidence to explain to impartial listeners their side of the story. All sides I trust realise you cannot make people you dislike disappear. Force against any adversary is not a long term solution. If Hamas believe themselves to be right they should have the courage to speak up.
On Thursday John Kerry arrived in South Sudan on a five day African trip. In Ethoipia, where the African Union is based, he warned of possible genocide in South Sudan unless African Union peacekeepers are increased quickly. From an Associated Press webpage I see he called for an end to politican corruption on the continent. Such absence would allow individual initiative and business enterprise to flourish. Apparently Africa holds 60% of the world’s arable land which means it has vast potential to be a significant food exporter of the future.
A second bombing took place took place in the Nigerian capital ,Abuja, on Thursday close to the scene of the first. This time 19 were killed. Next week a World Economic Forum meeting takes place there so everybody is quite nervous.
Gordon Brown appeared on Newsnight last night. He is trying to drum up assistance, here and in the UN I think, to help Nigeria find the missing school girls, and do something about Boko Haram generally. He has soken to William Hague asking if we might be able to provide air cover to Nigerian troops if they go looking for the girls in the jungle.
A 17 year old German student of Turkish origin, Diren Dede, coming to the end of his year long exchange at a school in Montana has recently been shot dead. For an unexplained reason he walked into the garage of a private residence where the killing occured. The occupiers of the property had left the door open and put the lady’s purse on show in the hope of luring in any potential intruders. They had previously suffered at least one burglary. When their sensors picked up someone the man went to the garage and fired his shotgun at the person there without warning. In 2009 the state introduced a law which allows homeowners to use deadly force if they feel an intruder intends to cause them personal harm. The man is pleading innocence under that legislation. It doesn’t seem to me, on the details as I have described, that he has a valid defence. However as a local Democratic politician has said the law seems to have instilled a culture in the area that it is fine to shoot a gun first and ask questions later. The incident, in my view, could destroy two families, the victim’s and the shotgun owner’s. Not everyone is perfect. American legislators I consider should treat their people with a bit more understanding. There is absolutely no need to encourage ordinary folks to dice with each other’s lives so easily.
There have been two explosions, and an unsuccessful attempt at one, in the Kenyan port city of Mombasa today. Three people have been killed. It will likely have been the work of al-Shabab and almost undoubtedly in response to John Kerry’s current visit to Africa I feel.
When I was young if I had heard children in a playground chanting the eeny, meeny, miny, moe rhyme in the nigger version, which is the one I knew, it would have seemed perfectly normal to me. Times of course have moved on since then. Nevertheless if I said it today in my private life, there would be no consequences for me. I am fortunate I am not in the public eye. Last week the Daily Mirror came into possession of a two year old take, never used, of Jeremy Clarkson mumbling the ‘n’ word for an edition of Top Gear. Jeremy has had to eat a very large slice of humble pie in order to keep his BBC job. I am sure he spoke through gritted teeth. Something like that can do funny things to you unless you have a very strong character. It must be extremely difficult, most of the time, being a celebrity.
Yesterday the Ukraine government started military operations to dismantle the positions of Russian sympathisers in the eastern part of the country. Two of their helicopters were shot down in Slovyansk with at least one pilot killed. Some reports say sophisticated shoulder fired surface to air missiles were used to bring the aircraft down. Quite predictably in my view there was also a different form of retaliation and it was not in a manner, I suspect, anyone was anticipating. That is the Gang way.
Odessa is in the south of the country not that far away from Crimea. There were clashes there yesterday between opposing supporters, initiated the BBC thinks, by the Russian sympathisers. The latter’s encampment was burnt down. They sought refugee in a trade union building. Somehow a fire started there and 42 people were burnt alive. I anticipate there were very few journalists around to observe exactly how that all unfolded.
Separately the seven OSCE observers held in Slovyansk were freed this morning together with their Ukrainian companions. It seems that OSCE officials and a Russian delegation, as members of the organisation, have been speaking to the Russian aligned mayor over several days and finally persuaded him it was the right thing to do,
I remarked on Wednesday that the Gang hate politicians. It was they, in my view, who brought the MPs’ expenses scandal into public view via journalists and now I suspect they are doing the same, using policemen, in the field of sexual abuse. Nigel Evans has said life for him will never be the same again and I think at least one other politician will be worried tonight. Simon Danczuk appeared on PM this afternoon. He wanted us all to know, as quickly as possibly, that he was visited by the Metropolitan Police yesterday. The officers wished to see if there were any connections to be made from the details of his book about Sir Cyril Smith and their own current investigations, involving an unnamed senior Labour figure. It is entirely appropriate they should have acted in that way. I think Mr Danczuk was shocked by what they told him. He felt deep empathy with the victims. He quite naturally said he did not come into politics to hear that sort of thing.
Mr Danczuk has formed a four strong cross party group of MPs with an interest in sexual abuse allegations. They are writing to the Home Secretary. Mr Danczuk said he is aware of several other similar police investigations proceeding in the UK. In the group’s opinion Mrs May should arrange for central coordination of all those and provide necessary funding for full due process to be achieved.
I wrote about the massive mudslide in the isolaed American town of Oso on 29th March 2014. Yesterday a similar thing happened to the remote village of Badakhshan in Afghanistan. This time it is feared about 2,500 people have perished. The first landslip enveloped all the houses. Residents from the adjoining village came to help. They were buried by the second deluge. I believe the events in both countries were Gang operations. The death toll for the second is likely to approach that for 9/11.
In Gang mythology I expect those events will be seen as the most fantastic achievements, to move whole mountains like that. It proves to the top men how high and mighty they are. And to kill so many little, insignificant people yesterday for good measure. But when there is no one around and you can take as long as you like in your evil preparations I hardly see how that is particularly clever. A quiet part of Afghanistan is just about the softest target you could think of. The best you can say about the two schemes I feel is that they were well organised. But that is the nature of hardened criminals as we all know. If those men want to do something really significant, and keep their position at the top of their tree, I think they should plan a really daring attack under everyone’s noses. To bring that off would deserve real admiration.
4th May 2014
I wrote about Michael Stone on 30th January 2013. I heard his name again on last Friday’s edition of In Search of Ourselves. I have never heard it reported before but he was mentally unwell and under the care of a community psychiatric nurse. Five days before he killed Lin Russell and her children it was known he had stopped taking his medication and had threatened to murder his probation officer. I suspect he was a friend of a person with whom I have come into contact since moving to Kent. Although I have not seen that man to speak to since October 2007 he lives not far away from me. I suspect he still visits my garden on a regular basis when his friends tell him I am not here, with weed killer on his person. He is a meek man who I think could be psychologically unbalanced. He believes he hates me.
I referred to the most recent atrocity in South Sudan on 24th April 2014. After playing back Alastair Leithead speaking on last Thursday’s Today I can add a bit more detail to that. It was actually two attacks, the first in Betiu by the Nuer tribe and the second retaliatory one against an UN compound, from the Dinka. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has visited the country and called on the two leaders to stop dragging their people down the path of self destruction.
I wrote about the London policeman James Patrick without naming him on 24th April 2014. From his interview on Thursday’s programme I know he has had a meeting with the Chief Inspector of Constabulary who appreciates his views on the misreporting of crime. He believes he has been pushed out of the Met for telling the truth. Mr Winsor himself was speaking later about crime statistics which he says are almost certainly being manipulated to some extent by the police. In regard to Mr Patrick he was not entirely sure he was unsullied in the matter. He said all the circumstances of the policeman’s departure are not out on the public domain.
Soon after that was a piece on legal highs which mostly come apparently from China and India. A man was on who runs several shops. He wants to form a trade association. The idea is to minimise harm to the public, by setting up a code of practice for the industry, until such time as the government has got it’s own regulatory house in order. He says the demand for his products is vast. As it is consumers are putting themselves at considerable risk by consuming legal highs. They really do not know what they are taking. The Minister was saying the governments of New Zealand, Ireland and Poland have already started taking an interest in the problem. We are catching up as fast as we can.
Simon Cox spoke about his The Report programme being broadcast on Radio 4 that evening. It is on the culture of Westminster. He could only find one MP willing to speak to him on the record about it. John Mann MP would say that there are currently people in Parliament whose moral behaviour would be held in shame and disgrace if it were known about by the general public.
The concept of a multi-disciplinary approach is at the fore of Family Drug and Alcohol courts which have been set up since 2008 in some parts of the country. The man in charge of the first one, covering some London boroughs, was on Today on Friday. The team’s first task is to identify families in trouble with the law who they feel they can help. They then hold them tightly, bringing them to court every two weeks, to show that people are rooting for them. It is a formula apparently which works very well. It does help if you feel people care about you. The trouble is funding. With the tight public finances at the moment the number of FDACs around are probably going down, not up.
A Belfast man from the younger generation, brought up after the Troubles, appeared on the edition. The normal rules of justice and politics should apply where he lives as much as anywhere else. His opinion is that everything should be out in the open. If the informed general view is that past misdemeanours should be forgiven he would be happy to go along with the majority.
There was also a piece about the 1918 flu pandemic when 50 million people died in a period of six weeks as the First World War was reaching a conclusion. Only about 16 million perished in the conflict itself. The virus spread like wildfire. The number is so high it is, quite frankly, difficult to comprehend. Most badly affected were people around the age of 30. An American professor was interviewed and by looking at the human genome of the time his team believe older individuals had an element of resistance to the virus. It is presumed that was obtained from another global infection at the end of the 19th century. The lesson is that the prospect of world flu outbreaks are not necessarily that frightening if you have made responsible provision beforehand. Possibly a flu jab for children might become available one day just as for mumps.
On 20th April 2014 I mentioned that there seem to be seismic shifts taking place at the moment in the world of big drug companies. Over the last week American Pfizer’s hostile takeover bid for British AstraZeneca has been in the news. On Friday Conservative Lord Heseltine said he thought there should be some form of national interest test applicable and Ed Miliband has suggested much the same thing to Andrew Marr this morning. Initially the UK government seemed to be supportive of the merger but I heard Grant Shapps say on the World this Weekend that they are in fact completely neutral. An academic on Friday’s edition of Today said we should really be looking at the individual characteristics of this particular suggested arrangement. What we want to achieve in this country is the best environment possible for world breaking medical discoveries to be made. That might be obtained under the biggest pharmaceutical company in the world or AstraZeneca as it is. In the gentleman’s view such advances are invariably made in small company research teams which are closely aligned, physically and intellectually, to academic institutions.
Yesterday there was a march from Westminster Abbey to St Pauls Cathedral by the hundreds of white robed ladies who were first ordained into the Church of England 20 years ago. At their destination the service was led by a Canon. Her assistant was the Archbishop of Canterbury.
I do hope that is symbolic of a turning point for women in the church. Robert Piggott is quoted on a BBC webpage as saying that ladies still seem to be undervalued in the institution. Because of that perception, or reality, recruitment of young women priests has dried to a trickle. I look upon that as an example of behaviourism.
However influences on us of course do not necessarily have to be negative. The feel good factor produced by the 2012 London Olympics was quite noticeable. That made people outward looking and confident, not tentative and worrisome.
Barack Obama has been making jokes at the annual White House Correspondents Dinner. He said he tries to keep a stiff upper lip. Sasha was looking for a speaker at her school career day recently. She asked Bill Clinton. Her father never said a word. That brought a tear to my eye, for a reason he might well know. Then before Ukraine blew up it seems a conservative American commentator had said that President Putin was in line for the Norwegian Nobel Peace Prize, which Mr Obama received in 2009. To be fair he said, they do dish those out to just about anyone these days.
The Church of Bishops has set up a committee to promote black clergy within the Church of England, chaired by the Bishop of Rochester. He was on Sunday this morning speaking with the black lady Chaplain to the House of Commons Speaker and who serves the same role, I think, to the Queen. It seems there are lots of able black individuals around. The idea is to mentor, and be advocates for them, as has happened for women, so they can understand they are actually much valued by their peers. That I feel will give them confidence to advance themselves.
5th May 2014
My 23 year old son dropped me off last night. I have a half sized snooker table in my home office and as I was getting out of the car I suggested he, I and his younger brother start using it, once I have cleared out all the files which are currently in there. He was amenable but did not want to enter into any form of regular commitment. Me being me I carried on regardless. I suggested after a bit we might be able to get someone else we know about their age involved occasionally. He then said something quite profound I feel for someone of his young age. It was that you walk before you run. I noted he put it in a positive context. I would probably have said you don’t run before you can walk.
I think the Ukrainian interim Prime Minister is reading the deaths in Odessa on Friday pretty well. Although he blames pro-Russian separatists for provoking the unrest he castigates his own security forces for not doing anything to stop it. He has told the BBC there will be a full investigation into how it all came about.
On Today this morning the BBC’s correspondent was reporting from Nigeria about the lost girls. When you are thinking about a situation like that I feel it helps to try and keep it as simple as possible. Pick out the most important feature. For me it is that the Nigerian government has not found sight nor sound of them. The conclusion must be that they have not really looked. They are afraid of the consequences for them if they did. On a human level I feel that is quite understandable. But, especially for the distraught families of course, it is not the right thing to do. That is why I was pleased to hear that President Goodluck Jonathan has given a press conference saying his military forces are now going to do something about it.
6th May 2014
It is reported this morning that a diver working for a private company has died on the underwater wreck of the South Korean ferry. It was his first dive apparently.
I had a conversation with a friend yesterday when I said I feel a bit like a sponge at the moment. It I see a story in my limited news sources which grabs me I feel I should write about it. I am making a conscious effort to cut down on my note taking. Yet last week I uploaded to this website the biggest monthly file ever. I have visited the Channel Islands and the Lake District this year. I am not going to write about the BBC wegpage up this morning on the latter but I am for the former.
I mentioned the current difficulties in the Anglican Church in the Channel Islands on 20th February 2014. At least one BBC reporter has approached the Archbishop of Canterbury about the story. Doctor Welby says he has decided to set up a formal review of the situation. He doesn’t know how long that will take but it is a qusetion of how islanders’ spiritual needs can best be served by the Church of England.
The World Economic Forum meeting starts in Abuja tomorrow. There will be lots of important people there able to have private conversations with each other. The leader of Boko Haram has released a video in which he tries to justify the capture of the teenage girls. I suspect he did that all on his own. Otherwise it really means the Gang are on the back foot. I doubt if they could be completely happy with his words. It shows him not to be just a killing machine. He feels a need to explain his actions to us. The hidden Gang message to a targeted person I think is always that you have commonality of purpose with those hidden men above you. Please do things our way. In this case though it seems possible they have abandoned him. The gentleman is under pressure, he feels it and is speaking for himself.
Separately ordinary people appear to be more upset, and committed to do something about it, over kidnapped girls than tens of people who have been brutally murdered. I suspect that behaviour is influenced by hope. We think possibly we we can do something for the girls. All you can do for the dead is grieve for them.
President Obama has spoken to President Goodluck Jonathan to personally give him his support and offer whever appropriate American assistance might be needed to locate the girls. The State Department is giving him regular briefings on the situation. Similarly a minister from the Foreign Office was on Today this morning saying we have offered the Nigerian government practical help and other measures. Apparently Boko Haram have killed 10,000 Nigerians since it was formed. Once the present crisis is over a long term strategy to contain them is required.
There was an interesting BBC webpage up over the holiday weekend about Vietnam. The Second World War ended in 1945. However for the French they went straight into another conflict the following year to protect their Empire in the Far East. In 1949 China fell to Communism. The Chinese then started supplying arms to the Vietnamese who wanted to break free from their French rulers. By 1954 things were coming to a head. The French were defeated by Vietnamese forces at Duien Bien Phu. A French diplomat remembers the then American Secretary of Sate then ask the French if it would help should the US drop a couple of atomic bombs on Vietnam just as they had done to Japan nine years earlier. Even taking into account the American involvement in Vietnam in the 1960’s, near enough to today for me to remember the humiliation they suffered as I was growing up, I am still pleased it never happened.
In the way I see things that is an indication that opponents of the American Gang were working in both China and Vietnam at the time.
It has happened a few times now but yesterday as I was vacuuming I took notice. I have been getting what look like slug or snail trails on the carpet by the front door. I have never seen any creatures. The marks are pretty messy and you would expect them to soak into the fibre to a certain extent. However as I moved the head over, the lines were instantaneously picked up. They looked like snail trails but in fact they were little more than shiny threads put there by the Gang. My Gang Director obviously has a thing about white, secreted fluid.
There was a BBC webpage published last night saying Syria’s main opposition alliance is to be granted a diplomatic mission in America as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people. They will not be allowed to move into the empty Syrian embassy in Washington. But with that that permanent presence near The Capitol I hope they will now have detailed discussions with the American administration. I see their nominated leader, Ahmed Jarba, is meeting John Kerry on Thursday.
I am really chuffed that MPs are taking such an interest in dealings between the two drug companies. With that level of scrutiny I am sure a sensible outcome will be reached in due course. It will come down to rational argument, not emotion. Although they have no direct influence in the matter two select committees, that of business and science and technology, will be investigating. The bosses of both AstraZeneca and Pfizer will be happy to attend their hearings. I recall that when the phone hacking story was developing Rebeka Brooks declined more than once to appear at committee hearings. The balance of power then was such that MPs accepted her position.
On 12th May 2011 I wrote a dairy note, published in my book, about the Chinese state security system. It says that in an area near Inner Mongolia the local police chief had said, out of a population of 400,000, 12,000 were his paid informers. I remembered it when I heard a report on Today this morning from a village in China. It is the home of China’s former security chief. He rose from that background to be a big businessman, then a state governor and finally gained his place on the Communist Party Politburo. He has not been seen for seven months. The allegation is that China is a society of patronage and corruption. President Xi has said apparently he wants to bring down that tiger. If the security man is publicly exposed Mr Xi will have won his battle. Otherwise those hidden forces will have been too strong for him.
The general election is 12 months tomorrow. On the edition Sarah Montague was up in the north east, speaking to voters, where the Conservatives only have two MPs. Then airtime was given to one of a group of prospective Labour MPs who think a Labour government should renationalise the railways. The starting gun have been fired.
As long ago as 2011 the government said they wanted parity of treatment between mental and physical health services. It has not happened yet. The number of mentally unwell patients needing emergency care, and having to travel long distances to find a spare bed, has more than doubled in the last two years. The minister, Norman Lamb, was on the broadcast. He said there is still an institutional bias against mental health in the NHS. He is doing his best to combat it.
Since writing my note this morning about the Boko Haram leader I have seen, on Channel 4 News, part of the video he has released. I now feel I attributed too much thoughtfulness to the gentleman. He was full of twitchy, nervous energy for his camera address. He laughed inappropriately. He had to read his statement. To be frank he looked a bit unhinged. I think therefore the intention of showing him must have been to frighten. However I feel it indicates a sufficiently resourced, disciplined military force could run rings around his group.
7th May 2014
It is early evening and this is my first note of the day in this file. I shall record what I would have written this morning and then do an update.
The host of the World Economic Forum meeting this week, the Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, was on Channel 4 News last night telling us how she sees the schoolgirl kidnapping situation. I think she is a well respected lady in the world community. In 2012 she was a candidate for the presidency of the World Bank.
Later Lindsey Hilsum appeared from Ukraine. There had been a meeting of the opposing parties in Vienna earlier in the day. It seems there was no convergence of minds. The Russians were arguing that Ukraine should have a new federal constitution and elections postponed until the end of the year. That would allow the Russian sympathisers in eastern Ukraine to have a real degree of long term autonomy.
Then William Hague was on Today this morning speaking from Kiev. He admires the restraint the Ukrainian government is showing. They have also kept their side of the bargain from the commitments made at the Geneva meeting in the middle of last month. In contrast, as far as we can tell, the Russians have not done one thing they said they would. Besides being excluded from the G8 Russia is likely to be barred from membership of the OSCE. Separately I see that on Sunday the German foreign minister had said he wanted a second Geneva meeting and indicated he would be making efforts behind the scenes to achieve that.
The change came this afternoon. A BBC webpage reports that President Putin is now happy with the 25th May Ukrainian presidential election process. Furthermore he has publicly advised separatist sympathises in Ukraine that he doesn’t think their planned referendum this weekend would be a good idea. He said he would pull Russian troops back from the Ukrainian border although American intelligence souces say they have not yet seen any evidence of that.
I think the key for Mr Putin’s remarks must be that he had just finished talks with the Swiss President and head of the OSCE, Didier Burkhalter. Hopefully there may be a bit more information coming through about that in the next few days.
Movement is taking place on Syria at the moment. Under a UN brokered arrangement rebel fighters have accepted defeat in Homs and are currently leaving in buses provided for that purpose. Apparently there are about five opposition groups there and agreement between them was not easy. I expect they were like fighting cats. To make it easier they have been allowed to take some weapons out with them. AS they will no doubt use those to continue their battles elsewhere I feel that was quite generous of the Syrian government.
You could say much the same about Nigeria. It almost reminds me, in completely different circumstances, of the week or so before the Syrian chemical weapons vote in the House of Commons last summer. Then everything went wrong. This time America and the UK are again talking with common purpose. We are singing from the same song sheet. The essence I feel is that the Nigerians are happy for us to help. They trust us to get stuck in and really make a difference for them. It has given Mr Obama and Mr Cameron that bit of zest. The two men feel they are on the right track, perhaps in a deeper sense than the Nigerian situation alone might imply.
President Obama speaking informally in shirtsleeves, on the White House lawn I think, has set out in some detail how American personel will travel to Nigeria to help in specific areas. He said the abductions are heartbreaking and outrageous. Prime Minister Cameron has spoken to Goodluck Jonathan on the phone this afternoon. We are going to send a small team of experts to the country. Mr Cameron has called the kidnapping an act of pure evil against the world.
On 28th April 2014 I mentioned former president Bill Clinton’s past sexual exploits without naming him. I think it possible there have been ramifications from me typing those words. I therefore would like to apologise to Mr Clinton, his wife, his daughter and son-in-law if I have caused them any emotional pain through the raking up of events from a long time ago. It was not my intention.
Nevertheless I was interested to hear on Today this morning that Monica Lewinsky is writing in Vanity Fair about her affair with the President, in 1997 and 1998. Her piece will be in the next issue about which there has been some advanced publicity. At the time the story broke I felt she came over as a really nice 25 year old lady. It seemed to me she genuinely loved Mr Clinton. I think she has wanted to keep those warm thoughts about him throughout but, possibly because he has not been as frank as he might have been about what went on between them, she has found that almost impossible. In her to be published article she indicates she was nervous about writing it, in case it should cause unwanted further pressure and swamp her with all those unhappy memories again. But her stronger emotion I feel is that she wants to finally give, and take control of, her side of the story; to be on an equal footing with her past lover. I have every expectation that will allow her to move forward in the way she wishes. Out of bad things can come good.
Lord Myners was on the programme to coincide with publication of his report on the Coop Group. He asks those on the current board to think whether they have the skills needed to run such a large organisation. If they believe in the cooperative ideal hopefully they can put that vision before their own pride. Lord Myners stresses however that he can only recommend. Ultimately it is the members who must decide for themselves.
The Liberal Democratic MP for Bradford East, David Ward, was on the edition talking about schools in his city with large numbers of Muslim pupils. He did not feel it appropriate that Bradford should be connected to the Birmingham trojan horse letter story in that connection. I imagine there must be some people around who have been making the intimation.
I noticed this week that an American official called the abducted Nigerian teenagers, young women. When I wrote about my son in his twenties on Monday I deliberately referred to him as being young. I feel the same way about the gals. For the fairer sex it suggests an imagery to me of innocence, confidence, expectation in the future and carefree self worth; short skirts and all that sort of thing. I was interested therefore to hear the contributions by some ladies on the broadcast. Amongst themselves they are girls. If respect is desired woman is the word. You pays your money and takes your choice.
Near the end was an interview with the Swedish finance minister. I see that the Astra part of AstraZenica derives from a merger with a Swedish company of that name. He said that when Pfizer took over another Swedish company in 2002 they did not keep the promises they made at that time. The American company’s outlook seems to be focused on short term profitability.
Last Wednesday’s FT says that China should overtake America as the world’s largest economy later this year. The USA has been the biggest since 1872.
I have not read it anywhere else but the editorial there informs me Angela Merkel would be in Washington two days later. The column is about her relationship with Mr Putin. That puts in a bit more context I feel my note earlier today about the German foreign minister.
8th May 2014
Abu Hamza started preaching at the Finsbury Park Mosque in 1997. He was jailed under our terrorism laws for seven years in 2004 and then extradited to the US in 2012 for charges they have outstanding against him. His case has recently started in a civil court in Manhattan. I think the legal system must work a bit differently in America than here. Yesterday Mr Hamza’s defence counsel alleged, in the absence of the jury, that at one time his client secretly worked for MI5. As we have been told about that I imagine the jurors have no access to the media. The defence also wanted to produce documents from Scotland Yard indicating Mr Hamza helped them but the judge has said they can’t. Interestingly it seems Mr Hamza once ran a strip club in Soho and later converted to Islam. He lost an eye and both hands when in Afghanistan or Pakistan.
There was a bit of an unusual BBC webpage up yesterday about one of those old U-2 spy planes which used to fly around during the Cold War. On 30th April 2014 one of them was up in the air on a training flight when air traffic computers in the western USA thought it was flying at a much lower height than it actually was. They tried to reroute all the commercial airline flights in the vicinity out of it’s way. The system became overloaded and broke down. This time however, unlike in my note of 7th December 2013 on the UK air traffic control system, turning the computers on and off did sort out the problem.
When I was young my mother used to put moth balls in our clothes drawers to stop very distinctive frayed edge holes appearing in our garments. I am not sure what the little creatures looked like but they were voracious eaters. For years now I have been finding apertures in my current clothes as well even though I haven’t seen any smelly white balls in shops recently. Yesterday whilst ironing I found two in a woollen jumper and two in cotton jeans. My home clothes do seem to get remarkably tatty. That is probably why I have got into the habit of only putting my good ones on just before I go out and putting them back into the cupboard as soon as I get home. Once, several years ago, I was probably wearing old clothes when I went to let in some people to a holiday flat I was then running. The man later complained about something. For good measure, in his email from Canada, he commented what an untidy personal appearance I presented. The holes of course could be made with any pointed implement. If you were young and your clothes were like that I expect some of your friends would have explain the reason to you, otherwise you would have no idea.
I have just watched a clip of President Goodluck Jonathan being interviewed in a public area of the World Economic Forum for Africa meeting. He is remarkably positive about everything working out alright for the kidnapped girls. Besides us and America, France, Canada and China are helping him. It would be nice to think his confidence in our abilities will be justified. However there is many a slip twixt cup and lip.
Although I might want to refine this later, the most likely reason I feel for Mr Putin’s change of heart yesterday was Russia’s membership of the OSCE. I suspect he was told that unless he changed his position Russia would be expelled. Kicking and screaming almost, he agreed. If that is right I think William Hague must have known what was going on when he spoke to Today in the morning.
If you are in a group of people you need to have confidence and trust in each other to build up genuine team spirit. Hiding information from some in the circle is not the order of the day. However we are all different. We choose to express ourselves in different ways. Some will want to be more open with their audience than others. I suspect that is what Mr Hague was doing. It allowed me, if my analysis is right, to fit a piece in a jigsaw. I don’t believe anyone in his group should mind. I think I was seeing much the same thing when I wrote my note about the Malaysian Acting Transport Minister on 11th April 2014 and the Singapore Prime Minister on 19th April 2014.
Today reported this morning that the Met are starting a trial across 10 London boroughs of policemen and women wearing body cameras. They will only be turned on when it is considered appropriate and, as far as witness are concerned, solely with their permission. As with all new things you experiment and see how it goes. Refinements to procedures can be made as people think best.
Frank Gardner filed a piece from Columbia. We have supplied hovercraft, built in Southampton, to the army there. They will be used to patrol the river border with Peru to combat rebel operations and drug traffickers.
With drug company mergers in our minds at the moment the edition had a representative from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society talking about that ticking bomb of bug resistance to antibiotics. Examples are pneumonia and septicemia. Because of short termism in the industry there are hardly any potential new products in the pipeline. The lady was saying one of the key battlefields is patient education. Appararently we are pretty awful at finishing our courses of medicine as advised. Because of that the bugs survive and build up deeper resistance to the doctors’ later prescriptions.
I do also feel there is a deeper point. The Gang lead us down such terrible paths. Just because they want to make as much money in the easiest possible way we have been walking towards the precipice. Whether we fall off, at this late stage, is probably a matter of luck as much as anything else.
Sir Bob Gelfolf appeared on Channel 4 News this evening talking about poverty. Unequal income distribution, in places like Africa, is at obscene levels. It will inevitably produce resentment and trouble. The unfairness creates a breeding ground for groups like Boko Haram.
David Cameron has been out on the European election campaign trail in the West Country today. He says he understands how people feel. He empathises with their frustrations, However, as far as Ukip are concerned, he asks that we shouldn’t vote for a party who do not have the weight to get things done.
9th May 2014
Keith Vaz was in the news this morning talking about his Home Affairs Select Committee’s report on counter terrorism policing. The members feel it’s responsibility should be moved from the Met to the National Crime Agency, formed last October. As Scotland Yard is London’s force, on the face of it that seems eminently sensible. However some negative comment is coming from senior London policemen so obviously that must be considered and the matter thought through. Additionally, Mr Vaz says we have some excellent security forces in this country although he does feel they should get out a bit more in public. No secrets would be given away but we could make an assessment of the type of people they are. They have nothing to fear about doing that. On the composition of the Intelligence and Security Committee, for balance and scrutiny Mr Vaz said he did not think it should be led by a member of the governing party. And all the members should be elected by their fellow MPs. He makes the point that if all intelligence and security matters were conducted as transparently as possible journalists would not feel the need to go around ferreting for information officialdom does not want us to know. At lunchtime I heard Mr vaz say he thought the introduction of the NCA, the College of Policing and Police and Crime Commissioners are significant reforms introduced by the Home Secretary, greatly to her credit.
On my basis of cutting down my note making I had decided not to write about this but I feel it probably shows MI5 in a good light. To fair to them I suppose I should. Last weekend a man in prison for armed robbery, on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent, did not return after being out on a day release. He was there for raids on banks and building societies and I think the Gang idea was for him to continue down that path, terrorising some people and getting as much publicity for himself as he could, for as long as possible. On Saturday I expect he went straight to his allocated accomplice’s home, probably in East London. The first job was last Wednesday at a building society branch at Sunbury on Thames. Within a couple of hours however the men had been apprehended by armed officers in a London street. I suspect MI5 knew exactly where they were not long after the man did not return to prison. That would be quite impressive. Probably they knew he did not have any real weapons with him so I do not criticise them, if I am correct, for not telling the police earlier.
I expect President Putin feels he is between a rock and a hard place. After doing what the West wanted on Wednesday, separatists in southern and eastern Ukraine ignored him and say they will go ahead with their vote this weekend anyway. Now he is back on their side. This morning he has been off to Crimea to show his support for the illegal annexation there.
I wrote about my water bill on 3rd April 2014. I have had an exchange of correspondence with the Consumer Council for Water. The manager who dealt with me, I feel, had the wool pulled over his eyes. Southern Water told him they could not find my water meter last autumn which he thought quite acceptable. Mine was an isolated incident so he was not particularly bothered. However, as I wrote, I feel one mistake is one too many. In my view Southern Water should have management systems in place so that any employee errors like that are immediately picked up. They did know beforehand when my meter was due to be read.
I think the Treasury Committee are also currently worried about the effects of human error. It seems George Osborne proposed in his budget that HMRC should be allowed to raid the bank account of any taxpayer who owed them more than £1,000. Currently they have to apply to a court to take that action. That means of course they would in future be acting as instigator, judge and jury. If a mistake were made there is nothing anybody could do about it. I don’t think it will now go ahead. Mark Garnier MP, from the Treasury Select Committee, was talking about in on Today this morning.
For the second time recently I have picked up something in the FT I have not seen anywhere else. As reported in last Friday’s paper the day before the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, had had talks in Downing Street with David Cameron during a six country tour of Europe. It is possible the Japanese firm Toshiba might invest £10 billion in building a new nuclear plant at Sellafied. The two countries also discussed future military cooperation.
The paper also records that the Tuesday before former German chancellor Gerhard Schroder was in Moscow celebrating his 70th birthday with Vladimir Putin and others. The party was given by a company within the Gazprom group, of which Mr Schroder is chairman.
A few pages on and Philip Stephens is critical of Mr Schroder. He refers to him as a cheerleader for President Putin. He also has harsh words for Tony Blair. I do feel, if your position is intellectually fuzzy, you will always have people like Philip around to highlight the discrepancies. The author suggests Mr Blair gives the impression of just wanting as much money and sycophancy from others as he can manage. I doubt if that is what Mr Blair wants to be about but I accept the premise. In that case I feel the former Prime Minister should try coming at it from a new angle. Perhaps it would be better if he explained things to us in a different way than he usually does.
An article in the following day’s Magazine gives me some more details about the Ebola virus which I wrote about on 3rd April 2014. In was discovered in 1976 in what was then Zaire with the body of a missionary nun being the first one examined. It is a bit of a mystery how it initially spreads from animals, usually bats, to humans. The contamination has to be via blood or infected droplets. After infection of a human population the death rate is probably 90% so it is a pretty frightening disease.
Also there, and thinking about the last few decades in China and South Africa, Simon Kuper was writing about the psychology of a revolutionary or liberator. Because their success was not through political persuasion they can find it difficult to adjust to the world moving on. They tend to have the mentality that you are either for them or against them.
On 24th April 2013 I recorded Ken Clarke suggesting the Coop Bank had simply lost their nerve about their then bid to take over some Lloyds Bank branches. They had abandoned it in panic and were running for cover. I wonder if the same sort of thing could be going on for Pfizer at the moment. Their chief executive was the Person in the News in last Saturday’s FT. Before he rose to that position the company had spent $200 billion on acquisitions between 1999 and 2009 but investors had seen their shares fall from $49 to $13. I suspect however that people within the company did well over the period. The acquisition of Warner-Lambert in 2000 provided them with income of £10 billion a year from the cholestoral drug Lipitor. Perhaps when Mr Read took the top seat in 2010 he wished to do what he perceived others wanted of him. One of his first decisions was to shut Pfizer’s research and development site in Sandwich in Kent, then he reduced the company’s research and development budget by a third. Perhaps the top men at Pzizer now feel they are out there on their own. In this case though they want to make themselves as big as possible. It is he best way to protect yourself in uncertain times.
That piece mentions that Pfizer’s penis erection drug, Viagra, was discover by accident. It was being tested to relieve angina when trials showed the technicians it was producing other effects in men. I suspect however that the Gang had already discovered the vast income producing potential of the drug but needed some cover for making it plausibly available to the general public.
Tony Barber writes an article in the edition connecting the Ukraine of today with Bosnia-Herzogovinia of the early 1990s. It is all about ethnic tensions. On the break up of Yugoslavia the Bosnian Serbs, led by psychiatrist and poet Radovan Karadzic, wanted their own state. Many lives were lost over it. I think Mr Karadzic knew how to wind up his citizens. The dismantling of the Soviet Union in 1990 was also artificial. That though I suspect was arranged by the Gang for the purpose of making money for them and their favoured proxies. They did not want unrest at the time. Now perhaps times have changed. All they have to do is remind the Russian speakers in eastern Ukraine of their ancestry. And what a horrible lot those in the Ukranian government really are. Tony wonders whether President Putin is doing all he can to calm things down. A couple of weeks ago apparently he referred to south eastern Ukriane as Novorossiya or New Russia. It doesn’t seem to me those are the words of a leader who wants the best peaceful outcome for his people.
David Pilling was writing there that Deng Xiaoping, leader of the People’s Republic of China in the 1980s, said once that his countrymen should hide their brightness and cherish obscurity. I feel that is a cultural example of how the Chinese see themslves.
I think Japan’s trade minister must be in Europe at the moment with his Prime Minister. He was interviewed by Simon Jack for a business section of Today this morning about Abenomics. It is the strategy which was divised by Mr Abe 18 months ago to try and get his country out of the stagflation it has suffered for the last 25 years. It has three strands. First to pump money into the economy to inflate prices and incentivise people to buy today before the cost of their intended purchase goes up. Secondly to increase government spending, again to get money circulating around the system. And thirdly to change business culture so that Japanese workers no longer believe they have jobs for life. That would help commercial innovation. Fitting in with those arrows are the current Trans-Pacific Partnership trade talks with America. Free trade also encourages business start ups to export their goods, engendering economic confidence. He sees the TPP process as setting a standard for the world to follow. The fly in the ointment with all that unfortunately is Japan’s massive debt, over twice their GDP and higher even than Greece’s. If global interest rates go up the country is going to have to find some innovative ways to be able to pay it all back.
There was a discussion on the programme about a joint effort by BT, Sky, Talk Talk and Virgin Media to combat customers using their networks to illegally download music and videos for free. Thay have decided to go for a non coercive approach. The ISPs obviously know from the connections being made via their servers what is going on and will send out written educational alerts to offenders asking them to be more responsible. They are denying artists their right to an honest living. If people act badly they cannot object if anyone else does the same thing to them. The companies hope to change attitudes and group culture. They will be doing well, I feel, if it works. Anyway the trial will last for three years when they will have another look at it.
Earlier today I was writing about Viagra. I suspect the popularity of texting was also helped along by the Gang. The first commercial Short Message Service started in 1994 but it was not popular. Companies were not that keen on it as efficient charging was difficult. The turning point came in 1998 when the American company Omnipoint divised a marketing campaign to persuade users to use texts when contacting home from abroad, in preference to expensive international phone calls. In 1999 sending texts between different networks became available. By 2007 texting was more popular with Americans than making phone calls.
10th May 2014
I suspect Mrs Merkel’s pressure got Mr Putin to talk in a conciliatory fashion towards the West on Wednesday. Then he turned round and went to Crimea yesterday. In mid week he said Russian troops were being pulled back from the Ukrainian border. Yet at a joint press conference in Germany today the French and German leaders say there is no sign of that. They are not happy. Mr Putin might be popular in Russia but I fear he is rapidly losing friends elsewhere.
Tomorow is Mother’s Day is the US so it was entirely appropriate that Michelle Obama should take her husband’s place for the weekly White House radio broadcast today. On the kidnapped Nigerian girls she recalled that Malala Youseafzi said, in her speech to the United Nations last July, that every child in the world, especially girls, have a right of education. Apparently 65 million daughters currently are excluded from that facility, something in this country we just take for granted. Mrs Obama said that grown men had acted cruelly to aspiring young Nigerian women for reasons the vast majority of humanity simple cannot understand. Mrs Obama repeated Malala’s words. When terrorists attacked she and her friends in 2012 they thought they would cow them into submission. Malala’s direction however has not changed. But her brush with death has made a difference. To help the children of this world is now her life’s mission. For her, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage were born.
Following my note about William Hague on Wednesday I heard Ken Clarke speak on Any Questions at lunchtime about Nigeria. He said that if we become aware of any intelligence which would be helpful to their government it will be given. I feel that is the right way of doing it. Our three services put through everything they pick up to the Cabinet Office. No 10 then makes the decision about what is passed on. It must also be helpful for all our spooks. They don’t even have to think about all the sensitive stuff which passes over their desks. They just process it in accordance with established procedures. They know where they stand.
On the face of it then no satellites nor human personnel have yet picked up where the girls are, or if they are alive. Even taking into account that Mrs Obama is not a politician it does seem quite a risk for her to have spoken in the way she did should there be the possibility that Boko Haram, in a fit of rage, have decided they need to get rid of that particular noose around their neck. In must be then, I feel, that western leaders have been advised by experts in psychological profiling that it is unlikely the group will kill the girls after wanting to hold them as captives. No public hostage demands have been made for their release so there is no immediate urgency.
A year or so after we moved here in 1993 an old gentleman started walking up the footpath by my garden to the village on Saturday mornings to buy a paper. He lived alone I believe in a bungalow all on it’s own down an unmade track tack about three quarters of a mile from the road. One day he knocked on the door to complain that I had let bushes overhang my boundary impeding his way. After a space of 15 years another of my neighbours has started walking to buy a Saturday paper. Whenever I have been out myself recently I seem to have bumped into her. This morning she walked up the road when I was working up by the top gate. She lives in the house next to the farmstead I can see from where I sit in my window. I have been told her son has the potential to possibly play rugby for England one day.
I have been raking out weeds from the crazy paving parking area adjoining my entrance. The road outside does not carry through traffic and provides the easiest access from this direction to about a dozen properties. Historically Saturday morning is lovely and quiet. You hardly hear a car all morning. Today though, soon after going out, the traffic started. I estimate there were thirty vehicles in the space of an hour and a half. There was one young lady who decided to turn her car round in my entrance for a reason I couldn’t work out. Then, in traditional pattern, everything went quite. The idea I believe is to get some kind of cross reaction from me, or the hope of seeing some of my tools lying nearby ready for theft, if I have walked away for a moment. When they aren’t getting anywhere though the Gang get bored. They clear off to play their games somewhere else.
11th May 2014
The Eurovision Song Contest was watched by 180 million people last night. As the voting came in the support for Austria, including from Russia, was consistent and strong. The lady, who had grown his beard for the occasion, won the night. Before the evening closed he said he saw his success as being for those who believe in peace and freedom. People like him now have unity and will be unstoppable. I think it is reasonable to look upon the outcome as the citizens of Europe telling Russian society, where it is illegal to tell children about gay equality, that they disapprove of it’s values. Booing invariable occurred when Russia was involved in proceedings. That of course was quite unfair for their 17 year old, very pretty, twin representatives. It is how these things work though I am afraid.
I was awake early this morning and had Something Understood on on the radio whilst I dozed. It was about an individual’s relationship with a crowd. Human beings are social animals. They are attracted to crowds. They want somewhere to belong. For an individual they can be empowering or, in an atmosphere of negative peer pressure, isolating. Samira Ahmed’s conclusion is that from the outside crowds can seem very threatening. From within you see yourself as part of a union, an audience or a congregation. During an event crowds affect people’s behaviour. They are powerful things.
Congregations of course gather in churches. The group there, and individuals within it, want to do good. One such person undoubtedly is Rowan Williams. He was speaking on Sunday this morning as chairman of Christian Aid which is just starting it’s annual appeal week. Doctor Williams believes that poverty and violence, including gender violence, are inextricably linked. Taking into account all the various human traits within a population you will always find some characters who find the unfairness of being poor so overwhelming they will turn to inappropriate ways to deal with their pain. Poverty and having enough to eat are also mirror images, as we know from our food banks. World food security is a massive challenge for our leaders. The answer is to trustingly give resources and power of decision making to poor people so, with support, they are able to take control of their own lives.
It was Michelle Obama, not her husband of course, who has called for the Nigerian girls to be returned to their families. David Cameron though has been pulled on board. He was sitting next to CNN’s chief international correspondent on Andrews Marr’s couch this morning when she produced a card naming the Twitter hashtag account for the girls. Mr Cameron was asked if he would like to join the campaign. He said he was happy to do so. A note of caution however was introduced by Archbishop Welby on the World this weekend. He has negotiated with Nigerian terrorist groups before and said they are tricky, with complicated layered structures. You never know quite who you are talking to. He warned that the inner core is likely to be irrational and completely merciless.
The stage name of Austria’s Eurovision winner is Conchita Wurst. As the results were coming in she was almost in disbelief that she could win. Her real name is Tom Neuwirth. I feel more comfortable using that, at least for the moment. Now he has won he is presented with a unique opportunity I feel. He can use the fame he has achieved to spread the word, to all those willing to listen, about things which are really important to him in his life.
The Gang work on individuals, lots of them. They get some really good group effects though through it. Now the General Election is on the horizon, with politicians worried about whether they will have a job in 12 month’s time, I think we are going to see lots of examples of Gang manipulation coming up. The first perhaps is in the news today. Lib Dems have accused the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, of being ideologically obsessed with his encouragement of free schools. Mr Gove has suggested his detractors are pathetic. A few month’s of that and people could be getting quite twitchy. As we can see in eastern Ukraine at the moment when that happens things are dangerously near a tipping point. In a home context I feel it important the coalition lasts it’s full term.
NICE have crunched through all the numbers on patient well being and recommended yesterday there should generally be no more than eight patients under the supervision of one nurse in any ward. Otherwise things do seem to start to go wrong, such as unseen falls by elderly patients occurring. It is intended that by July all relevant facts and figures will be published on NHS Trusts websites. That will provide independent data on which the level of care provision can be transparently decided.
Thanks largely I think to he efforts of John Kerry and Ban Ki-moon the two sides in South Sudan announced a ceasefire on Friday. The President said he and the rebels had finally come to their senses. With the heavyweights watching over them I hope the protagonists will now move forward positively.
The Education Select Committee is going to take evidence in due course in the Birmingham schools trojan letter affair. The chairman, Graham Stuart, was interviewed on Today yesterday. He was very careful I thought to take no political side. He feels, when the times comes, that he and his colleagues should be able to provide a full picture of what has been going on.
My ears pricked up when I heard a lady say at the end of an interview, okay no problem. Today are really reaching out to the masses. She had been rung up so she could tell us the fate of a domestic rhea which had been living wild on a Hertfordshire golf course for a few weeks.
12th May 2014
A 68 year old freelance DJ who used to present a golden oldies weekly show for Radio Devon has left the BBC over his playing of a 1932 record with the word nigger in it. The radio station told him off and he decided to leave so as to not to exacerbate a stress related condition. However the perception around, probably engendered by other media outlets, is that the BBC have been unfair to their man. I am sure the Prime Minister understands how it all works pretty well. He said on ITV’s Good Morning Britain earlier that, although he hadn’t had time to look into the ins and outs of it all, it does look a bit odd. I think he wanted to support the public whatever they thought. It is not an earth shattering story. Additionally, its seems to me, Mr Cameron is encouraging the public to think about such stories a bit more. Whether they want to believe what they read in a tabloid newspaper or pick out the important details as I have just done from as BBC webpage.
When I was writing about the Eurovision Song Contest yesterday I meant to mention the Polish entry but forget. But I see other people have been talking about it today, in the context of soft porn I think. The all girl troupe were certainly sexually suggestive. Our professional jury scored it last on music contention. Those who phoned up to vote in the UK though put it first. Perhaps they thought it was all quite a laugh. I am sure no officialdom was keeping a record of the phone numbers used for those votes, that would be a breach of privacy. Even so, if you are doing something like that in a group you are taking quite a chance I would have thought. You are revealing your character, what motivates you. Some form of big brother I feel is invariably watching over us.
John Simpson was saying on Today this morning that he and his team had travelled to Maiduguri, the capital of the north eastern Nigerian state of Borno where the girls were taken, against official advice. That means John, and the BBC, were pretty sure he would be safe. We also have confirmation this morning, in a Boko Haram video, that about 130 of the teenagers are safe. The group, it seems, are willing to discuss their release. I anticipate specialist negotiators are now in contact with them. The location of everyone I feel will also now almost certainly be known. Their local leaders have been told we want to help you, what do you want from us. As well, I reckon, it is another indication that the Gang have decided to leave Boko Haram to it. The paramount consideration for the Gang Master is to retain his anonymity. There is too much of a spotlight now for him to risk anything too much.
It was also on the news that Nigeria have said an Israeli counter terrorism team have arrived. As for the other countries involved I don’t think there is any political advantage for Israel to become involved. They just want to help. I look upon that as a sign of self confidence. To openly get out into the world and muck in with the rest, as they used to say in north Bucks.
Nigel Farage has been set upon three times recently: by a man with a placard in Kent, one with an egg in Nottingham and a group who wouldn’t let him leave a pub in Edinburgh. We are meant to think those are unconnected. However I suspect Mr Farage is being bullied by the Gang, taking advantage of the relative smallness of Ukip. I saw yesterday that the politician now goes around with four bodyguards. You can hardly blame him.
Last Tuesday’s FT reported on the Northern Ireland Peace Process, two days after Gerry Adams was released by the PSNI without charge following four days of questioning about the murder of Mrs McConville. The Irish foreign minister has spoken with the mediator Richard Haass who was in the Province before Christmas. The idea is I think that the sides, with Mr Haass’ help, have another try at reaching long term compromises. The best time could be the period between the European elections and the start of the marching season in July.
13th May 2014
A BBC Kent webpage informs me this morning that there have been two break ins at Peaches Geldof’s house north of Wrotham since she was found dead there on 7th April 2014. I imagine it is still the home of her husband and sons. On the first occasion about a week after her death a lawnmower was stolen. On Friday the police arrived within five minutes of being alerted and found nothing missing. My anticipation is that last week the person or persons concerned were aware that quick response would happen. They just wanted to make a small minded point. Also, it seems, someone somewhere wants various people to make connections about Peaches’ demise.
I believe the government made a conscious decision at the start of this parliamentary term to keep the legislative programme light. They realised they would be up against it with the Gang and wanted to leave themselves flexibility of response, and clearness of mind, when challenges arose. We see that today with the possible takeover of AstraZeneca. I am actually quite proud of the way our Members of Parliament are dealing with it. It was with some surprise then when I heard the shadow leader of The House, Angela Eagle, criticise on the World at One yesterday that this session of parliament will be ending a week early. That is almost like unwittingly cutting off your nose to spite your face it seems to me . I wrote it similar vein about the former Culture Secretary on 30th November 2012. Many of us do not distinguish too much between the different parties, it is just politicians we see. If one side say the other lot are absolutely terrible, by association we tend to think they are all like that. You oppose if you have something important to say, not just for the sake of it.
I try not to let you see into my private world too much. It is my business not yours. However I will say this. The way it works is that people around me I believe, especially those who are my dearest, come to associate me with bad things happening in their lives. Although I am not causing those difficulties, it is almost as if I was. It is quite reasonable to think therefore that if you have nothing to do with me those pressures you feel will go away.
I hope I am not being unrealistically optimistic when I say the worst might now be over in south and east Ukraine. The referendums in Donetsk and Luhansk at the weekend were pretty chaotic by all accounts so, much as the separatists would like it, I can’t see any head of wind being achieved behind them. Then the German Foreign Minister is in Kiev today speaking some sensible, calm words. The 25th May presidential election will bring authority to the state to start effectively dealing with their revolutionary elements. The OSCE have also issued a statement saying Mr Putin is supportive of their plans to send observers into Ukraine to look out for any future unruly behaviour.
You sense that confidence is creeping into operation of our health services. In 2007 the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence felt unable to recommend women expecting straightforward births to be under the care of a midwife, such as at a home delivery. They erred towards expensive hospital labour wards. I imagine they were anxious that things might otherwise often go wrong and they would thereby receive bad publicity. However analysis of data available since means they are now happy to go for the simple approach.
There was an FBI man on Today this morning telling us the incredible things experts will be able to find out from detailed examination of the Boka Haram video of the girls, which came out yesterday. Good stuff. It has also been released that commercial satellites are now looking at the jungle area where it is thought the girls are being hidden. The American military also has manned observer planes in the area.
The CEO of Easyjet was on a business section. Her company is performing well taking commercial passengers from the main legacy carriers. I was pleased to hear that she did not want to criticise Ryanair at all. They both wish to give good customer service and generally serve different destinations.
The shadow Health Secretary was interviewed about Labour’s pledge to guarantee, if they win the election, that any patient will be able to see their GP within 48 hours of making an appointment. It is a fine aspiration, however to pledge it like that I personally do not think is a good idea. The Gang would have great fun seeing it was not achieved. I feel it would also have a destabilising effect on GPs themselves. None of us, especially those with professional training, like to think others seek to control them. You encourage people, not hit them with a stick.
The lead item on the BBC TV News this evening was that civilians are returning to Homs in Syria following the local peace settlement between the sides. Some are only collecting their possessions but others will stay even though no services have yet been established. Even so I feel it is a step forward. Separately it has been announced today that the UN Syrian envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, is stepping down from his role.
I thought Mr Read looked quite tired at the Business Innovation and Skills Committee meeting this morning. I see he has been with Pfizer for 36 years. He didn’t seem passionate about his purpose of being there. I guess he may have been following through what others wanted of him, as he always has. Indeed it could be that those at the top of the company no longer feel certain about where America is going. They are looking for some Plan Bs.
14th May 2014
Yesterday in Parliament, on Today this morning covered the Prime Minister speaking to the Liaison Committee, which includes as members the 32 heads of the Commons’ individual Select Committees. I found it illuminating. It was if you were listening to private conversations, everyone knew the microphones were on but it made no difference. Russia is Mr Putin. Mr Cameron said he is very emotional about where his country stands with it’s former USSR states. The mood was of sadness. Mr Putin was talked of like a recalcitrant child. You try to talk reason with him but it makes no difference. One day you hope he might see sense. In the meantime you have to take measures to protect your side against his irrational ways.
Towards the end of the programme coverage was given to a concordat signed by 72 participating organisations. The pledge is to be completely open about their experiments carried out on animals for research purposes. Provided we understand the reasons for their actions I believe we will be more accepting. Many of us I think identify strongly with small animals and so can get very upset if we feel they are being treated unfairly. The Gang will always take advantage of a situation like that as I relate when going though the Huntingdon Life Sciences story in my book. A British academic scientist using animals in his research said the intimidation by animal rights protestors started against him and his family in March 1987. It included bombs delivered to his home, kidnap and bomb threats made towards his children causing their school to temporarily shut, razor blades hidden in envelopes and bricks thrown through windows. It went on for 14 years. It is amazing how you can convince yourself something is justified if you feel passionately enough about a cause.
Stephen Sutton, whom I wrote about on 29th April 2014, died in his sleep last night. I don’t have a Facebook account but thanks to Eddie Mair on PM this afternoon I know Stephen’s Mum has made a post on his page. She says her heart is bursting with pride but breaking from pain. She called her son inspiational, courageous and selfless.
Later in the edition the retirement of American television host, Barbara Walters, was featured. One of her most famous interviews was with Monica Lewinsky in 1999 viewed by an audience of 74 million, the most watched news programme ever broadcast by a single network. After the end of that interview Monica told Barbara that if she ever has children, she will tell them Mummy made a big mistake over Mr Clinton.
After writing about GlaxoSmithKline in Poland on 14th April 2014 the company are in the news again today over their past activities in China. This time it is their former Chinese boss, from the UK, who is facing charges of running a massive bribery network so that health officials used their products. It is alleged the process created hundreds of millions of dollars of illegal revenue for the company.
It is horrible how The Gang, in my view, always look for soft touches. Like the recent landslips in Afghanistan which killed so many there was an explosion yesterday, caused by an electrical fault, in a coal mine in western Turkey. It seems more than 300 miners will have died mostly from carbon monoxide poisoning. It has caused many underlying tensions in Turkish society to come to the surface. It could get nasty. Prime Minister Erdogan needs to present a calm, authoritative, fatherly figure to his population. I fear it unlikely he will do that.
There was a bank robbery at a Barclays Bank branch at Picadilly Circus in London on Monday. I look upon that as a direct Gang response to the arrest of the man escaped from prison who I wrote about on Monday. Then I noticed from a BBC webpage yesterday that a man from north London has been charged with that crime. I feel the intelligence enabling the police to make the arrest will have come from MI5. And if I am right about that it also means MI5 have continuous monitoring ability of the part of the Gang which arranged it. Equally important perhaps they had no problems with delivering their information to the appropriate law enforcement agency. I find it hard to think why they would not want to do that but I suspect in the past it hasn’t actually been happening.
15th May 2014
Deliberately tugging at the emotions as hard as possible the National September 11th Memorial Museum at Ground Zero had it’s opening ceremony today. President Obama said it will be a sacred place of healing and hope. The former mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, declared that the museum is a reminder to us all, and all future generations, that freedom carries heavy responsibilities.
I was away from Kent today. About twenty minutes after sitting down I and my companion were crowded when, in my view, a Gang member and his wife in their sixties sat at the table next to us. The fact she knew what was going on was confirmed when I heard her say the one thing she definitely didn’t want from the menu was the liver and bacon. I was eating that dish at the time. Her partner went up to the bar to order, in my line of vision. He tried to stare me out. I believe I won. He just wasn’t hard enough for it. Whatever his slot in the organisation I would say he doesn’t associate with street criminals at all. He was just the sort of chap I could imagine reciting vows of allegiance at Masonic meetings. One of the main promises I suspect is that you provide your support to others of your kind when asked, without question, provided there is no prospect of physical danger for you. And if it involves a nice pub meal so much the better.
16th May 2014
I have been down to the seaside today as there was a planned power cut at home. I think it was to put in extra power to a business premises around the corner from me which generates a significant amount of traffic. I am surprised planning permission was granted as it is on a single track road. Power was due back on at 5pm and I returned just before. When it was still off at 5.20pm I decided to walk up the road to see what was going on. As I went past my next door neighbour’s house their car was parked in the entrance, with no one around, pointing outwards. For some reason it had it’s hazard warning lights flashing. As their power was off too I think it would have been a shame if anyone there thought their action might be causing further general pressure, not only to themselves but also anyone else at home at the time, who observed the action of the lights being turned on. A few steps further on and a UK Power Networks van came up from the opposite direction from where the works were taking place. I was able to ask them what was going on. They said they were just about to turn the supply back on, which then happened. If I hadn’t taken an interest in what was going on around me I suspect reconnection would have been much later than it actually was.
Last Friday’s FT reports that the proposed $35 billion merger between Pulicis of France and Omnicom of the USA has collapsed. It would have created the world’s largest advertising company by revenue.
Geoff Dyer writes there about America’s foreign policy. You might have thought minds would be focused on how to deal with issues associated with Russia, China and Syria. However at the moment top of the agenda for the House of Representatives is little Benghazi in Libya. That is all about the perceived slight the nation suffered on 11th September 2012 when the American consulate was attacked there killing four US citizens. Probably what spooks people more than anything else is the coincidence of it happening exactly 11 years after another significant American event. You could describe those feelings I think in various ways; stupidity, missing the real point or behaviourism.
In a well argued article in that paper Martin Wolf suggests that the ramifications of Pfizer’s bid for AstraZeneca are too important to be left to shareholders alone. When we are talking about the future good health of us all, through responsible medical research, it is a bit bizarre to allow the decision to be made by people who could have owned AstraZeneca shares for 10 years or 10 seconds, and whose only interest is to make money for themselves.
17th May 2014
In 2012 and 2013 five patients died within a year of having cancer surgery at Maidstone hospital. The Royal College of Surgeons carried out a review of procedures there last October but their report has only just been made public after sustained pressure from the bereaved families. It says, as reported on a BBC Kent webpage yesterday, that the surgical team was dysfunctional, with the professional relationships within it being dangerous. It concluded that working arrangements in place appeared to support the surgeons rather than their patients.
Thursday’s Today reported on a meeting in London that day for foreign ministers of the Friends of Syria nations. Besides us those are America, Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the UAE. Additionally we said the diplomatic status of the Syrian opposition would be upgraded here as happened in the USA recently. I anticipate the Turkish mine disaster was also discussed.
It is becoming clearer all the time that the best way of dealing with the Gang, in a specific area, is to deny them the opportunity of quietly working away with small groups. An example I feel was on that programme when a lady from the National Governors’ Association spoke about the Inspiring Governors Alliance which has just been formed by the government with other interested parties. Anyone who thinks they might have something to contribute is encouraged to volunteer to be a school governor. I am sure the accompanying website has been set up as a direct result of the Birmingham Muslim schools story.
Justin Webb had spent some time in America recently and on that programme his report from California was played on the ever increasing power of the American modern high technology companies. Some people say there should be a global wealth tax for the world’s super rich individuals. The Governor of California, Gerry Brown, pointed out that whereas 40 years ago the richest 1% earned 12% of the state’s income, today the percentage is 23. Inequality is bad for everybody’s health.
The governor of Borno state, where the missing Nigerian girls went to school, was in the studio talking about their plight. It seems up until now the government in Abuja have let him deal with his Boko Haram problem all on his own.
My diary note of 3rd November 2011 in the chapter 12 appendix of my book intimates my suspicion that the Gang could have been behind the deformed babies thalidomide tragedy. It is now a definite conclusion for me. The man who fought for compensation for his limbless child and all other victims against Distillers, the British distributor of the drug, was talking to John Humprys on the broadcast to trail a television documentary that evening. He was also interviewed by John in 1973, the day before he flew to America where he finally succeeded in his fight to achieve justice for his daughter.
I was listening to Radio 4 in the car. Immediately after Today, came In our Time which was about photosynthesis. The earth formed around 4.54 billion years ago. Life started at about 3.7 billion years. The atmosphere then was composed of such gases, I think, as nitrogen and carbon dioxide. Then plants started photosynthesising, producing oxygen, at the 2.3 billion year mark. For the other organisms in existence at the time it was a toxic gas. They had to adapt to survive. Amazing.
18th May 2014
Vietnam is immediately to the south of China. Anti Chinese riots are currently taking place there over some disputed offshore islands. The Vietnamese government are trying to maintain order but tensions are high. So far there have been two killings and dozens of injuries. The Chinese government have dispatched ships to evacuated over 3,000 of their people who work in Vietnam. The Gang know well that it is nationalistic rivalries which destabilise countries better than anything else.
Belgrade is suffering it’s worst floods for a century. Serbia and Bosnia-Hercegovina hav received a month’s rain in three days. Water and electricity supplies have been cut. Thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes. I wrote about the incidence of concentrated rainfall on 20th February 2014. I am sure Balkan leaders are receiving messages of support from world politicians who understand how these things work.
When I started to think about it the single event I found most troubling in relation to my story was the shooting of Jill Dando outside her home in west London in April 1999. It had all the hallmarks of a contract killing. If it could happen to Jill it could happen to me. It was only when I started researching the internet for my book that I discovered it was probably carried out on the instructions of a Serbian warlord in retaliation for the NATO bombing of a Belgrade television station three days earlier. I record that in chapter six. The Gang Master hates, and will double trick, Bosnian criminals in the same way as everyone else.
It seems likely the Lib Dems will do badly in next week’s European elections. I am impressed though that Nick Clegg is not panicking about it. In an interview in last weekend’s FT he says Ukip are tapping into a mood across Europe of fear and anxiety. We feel there are forces of change working out there, sending people to live amongst us we do not want for example, which are out of our control. The only thing we can do is register a form of protest in the hope that someone will start to listen to us.
A report there notes that the annual revenues of Philip Morris, at $77 billion across 180 countries, exceed the GDP of Uruguay which some call the Switzerland of South America. The world’s largest tobacco company is taking the small country to a World Bank court arguing that it’s restrictive tobacco laws damage it’s sales and intellectual property rights. President Obama has spoken to Uruguay’s president on the telephone about the affair, presumably giving his support. The story I feel is all about Gang response to Uruguay’s moves to legalise cannabis. In the much bigger America, the states which have so far regulated the drug are expected apparently to achieve sales of $2.6 billion this year.
I had decided not to write anything about the halal meat, and Jewish animal slaughtering, story. It just seemed to be so small minded. Noticeably though I see the editorial in that paper uses some interesting phrases about it. It refers to some people wishing to trigger moral panic over the publicity. It also suggests proxies were used to whip up prejudice against religious minorities. A BBC webpage of 8th May 2014 says the Prime Minster wasn’t going to get sucked into the debate.
Michael Stothard wrote a feature in the Life and Arts section of the paper based on a visit to see Jerome Kerviel, the financial trader who used to work for Societe Generale. Mr Kerviel’s story it seems to me is a bit like Nick Leeson’s. He came from a different social strata from those normally found in the banking world. Perhaps he held an unconscious resentment towards those he worked with. Now the dust has settled I think he feels he was manipulated by those around him. He started playing around with the bank’s money when markets were volatile after the 2005 London bombings. It was wrong but he was winning. His bosses told him what a good chap he was. He got more and more reckless. It is accepted that his actions couldn’t have been hidden from those in authority. The bank has been fined four million euros for doing nothing about the warning signs. Then of course the inevitable happened and he made a few bets too many. His failed positions, hundreds of thousands of them, added up to 50 billion euros. When all those had been settled the bank had lost 4.9 billion euros.
Mr Kervial lost his final appeal in March. He is now due to return to France from Italy to start his three year jail term. From the piece you can see Mr kerviel has been emotionally traumatised by his experiences. He has contemplated suicide. The recent turning point for him though was when he received support from a prominent French bishop. That resulted in a public audience with the Pope. He says the Pontiff found a key with which to open his mind.
Since then the story has moved on. Mr Kervill has decided he will not willingly return to France after all. As reported by the BBC yesterday his lawyer has written an open letter to President Hollande. It says Mr Kerviel knows people who could tell more about events at the bank but currently are afraid to do so. It challenges Mr Hollande to do something positive about that.
It is the Police Federation’s annual conference next week as mentioned on Today on Friday. To coincide with that I am sure, the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee has just published a report on the organisation following the MPs own review. It says money has been salted away in hidden bank accounts, local branches have no trust in their head office at Leatherhead and, worst of all, the general secretary has been in the habit of severely bullying his officials if they did not agree with him. It is hoped the Federation will now get it’s house in order.
During the programme it came through that Eon have been fined £12 million by it’s regulator Ofgem. The penalty was for not training it’s sales people properly about what to say when dealing with potential customers, mostly in the street and on the doorstep I think. It reminds me of the Starbucks tax story. I use Eon. I think they and Starbucks are good companies. However I could name others in both their sectors which I don’t think deserve that adjective at all. No adverse journalistic comment is ever made about them though.
The radio news that morning highlighted that the Chilcott Report into the Iraq war has not been published five years after it was commissioned. It seems there is a dispute between the Inquiry panel and the Cabinet Office into what internal documents can and cannot be published. The chairman of the Commons Public Administration Select Committee has said that unless there is movement soon he will call the parties to explain themselves in front of his MPs. I suspect the mindset is the same as I noted on 17th April 2014 in relation to the alleged sexual activities of a past Cabinet Minister. Top people are afraid how the public would react once they knew some of the things which went on. You will guess my position from the name of this website. The truth should be told. If we were brave we would get through it.
As I mention in Chapter five of my book as long ago as October 2009, when I was driving up the M40 with my family, it was obvious to me that MI5 knew exactly what the Gang were planning to do before they acted. It has taken a long time but we do finally seem to have now reached the stage where such intelligence is being readily passed on to those who should know, so the public can be protected. On Friday Thomson and First Choice were advised to bring about 400 tourists home from resorts on the Kenyan coast because of security concerns. The Gang response came almost immediately, in my view, when two bombs went off at an outside second hand clothes market in Nairobi, killing at least 10. That was a very soft target.
I wrote quite a long note about statins on 12th February 2014. They were in the news again last week because it was thought some research into their efficacy might have been defective. A heart surgeon was on Today yesterday saying that he thinks every adult over 40 should take one statin tablet a day without prescription. He believes it would result in him having to perform less operations.
Another item was a report by Sanchia Berg on a Court of Protection case where the judgement has just been made available. Milton Keynes council moved a lady with dementia to a care home from her own residence without her son’s agreement and without prior authorisation from the Court of Protection. Although procedures were subsequently regularised, at that point the council were breaching the lady’s human rights. I have been involved with private emails over the last couple of weeks where the words Court of Protection have been used.
If you are growing up you have a 45% chance of your parents splitting up. A family court judge who has just retired was interviewed today on the World This Weekend. He says the legal system doesn’t serve unhappy couples very well. His view is that the main structural problem is caused by one party having to accuse the other of fault. In reality though 95% of divorces just follow an administrative process. If you are told however, right from the word go, that you must blame it really doesn’t help. Children also should be protected from the fallout much better than they are.
Over the last couple of weeks Misha Glenny has been presenting a Radio 4 series called The Invention of Brazil. Today’s final edition dealt with it’s president who very much created the country we see now, Getulio Vargas. He became top man in 1930, backed by political colleagues and the armed forces, and initially styled himself on fascist Mussolini. A lady said he saw to it that some Jews were deported to Germany for the Nazis to do with as they wished. In the 1930s Germany was a main trading partner and the German Bank for South America had 300 branches in the country. Vargas had no strong principles though and when he was courted by the Americans in 1940, under it’s Good Neighbor Policy receiving lots of economic aid, he changed his allegiances. Brazil sided with the Allies in the Second World War and sent an expeditionary force of 25,000 men to fight on the Italian Front in 1944. Responding to the feeling of libertarianism in the country after the end of the war Vargas resigned in October 1945 to allow democratic elections to take place. He was only out of power though for a few years. President Dutra was unsuccessful and in 1951 Mr Vargas was freely voted back in to lead Brazil. Perhaps that was when his real troubles started. His political adversaries destabilised his position and the military turned against him. Some of the aspects of that process, described by Misha, have all the hallmarks of the Gang in my view. Vargas saw no future for himself and committed suicide in August 1954.
On 19th January 2014 I wrote about Brazil in relation to viewings of my website by who I believe are descendants of the European Gang, most probably in the form of today’s friends of the Sicilian Mafia or Cosa Nostra. Having listened to Misha’s programme I feel I can be a bit more specific. My suspicion is that Sicilian associates are still present in Brazil today. Unfortunately for them though they are not the organisation they once were. The Gang moved into Brazil with the Americans in 1940. They made Getulio Vargas so miserable he decided to end his life. They will be the driving force in the country today.
19th May 2014
A convicted murdered did not return to a prison on Merseyside on Saturday when out on day release. As another example of MI5 being much freer with their information all of a sudden, I feel, he was picked up today by police today at an address in Greater Manchester, where he comes from.
There was a summit called in Paris yesterday by Francois Holland for the leaders of Nigeria, Benin, Cameroon, Niger and Chad. All are French speaking countries I think except Nigeria. The idea of course is to get them working as a team. After the initial optimism I feel we are in for a long haul. You have to get the groundwork completed before you can move forward. Last week President Jonathan refused to travel to Borno, a province of his own country, because he wouldn’t feel safe there. He says he will not negotiate with terrorists. Boko Haram is fighting back. Ten Chinese workers have been abducted from a site in Cameroon and there has been a deadly suicide bomb attack in Kano in Nigeria, the first for several months.
For the third time now President Putin said earlier today that he was withdrawing Russian troops from the Ukrainian border. And for the third time this evening NATO say they can see no evidence of it.
There was an interview on Today this morning with a British journalist who was captured near Alleppo last week by an opposition group. The man in charge wanted to exchange him for ransom. He and his photographer were rescued by another opposition group so from that point of view he was lucky. However the shocking thing for him was that the baddy was the man who he thought was looking after him and whom he trusted. Out of his view his friend has become so disaffected he would do anything for money. When he was exposed he shot the journalist in the ankle in disgust. It illustrates an important lesson for us all I feel. It is not sensible, nor good for you, to go around openly distrusting people. However I believe you should be observant about how individuals react around you, even those you know. Think about it afterwards when you are quietly on your own. Not everyone is bad. You might be able to help them. And some, perhaps, are weaker than they should be.
In Search of Ourselves today was about the psychology of the criminal mind. It is often possible for an expert apparently to profile the character of a wrongdoer just by the evidence he leaves at the crime scene. Separately an American cognitive psychologist was saying that a person’s memory is like a Wikipedia page. It can be changed after the event. The cause may be random events which alter your recollection of things or it could be the behaviour of others, such as particularly subversive questioning in a police station or court room.
Pfizer made their fourth and final offer to the AstraZenica board today which was immediately rejected. There will be no hostile takeover bid. The American company’s shares rose and the home side’s dropped, although there is no investor discontent. That is an end to the matter, at least for the time being. It shows, in my view, the power of a spotlight on things, even if you don’t end up doing very much. It is pretty much the role I play I feel. And I suspect quite a few senior politicians will be pleased that it all sorted itself out so easily.
20th May 2014
There was some local publicity yesterday about a Channel 4 documentary to be shown soon which apparently shows my Kent Police and Crime Commissioner in a less than flattering light. It seems she does not have a head for detail. Even so Ms Barnes says it is not representative of the totality of the filming made whilst cameras were with her over several months. Anyway I see a PCC’s own overseer is the Police and Crime Panel. That body comprises at least one councillor from each local authority in the area and two independent members. The Kent panel has 20 members. It can overturn some of the PCC’s decisions by a two thirds majority vote if it wishes.
There was a BBC webpage up yesterday about coffee rust. It is one of those nasty Gang introductions, in my view, which is going to cause a lot of economic grief to many innocent people. The fungus first appeared in coffee plants in Central America in 1976. It drains life from the plant so much it becomes unable to produce the cherries which turn into beans. By 2013 half of coffee plants in the region have been contaminated. As you might expect none of the affected countries of Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua and Panama are rich. The USA is doing what it can to help.
There was a piece on Today this morning about a study which is starting in September funded by the Department of Health. 2500 11 to 12 year olds are going to be tested on a voluntary basis by Imperial College on their cognitive ability and mobile phone use. After three years, when a greater percentage of them will own mobile devices, the assessments will be made again to see how minds have developed. No doubt any correlation with changes in wireless communications habits will also be picked up.
Abu Hamza has now been convicted by a jury in an American civilian court of terrorism offences. He will be sentenced in September. It was very kind of the US to get that story sorted for us but Frank Gardner was wondering on the programme why it was necessary. Evidence exists that his actions contributed to the death of British citizens as well as American. The suspicion is that MI5 were afraid to pursue him. Perhaps they had some guilty secrets that might have come out in a British court. By the nature of their job I feel, it is vitally important spies never cross over the line between right and wrong. The perceived end result must never be used to try and justify the means.
I briefly mentioned about the religious slaughter of animals on Sunday. Female Genital Mutilation and male circumcision are not necessarily faith based but I realise from the broadcast that the latter is a Jewish tradition. I think some Jews do not appear to move with the times as much as they might. It seems various of that faith in Israel feel a bit threatened at the moment that others are trying to get them to change their ways against their wishes. That though will create pressure on those Semites who would rather their little boys’ scrotums were not changed. Everyone should be free to choose in accordance with their own conscience, I believe, free from criticism from either side.
500,000 people have had to be evacuated as a result of the floods in Bosnia and Serbia. One million are without clean water. The Serbian Prime Minister was on the World at One today and he was extremely grateful for the international aid effort which is in operation. The damage caused to the country is worse than during the 1992-95 war. He asks that we do not forget them when the waters have gone down.
The Sunday Programme at the weekend highlighted the Pope’s visit to the Holy Land this week. He will visit various sensitive sites. It is a trip of character and strength I believe, setting an example. If I can go into the lion’s den showing I am not afraid, you can too. He is taking two friends with him from Argentina, a Rabbi and an Iman.
In a different section a man was arguing that religious values and business do not mix. I feel he was being too emotional. He was using the word love. I don’t think you need go that far. It is just about being respectful to others in business and doing unto others what you would like done to yourself. Good religious ethics are the same as good business ethics.
There was a discussion involving the Bishop of Buckingham about the Church of England’s guidance to it’s schools on homophobic bullying and it’s position on gay marriage. Apparently Jesus said bad stuff comes from the heart. It is the heart you need to deal with to change behaviour. Just trying to police attitudes is not a long term solution.
21st May 2014
Russia has completed a contract with China today to supply it with gas for the next 30 years. Over that time it is estimated to be worth $400 billion at current prices. That is big money.
I have been flailing around like a bull in a china shop in my private life over the last few days. I have already had to apologise to one relative. Whether it will work I do not know yet. In was quite a coincidence then for me to read today, in the FT of 12th May 2014, a piece written by Peter Spiegel that Mr Obama made Mrs Merkel cry at the G20 Cannes summit in November 2011. It was at the height of the eurozone crisis when Greece’s then prime minister called a referendum on the bail out package prepared for him, upsetting all the other leaders. He was told that was not on and had soon left office. But the far bigger problem was Italy. Greece’s debt could be managed, Italy’s could not. It was too big to fail. One way round it would have been to create lots of interest free money in the eurozone, as had happened in America and the UK. But Germany, with it’s past history of hyperinflation, would not agree. A scheme was hatched to create a form of proxy cheap money, called Special Drawing Rights, but this time it was the head of the Bundesbank, not Mrs Merkel, who found the idea unacceptable. Meanwhile Mr Berlusconi had rejected the IMF package drawn up for him as he thought it would show Italy in a bad light. With the agreement of the host, President Sarkozy, Mr Obama chaired the crucial session. They were back with the SDR idea. I suspect he put a bit of emotional pressure on Mrs Merkel to bring her bank chief into line. She wept because Mr Obama did not understand what that prospect meant for her. It would be political suicide. When the meeting broke up he put his arm round her. No effective decisions had been made. And so on the Monday morning everyone held hands and jumped off the edge of the cliff together. The markets were to decide our fate. It was a close shave. But we have made it. Someone must have been watching over us.
A British yacht with four men on board was sailing back from a regatta in Antigua last week when it got into difficulties, less than half way across the Atlantic, and capsized. It is hoped the men made it to their life raft. The American coastguard called off their search after 53 hours. 33 hours was their estimate of the maximum survival time in those waters. Relatives and friends though were not happy with that. They started an online petition which received over 200,000 signatures. The UK government asked the Americans to have another look which they are now doing. We have also sent out our own military search plane this morning.
I feel that story illustrates two aspects of today’s world. The crowd is an extremely powerful force and young savvy people now have that message loud and clear. It can be a force for good. I just feel it would be nice to give the concept a bit of purposeful direction somehow. Then the UK and American administrations are getting on with each other really well with a solid foundation of trust. Should we want a favour we pick up the phone and they will oblige if they can.
Prince Charles has been in trouble over a remark he made when speaking to a member of the public during his current Canadian tour with the Duchess of Cornwall. Someone overheard him and it is in today’s news. It seems, in relation to Ukraine, he made a connection to the Russia of today and Germany as it advanced eastwards during the Second World War. Nick Clegg has supported him. David Cameron refuses to be drawn. It seems a bit strange to me that some people think he should not be expected to express his own views in a conversation he thought was private. I hope no one wishes to make him paranoid when he is out and about representing us all. You don’t have to agree with him. But you should show him the same courtesy and respect as you would to any other person you might meet in the street.
The gloves are off in Nigeria. It seems plain that the influence of the military through the whole country is so weak that Boko Haram can strike wherever it likes. The concept of a terrorist faith ideology has been left behind. The group is just angry that people are trying to stop it doing what it wants. At least 118 individuals died yesterday in a double bombing in Jos. 26 villagers were killed by gunmen today near where the schoolgirls were abducted. I saw Frank Gardner say on the TV last night that, despite all the effort put in, he has not been given any indication that we have the smallest idea where the girls are.
Last Wednesday’s FT reports that Japan’s prime minister was just about to announce a change to his county’s defence strategy. In futute foreign combat mission will be allowed for defensive reasons including to assist it’s allies. That interpretation of it’s constitution hasn’t been made since the end of the Second World War.
Jeremy Paxman had been to Silvio Berlusconi’s Italian villa to interview him for Newsnight, broadcast last night. I do not pretend to be a good judge of these things but Mr Berlusconi came over to me as genuine. He gave detailed explanations for what, on the face of it, seemed pretty odd behaviour. He said he was a victim of various entrapments and lies including allegations of sex with an underage prostitute. He has been prosecuted on 57 separate occasions. For 20 years he has spent every weekend and Monday afternoon with his lawyers dealing with the legal actions against him. He reasons that his character is such that he has been able to cope over the years.
I believe the American Gang are as strong in Italy as anywhere else. If they are with you it is always so, although you will never see them. If you are favoured everything seems to go right for you. You come to believe you can get away with anything. Sometimes that is very nearly true. If you are disliked it will be as if the whole world is against you. The hidden message either way is that they are far bigger and stronger than you. If you go along with what they want though things will come good for you.
Where Mr Berlusconi might fit in to a world like that is just guesswork. I suspect he could realise a bit more than he lets on. He might be a wishful thinker. Perhaps everything is lost in the unconscious part of his mind.
Theresa May has been reading the riot act to the Police Federation conference in Bournemouth today. I heard part of her speech on PM. She told them that if they are not able to change themselves MPs, who are in charge in our democratic society, will do it for them through Act of Parliament. Their smallness of mind, shown in the plebgate story, has united the political class against them. Mrs May also listed police failings associated with Hillsborough, Stephen Lawrence, Daniel Morgan, undercover policing, stop and search and manipulating crime figures. I think her words did the trick. After lunch the conference voted through all the reforms recommended by Sir David Normington in full.
22nd May 2014
President Putin has accepted the opportunity provided to him by the lady Daily Mail journalist who overheard Prince Charles’ words, with open arms. The deputy Russian ambassador here went to the Foreign Office this afternoon to complain. He called them unacceptable, outrageous and low. I wouldn’t call that a very principled approach but at least we know where we stand I suppose.
Another attempt has occurred to create a conflagration in Ukraine I believe three days before their election. If you have plenty of time to plan it it is not difficult to mount an overwhelming attack on a government checkpoint. That happened at dawn today in eastern Ukraine. Fourteen soldiers were mown down in fifteen minutes. I heard a Ukrainian military man say on PM this afternoon that they were paid mercenaries.
The two sides in Thailand’s difficulties are the urban red shirted followers of the UDD party and the Monachy supporting yellow shirted PAD party mainly out in the countryside. Late last year the PAD prime minister dissolved the lower house of parliament. Since there has been a political stand off. Things started to become destabilised last week when the judiciary decided the Prime Minister’s action was unconstitutional and removed her from power. With the help of outside mentors I suspect, talks between the sides, called by the military, started on Tuesday. They obviously weren’t getting anywhere though. The generals lost patience and today have announced they are taking charge of the country. If that will prevent law and order breaking down I don’t feel you can look upon it as an entirely bad thing.
I am beginning to think some high up members of the Gang are as mentally unbalanced as lesser minnows. My light bulb problem has gone quiet for the moment I am pleased to say. However I did wonder how to react when, about a week ago, two white bird poop blobs appeared, one on my car windscreen, on the passenger side, and one by the door on my timber garden shed. I decided to leave them. I made sure I gave no indication I had noticed at all. But, it seems, once the Gang decide they want to react with you they will not take no for an answer. When I got in my car this morning, to leave for a few days away in the West Country, there was a crack on the driver’s side at the bottom of the windscreen. When I looked there was a mark there which could have been made by a person hitting a small screwdriver onto the glass. It could not have been a stone thrown up from the road as the arm of the windscreen wiper would have prevented that trajectory. I shall have to react to that. The car will not get through it’s MOT unless I replace the screen. The insurance company will pay the substantial amount. And that, in it’s own small way, will help to put up premiums for us all.
Last Thursday’s FT notes that the US architect of the Global Positioning System worried in February that it’s integrity is under strain of attack and disruption from manipulative forces. The trouble is it depends on satellites and land structures such as radio masts. Scientists at Porton Down and the National Physical Laboratory believe they are less than five years away from developing a GPS based on the sub atomic effects of the earth’s magnetic field. No one could interfere with that.
In his second article on the eurozone Peter Spiegel goes through how Greece stayed in the club. There was a distinct strand of thought in Germany that the group would be better off without them. In January 2012 some detailed planning started, by a few key officials around the world, into how an exit from the financial arrangement could be managed, if only to preserve stability. Greek voters quite naturally were feeling very fed up with the hardships they were suffering. The nationalist and left wing parties of Golden Dawn and Syriza did well in the elections of June 2012. That point was a time of near public panic in the country. 3 billion euros were withdrawn from Greek banks to put under mattresses over a few days. The central bank was in danger of running out of paper money. With his mandate the new prime minister was going to tell Europe not to treat his citizens so badly. That will have helped to cool the situation at the time I feel. Mrs Merkel then had to decide how to play things. She went away on her summer holidays and thought about it. The stark truth was none of her multitude of advisers could tell her exactly where a Greek exit might lead. Cautiously she plumped for the status quo. Separately the commission president, Jose Manuel Barroso, had a word with the Syriza leader. He was told he just didn’t have the political capital to make demands of other countries. The top of Greek society over the years had acted terribly. Many would be pleased to see the back of them. The politician saw sense. He cooled his rhetoric and Greece was in.
23rd May 2014
This morning I visited Bucks Mills on the North Devon coast. It comprises a single road down to the sea with houses on each side. The stream that runs alongside the road is a parish boundary. In olden times when a person living on one side died the coffin had to be walked up the track to the easterly Parkham church. The deceased people of the other side went to Woolfardisworthy graveyard in the west.
There was a report on Today yesterday from a National Trust property on the Anglesey coast. It is just about to be warmed internally using a heat exchange pump suspended into the Menai Strait. A gentleman from the Centre for Alternative Technology at Machynlleth was saying they probably aren’t suitable for domestic use but are impressive machines. They take one unit of electricity from the grid and give back three or four equivalent units from the medium they are in.
I do have to admit that when I wrote on Monday that the Pfizer bid for AstraZenica is off I did add the words ‘for the moment’ later, just to cover myself. I was still sorry though to hear a man from an investment company say on the programme that he would like the pursued to plead for a bit more money from the predator. As far as he was concerned it is just a matter of money. He is perfectly entitled to hold that view of course but there are other important things in life too.
There was lady on Today this morning saying that successful antibiotics underpin all medical healthcare. If they lose their potency it will be a catastrophe for the world. She says we need a world body to warn us of the dangers. It seems just about everybody involved on our global stage is partly to blame, patients for not using them as prescribed or buying them without a doctor’s advice, pharmacists treating them like sweets, vets unnecessarily using them in meat production and states being shy in regulation.
I have just heard Conchita Wurst interviewed on Newsnight. She says that music is her passion and life but she will always speak out to encourage those in our societies like her.
At the Police Federation conference this week Mrs May announced the organisation would lose it’s public funding and become subject to public scrutiny through becoming included in Freedom of Information law. Additionally new police officers will have to apply to become members rather than automatically joining as now. Authorised delegates also had to elect a new chairman today. The two candidates were a London police constable and the existing vice chairman, an inspector from the Avon and Somerset area. I suspect the Gang wanted the first man to win. In the votes they were exactly equal with 15 each so, under the association’s rules, a toss of the coin decided it. The West Country man came out on top. Someone must be watching over us.
I can’t remember if I have ever written this down before in a public context. If not this is as good a time as any. I have a theory about the workings of the universe. It’s not frightfully important as no one on earth will ever know if I am right or wrong, me included. It is out of our comprehension and always will be no matter how much we develop and research. But for the record I suspect the forces of good and bad around us are very evenly matched. Those forces though are completely independent of, and above, all the rules of nature we will ever be able to find out about, in our dimension and all others. Our world snugly fits into that structure without any hindrance. However, all things being equal, good is slightly strongly than bad. It would certainly help to explain why a God is a factor in many people’s lives.
On the radio news this evening it was reported President Putin has said he will accept the outcome of the Ukrainian presidential vote this weekend. Violence between the sides is continuing and some are calling it civil war. I feel it is magnanimous of Mr Putin to state that in spite of his reservations. I hope it will have a calming effect.
Also in that bulletin we were told about a fine on Barclays of £26 million for manipulating the gold price between 2004 and 2013. One transgression was when one of it’s traders dealt in the metal to Barclay’s own advantage, against one of it’s customers who already had a transaction booked. That particular fraudtook place the day after the bank had been fined £290 million over it’s libor rate manipulation. I personally do not look upon that as a coincidence. His friends encouraged him to do it. The trader concerned has been banned from a similar job for life.
Last Friday’s FT passes on that that University Paris 1 Sport Security have concluded that four ot of five sports bets are made illegally. That means $140 billion is generated annually which people have to move around out of the sight of legitimate organisations. The sports most at risk of manipulation apparently, to turn those bets into certainties, are cricket and football.
In Peter Spiegel’s third article on the eurozone crisis there he suggests that the Italian head of the European Central Bank since Novemeber 2011, Mario Draghi, was the real saviour of the day, indispensably aided by Angela Merkel. President Obama had another go at persuading the German Chancellor at the June 2012 Mexico G20 summit to accept a firewall of money to protect weak European countries. However she was still implacably opposed. But banks were becoming more panicky all the time. They had started salting money away in hidden places ready for when the euro went down. Perhaps Mrs Merkel got wind of things like that and began some earnest discussions in private with Mr Draghi. The following month the technocrat said the ECB would do whatever it takes to save the euro. It had a great calming effect on the markets. Then in September he unveiled his full rescue plan, with Mrs Merkel’s supporting remarks coming shortly after. Europe’s debt crisis was over. That probably makes my note written on Wednesday about Peter’s first article look a bit emotional. I think I will leave it though.
Gillian Tett’s post in the FT’s Japanese office during their 1990’s banking crisis gave her a unique insight into out 2008 crash I believe. I feel she uses that knowledge again in her article in the paper writing that China has to be very careful in it’s current process of changing it’s finances from total state control to western style market decision making. It could go horribly wrong.
24th May 2014
There was a fire yesterday, thought to have started when a projector exploded in the basement, at Glasgow School of Art. The building is the most architecturally important in Scotland with structure and fittings having been designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Fortunately Scottish Fire and Rescue Service say they have managed to preserve 90% of the structure and 70% of the contents. Our television screens were full yesterday of several important people totally shocked by the enormity of the incident.
It is the Bude and Stratton folk festival this weekend. I bumped into a most informative lady in Bude church. It was built in 1835 by the lord of the manor of Stratton as a Chapel of Ease before it was consecrated. She was an expert in the Bude Canal. Her research was carried out in her car when driving her daughter, whose subject it was for GCSE, along it’s old course. It was constructed to take beach sand, as a fertiliser, to Holsworthy and Launceston, as well as normal commercial traffic. However as soon as the railway came a few years later it went out of business.
The turnout in yesterday’s local government elections was 36%. I was pleased to see that in England Independent and Resident Association councillors increased their numbers by 44% to 89.
A US coastguard boat found the upturned hull of the Cheeki Rafiki today with it’s liferaft still on board. The four sailors are dead somewhere in the ocean. The photograph clearly shows no keel attached to the bottom of the boat. It must have snapped off causing the vessel to capsize within seconds. My suspicion is that the joint was weakened whilst it was in port.
Rory Mcllroy and his fiancee have announced they are splitting up. A lady on PM yesterday was telling Eddie Mair how she decided not to go ahead with her wedding some years ago. She had felt it was wrong for some time but didn’t know what to do. Eventually she decided to confide in a friend. That person advised her she must go ahead. It made up her mind for her. She called the whole thing off. Whether she sensed her mentor was trying to control her I am not sure. But it gave her the clarity of purpose to follow her heart. She said she was grateful to her friend for helping her to sort it out.
25th May 2014
The son of a man who has helped to direct at least one Hollywood film shot himself in the head in California yesterday. He had been receiving treatment for Asperger’s syndrome and, it seems, had got in with the wrong crowd. The day before he died he recorded a YouTube video saying he had finally had enough of our horrible world. It was time to bring his retribution. He then stabbed to death his three flatmates, went out and shot dead three strangers in the street. One of the victim’s fathers has said in his grief that such madness cannot go on. The killing must stop. Guns should be banned.
Last weekend’s FT reported on the Indian election. The Congress party, associated with the Gandhis, have been dominant in the country’s politics since independence in 1947. This time however they only secured 44 out of 543 parliamentary seats. The victorious Hindu Bharatiya Janata party obtained 282. The Aaam Aadmi party, which I wrote about on 27th April 2014, achieved four and 2% of the national vote. The paper says the ball is now very much in Janata’s court. Their leader, Narenda Modi, must unite the nation and give the people the change they yearn. We will see if he can do that.
The front page also relates that the pendulum has swung in the mortgage market. Rather than throwing money at applicant home owners intrusive questionnaires are now being used to ask you what you spend on your pets and children. There is no way you can be trusted to act in a responsible manner. The Gang never miss a trick. They are a pretty horrible lot.
Martin Wolf wrote in the Life and Arts section that when the world was in financial trouble we were lucky President Obama turned to Timothy Geithner as his Treasury Secretary in January 2009. That got us through it.
On that back page Tyler Brule related that he had once stayed at the hotel of an international chain in Germany. Quite bizarrely the entrance to his suite was through the bathroom. I feel the only rational explanation of that is someone wanted to have a good giggle at the hotel’s expense.
Last Monday’s edition talked about a Which survey just published. Even ready meals marketed as healthy, such as the Heinz Weight Watchers range, can contain nearly all the World Health Organisation’s recommended daily intake of sugar for a person in one serving. A Sainsbury’s own brand meal was tested. The sugar in it was equivalent to two chocolate bars.
The Newspaper Review on Radio 4 this morning was telling me about a story in today’s Mail on Sunday on the Nigerian girls. It seems a a Nigerian journalist, trusted by both sides, had just about negotiated their release in exchange for the government freeing Boko Haram prisoners. However at the eleventh hour a phone call came from Paris last weekend, during the African leaders summit there, cancelling the arrangement. If that is correct it would seem clear the Nigerians were advised they should not reward the terrorists for the action they had taken. I trust therefore other avenues are still being vigorously pursued to get the children back alive.
We have just had the wettest winter in 150 years. Then this spring has been exceptionally mild. A report on the programme from the Oxfordshire Chilterns was saying how advanced the trees are. They are all several weeks earlier than they should be.
I stayed in a pub near Bridgwater last night. My car was parked at the side of the road. When I sat in it this morning I immediately noticed the bird splat on the windscreen just above the crack in the windscreen. That also brought my attention to the fact that the crack itself is much longer than it was yesterday.
I feel I can make a couple of comments about that. Firstly the person who arranged it, the Somerset Gang director, although he was given all the relevant information, had no idea what I wrote in my diary on Thursday. I am sure he would not have been happy arranging it if he had. For him though these things must be an absolute matter of trust, or obeying instructions, depending on how you see it. Secondly I might have an important journey to make on Wednesday. I don’t want that messed around with in any way. I must get the screen sorted out by then.
The Pope was in Jordan yesterday and from there has flown straight to the mainly Palestinian occupied West Bank. He prayed on his own at the security barrier Israel has erected separating the two communities. He spoke of the human tragedy around him. He feels it is unacceptable. He wants the Israeli and Palestinian presidents to visit him in Rome to pray for peace and talk about things which they say they will do. If at first you don’t succeed you try and try again. It doesn’t matter what direction you come from as long as you get there.
It seems pretty likely to me that the fire at the Glasgow School of Art of Friday was associated with Radio 1’s Big Weekend Glasgow going on at the moment. We can’t have young people enjoying themselves unless we are the ones arranging it for them. If that is true it would be Gang childish petulance. It isn’t particularly clever nor brave to start a fire. Little boys do it to farmers’ haystacks all the time.
After listening to the last instalment of the In Search of Ourselves programmes broadcast on Friday I am aware the Labour government set up our Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme in 2005. The present administration extended it’s reach in 2010. It is estimated that 5 million people in Britain suffer from non acute mental illnesses. The idea is that as many of them as possible are given relevant treatments, mainly using Cognitive Behavioual Therapy, in a cost effective way.
26th May 2014
I could hardly believe this was happening so decided to start keeping an eye on it a couple of weeks ago. I vacuum once a week but sometimes it seems the carpet gets quite dirty well before the seven days, especially in the hall coming out of the kitchen. I always take off my outside footwear off when I come in from the garden so it had to be dropped food crumbs and the like. For a few days I looked when I came down in the morning. The mess isn’t being made by me. It would be comical if it didn’t have the potential to be damaging. It is the smallest of pin pricks. Yet if you were a house proud person it might not work like that. Should you share your home with someone else you would inevitably believe it was them. You could not possibly think that someone might be coming into your home while you were asleep or out. That aspect would go straight into your unconscious. And in such a way it might be quite psychologically injurious, particularly over a long period of time.
Rory Mcllroy won the PGA Championship at Wentworth yesterday after starting the day seven shots behind the leader. His private difficulties during the week must have been cathartic for him. Perhaps he sensed he had done the right thing.
Ukip did exceptionally well in the EU election last week increasing their number of MEPs from 13 to 24. Nigel Farage was on Today this morning. His sights are now on our General Election. With the new influx of blood he will be choosing portfolio spokesmen to articulate Ukip policies covering all aspects of government as we approach the big election next May. The Lib Dems had a terrible night, now only having one MEP from 11 before. Their vote was less than the Greens who are sending three representatives to Brussels. At any rate we now seem to have five parties vying for our votes. A hung Parliament at election time in that situation seems pretty likely.
The National Front now have the largest number of French MEPs. Non establishment parties did well in Greece, Spain and Denmark. Italy and Germany are still pro European as will be the new parliament overall.
There was a consultant on the programme from Tyneside who specialises in advising small retailers on how they can present a more appealing image to the shopping public, especially in their shop fronts. For a relatively small outlay of under £20,000 he can turn a business around. He gave the example of a foodstore which had a Tesco Express open in the parade. It’s takings went down from £5,000 a week to £3,000. After he had advised on a new layout internally and externally, and a focused product range, it’s turnover went up to £11,000 a week. Tesco’s marketing is national. This shop was able to focus on it’s neighbourhood connections. I have seen the same thing happen in my own village. Since Tesco opened the shop has had a complete refit. It feels much more spacious than before and always seems busy, concentrating on local produce.
The editorial in last Tuesday’s FT writes about Libya. After Colonel Gaddafi was removed in October 2011 the country was left very much to it’s own devices. The trick that was missed it seems is that all the weapons around were left to be handed out to anyone who wanted them. That has created 250,000 armed militiamen all fighting each other to be top dog. Things are in danger of spiralling out of control. With it’s oil wealth all citizens should be reasonably well off. They have been let down. It would be an ideal place for a world government to take an interest. You can only hope the United Nations might do something.
The front page reports that America have charged five named Chinese military officers with computer hacking. The victims were five US companies and a labour union. The intention of the encroachment was to steal trade secrets. The action though is only symbolic as there is no prospect of the men leaving China. I don’t think President Xi will want to raise tensions over it. I suspect he would like to see international order as much as anyone else.
I saw on the local BBC TV news this evening that there was a large open air party at Devil’s Dyke near Brighton at the weekend. The land is owned by the National Trust. Such raves are illegal under The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act. However Sussex Police said they couldn’t do anything because they did not have enough officers on duty. Apparently over 2000 people and 400 cars were on site, with seven sound systems in use, no doubt making a large amount of noise. The festivities broke up this morning leaving a lot of litter and broken fencing. I hope local people do not feel badly against the owners. It was not their fault. The National Trust have asked their neighbours if they will help them clear up. We normally have two noisy open air parties around here every summer.
Vince Cable is being promoted by some as a possible replacement for Nick Clegg. To indicate he does not go along with that idea I suspect Mr Cable has said today he thinks Lord Oakeshott’s behaviour has been inexcusable. It seems the Lib Dem peer paid for an opinion poll in Mr Clegg’s constituency and three others which showed voters would warm to Mr Cable better. I recall that Conservative peer, and former deputy party chairman, Lord Ashcroft is also now in the opinion poll field.
The billionaire confectionery businessman Petro Poroshenko has won the Ukrainian presidential election in the first round out of 21 candidates. With the authority that has given him he has taken immediate action to restore the state’s writ in the Donetsk area. In an operation to retake control of the airport more that 30 separatist gunmen were killed.
Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, is in London at the moment for a conference. She argues that we are still not there in the business world where distrust of, and disengagement with, outsiders is still prevalent. Besides the difficulties currently being shown in European politics serious reform is also needed in the fields of business, finance and taxation. I heard her speak on the World at One. She says the world’s richest 85 individuals have more wealth than the poorest half of the world’s population. With inequality like that tinkering at the edges simply will not do. I would have thought taxation of capital at some point in the generational cycle of individuals and families is the only answer.
Tony Blair was on the 8.10 slot on Today this morning speaking from Berlin. I imagine the editorial team invited him to do that and he accepted. I thought he sounded more authoritative when talking about home politics than events abroad. I suspect his faith tells him he is right and those who disagree are wrong. Yet he still mainly comes over as a, little bit shrill, voice in the wilderness. It must be very difficult for him.
Ken Clarke was also interviewed for the edition. He pointed out that only one in ten of us voted for Ukip. With the 24 hour news machine we now have I suppose it is a bit too much to expect the media to keep some perspective about that. Within society as a whole the Gang too are a very small part. Yet the influence they wield is totally out of proportion to their actual numbers.
Nigeria’s Chief of Defence Staff has said this morning that his people know where the approximately 276 girls are. However it would be too risky to try and free them by force. Frank Gardner said on the programme that Boko Haram are better armed, motivated and funded than the state’s army itself. Quite a tricky situation.
Clive James was interviewed by Jim Naughtie for the broadcast. Clive has cancer and not long to live. However he does not want to hide away. He will be making a presentation at the Australian and New Zealand literature festival in London on Saturday. He has come to terms with his condition and the fact that he is now too ill to see see his homeland, Australia, again. He is mentally perky and at peace with himself. He is thankful for the positive things life has given him. I feel it is the role of a public broadcaster to focus and speak to such people. We should not be afraid of death. It happens to us all. It is just a question of when.
Pope Francis seems a very energised man at the moment. Jeremy Bowen and other journalists have been travelling with him. Jeremy related on the programme that on the flight back to Rome from the Middle East the Pontiff said he wants to lance the boil of the Catholic Church’s past sex scandels towards children. He will meet with victims and see that justice is done.
Rolf Harris was on the defence stand today at his sexual assault trial. He said that his sexual activity with his daughter’s friend was consentual and took place when she was over 18. He claimed that they eventually fell out. Later she threatened to expose him as a sexual abuser unless he paid her money so that she and her boyfriend could open an animal sanctuary. He refused.
In my private life I am a landlord and have been discussing a new rent with my tenant, a national company. I naturally wanted a full figure but, as a surveyor, I made sure I based my arguments on comparable rental information. My counterpart from the company, also a surveyor, told me he had spent part of his career in America where business culture is very hard nosed. At our meeting he told me his company’s revenues are not increasing and therefore they could not afford to pay a higher rent. I responded that I did not look upon that as an appropriate argument. A valuation represents what a majority of tenant’s can afford not just one. Our subsequent conversation was quite brief. He invited me to say that a figure I had mentioned was the minimum I would accept so as not to evict them. I went along with what he wanted. I am sure that is how he presented the position to his directors. I was copied in on the top man’s reply. He made no mention of the validity of my valuation arguments but implied it would be too inconvenient for them to find another property. They have lots of other things to think about at the moment so would just have to go along with what I had demanded. It made me feel quite uncomfortable. It was as though I was a bit player in some form of preordained larger game.
28th May 2014
Over the last week the BBC have started a new policy when publishing some of their webpages. At the top they report the item of news and immediately underneath commentary is added, in italics, by the journalist concerned. Previously any commentary used to be at the side of the screen. For the page I am currently viewing, on the EU dinner last night, the piece then goes back into reporting mode at the end.
On the personal intervention of Francois Holland I suspect, French police this morning are dismantling the tented migrant camps in Calais. The men there have the ability to try and live in any EU country but the Gang induced perception, I expect, is that Britain is the home for them. Nevertheless the action is a purely political move I feel. You are not solving the problem, you are just moving it somewhere else.
Lord Oakeshott has resigned from the Liberal Democratic Party this morning. It seems disciplinary action was about to be taken against him for carrying out opinion polls in secret. I have just heard Menzies Campbell, party leader from March 2006 until October 2007, speak about it on the World At One. His view is that Lord Oakeshott sees himself as a king maker. He has been told that the peer briefed against him when he was leader.
It was announced yesterday that one of our largest companies, GlaxoSmithKline, is being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office for alleged corrupt practices in distribution of it’s medicines in China, Poland and Iraq. I also wrote about the company on 14th May 2014. I hope the business isn’t being picked on just because it is not well protected by those hidden forces I write about a lot.
I heard in a business section of Today this morning that the world’s largest dairy has now opened at Aston Clinton just outside Aylesbury in Bucks. The unit is operated by the Arla Scandanavian cooperative and will be able to process a billion litres of fresh milk a year, supplied by 900 farmers.
A lady from a polling company was interviewed about our level of racial prejudice. Her organisation has been asking us the same questions every year since 1983. People’s perception of their own prejudice was constantly going down until 2000. Since however the number of individuals admitting they feel negative towards people different from themselves has risen from 25% of those surveyed then to 30% now. As you might expect tolerance is greater in the human melting pot of London, where Ukip also found less support: and for those who are better educated and have the optimism of youth. When you look at the graph on the BBC webpage there is a noticeable lift in 2001 to about 32% which then dropped back to 28% in 2004. Strong volatility started in 2011 when it shot up to 39% before dropping back to 28% in 2012. We don’t seem to know what our emotions are telling us nowadays. The lady said it could be the increase in 2001 was due to the 9/11 attacks but it is impossible to be sure. Perhaps some academic research might be able to throw some light on that.
There was an Greek EU Commissioner appearing. She confirmed that it will not be business as usual. Europe needs an action plan to make people feel better about it. It will take some time to reach a conclusion but the politicians have started musing over the problem.
A newspaper review alerted me to a story in the Times today about illegal drug use in 42 European cities. By testing sewage you can find out what people have been consuming. London had the highest cocaine use. Intriguingly though whereas all the other cities had their maximum drug detection at weekends London’s is on a Tuesday. My guess is that we work to a strict weekly pattern. Packaged drugs for the retail market go up to London, from areas such as rural Kent, on a Sunday. Pavement fruit and veg stores are fully stocked for Monday morning. After a woozy Monday evening everything gets flushed down the toilet on a Tuesday morning.
It has been quite wet here over the last couple of days. On the radio weather forecast I heard that in parts of Norfolk it has rained non stop for 33 hours.
I have just heard Vince Cable speaking on the PM Programme from China where he is currently promoting UK business. Previously Lord Oakeshott has conducted a poll in Mr Cable’s own constituency with his agreement. However the Business Secretary confirms he had no knowledge of the four additional surveys the peer had carried out. I expect he is right. Yet it is exactly how the Gang work in my opinion. I have many examples in my private life, when the Gang are enacting a plan, of a key player being taken out of the picture for the duration, say on holiday. They are then away from the flak which flies around at home. The purpose in my view is so the Gang can make use of it’s unsurpassed surveillance capabilities. All parties will be listened to to see how the land lies in the uncertain situation they have created. Depending on the reactions caused they can then arrange further destabilisation as they wish. Mr Cable is in a difficult position I believe. He has done nothing wrong. But by being a friend of Lord Oakeshott’s many will think him guilty by association. Let the wicked rumours circulate. There is no smoke without fire.
David Gardner considers, in last Wednesday’s FT, that Recep Erdogan missed a trick when dealing with the Soma coal mine disaster in western Turkey. Instead of pulling the country together he got irritable and made some wild accusations. David says Mr Erdogan’s instinct is to polarise and, after being in power for 12 years, no one can tell him it doesn’t really work. It is a shame though.
29th May 2014
Four observers from the OSCE went missing near Donetsk on Monday. A BBC webpage reports this morning that the self proclaimed mayor of Sloviansk says his people have them and that they are well. They will probably be released. As I have mentioned before I believe the full deployment of OSCE staff on the ground should ultimately bring peace to eastern Ukraine. The key will be to let them do it in their own imperfectly way without fear and intimidation coming in from outside sources. I trust there are various state security agents currently moving around in the area, out of their sight, trying to arrange that for them. I suspect the same has been happening in leafy old Kent now for quite a long time.
I had an email in from Avaaz yesterday telling me that they are really being picked on at the moment. Staff members are having their computers and emails hacked, have been threatened on television and radio and, in one instance, a car has been interfered with. It is not a very nice world out there.
Lord Justice Leveson, who chaired the hacking inquiry, well understands I think the complexities of modern day life. When giving his Court of Appeal judgement in allowing the complex fraud trial to be reinstated, which I wrote about on 1st May 2014, he said the judiciary could not become involved in disputes between the government and barristers. However he then went on to ask if they could please come to some form of compromise agreement, if only no doubt for the sake of the defendants. The case was reported in last Thursday’s FT.
I don’t think I wrote about it at the time of the 2008 court case but in 2002 a former prison officer and his wife faked his death, when he did not return from a canoeing excursion off the coast of Teeside. They then claimed over £650,000 in life insurance and went to live in Panama. However I suspect marital problems arose and the man walked into an English police station in 2007 claiming he had lost his memory. Each was ultimately sentenced to over six years in jail for their fraud. They are now divorced. The former wife has so far paid back £500,000 of the money she stole, the man £121. He has just appeared in court under the Proceeds of Crime Act and been told he must forfeit two pension policies which have just matured to the value of £40,000. I feel that sends an important signal. Crime doesn’t pay. If we are to have confidence in the law we need to see it is effective.
When he was working there for the BBC Alan Johnson was held hostage by militants in the Gaza Strip in 2007 for nearly four months before being released. He is now the Corporation’s Rome correspondent. He has authored a webpage published today on the son of a Camorra Mafia gang leader. The Camorra are one of the three main Mafia gangs based in the Naples area and do not have a pyramid structure like the ‘NDrangheta and Cosa Nostra. The man, now in his forties with a wife and child, decided he did not want to go down his father’s path and today runs a restaurant in an Italian seaside town. He says his father always tried to push him away from the mafiosi way of life. It worked. Alan says the man appears to refuse to mentally engage with thoughts of all the human atrocities which have been carried out in his father’s name. He could not cope if he did.
I can’t see it is going to lead anywhere particularly but this evening it is reported Lord Rennard has issued a written apology that he may have inadvertently intruded on the personal space of the four Lid Dem ladies who have accused him of sexual harassment. I don’t look upon that as admitting very much. However two of them have appeared on Channel 4 News wishing to make public statements. The party itself says appeal processes are going on and they are definitely keeping out of it.
The American ambassador was also on the edition talking about the speech Barack Obama made yesterday setting out his philosophy for his final two and a half years in office. It is pretty much steady as she goes. I feel it is as well to reiterate. It avoids confusion and rumours, and confirms there are going to be no sudden changes of direction. The ambassador said the emphasis will be on diplomacy, development and engagement with the international community. As far as military might is concerned the President remarked that America might have the best hammer but it doesn’t mean every problem is a nail.
A few hours after his speech an hour long NCB interview with Edward Snowden was broadcast, recorded in Moscow last week. My note of 3rd July 2013 indicated Edward was trying to get to South America and that he has confirmed. However when he arrived at Moscow airport from Hong Kong for a connecting flight to Cuba he found that the USA had revoked his passport. He was stuck there. He also confirms he gave away all his stolen information files to trusted jouralists before he left Asia with no back up copies. PM this afternoon had played the whole interview to Kim Howells, a former Labour Cabinet Minister and chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee. Mr Howells feels that Edward comes over as completely certain of the correctness of his actions even knowing that he has broken American law and the solemn oath he made to maintain state security. With only two months of his Russian visa outstanding I think Edward would like to return home. John Kerry has confirmed the administration see it that way too. If Edward believes he is right, with which I would agree, I feel he should be prepared to argue his case before his peers sitting on a jury and seek judiciary clemency as appropriate.
The UN Secretary General has said that Syria will not meet it’s promise to dispose of all it’s chemical weapons by the end of next month. It is only 7.5% short but still I feel that is niggly. I suspect it is the Gang just making one of their childish, attention seeking points again.
Former military man Abdul al-Sisi has just won the Egyptian presidential election. He received 93% of the votes cast with his single challenger obtaining the rest. However the turnout was only 46%. When the deposed Muslim Brothourhhod Mohamed Morsi was elected in 2012 that was on a 52% turnout. I feel it is a great shame about one million people since then have not thought it worthwhile to exercise their democratic right to vote.
This morning on Today the 8.10 slot was reserved for a human story with the political tome coming ten minutes later. The subject was dementia. John Humprys had been out to interview a lady and her husband. She, with dementia, was quite coherent and angry, but realistic, about what had happened to her. He had found it more upsetting than her, seeing her victimised by life, because he loves her. He said dementia is a thing you either confront or run away from, there is no middle course. It creates immense continuous pressure. You have to cope with it as best you can.
After that a BBC interview was played with Vince Cable in China. I think the full story is now out. It seems Matthew Oakeshott carried out several surveys including in the constituencies of Mr Cable, Nick Clegg and Danny Alexander. The Business Secretary knew about his own and the generality of some of the others but not the spotlight made towards the other two senior men. I heard the Lib Dem peer Baroness Kramer say on Newsnight last night that Lord Oakeshott is a very nice man. But when he has a strong political aim he is oblivious to rational argument. He never wanted the Lib Dems to go into coalition government and hoped for it to end.
Earlier a BBC2 programme to be broadcast tonight on the tobacco industry, was highlighted. Despite all the tightening of regulation made over the last decades industry global profits still reach £30 billion a year. I see from an American website that in 2011 tobacco companies spent $8.4 billion in the States, not on brand distinction, but on general advertising to promote the smoking habit. Six million people die globally from smoking related causes every year.
The Australian Deputy Prime Minister has announced that no sign has been found of plane MH370 in the search area apparently indicated by pings from the aircraft’s black boxes. I don’t suppose any good people fully understand why that may have happened so there is probably little point in speculating. However the operation will continue. We are back solely with the Inmarsat satellite information. Channel 4 News said the search parameters have changed from a size half that of London to one half the size of England. We could now be talking of a time scale of up to two years to cover that seascape. It must be devastating for the families of the deceased.
My note on Brazil of 18th May 2014 took me up to 1954. I feel Newsnight threw some more light on it’s recent history tonight, in the context of infighting between the American and European Gangs and evidence given to the country’s Truth Commission set up two years ago. In 1964 there was a military coup supported by America and the UK heralding 21 years of dictatorship. The interest from North America is understandable I feel, being on the same continent, but is a bit more surprising for a small island off the coast of Europe. Indeed it appears our security agents travelled there in the early 1970s to give advice on how to obtain information from political prisoners, using our experience gained in Northern Ireland, adopting psychological means. The methods were actually called the English System. Some of the techniques practised it seems were extremes of light, sound and smell. The prisoner captive became so disoriented he did not know if it was night or day. A man on the report said he was under that pressure for a week. If it had dobled to two he would undoubtedly have buckled and said anything they wanted of him. That account must be at the mild end of the spectrum. Over the period hundreds died or disappeared. I also wrote about five torture techniques allegedly used in Northern Ireland in the 1970s in chapter 10 of my book.
30th May 2014
I forgot to record it but on Monday I saw that a letter has been written to The Times by a top military man in the Free Syria Army. He said that there are a lot of brutal UK fighters involved with the opposition group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. That organisation is as much his enemy as anyone else’s.
I wrote about what a mess Libya has become on Tuesday, and how upsetting the Americans are finding it all on 16th May 2014. Last Friday’s FT reports that last month David Cameron appointed Jonathan Powell, Tony Blair’s chief of staff when he was prime minister, to become our special envoy to the country. It seems Mr Powell has been there for talks with politicians.
There was one of the FT’s analysis pieces in last weekend’s paper about the Pfizer bid, composed after speaking to key players off the record. It comes over as very much a clash of cultures. AstraZeneca sources says Pfizer’s approaches were always coercive. They really didn’t want to talk too much. The initial private contact with the English-Swedish company was made last November but things weren’t going anywhere and they broke down in January. Pfizer however decided they were not finished. Under takeover rules introduced in 2010 any official takeover offer can only remain open for 30 days. Pfizer went public at the end of April. At that point it became all about money. AstraZenica’s board must act in the best interests of it’s shareholders so for them it could be done in no other way. Towards the end of the period Pfizer increased it’s offer to £53.50 a share. The reply came back that the smaller company thought £59 was a fairer price but they were perfectly willing to discuss it, in the interests of their shareholders. The somewhat petulant response to that, in my view, was to make a take it or leave it offer of £55. Once that was rejected it was the end of the story of course.
The paper also notes that on the Pope’s recent visit to Israel and Palestine he was accompanied by the leader of Lebanon’s Maronite Catholic Church. It has one million adherents in the Middle East and millions more elsewhere. As Israel has had no official relations with Lebanon since it’s birth in 1948, five year’s after Lebanon gained it’s independence from France, it was quite a ground breaking trip. The Cardinal will undoubtedly receive many sharp words from Hezbollah, based in Lebanon, about his decision but with the Pope on his side I am sure he will man up to that, as Mr Kerry might say.
The magazine has an article about Crimea. It says that following Russia’s takeover the region wishes to turn itself into a gambling capital of the world to rival Macau, Monaco and Las Vegas. Crimea’s first deputy prime minister appears to be one of the main participants in the plans. If it comes off I am sure it will make a few people immensely rich.
The new chief of the NHS has said today that he wants to encourage the retention of small community hospitals in his organisation. I don’t think he wants to create any new ones but recognises that those still in existence create a useful link to the local community, especially in the treatment of older people.
Just when Europe could do with concentrating on other things the BBC reports today that migrants coming to the continent fron North Africa has significantly risen this year. It is one of those impossibly situations the Gang are so good at creating I believe. The foreigners want to come and are willing to pay good money for their trip. Those of us who live here though find it quite threatening. We begin to think we hate strangers. I suspect there is a distinct Libya connection. It makes sense of Jonathan Powell’s recent appointment.
Stephen Sutton is being buried today. There was a memorial service for him in Lichfield Cathedral yesterday evening attended by over 1000 people. The Dean said Stephen chose to share his exuberance with us, not his pain or regrets.
31st May 2014
I think the three party leaders must have had a conversation about Meriam Ibrahim. The Sudanese lady is in a Khartoum prison with her one year old son and baby born there a few days ago. She is due to be executed in two years time. Her crime is that she refuses to renounce her Muslim faith, called apostasy. However her mother is Christian, she has a Christian name, a Christian husband and she says it is only that religion she has ever known. Her Christian marriage has been annulled by the state. Mr Cameron says her treatment has no place in today’s world. Religious freedom is an absolute, fundamental human right. Mr Clegg says the situation is abhorrent and a flagrant breach of international standards. Mr Miliband remarks nobody should be persecuted because of the religion they practice or person they fall in love with.
President Obama referred to Russia’s actions in Crimea as being destabilising. From a BBC webpage this morning I see the US Defence Secretay, Chuck Hagel, has used the same phrase when speaking at a summit in Singapore. This time the accusations are made against the Chinese and their actions in the South and East China Seas. They are upsetting their neighbours, particularly Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines. I think international destabilisation is an example of behaviourism.
From a discussion on Today yesterday I understand our nuclear power industry is worth £4 billion a year, however it’s organisation has become quite disorganised. Our existing reactors will all become obsolete within the next 10 years. The lady was suggesting that small is beautiful. The new plant to be built at Hinckley Point is so big only Japan and France have the wherewithal to mount such a project, using their own supply chains. To go with that stream she feels we should create small plants designed and manufactured within the UK. You start off in a relatively cheap way, see if it works, get the apropriate licences and build up from there.
The motor insurance fraud cash for crash scam was in a business section. It occurs when a no fault accident is arranged, such as if you brake too hard and someone drives into the back of your car. That then gives you the opportunity to make lots of rigged insurance claims with your friends. Back handers and false invoices can be used for replacement car hire and repairs. Silly claims for backlash injuries are another feature as a mentioned on 13th March 2013. Although the number of claims has not increased their value rose 18% to £1.3 billion last year. Everyone on average is paying £50 more in premiums due to the work of the criminals, double that if you live in a area where the practice is particularly prevalent. A man from the insurance industry was saying he thinks they are finally starting to get on top of the problem. For that to fully work though we must of course all do our bit and not be willing to participate in any funny business when a workman is doing work under an insurance claim for us.
The goings on with the Liberal Democrats last week are a classic example in my view of how the Gang work. Their plan involving Lord Oakeshott backfired. They were cross. It was time to get Lord Rennard involved. The Peer wrote his letter of apology to the ladies some weeks ago. He thought it best not to publish it as he did not wish to create distractions from the EU elections. Then last week someone showed it to Channel 4 News. They ran their story on Thursday. Some of the ladies, not unnaturally taking into account how they feel, are calling for Lord Rennard’s head. It is unseemly to wash your dirty linen in public but sometimes people can’t help themselves. I think now though the story is going back into the arena of privacy where it should probably stay. Wanting to bring some perspective to the debate no doubt I heard Shirley Williams say on Today this morning that there have been some pretty horrible sexual abuse stories in the headlines over recent times. She doesn’t believe the alleged actions of Lord Rennard come within that category.