1st October 2013
I think you could use many adjectives to describe Ed Miliband’s personality but menacing would not be one of them. Nevertheless it is what the editor of the Daily Mail has called him in the paper this morning. That indicates a paranoid state of mind to me. It all started when a Mail journalist wrote a piece on Saturday following Mr Miliband’s conference speech about freezing the cost of power bills. The writer alleged it was a pledge to bring back socialism and was homage to his father whom I understand had Marxist beliefs. Mr Miliband has been given the right of reply in this morning’s paper, not solely the editor’s decision I suspect. He makes the point that his father died in 1994 and as such is not able to defend himself. Ed therefore wishes to do that for him. The opposition leader says the paper is acting in a blatantly political manner. Journalists are trying to change the policy of elected members of Parliament by being nasty about them. Mr Miliband says politics should not be run in that way in a civilised country.
I am 99% sure Mark Mardell has not read my book. However it is as though he has. On a BBC webpage today commenting on the American government shutdown which has just started he writes that some Republicans are acting like kamikaze pilots not because of the rather indecisive opinion polls but because people in their district and on talk radio tell them so. It is very easy in my view to erroneously feel the emotion coming at you from a very small number of people, thinking they represent the majority when they do not.
2nd October 2013
Until I read last Saturday’s FT I had never heard of Jack Ma nor his Chinese company Alibaba. However he runs the biggest e-commerce marketplace company in the world worth $120 billion. Two of his portals in China handled more sales glabally in 2012 than Amazon and eBay combined.
Following my note of 15th September 2013 I see the Peruvian prosecution authorities are not yet satisfied the two girls have told them everything they know as part of their guilty plea bargain. Officials say that if the two are not more trransparent they will not accept their offer.
Ed Milliband upped the ante defending his father yesterday by giving a TV interview and the Deputy Editor of the Daily Mail was on Newsnight last night. Invective is flying on both sides. I do feel that is brave of Mr Miliband bearing in mind the Mail is one of our most powerful newspapers and the run up to the next election has now started. I look upon both sides as Gang victims. As a result of the publicity I have looked into it this morning and see that before the Second World War the Mail’s proprietor, Lord Rothermere, was supportive of the Nazis, probably through his friendship with an Austrian born princess and London socialite. Once he could see conflict was inevitable however he broke his ties with Germany and with her.
Looking at Wikipedia this morning I see that full or partial shutdowns of American government are not uncommon going back at least to the 1970s and affecting both Republican and Democratic administrations. President Obama has announced that his Asian tour starting this weekend will be curtailed from four stops to two so he is not away from home for too long. The US government is now partially shut down with no sign of any movement to end that.
There were further arrests of Golden Dawn MPs over the weekend with court hearings today. A Greek journalist was saying on Today yesterday that although the authorities have had plenty of intelligence about the party’s activities for some time they didn’t hold any direct evidence. That has now changed apparently in the form of witness statements from two former members who are willing to help the police in their enquiries.
The theft of scrap metal has dropped from the headlines in recent months. I expect the Gang have moved onto other things they can see more mileage in. From yesterday, as reported on that programme, all scrap metal dealers must be licensed, not accept cash and ensure they see proof of residence and identification for all customers.
Shortly before 7am the broadcast had two interesting pieces. The first was on Chinese government repression of it’s citizens using the internet and the second on a visit here by a North Korean official. The term used by our former ambassador to Pyongyang was that he is coming for back channel, unofficial, talks. Apparently there will be American officials present as well so it is hoped some common ground might be found to bring North Korea out of it’s political isolation and persuade it to voluntarily curb it’s nuclear military ambition. It is commonly known that North Korea could not exist without Chinese support. I suspect that when Ed Davey travelled to China last week, as I noted on Sunday, he was in a position to convey a personal message via our embassy if it was needed. I imagine it was thought the subject was too sensitive to handle in any other way and that a prior suggestion had been made. I believe it likely a similar thing happened, in relation to the Neil Heywood affair, when Foreign Office Minister Jeremy Browne visited the country in November 2011 as I relate in the chapter 11 appendix of my book. As a result of the recent contact my feeling is the North Koreans were told by the Chinese to put a man on a plane to London as soon as possible. I expect it flew out of Beijing. I imagine Mr Davey is still in China.
As a final thought I suspect China’s cooperative attitude at the UN Syria Security Council meeting last week brought it all about. It raised confidence in their leadership in western capitals. A conversation started in New York which will be concluded at the end of Mr Davey’s trip. Perhaps the politicians were a bit miffed at how that UN meeting came about in the first place, without their close involvement. This time they decided they would be the ones in charge. I would fully support that. It is the job of intelligence agencies to gain information, nothing else. Neither can I see any reason why they shouldn’t do that in a far more transparent way than currently, to explain their actions and reasons to us. Without their current veil of secrecy they would not find it necessary to give hidden briefings to the press and find it far more difficult to act in a quasi political way without anyone realising what they are up to.
Over the months the FT has consistently said that President al-Assad must step down as Syrian head of state to facilitate any peace process in the country. It repeated that in Monday’s editorial. The writer says all sides are beginning to recognise it will be necessary.
Yesterday’s paper reports that the American public are solidly in favour of reaching a negotiated settlemtment with Iran on it’s nuclear aspirations. An opinion poll shows 68% of Republican voters in favour and 87% of Democrats.
Today the paper reports another opinion survey result from the US. 72% think it is wrong of Rebuplicans to try and stop Obamacare by shutting down the government.
An aspect of Philip Hammond’s cyber announcement on Sunday that had not occured to me, but which today’s FT editorial elucidates, is that it very transparently sets out our wish to have offensive capability in cyber matters. I agree with the paper that that approach is to be applauded. Apparently America has an official, but secret, list of targets against which it might decide to launch cyber attacks.
Most commentators think Mr Berlusconi’s order to his party to threaten to withdraw from the goverening coalition was a final ploy to try and prevent his personal expulsion from parliament after being found guilty of tax fraud charges. If so it failed. Some of his ministers said they would not support the move and he made a last minute u-turn allowing Mr Letta to win his vote of confidence with ease. It seems likely Mr Berlusconi’s political career is over.
3rd October 2013
I have watched a video clip of President Obama on a BBC webpage this morning. He think he feels he has the measure of the rebelling Republicans. He says it is unfair and irresponsible for them to expect him to take away healthcare cover for 20 million Americans just because they do not like what he has legally done.
George Parker writes in today’s FT that politics does seem to have changed quite fundamentally after the party conference season. Mr Miliband has realigned Labour. He has created a clear philosophical divide with the Conservatives which no doubt will continue up to the election. I would identify the genesis of the change as the night of the parliamentary vote on Syria. Although I did not know how it would all play out I was pretty sure it would make a big difference to our political life, as I noted on 29th August 2013.
Another aspect of that story I feel is the Labour leader’s current quarrel with Associate Newspapers. The Gang have felt they have been in charge for so long I suspect it has quite phased them to see, not anyone but a senior politician, start acting against them in a principled manner. Their instinctive reaction in such a situation is to retaliate. And their moral code is so defective that is when they encourage their proxies to overstep the mark. It is how I see the article about Mr Miliband’s father in last Friday’s Daily Mail. The expectation is that the target will back off. Mr Miliband did the opposite. So the Gang, as is their culture, raise the stakes a bit more. They do something that is even more unacceptable in a normal society. In this instance it was arranging for a picture of a gravestone to be published in an inappropriate way. And they still didn’t give up. I feel quite sorry for the two lady journalists who went to the memorial service for Mr Miliband’s uncle, uninvited, yesterday and who have been suspended today.
In my case I believe I have always been on their radar because of who my parents were. However I was just one of many floating around in the overall scheme of things. I came back into focus when I started my own business and turned out to be successful at what I was doing. They do not like individuals like me who could possibly make trouble not within their influence. Normally over the years, as they are completely hidden, they would be able to eat into your effectiveness in that situation. I turned out to be more resilient than most. So when I moved to my present address they started piling on the pressure. By coincidence they were in this area in quite a big way already but they decided to move into the properties around me in a much more concentrated fashion. Probably about 10 years ago they were beginning to expose themselves to me, day by day, to a sufficient degree that I was beginning to get an appreciation of how it all works. That process reached it’s peak when their proxy bought The Sanctuary next door in 2006. By that time I was beginning to lose my unconscious fear. I felt as though I had had enough. I positively wanted to take them on. I suspect that is a bit like Mr Miliband feels now.
The other element of Mr Miliband’s present position I feel is his stance on press regulation. When the phone hacking story broke he was quite outspoken against the Murdoch press. The Gang do not forget something like that and with decision time on future press regulation coming up next week, I suspect quite probably unconciously, they themselves started to feel the pressure of how it is all going to turn out. It was another contributory factor perhaps to the ill advised newspaper article last Friday. Today’s FT confirms the Privy Council meet next Wednesday to choose the politicians’ scheme of press reulations or the industry’s. Only the Guardian and The Independent support the former. If that version comes about it seems highly likely their colleague titles will boycott it.
Unusually two newspaper editors appeared on Newsnight last night in a discussion about the Conservative party conference. One was from the Independent and the other the London Evening Standard. Alexander Lebedev owns the Independent and is the majority owner with his son of the Standard.
Today the president of Gambia has unexpectedly said his country is leaving the Commonwealth. He was at the recent UN General Assembly meeting where he referred to homosexuality as evil and inhuman. The traffic though is not all one way. From a BBC webpage I see Cameroon and Mozambique joined the Commonwealth in 1995 and Rwanda did in 2009.
4th October 2013
There is a very human story on the BBC webpage this morning. A mother was driving her four month old baby in Lincolnshire the week before last when she had to swerve to avoid a white food van. Her car ended up in a ditch and her daughter was under water for four minutes. After that time the girl appeared dead. The mother was hysterical. However a lad was one of those who stopped his car, and started pumping the baby’s heart. He did it for several minutes and eventually the child started making noises. The strange thing is the man was crying throughout the time he was performing that community action. I suspect he is a Gang helper. Nevertheless when it counted he did the right thing.
Yesterday a woman with a one year old child in her car tried to drive near the White House. It was an irrational act as there were four foot high metal bollards in front of her. There was no way she could have got through. She was obviously in an emotional state. Perhaps she was mentally unwell or possibly something terrible had happened in her life and she just could not cope any more. Her action might well have been a cry for help as much as anything else. She was pursued up the road by law enforcement officials. She was shot dead. That was a terrible thing for those men to do.
UK new car sales last month were the highest since the spring of 2008. We love our cars, something the Gang know only too well.
I wrote about my experiences in public toilets on 1st March 2013. It happened to me again last Monday, the first time for several weeks, in a local supermarket and I have thought of a more focused explanation than previously. I think it could be the only place the Gang do not put hidden cameras. I suspect it is on the explicit direction of the high command for some reason and local Gang directors do not like it. It makes them extremely edgy. It is the one place they cannot watch you and, as I said before, it causes paranoia. If I am correct it is a useful illustration of the absolute divide between the top tier and the rest.
I don’t want to go over the top about this but I hope you do realise how easy it is for the Gang to express their anger. They have endless opportunities for doing it. In some ways the whole of humanity is an accident waiting to happen whether you are good or bad.
It seems there is a highly organised criminal human trafficking route through Libya at the moment. It goes northwards to Europe to accommodate poor Aricans who see how we live in the developed world and quite understandably would like to be part of it. The traffickers no doubt take as much money from them as they can and do not care whether they live or die. After recent happenings in the Italian parliament an unusually large boat was carrying around 500 illegal migrants to the small Italian island of Lampedusa yesterday, population about 5,000, which happens to be much nearer to Africa than it is to mainland Italy. It broke down. No one had any mobile phones on board to ring for help. Someone lit a sheet with a match apparently to attract attention. People panicked, started moving around the boat, and capsized it. Many could not swim. It seems about 150 have been rescued but the rest have drowned. Italy is having a day of morning today. The Pope, magnificently, said he could hardly bear the pain.
The pressure is building up in America. President Obama has now cancelled the remainder of his trip to Asia next week. He wishes to be at home to take all appropriate decisions as Commander in Chief. Christine Lagarde, head of the IMF, has stressed the seriousness of the situtaion. If the US doesn’t raise it’s debt ceiling by 17th October some responsible people are saying it will be the crash of 2008 all over again.
Ed Miliband, from a jewish family, is continuing his attack on the Daily Mail group by appearing on Radio 5 Live this morning. The newspapers are trying to fight back by arguing that people are unreasonably accusing them of being closet anti-Seminists. They demand an apology.
The Daily Mirror is not one of our heavyweight newspapers. However I understand they have devoted several pages of their edition today to an interview they have conducted of a Taliban Commander on the Pakistan-Aghanistan border. I suspect they wish to make a point. The Daily mail can go one way, they can go another. The man says he believes his organisation will rule the country again after the Americans go hime in 2015.
5th October 2013
The first item on Any Questions on Radio 4 today focused on the ethics and practices of the Daily Mail. It generated a lot of discussion. One question in the middle of the progamme was about whether any lessons could be learnt, for the upteenth time in that sort of situation, from the death of four year old Hamzah Khan who starved in his mother’s home where he lived with his five brothers and sisters. 95% of the the Any Answers progamme immediately after was taken up by that one subject. One thoughful, qualified to speak, member of the public was followed by another all providing useful insights to the debate. What struck me was that none of it was political in any way. It was just half an hour of radio time with kind, motivated, ordinary people trying to do their bit to help those less fortunate than themselves. Each was listened to with genuine interest and respect. I may be wrong but I don’t think you would have got that in our national life even a year ago. Our culture does seem to be changing.
Cutting hedges is a never ending job for me at this time of year. I’ve still got to do two elderly neighbours’ gardens before I am finished. I was at it again this afternoon at Tolkien House, this time on the top road. Just after I went out a neighbour walked down the road with her dog and thirteen year old daughter. I did not say hello. Then almost immediately afterwards a vehicle driven by a lady wearing dark glasses who I have not seen before, and pulling a horse box, drove past. I have worked out that she is a friend of my neighbour. After she had disappeared around the bend I heard a horse neigh. She must have stopped for a chat.
I saw on the TV news last night that Barack Obama and Joe Biden unexpectedly walked out of the White House yesterday to get lunch from a nearby takeaway. I expect that was against the advice of his security staff. I wouldn’t be surprised if the President felt embarrassed at the fearful way Washington professionals dealt with a woman driving a car the day before. He wanted to show ordinary Americans a bit of leadership. If he can act in a confident manner, despite what happens around him, they can too.
I have not written about it before but on 18th September 2013 Greenpeace activists tried to board a Gazprom drilling rig in the Artic Barents Sea, to protest against the first project to extract oil there. The Russians seized their boat and towed it to Murmansk where the crew of 30, from all over the world, have been charged with piracy. They face prison sentences of up 15 years. Many think the Russians have overreacted to a planned peaceful protest. Protest demonstrations have now been held in 40 countries. There was one in London today.
6th October 2013
Yesterday the Kenyan government named four men they wanted for the Westgate Shopping Centre attack with possibly two others to be indentified. This morning I heard Ed Stourton say that Samantha Lewthwaite was not there. That means, in my view, the people who told the Kenyan deputy foreign minister in America that she was, as I mentioned on 24th September 2013, are quite wicked.
I have written before about the embarrassment caused when a youth Police and Crime Commissioner for Kent was appointed earlier this year and then resigned. Her boss, Ann Barnes, initiated a review into the circumstances by the University of Central Lancashire. A BBC Kent webpage informed me yesterday it has now been received. Ms Barnes analysis is that it was a falling between two stools situation in which it would have been very easy for each of the two seats to deny responsibility. Her office did not investigate the social networking activities of the applicant before appointment and Kent Police did not advise her she should. In those circumstances she has decided she should take responsibility for the mess up. A new recruitment process is about to start.
There is a business advice page in the Saturday FT. Last weekend there was a question from a business owner in the construction industry who had just taken on a new head officer. The CEO wanted a clause in all future contracts that any disputes with clients should go to private arbitration and not be aired in public. That reminds me of the confidentiality clauses which the NHS have used when they pay off unfavoured leaving executives. The answering expert to the question starts off by making two simple points. Firstly the man’s company, in the building sector, must be extremely well run not to have been involved in previous disputes. And secondly he is surprised the new CEO should be so focused on falling out with people before he even has his feet under his desk.
The BBC, and the press generally I imagine, are giving a lot of advanced publicity to the Madeline McCann Crimewatch appeal a week on Tuesday. If Madeline is alive of course various people will have come in contact with her both in 2007 soon after she disappeared and subsequently. A BBC webpage this morning quotes the lead detective in the case as saying he truly believes such innocent people hold the key to the investigation. I always try to point out here those little traits of human behaviour which don’t stack up, whenever I come across them.
I had not realised it but if you make a phone call immediately after hanging up with someone else, and that first person doesn’t disconnect at their end, you merely reconnect with them again, irrespective of the numbers you dial. For a criminal mind of course that little fact is a fraudster’s goldmine. As reported on a BBC webpage this morning one scam is that you are supposedly rung by the police to say your bank card had been compromised and advised to cancel it with your bank. You naturally make that call straight away but unbeknown to you you are still talking to the same criminal gang. They take all it’s details and sometimes, in view of the seriousness of the matter, send a courier around to pick it up from you. After your home they go to the nearest cash machine. Apparantly since 2011 victims have lost over £3 million in that way. It seems, other than asking people not to be so foolish, one way to combat the crime is to ensure that telephone company equipmemt closes a line quickly after one party has hung up.
A 76 year old man died in a hospital in Gorleston, part of the Great Yarmouth urban area, on 20th September 2013. It appears someone who works there was suspicion about the actions of a male colleague. That person spoke to their superiors who spoke to the police on 30th September. The Norfolk and Suffolk Police Major Investigation Team are looking onto whether the man was murdered by a drugs overdose. The post-mortem found the cause of death as heart failure with no evidence of wrong doing. Further toxicology tests are being carried out.
Early this morning a double decker bus on a journey in Leyton, east London caught fire. It was destroyed. No one was hurt.
When I heard about the US army commandos’ capture of a senior al-Qaeda man as he was paking his car in Tripoli yesterday, I assumed it would have been with the agreement of the Libyan government. It seems likely however they were merely notified beforehand. Some elements in the country are complaining about that and asking for him to be returned to receive justice in his home territory.
It looks likely American intelligence agencies fell down quite badly on the other operation of the day, in Somalia. The capturing force did not find the al-Shebab leader at home and met far greater resistance than anticipated. I imagine it was almost as if they were expected. It seems to me that unless intelligence people raise their game, others will start asking some pretty searching questions of them.
The Winter Olympic Flame for next year started it’s journey in Moscow today. It will travel 40,000 miles, the longest ever, including a trip to the Russian space station.
Today is the 40th anniversary of the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. People have been out on the streets including those of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Egyptian army have been using live ammunity to maintain order. 40 people have been killed in Cairo and others elswhere.
In the chapter 11 appendix of my book I refer to the lobbyist group Americans for Tax Reform and how some think it has almost single handedly created the current schism in American politics. Over the last two decades it has persuaded many Republican candiates to sign a pledge that once elected they will not agree to any tax increases under any circumstances. In the same vein there was an opinion piece on the World This Weekend today about the Texas senator Ted Cruz. It is said he is messianic in his desire to defeat Obamacare. His boundless energy runs rings around John Boehner. He is the sort of man who is used to getting his way. Just like Silvio Burlesconi in fact who I understand spent the night on the phone last week hoping to persuade his colleagues to support him in the Italian parliament vote the following day. It would be nice to think that force of public opinion ultimately brings such men to heel.
7th October 2013
After speaking with someone in my private world this morning I am acutely aware how the Gang, if they are challenged in any way by a person such as me, will always retaliate and escalate, probably against others. They always have a specific point to make. They are the most horrible lot. Weak people are so easy to pick on. A good example of that, in my view, is an academic report just published that mentally ill individuals are three times more likely to be victims of crime than the rest of us. Often when such folks do report crime they are not believed by the police. It is a real problem.
On 18th January 2013 I made a note about my bed duvet. I wondered then how the story would mutate. It moved downwards towards the valence. It is not a new thing in fact and has probably been going on for years. When someone is standing at the end of the bed they give it a good tug so the horizontal/vertical material join is close to the floor there. Occasionally I pull it back up. I can’t remember the last time I straightened it but on 5th September 2013 I noticed it had happened again. This time I took a photo and left it. I have not been watching it particularly but when I changed the sheets yesterday I saw it was a lot worse. On the left hand side the part of the sheet which should be on the bed base was much nearer the floor. I took another photo and then put it back as it should be.
An additional thought that occurs to me on the apprehension of the alleged Al-Qaeda leader in Libya is that the Americans obviously wanted to capture him alive. That means of course they have taken the trouble to first obtain sufficent evidence about his activities which they consider will stand up in an American civilian court of law.
After talks with his Russian counterpart at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Bali John Kerry has given due praise to the Syrian government for so far giving full assistance to the UN chemical weapons inspectors. Destruction of the armaments started yesterday.
Gerry McCann has been talking about phone hacking on the World at One just now. He refers to the activity as being analogous to the trafficking of human grief.
To celebrate National Poetry day Pince Charles ended Today last Thursday reading Fern Hill by Dylan Thomas. It was very good.
On that programme a former British ambassador was talking about his recent visit to Libya. He said there was an air of fragile normality. The country is experiencing lots of economic activity which is keeping everybody happy. The people are friendly without great division. However as there is no political stability it only needs a few powerful badly motivated people to bring that sense of stability crashing down.
On 28th September 2013 I wrote about the dark web. Without realising it I think my subject was probably the website Silk Road, and the virtual currency bitcoins. Last Wednesday the FBI walked into a public library in San Franciso and arrested the 29 year old website owner. A lady was saying on that edition the FBI were able to penetrate the site because they discovered a flaw in it’s cyber security.
That day it was announced the Financial Conduct Authority is producing greater regulation from next April for Payday lenders. In future, checks will have to be made as to whether borrowers can afford to repay and agressive advertising toned down. The difficulty is, I think, that the lenders do provide a useful service for some and we do not want to drive those people into the hands of dishonest loan sharks. Stella Creasy MP was talking about the position on the edition. Something which shocked me is that you mostly have to initially set up a continuous authority direct debit facility with your lender. That gives them great incentive to keep your loan going as long as possible. Repayments are so easy to collect. It is suggested in the future lenders should only be able to try and take money from an empty customer account twice. I even heard one man say he had to open up a new bank facility to prevent his Payday lender unexpectedly taking money from his account all the time.
There were two separate pieces about the Metropolitan Police investigation into the disappearance of Madeline McCann in 2007, on Today on Friday. It seems Portuguese police are working cooperatively with them. I was not aware but even then mobile phone companies were obliged to keep records for 12 months of all calls made, under the EU Data Retention Directive. It would be standard procedure to look into those in all murder enquiries, then and now, for example. Although detectives were given that cell dump for the night concerned apparently, they never looked into it. It will have provided phone numbers, location, length of calls and so forth but, as as it is so easy to hide your identity when using a mobile phone, not names. However people make mistakes and the hint is the review has found some leads. I understand all will be revealed in the trailed Crimewatch programme.
There was a item on that programme about Pope Francis’ attempt to bring more tansparency to the hierarchical workings of the Catholic church. A three day meeting was then taking place in Rome of the new council of eight world cardinals drawn fron outside the normal power structure of the organisation. The pontiff hopes that will bring a whiff of change into a pretty ossified institution. Some are suggesting it is the biggest change to have happened in ten centuries. The contibutor said the Pope comes over as a man who, simply, likes people.
Immediately after that was a bit about the mistresses of elite Chinese men. It seems if you are powerful within their state the practice is quite commonplace. The allegation is that large amounts of public money is spent on those sexual predilections. The other side of the coin of course though is that such ladies are the best placed to tell you about what really goes on at the top of Chinese society.
The radio news reported then that the Information Commissioner’s office feels there is probably sufficent evidence to prosecute some law firms, insurance companies and retailers, 19 in all, for illegally commissioning investigators to look into the private lives of over 100 individuals between 2001 and 2009. That activity is in breach of the Data Protection Act 1998.
Another item told me the Justice Secretary wishes to change the law so that offenders of some sexual, terrorist and more serious crimes will not automatically be suject to as much as 50% remission of their sentences as applies now. Instead they will have to go before a Parole Board to decide the question. That could add 600 people to the prison population and I think there is concern in some quarters about whether we have adequate jail capacity for that number. Presumably Mr Grayling would not have announced the change unless he is confident we have.
The 8.10 slot on the broadcast was about Ralph Miliband. The word Mccarthyism came up which I understand is named after an American politician from the 1950’s, during the paranoia of the Cold War, who accused everyone of being a communist if they disagreed with his strident American ideals. As I type Mr Dacre still has not chosen to give his side of the story which I feel is unfortunate. Tony Benn on that programme said Mr Miliband was a strong believer in democracy.
Thanks to that edition I am aware that Benjamin Netanyahu gave an unterview to BBC Persia during his recent American trip. It was transmitted to Iran over the weekend. He said that Iran is a great country and an ancient civilisation. However it is clear he doesn’t trust the people’s leaders. In his mind there is no way they can aspire to enrich uranium other than for the purpose of building a nuclear bomb.
Surprisingly to me Ayatollah Khamenei also uses the most modern of communications. On his Twitter page on Saturday he said he was supportive of Mr Rouhani’s diplomacy in New York a few days before. However it seems he disapproves of the phone conversation between him and the American President. He thought it was premature. I think the impression given was that he feels Mr Rouhani had been bounced into taking the call by Mr Obama.
8th October 2013
There was a marvellous human moment on Today this morning. It was during a piece on the goverment’s mortgage assistance scheme for dwelling purchase. The couple had got engaged last week and they were asked to share how that happened with the world. The boy said gruffy there was no way he wanted to do that thank you very much. However his fiancee was full of how he felt about her so she told us instead. Out of deference for the man I won’t pass on here what a romantic he secretly is. You have to put up with things like that though I am afraid when you love someone.
I had no knowledge of this before this morning but a BBC Kent webpage reports that the police have asked for a change in route of the annual Remembrance Day parade in Chatham next month. The same course has been used for the last 15 years but the law has changed meaning police have fewer powers to keep traffic away from walking pedestrians. I imagine they just want to ensure people are kept safe. However the organisers do not see it like that. There has been a breakdown in communication. The police have been told that unless they back down the parade will be cancelled. I don’t think somehow the police will succumb to that sort of persuasion. Further discussions would be the best bet.
One good thing about this country I feel is that if something goes wrong you will always get a report to try and establish the cause. How it came into the public domain over the weekend I do not know but that happened with a MOD investigation into a 90 minute power failure at the privately run Devonport Dockyard in Plymouth in July 2012. The importance of the information is that the power line concerned is used to pump cold water over the reactors of shut down nuclear submarines when in dock. It was overheating on the reactor cores which caused such a catastrophe at Fukishima in March 2011. We are not told whether a reactor was being cooled at the time nor how it happened.
9th October 2013
A 15 part series started on Radio 4 on Monday by Fergal Keane, called Terror Through Time. Through that I understand the first recorded instance of terrorism in our world was on Cristmas Eve 1800. Napoleon was travelling down the rue Saint-Nicaise in Paris to the opera. As he passed it a horse and cart with barrels of gunpowder on board exploded. A fourteen year old girl had been paid to hold the horse by one of the plotters after he had lit the fuse and fled. She died as did several passers by. Napolean was uninjured. The third programme relates how the Nihilist movement rose in Russia in the 1860s. I feel they were anarchists with little vision but a violent trait. In 1881 they set off a bomb by Alexander II and killed him. Their ideas spread to western europe and in 1894 Martial Bourdin accidentially killed himself when the bomb he was carrying went off as he walked past the Royal Observatory in Greenwich Park.
All three main parties have been carrying out reshuffles of their middle and upper tier posts in the last couple of days. The two promotions which interest me are those of Mike Penning and Norman Baker. I remember well how Mr Penning gave up part of his weekend in April 2011, as a minister of transport, to give his support to the community when the bottom of the M1 was closed due to a scrapyard fire just as thousands of fans were driving down to watch the Manchester clubs in the FA cup semi-final. I suspect it was Mr Penning’s experience as a firefighter in Essex which initially showed him how the Gang work. Now that Northern Ireland has quietened down considerably he is being moved to the Deartment of Work and Pensions to assist Iain Duncan Smith who met resistance in his department earlier this year. I last wrote about Mr Duncan Smith on 5th September 2013.
Then there was a lot of comment on Today yesterday about Mr Baker. I had not realised it but he wrote a book in 2007 about the apparent suicide in Oxfordshire of the the Iraq war weapons expert, Doctor David Kelly, suggesting that MI5 covered up his murder. The fact that our top politicians feel confident in promoting a man such as Mr Baker to high office is a sign I feel that exposure of the Gang story could be gathering pace.
It was announced this evening that Ian Learmonth, the Kent Chief Constable, is retiring in January at the age of 55 after 40 year’s police srvice. The Kent Police and Crime Commissioner, Ann Barnes, said he will leave with the respect and affection of his force and the wider community.
A BBC webpage published on Sunday refers to the Conservative MP for Windsor, Adam Afriyie, as being groomed to be it’s next party leader. From other web pages I see he was brought up in a Peckham council flat with an English mother and Ghananian father. His worth today is estimated to be between £13-100 million. With a range like that he obviously keeps his private affairs, private. That day Mr Afriyie announced he would table an ammendment to James Wharton’s private member’s bill for a 2017 referendum on EU membership. Mr Afriyie says he wants it to take place before the election. He appears not to appreciate that would be completely destabilising for his party. Mr Wharton is not very happy about that and neither it seems are the vast majority of Conservative MPs.
The National Crime Agency started work on Monday, said by some to be comparable to the FBI, although it doesn’t have any intelligence function. The essential role for the new body it seems is that it will take an overarching role to crime investigation nationally joining up the dots which otherwise might not be clear. If necessary it will be able to direct local police forces to take action against substantive crime groups which have come to it’s attention.
The police are the agency of last resort. The chief constable of Manchester was on Today on Monday saying that dealing with people of poor mental health is the biggest issue confronting police today. They are not trained for it, it is not their job and it doesn’t help the people they come across. He suggests it is a problem which needs to be given some thought so that systems can be created for mentally unwell people to be handled by the appropriate service best suited for their needs.
That evening Hamid Karzai, who leaves office in six month’s time, gave an exclusive recorded interview to Newsnight. He spoke confidently and independently I thought. He was critical of the western occupation of his country because of the pain it has caused his people. His citizens now need peace. He was relaxed about speaking with the Taliban on future arrangements. He was at his most animated when talking about Afghan women. He was sure, whatever happened with the Taliban, that their rights would be protected.
Allegra Stratton broke the news on Newsnight on Tuesday night, confirmed from two separate sources, that a sub committee of the Privy Council had rejected the editors’ version of a Royal Charter for future press regulation. That was entirely as expected but it has meant the airways have been full for the last two days of the parties, vehemently sometimes, putting forward their side of the argument. The Prime Minister has let it be known he would be extremely grateful if some form of compromise between the sides could be reached. Neither party will get what they want. However half a loaf is better than none at all. Once an initial platform has been built, improvements in line with the prevailing view can be added from there. People need to start thinking about more productive things.
The Chief Inspector of Prisons was on Today yesterday criticising Oakwood Prison in Warwickshire, opened in 2012 and the largest privately run jail in the UK. The operator is G4S. He said it is dangerous for prisoners, dangerous for staff and dangerous for the public in that no rehabilitation of prisoners takes place. Apparently drugs are easier to obtain there than soap. It is a good example of the weight of the Gang, for me, in an environment where they are able to be strong. You need to have experience and determination to ensure your practices shut out their scheming ways. It can be done but it is not for the faint hearted.
Immedediately after that Mark Mardell reported from Washington on their political impasse. All wars, physical or otherwise, have to have a peace settlement. I believe President Obama understands that very well. At some point, which I suspect he has thought about in advance, he will offer the Tea Party a face saving compromise to help them with their ill conceived tactic. Until then he is piling on the political prtessure for his party’s long term advantage. Today he referred to his opponents as extortionists.
Later Sir Howard Davies was cogently explaining how his airport commission has been trying to predict the future pattern of air travel taking into account all the variables and competition that might apply. So far they have concluded we will definitely need extra airport capacity in the south east.
The new MI5 chief made a speech at RUSI last night. There will obviously have been a reason for the timing but, with his trade, we are not going to be told what it was. It may be something to do with the piece on the 6.30am Radio 4 news saying the CIA are recalling some of it’s staff which had been laid off under the US government shutdown. It might have been involved with the Kent chief constable deciding to go. I do not know.
It appears to have been quite a low key, uncontroversial speech. He confirmed that our intelligence agencies have concerns about jihadists in the Syrian opposition who pose a real threat to our security. He said it is only practical for his staff to allocate intensive resources to a small number of cases at any one time. Overall he feels we are no less safe now than we have been in the past.
One criticism he did make was of the Edward Snowden leaks. That has produced a response from the Guardian editor who appeared on the World at One today. Mr Rusbridger feels a healthy, open public debate should be taking place in this country about the surveillance issues Edward has raised. He is surprised it is not happening. The Guardian will responsibly publish further public interest stories that arise from analysis of Edward’s files.
10th October 2013
At lunchtime Terror Through Time covered the start of the first world war. It was on 28th June 1914 that Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife were being driven through Sarajevo. Their carriage made a wrong turning. As it backed a nineteen year old man in a cafe walked out and shot them both dead. It seems Europe at that time was in a very unstable state of governance and allegiances. Subsequent events were probably not envisaged even by the plotters themselves. They were supported by a secret society, comprising Serbian military officers, called the Black Hand. It was formed in 1901 and wanted to unify all the territories where Slavic people predominantly lived.
Last October Thomas Orchard died in police custody in Exeter when he was being restrained across his face, to prevent spitting or biting, using an Emergency Response Belt. They are only supposed to be used around the body. I imagine Mr Orchard suffocated. Andy Davies was saying on Channel 4 News last night that a FoI request copy document has come into his possession informing him that Norfolk Constabulary used to use the technique as a matter of routine. They stopped the practice in November 2012 on the advice of ACPO.
Showing the benevolent nature of the UK I feel, on our suggestion, the former Liberian president Charles Taylor will serve his war crimes sentence, for assisting rebels in Sierra Leone, here. Finland, Rwanda and Sweden also offered. The government have said that the promotion of international justice is central to our foreign policy.
I don’t expect many people are aware, I certainly wasn’t, that the Conservatives won a landslide election victory in 1924. Saturday’s FT reports that historians feel the faked Zinoviev letter, published in the Daily Mail four days before the poll, had a lot to do with that result. It is amazing how public opinion can be manipulated.
On 21st August 2013 I suggested the Gang are strong in Holland. Whether that is a connection to a piece in the paper I am not sure but it is a possibility. Even though the Netherlands were only one of 16 countries with nationals on the recently seized Greenpeace ship, they have started procedings against Russian, in respect of their two citizens out of 30 on board, for illegal arrest. Provided everyone remains calm of course there is no need for relations between the two countries to become destabilised. There will be two weeks to talk it through before any application is made to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.
Later in the edition was an article penned by the Republican Newt Gingrinch on the current American government shutdown. He caused the same outcome against Bill Clinton in 1995 and 1996. What I find a little chilling about the piece is how he looks upon today’s situation as no more than a negotiating tactic; a roll of dice in some sort of game. Not once does he mention the suffering being caused to many members of the American public.
It appears a secret camera was placed ouside the cell of Ariel Castro. A BBC webpage says this evening that video footage shows guards falsified written records they were checking him every half hour just before he died last month. The possibility has been suggested that he accidentiall killed himself while conducting erotic asphyxiation. Wikipedia informs me that is obtaining sexual arousal from restricting oxygen supply to your brain. In the late 1990s I employed a young secretary whose male friend apparently died in the same sort of way. She received a phone call informing her in the office one afternoon. She was extremely upset and had to go home.
I feel the Gang decided to express their displeasure today at the Libyan government allowing American special forces to apprehend that al-Qaeda man in Tripoli on Saturday. They persuaded one of the armed groups who effectively control the country to capture the Prime Minister from a hotel. Fortunately another group, favourable to him, made a rescue a few hours later. Apparently Libya is thought to have more firearms outside of state control than anywhere else in the world. The government is impotent. We will be training some government militiamen later at Libya’s expense, as will Italy, France, Turkey and others.
The BBC Kent TV news last night said that Ian Learmonth wishes to reflect when he leaves in January. I hope he does something good.
The Organisation for the prohibition of Chemical Weapons said yesterday that it is making adequate progress in Syria. It has completed inspections at one site with 20 to go. It calls for a ceasefire between the sides so it can keep to it’s tight timetable.
All non-UK citizens entering and leaving this country are supposed to be recorded. That would help our security as we would know who is here and who not. It has enabled the police to make many arrests of foreign criminals which would not otherwise have been achieved. However it was reported yesterday that the system is failing in many respects. Only two thirds of port passenger movements are being documented and many records have been lost. The Chief Inspector of Borders says the UK Border Agency needs to up it’s game. Perhaps that would make a good first job for Norman Baker.
Today yesterday had a discussion about Andrew Parker’s speech the night before. One contributor was a man from RUSI. I thought he had a complacent air. He seemed to feel MI5 are doing a super job and it is not fair to question that too much. He even told John Humprys he thought he was asking him the wrong question. Not a wise thing to do.
Mishal Husain started with Today on Monday. It was as though she has always been with them. Earlier it was a girl’s morning. Misha and Sarah Montague were presenting, Alison Mitchell was on the sports desk. Theresa May joined them at ten past eight.
Early in the programme Gordon Corera said that during the day yesterday he had conducted an interview with the deputy director of the NSA who was in London dealing with matters of cyber security. That could also be a connection for Mr Parker’s evening speech.
The programme covered as well the news that America is suspending part of it’s $1.3 billion military aid package to Egypt. The delivery of some helicopters, missiles and tank spares will be frozon. The States want a sign of credible progress towards free and fair elections.
Towards the end of the broadcast a piece reported that eight of our largest construction companies are setting up a compensation fund under the Consulting Association affair. They accept it was wrong to single out individuals for their views of conscience and want to make amends. They deny that they were responsible for the blacklisting action themselves.
A news bulletin passed on that it has been found British tobacco companies are deliberately over supplying their product to some areas of Europe, sometimes by as much as 240%. The excess is smuggled back here by Organised Crime. The chair of the Commons Public Accounts Committee says it is almost as if HMRC are part of the conspiracy. They should be collecting £10 billion of tax on imported tobacco but are only picking up £8 billion.
Tom Feilden went off to Gravesend in north Kent to ascertain people’s views about the effects of immigration on the NHS. He positioned himself outside a doctor’s surgery I myself used to visit once every three weeks or so during last autumn and summer. He received some competently argued pessimistic views. One man said it was not a great place to live any more. Tom asked if he meant Gravesend or England. The man thought for a moment and then replied, both.
11th October 2013
On 3rd July 2012 the reserve Formula 1 racing driver, Maria de Villota, was injured when driving a test car in Cambridgeshire. She lost an eye. Yesterday she was found dead in a hotel room in Seville, Spain.
I have just listened to an insert on a BBC webpage of Evan Davis interviewing the leader of the Communication Workers Union about the Royal Mail privatisation on this morning’s Today programme. Evan was not confrontational in any way yet made the points he thought should be made, I feel, in the natural flow of questioning. I think that is exactly the way to do it.
In the edition Mark Mardell reported that the two political paties in America seem to have at last started to talk seriously on splitting their differences. As President Obama had said he would not talk under duress or on the basis he would pay a ransom I feel it could be said the Republicans blinked first. The Grand Old Party have conceded they will agree to a temporary lifting of the debt ceiling whilst not necessarily tying that to any change in Obamacare.
It seems the Americans may have been checking the private lives of some of their top military staff in charge of nuclear weapons. A BBC webpage relates this afternoon that on Wednesday a Navy admiral was dismissed due, it is thought, to his illegal gambling. Then today the Air Force general in charge of long range nuclear missiles has gone due to a loss of trust and confidence in him. No reason has been given for that.
Possibly afer the Guardian editor’s remarks on Wednesday there has been more comment on the Edward Snowden story today. A BBC webpage informs me Nick Clegg has said the leaks are damaging, Vince Cable that they have peformed a considerably public service and David Cameron that he thinks the present oversight of the security services is adequate. However the Prime Minister has left the door open by commenting he is prepared to listen to any observations which are made. I have heard some poeple say they would like to see a Royal Commission look into how our intelligence agencies operate. I had not realised but the 2013 Justice and Security Act not only allows the Commons Intelligence and Security Committee to obtain requested information from our intelligence services but it’s staff can also inspect their offices and records themselves if they feel it warranted.
The former head of GCHQ says it is catastrophic that Russia and China also probably now have our secrets and knows how we got them. Jack Straw has accused the Guardian of being indulgently irresponsible. Then earlier The World at One had a series of discussions involving former staff of MI6 and GCHQ and the chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee itself.
12th October 2013
I hope no one needs convincing anymore that we have some horrible people out there. Since the boat sinking last week within sight of the Lampedusa coast there have been two further swampings of refugee boats and the rescuing from little craft of at least 500 people. The other island between Africa and mainland Europe is Malta. Since last week it’s prime minister has oviously decided he has something he wants to say. After the latest sinking yesterday he has commented Matla feels abandoned by the rest of Europe. The waters around his country are a graveyard and we are all looking the other way. He and the Italian prime minister are going to read the riot act at the next EU summit at the end of this month in Brussels.
I use the concept of rings in my book when thinking about human relationships. I think I wanted to infer the strength of that boundary which keeps a group together. I reckon Mr Cameron has wanted the media to come onto his ring over the last few days to set up new press regulation. If they would have been prepared to agree to something that would have created a ring boundary. However they obviously refused so yesterday Maria Miller announced a government regulation system that will now be brought in by Royal Charter. At least the three political parties are in a solid group on the issue. Several concessions are there to reflect the stated objections of the bunch on the outside.
To be honest I am quite shocked at the lack of trust key press leaders show. It seems to be blinding them to sensible options. The outcome, it seems to me, is that the weak, the man in the street, could suffer terribly at any point. I do feel they are being manipulated by hidden men who do not like them, or us, very much. We all have to live by the rule of law imperfect though that may be. Politicians make laws, not journalists. That essential starting point should be recognised I believe. Journalists do not have a monopoly on acting appropiately and fairly towards other people in preference to everyone else.
Mr Dacre has broken his silence this morning by writing in the Mail and Guardian. He refers to the BBC as being his paper’s bette noir. He alleges the corporation have been extremely prejudiced against the Mail when reporting the Ralph Miliband story. I am a keen follower of BBC news output. I have detected no bias whatsoever. Mr Dacre has been invited for interview many times by the BBC but still declines the offer. That of course is his right. Yet it seems to me his paper acts in a highly political manner. Politics should be left to the politicians as the BBC recognises.
A car left the track at the Regency Stages Rally today taking place at the Bath and West Showground near Shepton Mallet in Somerset. Four spectators were hurt. A member of the ambulance service said it could have been a lot, lot worse.
I don’t think anyone would have believed Maria de Villota committed suicide. She obviously still loved life too much. Her family have been told she died due to neurological reasons arisng from her accident.
Banking should be a dull, boring business. You decide who is responsible enough for you to lend money to and then make sure they pay their instalments on time. That point was made on Today this morning in relation to Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan. An FT journalist was saying she was not sure whether to call him a geekish thug or a thuggish geek. He is an enigma. In the spring of 2008 his bank was encouraged to take over Bear Stearns when they had a lot of fraudelent loans on their books. Regulators and others are now looking for revenge and they want him to be the hit man. If he survives he might well be the last of his breed.
13th October 2013
I wasn’t going to write about the current cyclone in India, the most powerful in a decade. We all have to move on and I think I have written enough about weather events. However it is interesting to read a BBC webpage this morning that only five people have so far died from the storm’s effects. I think that will be down to the Indian government not putting it’s head in the sands about what was about to happen. It put it’s hand in it’s pocket and made available sufficient funds to protect it’s citizens. With the knowledge I suspect it has I feel that was the right thing to do. Up to one million people left or were evacuated from their homes in high risk areas before the winds came. It must have been a massive operation.
I heard a former Met Police detective speak about Madeline McCann on a radio news bulletin this morning. He said he was sure there is someone out there who knows what happened and specifically talked about a falling out or failed relationship between people. Although it is only a guess that could mean MI5 know where Madeline currently is. However they live in a world of hidden secrets just as much as the Gang do. If they tell us they would also presumably have to say how they found out. And of course there is absolutely no way things like that could be revealed to people as silly as us. Ideally they would like someone else who does know the story to spill the beans. If I am right, and it doesn’t work, perhaps they will go into plan B mode. But then again I could be way off beam. Time will tell.
This is essentially not my story to tell. I am not prepared to breach the privacy of someone close to me. It is a difficult situation for the same sort of reasons I relate in my note of 13th September 2013. I would not want the family of Maria de Villota to know what I am just about to write. It would not be fair. Yet I feel it should be recorded. It keeps up the pressure on the Gang Master. I hope therefore you will forgive the round about way I tell it.
On 14th July 2012 I went in a group to a prearranged activity event. I was worried about it. I sent a fax to the Prime Minister on 4th July asking for his help. As we walked into the reception building there were two men outside, managers of the site I suspect. They were doing something they were explicitly asked by MI5 staff they shouldn’t but they are human and not in the public eye. They were intrigued to see who we were. Because of that observation I believe Mr Cameron did what he could to protect us. I am extremely, extremely grateful to him. He is a good man. We all had an enjoyable time.
The Gang will have had full knowledge of eveything that went on then. Maria had her accident on 3rd July 2012. She could have been killed. Last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday I had exchanges of emails with someone close to me. Something positive might come from them, or it might not. I have no way of knowing. Neither does the Gang Master. It is up to others, not him and not me. But what is absolutely certain is that he should not gratuitously be damaging innocent people’s lives for no useful purpose wahtsoever. Yet on 11th October 2013 Maria did ultimately die.
Other than in normal conversation I did not speak specifically to the person close to me about Maria’s accident. I shall not say anything about her death. The person concerned, in my opinion, is not yet strong enough to take such knowlege into their conscious mind. The Gang Master though will have recorded the events, and their timings, away in his files. When he wants to have a bit of fun I have little doubt he will see that everything is revealed to the person close to me. I can only pray that when that time comes the person is hardy enough to take it.
The positive thing though, from my point of view, is that I believe it is probably the biggest mistake the Gang Master has made to date. I hope any investigative journalist worth his or her salt would soon be able to establish that it is highly unlikely Maria could have so unexpectedly died for the reasons some doctors are currently saying.
The MI was shut in both directions for just over an hour at about 6am this morning when a man threatened to commit suicide by jumping off a bridge. Police negotiators talked him down when he was arrested on suspicion of causing a public nuisance.
Last Tuesday’s FT reported that the chief of the Pakistani army has decided to retire at the end of November. Prime Minister Sharif will choose his successor fron one of the army senior lieutenants. The significance of the news is that in the past it has tended to be the military who have been in charge of the country, by coups or otherwise. Today they are still extremely important because of the fight against the Taliban. But the consensus view seems to be growing that it should be the politicians who are ultimately in charge.
14th October 2013
Four men were arrested at three London addresses last night by counter terrorism Metropolitan Police, in a pre-planned intelligence led operation. An eye witness walking past one address at the time has kindly spoken to the BBC. He said it seemed a calm, professionally run operation. The majority of the officers thought were in plain clothes with police caps on their heads which they no doubt had put on for the occassion. As an enquiring citizen I would naturally like to know a bit more about those men.
I am a member of Shared Interest Society. From reading their quarterly newsletter this morning I understand there is currently a roya, or coffee leaf rust fungus, epidemic in Central America. The disease destoys the plants and has been recorded for the last 20 years without being a great problem. However that started to change in 2008. Since the beginning of this year the affliction has spread expotentially causing coffe production to drop by 20% and the loss of over 440,000 jobs. National emergencies have been declared in Costa Rica, Nicararugua, Guatemala, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic.
Vicky Pyce has been speaking to the BBC this morning, and there is a corporation webpage, about her eight month sentence served in Holloway jail. She said one of the most important things for her was to remain strong for her children whom she knew would be worried for her. She said that although crime generally has gone down, women prisoners increased by 27% between 2000 and 2010. She thinks that is a waste of money. It would be far better for them and us if they were punished in the community without being separated from their family support. Even so she said she has made many long lasting good friends from her time inside.
George Osborne is in China at the moment with Boris Johnson on a trade mission. He spoke to Today from there this morning. He asked, I felt, that we should not look upon ourselves as better than the Chinese. In fact their civilisation is far longer than ours. Their culture and political system is very different to what we are used to. It has known faults. They are having a fast changing conversation with themselves to sort those aspects out.
On the America debt crisis Mr Osborne said he travelled to Bejing from Washington where he had been speaking to the Republican leader John Boehner and Treasury Secretay Jack Lew. He said those two men are fully aware the world is watching them closely and wants them to find a successful compromise to their current debt issues.
Sarah Montague cut into her weekend to travel to the Hague to interview the head of the OPCW for that edition. He said it was a great fillip for his team to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. And he asked for local ceasefires to be arranged between the sides to make it safer for his staff to visit some weapons sites.
I wrote about a just missed 1961 nuclear weapons accident on 21st September 2013. There was an author on the broadcast saying that was one of many close shaves during the Cold War. On the particular North Carolina incident he says a signal was sent to detonate the bomb when it reached the ground. It only failed because of that fourth switch which e said as faulty. He also mentioned the Damascus, Arkansas accident in 1980. There an engineer dropped his wrench onto the rocket holding the nuclear bomb in it’s launch pod. The skin of the missile was broken and fuel escaped. Ultimately there was an explosion and the bomb was thow into the air landing 100 feet away. Fortunately it did not explode. The man doesn’t understand why our discussion in this country about our Trident nuclear missile programme is so superficial. It should be about how we see our future, not whether we have three nuclear submarines or four. We should be having a grown up discussion about what nuclear weapons themesleves are for and what we want to do with them.
In a business section of the programme there was a discussion about whistleblowers. The contributor was saying what a massive step it is to snitch on things that are going on around you when everyone else seems to accept them. The government apparently is thinking about introducing finacial incentives for the practice as they have in America and which is much more successful at it than us.
Owen Paterson has given an interview to the Independent about genetically modified golden rice. It is full of vitamen A which is needed for a healthy body. Between 140 amd 250 million children under five around the world do not get enough of it. Mr Paterson called the opponents of golden rice wicked because they condemn some innocent people to early death. He explained he felt extremely strongly about the subject. I feel it is perfectly acceptable to use exteme words on a subject for which you have a passion. The only condition is that you must be absolutely genuine. Others will give you leeway if you are.
I have just watched the Crimewatch programme on Madeline McCann. I think my speculation yesterday was, and wasn’t, correct. Overall I am afraid I am pessimistic. The programme seemed to me to be quite openly saying Madeline’s abduction was an Organised Crime operation prepared over several weeks beforehand. I had employed Gang operatives around me on 12th July 2007, the day I went to Kent Police headquarters, and the weeks immediately afterwards. Since then however the Gang have got their act together and I have only seen Gang helpers. The professionals in Portugal, it seems likely to me, took her down to the harbour in an anaesthetised state where she was put on a boat. Only the pilot will know where he took her. From that point of view therefore I cannot see the police investigation getting anywhere. The only hope, I feel, is that someone along her route of travel or at her final destination is prepared to do the right thing. I don’t really think it is very likely MI5 will have any particular intelligence about that.
Channel 4 News covered the terrorist related arrests last night. The said it was a joint MI5-Met Police operation. There was comment from both Jane Deith and Simon Israel. My feeling is that they had different sources. She said the suspected terrorists had been watched for two years and had recently come into a six figure sum of money. With that they were going to buy weapons for a a Mumbai style shooting incident. Simon Israel generally agreed but referred to his sources as being cautious in what they wanted to say to him. I wonder if they were from MI6.
Just before turning my computer off I have watched a webpage clip of Barack Obama talking about the American debt problem. What impresses me at the momemt is how he is calmly and consistently saying the same thing over and over again, using equally eloquent words each time. He knows he is right, he has the people on his side and it is giving him confidence. He says that elections are the proper way to sort out political differences. What politicans musn’t do in between is make the people suffer just because they don’t like their opponents’ views.
15th October 2013
I heard an interesting phrase on one of Fergal Keane’s Terror Through Time programmes at lunchtime. Once you have them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow. Apparently Chuck Colson, chief counsel to Richard Nixon had the motto framed on the wall of his office. It is certainly how the Gang see the world I would say.
We do live in a strange world. There has been an almighty row today bewtween politicians and police over the Andrew Mitchell plebgate affair. Not for any particular reason as far as I can see except that a statement was issued by the Deputy Chair of the Independent Police Complaints Commission saying that in her opinion three officers from the Police Federation were less than honest with statements they made after meeting with Mr Mitchell three weeks after the incident. Over the last few weeks I suspect our democratic representatives have realised how one of them was properly set up last year though Gang manipulation. They are not happy about it. The IPCC comments were just the cover they needed. That is fine. I have no objection at all. However they should be careful, in my view, not to vilify the three officers in the same way that Mr Mitchell was vilified. One thing you can be sure about, the officers are analogous to monkeys, not organ grinders.
David Davis was om Channel 4 News this evening talking about the situation in support of Mr Mitchell, his friend. I thought he spoke with passion and reason and not in any form of over the top way.
Two days of talks started in Geneva today between Iran, America, Russia, China, Britain, Germany and France, hosted by Catherine Ashton. The first session commenced with Iran’s foreign minister giving an hour long Power Point presentation of where were Iran would like to get to. It seems no one in the room had any great objections to that approach.
John Humprys has family connections to Greece I think and he has been presenting recorded reports from there for the last two mornings. The inability of some to be able to think clearly was shown by one incident in the street when John was told he was a Nazi by some Golden Dawn supporters simply because he is a jounalist who wanted to question them. Then the challenging assertion was made to him that we Brits could never have put up with the pain the Greek people have been through. We do not have the close family structures their society has. We would have fallen apart.
Charlotte Church, now 27, has given the annual John Peel lecture on BBC radio about her experience of the entertainment industry when she was a late teenager. Nothing was ever said openly but she was encouraged, mainly by middle aged men, to flaunt and uncover her body as much as possible. Every conceivable argument seems to have been used to her including how tasteful it all was. Everything that is except the real reason. They had no respect for her and thought it would make them lots of money. To her great credit she had enough true emotion to continue to feel uncomfortable about it. When you are that age though, I suggest it is nearly impossible to resist an overwhelming industry, or gang, view like that.
16th October 2013
I do not think the timing of publication of this story is a coincidence. However it is a private matter. For the moment at least saying any more will not move us forward at all, in my opinion, from where we currently are.
BBC News have revealed this morning they have sent FoI requests to 53 of England’s 58 mental health trusts. From the 46 replies they are aware that in 2011/12 NHS beds available for mental patients were reduced by 9%. One of the country’s leading psychiatrists, Dr Martin Baggaley the medical director of the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust, has said that our mental health services are unsafe and in crisis.
In relation to that story I see that Norman Lamb has said the situation is unacceptable. Mr Lamb is the Lib Dem Minister for Care and Support under Jeremy Hunt in the Department of Health. I wrote about Mr Lamb on 9th September 2013. I think perhaps, because he is not a member of the majority party, he feels unconstrained when talking about things which are obviously wrong but he cannot do anything about. If that is right it shows, I fear, that politicians are not quite as powerful as they would sometimes have us believe.
A BBC Kent webpage reports this morning that metal thefts in the county have more than halved in the first eight months of this year. The Scrap Metal Dealers Act is now in force. Prior to that firms in the county were operating various voluntary schemes.
It was PMQs in the Commons today. I have not seen any exchanges between the leaders publicised but I am aware the Prime Minister used the session to state that Andrew Mitchell is owed an apology by the police and that the Guardian compromised national security when it wrote about the Edward Snowden files. One argument Mr Cameron used was that the Guardian knew they were in the wrong because they agreed to destroy their own set of files when asked. I don’t think I would agree with that though. My reading of the situation was that the newspaper wanted to cool the situation. It did that by agreeing to the dogmatic request knowing there were plenty of other copies in existence.
I heard Mark Mardell say on the radio this morning that the Republicans have lost. It is just now a question of negotiating their terms of surrender. Later in the day the news came through that Senate members have agreed to increase the debt limit until 7th February 2014 and fund government operations until 15th January. That will allow further longer term negotiations to take place. It is not quite the end of it however. The Bill now has to go down to the Republican led House of Representatives for ratification. They will reject it at their peril.
A man serving a 28 year sentence for murder walked out of a London mental health unit without permission this afternoon. East London NHS Foundation Trust said they were reviewing their security arrangements as a matter of urgency.
I have never been to Australia but I understand motorbike gangs are strong there. The BBC reported yesterday that the state of Queensland is going to introduce tough laws to try and break their effects on society. Members will be prevented from gathering in groups in public and from owning tatoo parlours. They will have their own dedicated prison for law breakers. It is hoped to break their gang spirit so that normal citizens can live in peace.
Theresa May was a key player in the Andrew Mitchell story yesterday. I heard on Yesterday in Parliament on Today this morning that her appearance before the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee was a long standing engagement. It is remarkably coincidental then that it fell at the same time Deborah Glass from the IPCC released her statement.
A Welshman is head of the EU law enforcement agency. He was saying on the broadcast how his organisation have discovered a new way that Organised Crime steal containers holding cocaine and heroin coming in from South America to the port of Antwerp in Belgium. They go onto the dark web and find computer nerds who are willing to hack into computer systems monitoring the movement of containers and make them disappear. The gangs then drive in and physically take them away. He says that the combination of criminals and willing hackers is a frightening combination.
In my experience Sir Hugh Orde only makes himself available to appear on programmes such as Today if there is a message he wishes to relay. This morning I feel he wanted to pass on some of his past experience from his time in Northern Ireland. Each police force has their own professional standards department. But it is difficult for any organisation to objectively investigate itself. Mr Orde was not particularly complimentary about the IPCC who perhaps, in the past at least, have had rather a symbiotic relationship with their uniformed colleagues. He suggested there should a be completely independent regulator such as the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland. With his new political insight I suspect, he qualified that by saying it would be an expensive option.
Life is politics I am afraid. Another item showing that was about how some African politicians currently see the International Criminal Court. With the trial of Uhuru Kenyatta to start in The Hague next month questions are being asked about whether he should be with his voters trying to sort out the problems they elected him to solve. That of course comes down to your confidence in, and operation of, the rule of law, international in this case.
17th October 2013
Israel and the Palestinians are currently in peace talks. Quite correctly in my view thay are being conducted in privacy. Last Thursday’s FT reports that Israel has given it’s backing to development of the Marine gasfield in waters off the Gaza Strip belonging to the Palestinian Territories. That will give business investors the confidence to procede. In due course the fuel will enable power stations to be built both for palestinian electricity security and to allow heavy industry projects to arise.
In Chapter 4 of my book I relate what a bizzare situation I described to a kind lady police officer I met at Kent Police headquarters on 6th July 2007. I met her again six days later. I said the Gang knew I knew what they knew and they did not mind at all. It took me literally years though to work out why that made sense. Their world is all about intelligence. They will always know more than you. So, although cover is needed for them to act on that intelligence, they know that one day it will come along enabling them to strike a devastating blow.
That scenario came into my mind when I read the editorial in the paper. It implies that Andrew Parker’s speech two day’s before was defensive. Edward Snowden has leaked tens of thousands of American and British secret files. Perhaps it is not the point that the Gang always knew what they contained. As long as they can plan a route for some of them to find their way say to the Russian or Chinese security services it will give them very effective camouflage for carrying out some wicked acts. Nevertheless the fact remains that if we didn’t have all those secrets in the first place there would be no possibility of the Gang taking advantage of them.
There is an article in that paper saying that Ken Clarke is the government’s anti-corruption man. He might well have been involved then in deciding that going forward the Home Office will be the coordinating department in the field bringing together intelligence from the new NCA, DFID, the Cabinet Office and the SFO.
On the same page mention is made that, following the MI5 chief’s speech, David cameron would quite like to get the data communications bill back in the starting blocks. I wrote about that measure on 11th November 2012.
Friday’s paper informs me that cross party concensus was in the process of being achieved on press regulation through discussions between Maria Miller, Harriett Harman and Lord Wallace.
Mr Netanyahu gave an FT interview in that edition. I feel he is genuinely worried that the Iranians are leading us down the garden path in some way. He cannot bring himself to give them the benefit of the doubt.
Philip Stephens was suggesting in his piece that quite a few countries in the world have reason to be unhappy with America at the moment. China with testy trade talks and because the value of it’s debt to the country could fall overnight. Then nearly every stable country in the Middle East because of the weaving way Mr Obama is handling Syria and Iran. We are living through a period of rapid change in my view. It is a time for holding your nerve. You can’t expect to ever get anywhere in life without taking a certain amount of risk.
In the event the House of Representatives did pass the American debt bill easily last night our time. The considered view is that the whole chapter has made America look pretty silly and the Republican party even more so. John Boehner has commented that his side fought the good fight. They just didn’t win. We will see what pans out next January and February.
On his last day in China George Osborne has announced that, with his blessing, China will be contributing to our nuclear power industry. The first announcement could come as early as next week. The Chancellor has also confirmed he welcomes the Chinese technology company Huawei’s investment here. They are hoping to nearly double their number of UK employees by 2017.
I havn’t mentioned it before but one of the new free schools introduced after the last general election and championed by Michael Gove has been in the news recently. It is a mixed gender Muslim school in Derby which has been open for a year. One allegation is that boys and girls are not treated equally. Because of concerns I think, it had an early Ofsted inspection on 1st Ocboer 2013. It was immediately closed for a week due, the headmaster said, to health and safelty reasons. The Ofsted report has now been leaked and the school is put in the lowest of each of four assessed categories. It’s management is described as dysfunctional and it’s govenors as ineffectual. My guess is that some strong personalities have been getting their way more than they should. Interestingly parents seem to be very supportive of the teachers. The establishment has been put into special measures.
I recall some commentators said when it was announced Mishal Hussian would be joining Today that there would not be enough work for all six of them. One of the old presenters would have to go. On the contrary I suspect the programme has has a budget increase. This morning Evan Davis was a third anchor reporting from Washington on resolution of the American debt crisis. Simon Jack has been there all week reporting on the views of American financiers.
Keith Starmer was on the programme, and Channel 4 News, explaining there has been a fundamental shift in the way his office, the CPS, and fellow agencies view victims of sex abuse. Previously there was an ingrained cultural hardness towards them. People just went through the processes and ticked their boxes. It seems victims were hardly looked upon as real people. In some cases thoughts were openly expressed that they must have brought their own troubles on themselves. In future Mr Starmer will see that attitude no longer applies.
It was gratifying the public were cited as of primary consideration at two points on the 7am Radio 4 news this morning. Firstly Mr Obama said that politicians must not again inflict harm on the American people in their own squabbles as they have done for the last two weeks. Secondly when talking about the Derby free school, Ofsted said it had failed the pupils’ parents who had placed their trust in it.
A person I have always admired intently is Sir David Attenborough. He has a gift of explaining, in such simple easy to follow terms, how the compexities of nature work. His programme Triumph of the Vertebrates was on after Newsnight last night. I was tired but I watched it for a few moments. He was looking at some extremely well preserved fossils. He thought it important to share how that came about. Normally when a creature dies on the sea floor and decomposes it is only the hard bits, the bone and shell, that make an impression in the mud which later turns to rock. At this particular location though the whole body was preserved leaving the most detailed imprints. A lot of presenters I feel would have thought the end result is the only important thing. For me though it is marvellous to understand how such things came about. Somehow it gives you an insight into the world; confidence in what goes on around you. It isn’t really that complicated after all. Mr Attenborugh has a great depth of understanding. He puts it in bite sized bits so it is easy to see. He wants you to know as much as he does.
18th October 2013
I had a bit of a challenging day on Wednesday both privately and with another email I wanted to get off. What really threw me a think was that I couldn’t get my my fax modem, which I use to fax a page to myself and create PDF file from it, to work. I eventually created my attachment another way and the second email went late afternoon. It was confidential too although I did copy it to a small group of jurnalists for their information. I made a silly mistake in it which I later had to correct. I did much the same thing by quoting a wrong date in an email I sent during the day on Monday which I noticed in the evening. I decided to leave that. I am sure people will understand.
The Wednesday email I suspect caused the Metropolitan Poilce to visit a prominant Muslim in this country in the late evening to warn him they had received a credible threat from al-Shabab against his safety. Other Muslims have also been spoken to. The advice is associated with a threatening video which has been posted on the internet in which individual British citizens are named. The Jihadists apparently are upset about remarks made by the named men in response to the murder of Lee Rigby.
I think it was very brave of Jeremy Hunt to say today it should be a matter of national shame that we have as many as 800,000 people amongst us who live in total loneliness and isolation. He said the Chinese, where his wife comes from, do it much better than us. Sometimes I worry that people don’t appear to like being told the truth. But unless it happens we will never better ourselves.
It is reported this afternoon that Saudi Arabia is refusing it’s chance to take up one of the 10 rotating seats on the UN Security Council which become available every two years. They blame the UN itself for their decision. They are not happy with how it is working. However you don’t better something by walking away. I feel the real reason is because they don’t wish to take any responsibility in deciding difficult decisions affecting governence of the world.
19th October 2013
Earlier this week Greek police found a roughly four year old blonde, Nordic looking, girl living with a Roma family in their country. A man and woman claimed she was their child which seemed highly unlikely. The authorities are investigating to see where the little one belongs. Kate and Gerry McCann say the case gives them hope that Madeline might be found one day.
A piece in last Saturday’s FT was looking into the press regulation story. Although the Independent is openly supportive of the politicians’ plans their editor says there is absolutly no point in him joining the new body if he is the only one.
The paper says Ukraine is likely to release Yulia Tymoshenka from prison so she can have medical treatment abroad. It is supected the opposition leader was taken to court and convicted on trumped up charges. Not that the government are doing that out of the goodness of their hearts though, the paper suggests. They want to become closer to the EU and we have told them they must mend their ways first.
An article on the same page writes about a gentleman called Zhou Yongkang. He is a 70 year old Chinese politician with, apparently, a comprehensive list of friends in commerce, the military and security forces. Bo Xilai, now in jail, was a close political ally. I imagine Mr Zhou is suspected of being corrupt. He is a high ranking official, being on the nine man committee of the government’s ruling politburo. However it seems likely he will not be there much longer.
I heard on the news yesterday that Edward Snowden has, wisely I feel, clarified his position to the New York Times. He says he gave away all his files to journalists, without any Chinese connections, in Hong Kong and has not kept any copies. That means of course that the Russians have no details from him either. He says he looks upon himself as a whistleblower who has acted in the public interest. From a clip on a BBC webpage I see his father has just come back from visiting him in Russia where he is relaxed and happy. Mr Snowden senior says he will ensure he is a good father to his son. In the meantime there is a lot of work for him himself to do on American soil. Simon Caldwell writes about Edward in last Saturday’s FT. He says opinion makers worldwide are uncertain what to say about him, so they tend to remain silent. They are unsure what the judgement of history will be. I feel that is probably wise of them as well.
A report in Monday’s FT says the Environment Agency have an uphill battle at the moment dealing with illegal tipping. The costs of legal disposal are rising all the time and there is also a landfill tax to pay. So it is not difficult for the Gang to persuade suseptible men to go into the illegal disposal business. It is just the kind of operation they love as customer and provider both get tarred with the brush of criminality. Just under 1300 clandestine sites were closed last year. Some waste is put into black plastic sacks and left on farmer’s land. Then empty warehouses are identified and filled with rubbish. Thankfully the problem is something Kent County Council are pretty hot on around here.
Tony Blair is involved in the discussions between Palestinians and Israelis. As reported in yesterday’s FT he says it is a question of two steps forward and one step back but even so he hopes an economic plan for the Palestinian economy will be ready soon.
I have used the services of the IPCC, as I go through in my book. I must say I had not realised it’s role is to supervise the police investigating themselves but that is what today’s FT says. Nick Herbert has called for the body to either become a truly independent regulator or be abolished. I expect Sir Hugh Orde would agree with him.
The paper also relates that currently there are six categories of security marking for sensitive government documents. From next April that will be reduced to three, official, secret and top secret.
It may be only be a toe in the water approach but the paper does pick up on a report issued by the Oxford Martin Commission For Future Generations. The world is changing so rapidly now we do need to think about how up and coming countries, institutions and companies can come together to look forward to make future times better for us all. No one is going to have any answers for all that but there is no reason why we shouldn’t at least start to talk about it.
I think the BBC is in good hands with Tony Hall as Director General. He writes a cogent, forceful piece in that issue, in my opinion. Essentially the corporation is a facilitator of good values whether it be with collaborators or it’s influence on competitors. It therefore has a good effect on our society. It is a catalyst, an innovator and provides a benchmark for others to aspire to. It makes sound strategic decisions such as encouraging urban regeneration through siting of it’s own physical locations. If it were not for the BBC we would not have Freeview available to us today.
20th October 2013
There is a BBC webpage online this morning saying JP Morgan are to be fined £8 billion for selling finincial derivative instruments secured on supposedly risk free moartages. In fact they knew a good number of the borrowers were likely to default. It seems that business, no doubt also conducted by other companies and on a truly massive scale, was one of the most important reasons for the global finincial crash.
An interesting aspect of the American debt negotiations I feel was the reaction through it all of the fiancial markets. They were not spooked at all. They knew it would all work out fine. People in that world I suspect view the hidden influence of the Gang much more than most. They saw, in that situation, the Master did not have the power to cause havoc as he has done in the past.
PM on Friday played a clip of the Prime Minister speaking on BBC Radio Sussex about the potential conflicts between cyclists, especially large groups of them, and motorists on the roads of Sussex and Surrey. I suspect he has received information from his intelligence services that it is becoming a real problem in the two counties. Emotions are becoming frayed. In such situations hot tempered people start to do silly things. The motorists of course, in their metal boxes, will be alright. It is the unprotected cyclists who will come off worse. It would be marvellous if they could see the reality of that basic point but I expect they can’t. Perhaps they think they can defy the laws of nature. Anyway I think the Prime Minister, who I believe is very aware of his responsibilities, was doing his best to calm things down.
Sunday Worship on Radio 4 this morning came from Hereford Cathedral. I imagine it must be the worst nightmare of live broadcasters that your microphones suddenly fail without warning. That is what happened here. When the transmission started you could just here the Dean talking somewhere in the distance. The professionals must have a real challenge in that situation. They must rectify the position as urgently as possible but should not panic the ignorant members of the public around them. They must move quickly but give the aura of focused authority as they scurry around. They had it all sorted out by the end of the first hymn.
In one sense the Gang are unpolitical. They hate us all if we do not see things their way. That of course puts us at an immediate disadvantage. Nature made us to have different values and perspectives so we will always fragment into various groups. That is entirely as it should be but I do feel we should try and coalesce in a bipartisan way on the really important things. Those are not subjects where we should play silly politics.
Energy supply seems to be one such category. As the Archbishop of Canterbury has said in a newspaper interview this morning the power companies have us where they want us in many respects because we have to buy from them. If they choose to act in a cartel like, non competitive fashion there is little we can do except become anxious about rising prices. I suspect power supply is the historic home of the Gang and, as I mentioned on 25th September 2013, their perceived threat to that power base resulted in 9/11. But you will never sort a problem out properly unless you grasp the nettle. I think that is what Mr Milliband wanted to do at his party conference. The Gang’s response has been the price increases which started coming though last week. It is just something we have to work through together.
The BBC passed on on Friday a think tank report that our armed forces are being picked on in that they are experiencing a deluge of legal claims, mainly based on the proposition that they are not looking after our troops properly. Legal action from the relatives of dead soldiers and the like cost the MoD less than £70 million in 2008/9. The budget for this year is £130 million.
Newsnight reported last week that one of the killed gunmen in the Kenyan shopping centre attack was Norwegian. His Somali family moved there as refugees in 1999 and he went back to Somalia in 2009. Apparently he phoned his family this summer. He said he was in some sort of trouble and wanted to return home.
Today on Friday had two particular pieces consecutively scheduled. The first was on a human being’s tendency, or otherwise, to interrupt. A witty montage of Today presenters doing just that was played. Next a researcher was due to tell us how sleep allows the brain to physically remove toxins from within it which have been built up by our thoughts during the day. Except the lady never came through from her Danish studio. Justin Webb said perhaps lack of sleep, causing people to interupt others, would make a useful research project for a student to carry out.
There was an American journalist on a business section of the programme saying the three S’s, Snowden, Syria and Shutdown have reduced America’s standing in the world. However before we start gloating he points out that America is now the biggest oil producer in the world and the largest producer of calories for foodstuffs. If they want they can be as isolationist as they wish. However the States also hold the world’s reserve currency. We probably need them much more that they need us.
On a different note he cited how stable the financial markets were thoughout the shutdown. Some het up Republicans might have thought they could hold others to ransom but sensible people could always see, with the correct handling, they were never going to get anywhere. Money men have built up a certain amount of confidence.
I heard a lady on the 8.10am slot on Today yesterday who was responsible for the appropriate people finding out about what was going on in 2011 at the Orchid View care home near Crawley in West Sussex. She was just an office worker there but became uncomfortable when she was asked to shred records which would have shown how a resident died. Over months she asked her managers to act upon the poor care she was beginning to see. They did nothing. In desperation one night she rang 999. She would like to start working again in the care sector but there is little chance of that happening. She has been out of work for two years and has no references. The lady appeared to find the interview difficult. I imagine she is not used to being in the media spotlight. But she did it, no doubt because she thought it was the right thing to do.
Later a younger man was composed as he told the programme about his wife’s suicide. She was suffering from postnatal depression and being treated in a psychiatric unit in south London, in the old county of Kent. At the inquest the NHS Trust said they could take no responsibility for her death. However when legal procedings commenced against them they admitted liability. His wife became a voluntary patient earlier this year. In her husband’s view she was left to her own devices, no doubt in an uncaring atmosphere. Before she was successful in taking her life the staff let her leave their protection without supervision and she tried to jump off the balcony at Tate Modern. It was clear from the interview, in my opinion, that the Trust still don’t really think they did anything wrong.
A surgeon volunteer was on the broadcast describing his recent experience when in Syria. He was helping in the north of the country over a period of five weeks and began to notice a pattern of civilian casualties, innocent people who were out on the streets trying to conduct their normal business. One day he would see predominately groin wounds, another rifle shots to the armpit. Other targets by the snipers were the left of the chest, the right of the chest and the abdomen. The worst of it though was when heavily pregnant ladies were shot in the abdomin so as to damage and kill their unborn babies.
I will not call the Gang animals as I do hot have any hard information. However I have absolutely no doubt they wish those they manipulate to be as inhuman as possible. They can work that way of course because they themselves remain unidentified and safe. We see around us every day how easy it is for them to do it.
Since 2010 if you wish to be a medical General Practitioner you have to pass an exam using substitute patients to assess your pratical skills. Research has found that four times as many students from ethnic minoritiess fail the four attempt test than white candidates. That is statistically odd. The suspicion is that the examiners are, possibly unconsiously, racially prejudice.
When a Labour MP was 15 she voluntarily posed for topless photos for money. Her family was poor and she needed the cash. She has now made a success of her life and has found out, she believes, that a national newspaper wants to publish the images. She says she will feel humildated if they do. I hope the paper concerned would not try to equate their desire to make money with hers. She was a child at the time in control of her own body. They are supposedly professional adults taking advantage of baser human instincts using no sense of morality.
On a different level though I do think it a shame we look upon female nudity in such a sniggering way. We were born with no clothes on. I expect all of us are bare at least twice every day of our lives. What is the big deal, people? The lady will only feel humilated, now she is older, because of the values society imposes.
Syria is in political focus again. Moves are afoot for another go at a peace conference. I suppose therefore it was to be expected that the Gang will do what they can to stop that happening. Yesterday at least 16 Syrian soldiers were killed in a suicide bombing in Damascus. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights say the al-Nusra Front was responsible. The same organisation says al-Nusra carried out a suicide truck boming today in government controlled Hamas killing at least 30.
The last item on The World this Weekend today was an interview with Jeremy Bowen by a BBC journalist based I think in The Hague. Jeremy had just given evidence for the prosecution, from his 1992 Bosnia reportin wherever it takesg, against Ratko Mladic for war crimes. Even though it was over twenty years ago Jeremy says he remembers it all vividly. He feels it important that he makes record and bears witness to what happened. He is satisfied he has done the right thing. Jeremy says he has been a target for 30 years, more now then before, but he is still wishes to draw attention to wrong doing werever it takes place.
Yesterday I was travelling westwards along the A303. I am a creature of habit and normally on that route stop at the petrol station just after the M3 to get a coffee and go to the toilet. As I walked into the lobby off the shop I noticed a roughy 30 year old lady standing outside the ladies. I assumed there was a toilet problem, or a friend or child would soon emerge, or she was waiting for the cubicle or cubicles to become vacant. I was pleased to find my door unlocked, went in and started to use the urinal. I am attentive when I am out and noticed as I walked in that the red button was showing on the cubicle door. Quite soon a lady’s voice came from within. It said hello. My immediate thought was that she might be stuck there but her voice was not anxious. She was in no danger. I was in a situation that has never occurred to me in my life before. There were at least two, strange to me, ladies and myself in a private area away from everybody else. It seemed odd she should want to draw attention to herself when I cannot see through doors and would be leaving in a couple of moments. I felt uncomfortable. I decided to say nothing. She said hello twice more. I remained silent. She said, is anyone out there? I was still quiet. Then just as I was finishing off the door started to open. I decided to play it by ear.
She was a respectable looking girl of about twenty. She said she was bursting to go so used the men’s. I decided to take the line that she had entered my domain for a bit of sexual titillation, to be near a man whilst he was exposed. I said I did not mind at all. I used the expression whatever turns you on. I think most young ladies in that genuine position would have been shocked at my remark. This one appeared to think it quite normal. She did not say anything at all. It was not in her script. She just left. When I departed to get my coffee she was two in front of me in the queue at the counter. We did not speak or look at each other. It was as though nothing had just happened. I have had some pretty bizarre experiences over the last few years but I really do think that one takes the biscuit.
I have two reflections on the incident. First the station must have been a Gang location. If I had decided to make a fuss about her presence nothing would have come of it. Indeed I might have been accused of something myself. Then it has made me appreciate something I am beginning to value a bit more nowadays, my private status. If I was in the public eye there would have been no way I could have reacted as I did. It would have been far too risky.
21st October 2013
There was a Pamorama programme on this evening about the Annecy killings which I went through in some detail on 7th September 2012. I think it possible Mr al-Hilli was doing work for security agents perhaps without realising it himself. It appears he had dark thoughts about his brother some of which might have been Gang induced. There seems little doubt the murders were planned. The local killed cylist was riding a racing bike in an unsuitable area for that sport and worked in a nearby factory involved in the nuclear industry. I would say he was a Gang helper and riding up the road as requested by his local director. I think it unlikely his superior knew he was sending him to his death. I feel the demise of that man was meant to muddy the water. As far as this Gang is concerned it sems there is no honour amongst thieves. It appears the motorbike murderer had an accomplice driving a British registered vehicle. It looks very much to me as if it was an operation carried out by members of a British based Organised Crime gang for money or their own personal revenge.
I think it likely the Gang were sending a warning to MI5 or MI6 that they knew exactly what they were up to and showed them their response. If the British man on his bike who discovered the scene is a helper of our secret services, and his job was to keep Mr al-Hilli and his family safe, he clearly did not do a very good job. Because of the hidden nature of our security services however I am certain no one outside of their tightly knit circle would ever be told of the true story, including the Prime Minister himself. In chapter 5 of my book I relate how I was driving my family up the M40 one day in 2009, in circumstances of extreme danger for us. I believe MI5 watched it all happen but took no action to protect us. I was pretty upset.
I do not think it unconnected that the French Foreign Minister has complained bitterly today about the NSA’s Prism programme indisciminately spying on global communications. I suspect the French have come to similar conclusions as I with the twist that they feel the CIA are the real culprits and not our lot.
My analysis on 13th July 2013 of the Tipton explosions was not as accurate as it might have been. I was not connecting them with the murder of Mohammed Saleem in April 2013. The murderer is a straightforward white Ukranian supremacist who had only been in this country for a few days before he carried out his attack. Perhaps he was told he should earn his stripes. He does not feel the need to state a political case, a platform which would have been provided for him if he had pleaded not guilty in court. He has admitted his offence today and will be sentenced on Friday.
22nd October 2013
I have been wondering how little Maria was found in Greece. I am sure it was either either the Gang reacting to the Madeline McCann story, being fractious like they were with the MP’s expenses revelations, or illuminated by the workings of intelligence agencies. An indication that it was the latter has come today I feel. It is reported that Irish police have found a blonde girl living with a Roma family in Dublin. They do not believe she is related to her apparent parents. Their information came they say from a member of the public.
Before I found out about the Irish connection I was going to write about Maria anyway. I wanted to make the point that when you are looking out on the world it is not always necessary to see the full picture. Sometimes perhaps it might be better you cannot, you might find it too disturbing. In Maria’s case you hope she will be reunited with her real parents or, if they do not want her, with foster parents who do not have to teach her to beg. The behind the scenes manoeuvrings are completely separate from that and will not affect Maria’s path. I wrote a private supportive letter to someone on 14th October 2013. He sent an appreciative reply.
If important people in an organisation want to say something they often ask a retired or former member to do it for them, I have noticed. That no doubt gives them the cover they require to protect them from direct questioning. I feel it probably happened today when Sir John Major spoke to the cameras on behalf of the Conservative Party, and also I suspect the whole political class. Speaking after a lunch for political journalists he said the electricity and gas price increases coming through are unacceptable. Something needs to be done about it. I hope his colleagues will oblige him.
I thought William Hague did not look particularly happy when he spoke after today’s London talks with the Syrian opposition. With him at the meeting was John Kerry and the foreign ministers of France, Germany, Italy, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The idea was floated before the gathering that Mr Assad would like to stand in future elections. I think that would be a good idea. The people would be able to say what they want and give a decisive message. However I suspect the rebels have rejected the idea out of hand. The Syrian National Coalition will decide next week whether they will attend future peace talks.
In writing that note I find that yesterday Mr Kerry was in Paris for a third meeting of participants from the region in the Arab Peace Initiative. The first round of discussions took place in Washington in April and the second in Amman in July.
The Cooperative Group were hoping their debt holders would help them cover the £1.5 billion hole in their balance sheet. Unforunately for them it has not worked out that way. Their debtors have refused so the money will have to be raised in a share offering meaning the the Coop itself, going forward, will only own 30% of the bank.
Following my note about the Annecy murders last night I understand Barack Obama rang Francois Hollande yesterday to speak about France’s complaints of America snooping on their citizen’s private communications. As Mr Obama took the initiative I feel he wanted to say sorry. I think that was the right thing to do.
Something a relative told me in the autumn of 2011 was that if you upset someone, especially a lady, you immediately apologise. It is immaterial whether or not the other person’s reaction is justified, you can see they are distressed and therefore you say sorry, no questions asked. It was extremely good advice for me which I believe I am now able to put into practice. Before then I believed, I think, that to be true to my principles was more important. I did that to the extent of people not feeling warmly towards me. I looked upon bad outcomes as just one of those things. Now I consider it is more important to feed the emotional strength of the other person. Provided you have good motive there is no reason why you shouldn’t live and let live a bit.
Whilst I am giving away my personal secrets there is something I have worked out for myself this year. It is fine to make as many suggestions to others as you like. But there must never be any pressure on them to reply in a particular way. And if their answer is not what you were hoping for you must do your best not to get upset, and certainly not show it. That last bit is the part I find most difficult.
As I have remarked before the Gang are a nasty lot who will go down fighting. I see from Channel 4 News this evening that immigration officials are currently picking on the Chinese community in London. There have been 13 raids in recent months at businesses in Soho and Chinatown. I would put that down to pique that their hidden power in China is diminishing which all started I believe when we spoke to Chinese authorities about Neil Heywood’s death.
Philip Hammond was reiterating yesterday that he wants to recruit computer aficionados for both defensive and offensive cyber security purposes. Susan Watts presented an item on the topic on Newsnight last night. I found it interesting because of the methodology of the report. A former convicted young member of Lulzsec and a computer forensic expert from Sheffield Hallam University, who gave prosecution evidence at his trial, conversed with each other in front of a camera. Then the expert himself was interviewed by Susan to ask his assessment of the exchange. It was a good way of illuminating the subject I thought. Susan, as a journalist, would not have been in a position to make the same experienced, critical comments as the academic.
Misha Glenny’s broadcast on Monday evening in his The Invention of Italy series was heavily trailered so I gave it a listen. Until 1860 Italy was a divided warring country. In that year though general Garibaldi, in charge of the south, reached agreement with the King to unify the Italian Peninsula. That apparently is also the time of the birth of the Mafia. Misha’s message, I feel, is that initially the Mafia were a political, not criminal, organisation formed to protect their interests in Sicily. The thought I believe is that in many ways both the Mafia and the Gang are still political groupings today.
23rd October 2013
I wrote about Mike Penning on 9th October 2013. He was on Today this morning in his new capacity as a minister at the Department of Work and Pensions. Since April our welfare reforms have started in pilot areas and the Chartered Institute of Housing have carried out some research on how the family benefit cap is going in the London Borough of Haringey. He obviously considered the report misleading and was a bit upset with the BBC as he thought they had not checked their facts properly.
Before that the winner of last night’s Great British Bake Off, recorded in the summer, was in the studio. My guess is that it was an arranged interviewed for the team and they were concerned she might find it somewhat stressful as I think one of the other finalists has found all the attention. To get round that they did most of the talking and had done some baking themselves which they asked her to judge. The present wife of Garry Richardson won.
25th October 2013
We are extremely lucky to have the Royal Family in my view. They are a unifying force for people at home and abroad. It was almost as though Prince George knew he should be placid and calm for his christening on Wednesday. But to be truthful I expect his parents had a lot to do with his composure. It looks as though he too is going to be a lucky young man. I thought his parents got the balance just right. The baptism was an entirely private affair yet photographers were given free reign at the entance to the Chapel Royal. The Duchess looked radiant. Entirely predictably the papers the next day went completely bananas over the event.
The fact that it all went so well might be a reason why there has been some scurrilours press comment about a feature on Prince Charles which will appear in next Monday’s Time magazine. Now he is taking on more of the Queen’s public duties it is giving him less time for his private interests. The analogy was used that it is restricting him as if he were in a prison. I feel it was an unfortunate word to use but which the journalists chose to pass on within, no doubt, a long in depth article. The negative interpretation put out is that Prince Charles fears to be King. To her credit the article’s author was on Today this morning saying that couldn’t be further from the truth.
A day after the Royal christening a relaxed Justin Welby gave an exclusicve interview to Channel 4 News. He said that, bless them, politicians do not have all the answers. They do try their best, for which I am very greatful, but they are still feeling their way on how to move forward in the immense complexities of the modern day world.
For me Angela Merkel is a totally strategic thinker. Her elections are over, now she can start concentrating on international affairs again. Then there is Barack Obama. When the Edward Snowden affair first broke I remember him saying no one knew quite what would be made public from the stolen information. It now seems likely our world leaders have known for a few months the level of NSA listening which was taking place of their communications. This week Mrs Merkel has decided to act. I suspect she thought it would be a good time knowing that American security agents are not flavour of the month in France at the moment. She rang Mr Obama on Wednesday to complain. I noted on 19th June 2013 how obvious it was that Gernam and American intelligence forces did not trust each other. Mrs Merkel’s remarks have coincided with yesterday’s EU summit which gave the message to the Americans that a better way of doing things must be sorted out by the end of the year. Since the end of World War II there has been a special relationship in espionage between Britain, America, Australia, New Zealand and Canada under the Five Eyes arrangement. In this day and age we really should not be treating Germany and France as part of the enemy. The Guardian this morning has done it’s bit to ratchet up the pressure by telling us about a NSA copy memo it has obtained dating from 2006. It asked government officials to give them the private phone numbers of high ranking officials so they could monitor their conversations. Apparently one person handed over 200 numbers including those for 35 world leaders. It seems to me that person was either a Gang helper or someone with the most terrible values and judgement; a person who does not understand the meaning of privacy.
In comment on that story I have heard several people say, we all knew it was going on, with the implicit assumption being it must all be alright then. That attitude makes me extremely frustrated. A person who thinks like that shows the rest of us, I consider, that they do not know the difference bewtween right and wrong themselves.
All those happenings I belive will have made the Gang pretty angry. It might not be a concidence then that yesterday the Newspaper Society announced they will be seeking a judicial review next week against the government’s plans for press regulation. The politicians response has been that they are going ahead anyway.
Alex Salmon was on Newsnight on Wednesday evening after it was announced the Grangemouth petrochemical plant would be closing. He told Jeremy Paxman off for asking him a question, designed to elicit how seriously Ineos’ owner was taking the matter, as to the gentleman’s location. Mr Salmon said it was inapprappriate and unhelpful to try and criticise the owner at that point for the way he was handling the issue. I think Mr Slmon was entirely right in making that comment. However I did feel it unfortunate when I heard on the radio before 9am this morning that he was sure the plant would be staying open, prior to the owners telling us themselves a hours later. I feel that was inappropraite behaviour by Mr Salmon himself taken entirely for political ends.
I understand there has been considerable cooperation behind the scenes between the British and Scottish governments in encouraging that outcome. I believe that shows the United Kingdom is more effctive as one entity and not different parts.
I feel the Grangemouth story provides a good example of how the Gang work. They arrange for people to fall out with each other. There is often absolutely no strategic purpose for that at all in my view. It is just what their machine does. It gives their top tier confidence. As they remain hidden the actors in the drama do not even recognise they are being manipulated. The players just follow their emotions which do it all for them. In his narrative Jim Naughtie tells me the Unite union convenor at the plant was also a main player in the recent Labour party Falkirk constituency tale. Here the union leaders got upset too easily and the company were hard and unkind to their staff. Both sides wanted to control the other. However the main lesson of the week’s event I feel is that when influential outsiders know how it works they can step in, calm things down and sort matters out to everyone’s mutual benefit.
It seems to me Sainsbury’s have been told about at least one aspect of the workings of Organised Crime. A BBC webpage was published this morning relating about a mother out with her six week old bay was picked on and bullied by a staff member unknown to her at their Hedge End store in Hampshire. She was criticised for taking a baby so young out of the house. The business has said sorry and the store manger would like to see the lady so he can apologise in person. I inspected a different retail property at that location for work in September 2008. I noticed Gang activity whilst I was doing that.
I have just heard Frank Gardner say on the radio that France carries out the biggest industrial esponage operation in Europe and larger than that run by China.
I was out in my car yesterday and happened to listen to an advert on commercial radio. It was about a man who rang a car dealer interested in buying a new car. The terms were so good he could not believe them. He rang back to check, this time pretending to be a woman. The salesman though recognised him and asked if it was the man he had just been speaking to. The man said no saying he was a different man, forgetting he was speaking folsetto. The salesman then made the point, looking at his caller display handset, that the two calls had been made from the same phone. All good fun with a pitch well made. But is also tells us it is not that difficult to be alert and make sense of what some would say is an impossible to understand world.
Simon Israel reported on Channel 4 News on Wednesday that Staffordshire police are trailing a scheme for front line officers to wear body cameras. I noted in chapter six of my book how that equipment was worn by the personnel on the operation Neptune Spear raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in May 2011. It is an independent record of what happened, just as CCTV cameras carry out, so I think will protect the police just as much as members of the public they come into contact with. However Staffordshire is a small force and for it to apply nationally would require a massive technological step forward apparently in the police’s capacity to store data and be able to retrieve easily from it. Perhaps they should ask the NSA for some advice in that regard.
The programme also highlighted a UN meeting convening in London that day. The body will report in due course on the testimony of 150 witnesses in five countries who are North Korean refugees. It heard from a man now living in London who managed to escape from a prison camp at his fourth attempt.
Then there was also quite a shocking piece from Alex Thompson about a gang of paramilitaries who possibly killed more than 120 people in the Northern Ireland troubles in the mid 1970s. It is rumoured they did that with the collusion of some policemen and military officers. One example was given of the bombing at Keady in 1976. The authorities had intelligence that an attack was being planned and surveillance was in place. However on the day of the bombing it was suddenly withdrawn allowing the terrorists to procede as planned. I go though a similar situation in chapter seven of my book for the Omagh bombing in 1998.
Lord West, security adviser to Gordon Brown when he was Prime Minister, was on Today this morning. He said that in his public service he had always assumed all his communiactions were being bugged. On one trip with his wife outside Europe their verbal surveillance was so instrusive she used to say goodnight everybody when she turned the light off in their hotel room each night.
I understand that at the moment anaesthetists in operating theatres give you a variable knock out dose depending on your weight and age. However there was an Oxford university professor on the programme saying it would be better to take a more refined approach. We all fall asleep depending on our individual physiology. That point can now be measured by reading our brain waves. When the technique has been perfected it should be possible to give a personalised dose to an individual to put them to sleep throughout their adult life. In the future we will have medical treatment tailored to our particular genes.
A lady shopper apparently committed suicide in a Primark store in Liverpool on Tuesday by jumping off the the third floor balcony overlooking the open internal well of the shop. I supect, quite properly, the management were approached by the police or MI5 to inform them how that could have happened if the woman’s life was under Gang influence. They might now be targeted but, with that understanding, they should be able to take future appropriate low key precautions and not be unduly worried about the situation.
With that background I suspect the head of corporate governance of Primark’s parent company was pleased to give an interview on a Business Section of the edition. It is now six months since the Rana Plaza building in Dhaka, Bangledesh collapsed where Primark employed garment makers. Primark have generously committed to pay all surviving workers from the complex for nine months even though they currently have no place of employment. It is often said that Primark do not reimburse their foreign workers enough. The gentleman though was saying Primark can do nothing about that on their own. They pay the same as everyone else, even those retailers who sell their clothes for fantastic prices in Bond Street.
England’s Chief Medical Officer was on the broadcast talking about children’s well being. She said we are not looking after them properly. We should be aware of, and protect, their mental health. Our diabetics treatment is far worse than in some European countries and ridiculously we are starting to see cases of rickets, caused by a low intake of vitamin D, in our doctors’ surgeries.
Also included was a piece involving a community worker mentoring disaffected youth. He said that the number of bent police officers in very small but they have a massively disproportional affect on the youngsters he deals with. They have an ingrained distrust of the police.
Cherie Blair, barrister and wife of Tony, and a very successful woman in her own right was also speaking on the edition. In her view life works best when male and female mix together. Women bring a different perspective to a man’s view of the world. In Ms Blair’s view there is a threshold of 30% in numbers for woman to start having a positive impact in a male environment.
Earlier this month, two weeks after the Nairobi Westgate shopping centre attack, American Navy Seals made their unsuccessful raid in Somalia. A BBC report today says the Somali al-Shabab leader they were targeting went to Norway in 2004 where he failed to get aslyum. When he returned to Somalia in 2008 from Norway he was a terrorist. In early 2007 he also spent some time in London. It seems possible that trip was part of his radicalisation process.
In writing that paragraph I have come across a BBC webpage written a week after Michael Adebolajo killed Lee Rigby in May 2013. It seems Mr Abebolajo travelled to Kenya in November 2010 for the purpose of going onto Somalia to join al-Shabab. However he was apprehended by the authorities. The article does not say what happened to him then.
DNA tests have confirmed that Maria’s parents are a Bulgarian couple living in that country. I think that is what her Roma family in Greece have said all along. There is no news yet as to what will happen to the youngster.
26th October 2013
Unusually for me nowadays I was awake early this morning and put the radio on. I listened to iPM. It featured a 15 year old girl who had watched a video which arrived on her Facebook page, entitled entertainment. However it showed a man using a knife to cut off the head of woman with her hands tied behind her back kneeling in front of him. She did not resist in any way. A shocking tale.
The White House have confirmed today that David Cameron’s communications have not, are not and will not be monitored by the NSA. For Angela Merkel’s mobile they did not include the past tense. I look upon that as an exercise in transparency for which I applaud Mr Obama. If it is true we might just as well be told.
I trespassed into my neighbour’s garden this morning. I wanted to see if a new plastic domestic oil tank was there. It’s location is hidden around the corner as you walk along the road past the property entrance. It was. I suspect there was nothing wrong with the replaced metal one and that therefore the landlord was charged a considerable, unnecessary, bill. Even though I am here most of the time I do not know when it was installed. I have heard no workmen doing their stuff. Perhaps it was put in when I was out for the day on a prearranged trip on Thursday. The tenants’ car was parked in a strange place when I walked by on Friday evening clearly signalling they are away for the weekend. I was on site for less than a minute. Three minutes later I was walking back past the entrance after making a quick visit to the next house up the road. I was passed by a youth walking westwards on the tarmac, sent out in my view to see what I was up to. I draw two conclusions from the episode. First there must have been a electronic beam in place between the entrance and the oil tank which set off an alarm somewhere when I walked through it. Secondly for the youth to have been there so quickly means he can only have come from my neighbour’s property on the other side.
Iran is a Shia Muslim country. A BBC webpage reports today that there has been unrest in the Sunni Muslim province of Sistan Baluchistan which borders Pakistan and Afghanistan. The page notes that Iran is on a major drug tafficking route from Afghanistan to Europe.
From a Newspaper Review on Today this morning I understand the Times is reporting David Cameron as saying on the margins of the EU summit the government will drop the HS2 rail link if Labour withdraws it’s support. Perhaps with the political solidarity of the Grangemeouth negotiations fresh in his mind he is saying there are some things which are more important than the normal games of party politics. This is one.
There are 10-12 million Roma people living in Europe. The EU anti human trafficking coordinater was on the programme. She said they are a socially excluded community and as such do tend to be associated with Organised Crime groups. It has transpired that Maria, although fair, is Romani. As far as under aged trafficking is concerned she said the practice is common in Europe involving tens of thousands of chidren. The lady said it can include youngsters who are given away, sold or snatched and whose human rights are then exploited in some fashion.
The main witness in the Rochdale sex ring trial was on the 8.10 slot on the broadcast. When she was 15 she was introduced to the gang by a girlfiend. They pulled her in with no sexual overtones at first and when they knew she was under their control, struck. She herself went to the police and gave video interviews. She then returned to the gang because she thought she could do nothing else. The police, perhaps understandably in that situation, felt they did not have enough evidence to prosecute. The turning point was when she became pregnant. The Gang lost interest in her and social service did the opposite in order to protect her child. She has kept her daughter and loves her to bits.
She has written a book of her experiences. Someone whom I have confided in, and who has read at least part of my book, has said it was a cathartic thing for me to do. I expect the lady, now 20 or more, might well have recorded her testimony for the same reason. She says she is pleased, through her book, that people now know the truth of what happened to her.
The editorial in last Saturday’s FT suggests David Cameron is piggy in the middle between the political parties and the industry on press regulation. I would say much the same about the FT itself, The Independent and the Guardian. An impasse has been reached so the players are just going to have to slog it out between themselves. Apparently at one time the newspaper editors thought they could reach a deal direct with Conservative ministers but they misread the situation.
The paper also reports that Mexico is likely to introduce a sales tax on junk food and fizzy drinks which are laced with sugar. Last year Coca-Cola announced a $5 billion investment plan in the country. 45% of the population are categorised as poor so the measure is not popular. But Mexico has the highest child obesity rates in the world and only American adults are fatter than their Mexican counterparts. Something needs to be done.
The edition informs me that Glenn Greenwald is changing jobs. He is moving from the Guardian to a media venture being set up by a Hawaii billionaire. Hawaii of course is where Barack Obama’s family live. It seems quite possible now that there is quite a bit of information in Edwrad Snowden’s files which the Guardian and New York Times have thought too explosive to publish. Perhaps that might be changing in the future. I noted at this week’s EU summit Mr Cameron saying how concerned he was about the damage Mr Snowden’s information might cause to our national security services.
The global head of cybersecurity at Huawei wrote an article for Monday’s FT. He said cyber threats affect all countries equally so there should be a cooperative, common international approach in combating them. The gentleman used to work for David Cameron as the government’s chief information officer. Some of our parliamentarians seem to have quite a bit of mistrust for Huawei and China. They appear to have more confidence in us.
In that paper Edward Luce writes that about 20% of Americans support the Tea Party and 20% readily acategorise themselves as liberal.
Mostly unusually in Wednesday’s FT the front page lead was a human story, written by Lionel barber and Roger Blitz, on Alex Ferguson. It coincided with publication of his latest book.
Inside the paper Ed Miliband is quoted talking at a private dinner for Labour donors. Referring to the hostile press, and after disagreements over his father, he said the only thing they understand is people who are strong and stand up to them. That is what he and his colleagues are going to do.
An article there asks Germany, following it’s election, to become more assertive in foreign policy and matters of global security. It’s business success, in my view, shows it has sound judgement. I feel it would be helpful if it used those values more in general international debate.
The editor of the German weekly Die Zeit wrote in Friday’s FT following Mrs Merkel’s objections to America’s intelligence gathering. He came over to me as condescending and smug. He argued that if someone does a wrong to you your answer should be to do the same wrong back, only more so and in a cleverer way. He did not strike me as a man of values.
27th October 2013
There was prowler around here last night. When I went outside this morning I found a timber palisade blocking a gap in the hedge between my neighbour’s garden and mine, pushed over. He put it there in preprepared form a couple of months ago immediately after we had an argument caused by him playing loud music in his garden. Then I found a snapped bamboo stay supporting a laurel sapling by my garden office. Lastly some bankside steps from the road giving me access to my other neighbour’s property, which I own, were interfered with. Those of course were only little things. However Saturday overnight is normally drug packacking time in this vicinity. Those incidents would not have taken place I consider if it had been business as usual this weekend.
Life is a complicated thing. You have to work in obscure ways sometimes to achieve an outcome which you perceive to be good. I feel Mr Cameron might have concluded that is the way forward for him at the moment. He appears almost to have adopted the role of a weather vane for those opinions around him. For example I don’t think Grant Shapps would have criticised the BBC this morning without running his views past the Prime Minister first. In essence I think that is what Mr Obama did with the non bombing of Syria. It was not what he wanted, but others did, and he decided to follow the crowd. It is, of course, very important to keep people with good intent in their hearts on board with you.
Another aspect of life I feel is freedom and risk. Naturally we all want to exist as we wish without being controlled by others but you have to be sensible and take account of the activities of those who share the world with you. To be, perhaps imperfectly, free you have to reduce the risk of what might happen to you. It is reported this morning that an Afghan sentry soldier has been shot dead at their new officer academy in returned fire when he fired at some soldiers from Austalian and New Zealand. There had been an argument over a laptop. The allied troops were wearing body armour so they were not badly hurt. Their superiors had reduced the known risk for them of being in that theatre of operation. Sililarly I believe President Obama thinks the best way of having less members of the public in America killed by weapons is to tighten their gun laws.
When I wrote my note on Friday about Mr Obama and Edward Snowden’s files I assumed he, at least, knew all about the tapping of Mrs Merkel’s mobile phone. However from a BBC webpage today it seems that is not the case. Apparently the president told the chancellor he knew nothing of the activity until recently. I find it quite shocking those in charge did not think it appropriate to tell him. It is difficult not to conclude that one reason for their omission was that they thought he would never find out except from them.
28th October 2013
The strorm has been and gone. I suspect there were many Gang groups out and about last night causing considerable havoc under cover of the high winds. I feel the train companies used the right approach. They ensured all their lines were clear as the depression abated before passanger trains went out. I think we could have had some nasty accidents otherwise. The gusts around here did not seem that bad but even so within a mile of my house there were at least four places where groups of trees came down, all funnily enough across roads. The nearest was a few doors away. A tree fell over a parking area neighbours use by the side of our lane. If a vehicle was in the wrong place it will undoubtedly have been damaged. The trunk came across the road and reached the house fence on the other side. I understand the man who lives there works for a South American mining company which has an office in London. When I went out this afternoon I saw part of the close boarded fence to our local Country Park was also lying on the ground.
When I was standing by my kitchen sink window this morning I happened to notice a blond head bobbing up the top road which is all I can see from that position. It being a Monday, five minutes later I was putting the dustbin sacks out. Just at that very moment a black man, whom I do not like and who works at my next door neighbour’s across the road, walked that way with a blond woman. It seems she must have gone up to meet him where he parks his car. Perhaps he was afriad of walking to work on his own.
There was a lot on content on Today this morning about Lou Reed who has just died aged 71. From a clip of him speaking on Radio 6 Music last month I know he had a liver transplant earlier this year and at that time was looking forward to an assured recovery.
Iraq is currently suffering it’s worse sectarion killing for five years. The Syrian civil war next door has been going on for some time and it seems Iraq has been sucked into the atmosphere of hatred. Jeremy Bowen was saying that possibly to include Iran in a Syrian dialogue might be a way forward for Iraq.
I was having a bath in my en suite room yesterday and the radio was left on in the bedroom after the early evening news. The proramme was Pick of the Week which played an excerpt from last Monday’s Start the Week. A man there was saying the test of a successful society is to build mutual regard for poeple who do not know each other, ouside of their family. A wonderful aspiration which I would have thought is completely out of reach. The context of the discussion was the diversity of a population which immigration causes. Positive aspects are innovation and variety. It is equally possible though for the mixing to create distrust, uncooperativeness and a lack of generosity.
Saturday’s FT quotes Jim Ratcliffe, the majority owner of Ineos, making some assertive, sensible conclusions on industrial policy in this country. That makes me think he was given an amount of official, confidential support in handling his industrial dispute. It has given him confidence to speak his mind in public.
Further on in the paper Mrs Merkel is reported as saying that she doesn’t know the details of the Five Eyes intelligence sharing arrangements between victorious World War II allies. As I remarked for Mr Obama last night I find that quite extraordinary in today’s age. It is impossible to conceive that German intelligence agencies do not know. It makes you wonder exactly who they are working for.
The article says that altough both France and Germany want a new arrangement with America their nuance is different. As I understand it Mrs Merkel wants a sharing of information. Mr Hollande would like to see a code of conduct for agencies to obey whether they decide to confide in others or not.
Gideon Rachman notes in the edition that Jonathan Pollard was convicted in the 1980’s of providing American secrets to Israel for money. If a small country acts like that to it’s staunchest ally it makes you marvel that we live in any form of rule based world. Gideon also suggests that one reason the spying story is to the fore at the moment is due to America and the international community starting to get to grips with some of their more pressing problems. Perversly perhaps that has given our leaders space to start thinking about being nice to each other.
A couple of days after the American metadata spying revelations against German citizens we have had a very similar story doing the rounds today for Spanish inhabitants. My guess is that now Glen Greenwald no longer works for the Guardian he feels uninhibited about leaking information to the media.
From a piece in today’s FT on Angela Merkel’s mobile phone I understand that East Germany enjoyed one of the most comprehensive internal spying states ever. It is estimated the Stasi security police had 173,000 unofficial informants who told tales about their family and friends. You could not trust anybody.
29th October 2013
I knew that the Brazilian president, Dilma Rouseff, was upset with America over their spying activities but did not know the details. Misha Glenny says in today’s FT that it came about from Glen Greenwald, who lives there, writing last month in a national daily that the NSA had been monitoring her communications as for Angela Merkel. It seems the NSA has also been carrying out surveilance of the Brazilian state controlled oil company, Petrobas. Misha says the mistrust the whole affair is generating could destroy the global consensus which has previously applied in regulation of the internet.
I suspect President Obama is too close to his intellegence agencies to be strict with them. If they go down they will pull him under with them. I feel therefore it is a good sign that the Democratic chair of the Senate intelligence committee, Dianne Feinstein, has said the present situation is unacceptable. You spy on people for a purpose not just because you can do it.
From watching Autumn Watch on BBC 2 this evening I realise we have had a long history with badgers. Although they are shy animals they have an agressive streak which lead to the sport of badger baiting with dogs by village people. The verb to badger comes from those times. Then the animal’s favourite food is an earthworm found under the feet of cattle grazing in our fields. And agricultural pasture is something we have plenty of. We have the highest density of badger population in the world. If you are brought up in an organisation seeped in mythology you might just decide the nasty little badger is exactly the sort of creature you should pick on.
Mention was made on Today this morning how helpful was the advance warning, of nearly a week, which everyone was given of the storm brewing over the atlantic. It meant we were as well prepared as we could be and, for example, allowed the train companies to act with a national coordinated strategy. We were not the only country affected. France, Germany and the Netherlandas were also hit with the winds then moving onto Scandanavia.
Energy bosses were in Parliament today and there was a very useful business section on the programme about the subject. The big six energy compnaies all obtain their supply on the wholesale market but they pay for it in different ways. For example some have a fixed price for one year, some for two. Their strategy is commerically sensitive so they are not willing to divulge it to anyone else including their regulator. It is a bit strange then that four of them put up their retail prices at the same time by the same amount. In defence of the CEOs though I have little doubt the majority of them are genuine men. It is just that they do not see the larger picture.
That scourge of secrecy also raised it’s ugly head when it was reported that Sharon Shoesmith has settled her compensation claim with the London Borough of Haringey when she was dismissed over Baby P’s death. The court of appeal ruled in 2011 that she was entitled to a payment. However the agreement has a confidentiality clause saying no one can be told the amount. In the public interest though somebody has leaked that the amount is probably in the region of £600,000.
It is clear the media I follow have decideed the best way for them to deal with the Gang is to publicise the human stories of their victims. It shows you do not accept the situation and want to fight back. In that vein I feel the transmission interviewed a lady who clearly understood the effect of victimisation, when her son was murdered, and was well able to express how it made her and her family suffer. Soon such a person will have the right to have their say in court during proceedings against an accused.
Channel 4 News reported on one of the Gang’s favourite sports this evening in my view. A 28 year man living with his clergyman father and mother, who both work in the local Suffolk prison, has appeared in court at the request of Nasa charged with hacking American government computer systems. It seems he has compromised the security of 5,000 service personnel. It is described as the worst case of it’s kind yet. I expect the man thinks he did it all on his own but I feel it highly unlikely to be the case.
30th October 2013
Thavisha Peirus, originally from Sri Lanka and a graduate from Sheffield Hallam university has been stabbed to death in an apparently motiveless attack as he was making his last pizza delivery in the city before starting a well paid permanent job. It is one of those tragedies which has a Gang plan written all over it. He was knifed in his vehicle outside his delivery destination reminding you of how the two Manchester lady police officers were murdered in September 2012.
The parliamentarians’ press charter came into force this afternoon when the Queen signed the Privy Council document. My anticipation is that there will now be a stand off between the two sides until such time as a sufficiently big scandal arises to create a sea change in sentiment on one side or the other.
It emerged at the first day of Rebekah Brooks’ trial with others today that three former News of the World journalists have pleaded guilty to hacking phones. Glen Mulcaire has specifically admitted hacking Milly Dowler’s mobile. It was that allegation about Milly’s phone by the Guardian of course which prompted David Cameron to set up a public inquiry in July 2011. However I think I am correct in saying it was not positively confirmed before Mr Justice Leveson that it had actually occured, only that her message box became emptied somehow. Mr Mulcaire did not appear before the inquiry. It would now seem he carried out both acts.
When the head of the NSA was giving evidence to the House of Representatives intelligence committee yesterday he specifically named newspapers in France, Spain and Italy which he said were spreading falsehoods about the gathering of American intelligence. He made no mention of any German media outlets.
Emphasing the political control of the process I note that meetings between American and German representatives to discuss the spying allegations are being held at The White House and not at any of the agencies’ premises themelves.
There was a report on Today this morning about a drug consumption room in an area of Copenhagen where some 8000 drug addicts reside. It is a safe place they can go to feed their habit without inconveniencing the general public. Similar rooms exist in Germany and Norway. Our Police and Crime Commissioner for Durham is thinking about supporting the idea in his patch.
There was a pretty worrying piece during the broacast about how Syria is fragmenting into hundreds of fiefdoms of Islamist extremists, including many from abroad. Once people have become fully radicalised and empowered by their faith I have little doubt the Gang will see they return to their home countries.
31st October 2013
I am staying at the moment with relatives in a rural north Bucks village of some 350 residents. Their BT broadband connection suddendly lost it’s connectivity this morning taking away my access to the web. When I looked I saw there were other unsecured connections within range. However on accessing one I found it was a Wi Fi hotspot which charged £4 for an hour’s internet use.
The phrase badger baiting comes into my mind as I write about further dealings between the Conservative and Labour parties. This time it is over the recent Grangemouth industrial dispute. It seems that the private lives of four Ineous directors and their families at their homes around the country were interfered with by groups of Unite members in an exercise referred to as leverage. The union accept it happened and argue it was an acceptable tactic. I do not agree with that. Mr Cameron has referred to the actions as threatening behaviour, intimidation and bullying. A spokesman for Mr Miliband accused the Conservatives of irresponsibly inflaming a difficult situation. The Unite union offical at the heart of the petrochemical plant dispute, now a former employee there, is still chairman of the Falkirk Labour party.
A 17 year old youth has been arrested on suspicion of killing Thavisha Peiris. On the assumption the police have good evidence I am pleased that has happened so quickly. I will be interested to record the mental state and likely motive of the detainee.
From a Newspaper Review on Today this morning I understand some newspapers are saying British police have identified a chief suspect in the Madeleine McCann case. He used to work in the complex from where Madeleine was abducted. He died in a tractor accident in 2009.
Syria has just had it’s first polio case in 14 years. The programme interviewed David Miliband on the 8.10 slot from New York in his charitable capacity. He said it is terrifying to see what happens when a country falls apart under the weight of war. It is like going back to the dark ages.