4th February 2013
The Guardian reports this morning that a Metropolitian Police undercover unit called the Special Demonstration Squad stole the identities of about 80 deceased young children between 1968 and 1994 so as to better protect their own identitities from the organisations they were targeting. Apparently the squad was disbanded in 2008. I heard a gentleman on Today this morning, previously in that line of work, say he could not understand the sense of it. You create a false identity not take it from someone else. A formal complaint to Scotland Yard, no doubt from the Guardian’s informant, has been made about the SDS’s past activities.
There is a Commons Public Accounts Committee report out today saying that it will now cost just under £68 billion to clear up the nuclear waste at the Sellafield reprocessing plant in Cumbria. It says the massive bill is down to years and years of mismanagement more than anything else.
One of those illuminating Gang influenced stories is related on the BBC website this morning about Swiss railways. It seems until recently staff not only checked tickets on trains but sold them as well. Now they do the former only, meaning you must buy your authority in advance either at a platform machine or on the internet. On the day our correspondent travelled, the machine was broken so, just as the train was approaching, he used his smartphone. The lady on the train told him however that his ticket was not valid. Later he discovered that was because the money from his credit card company reached the train people four minutes after his train had left. He had to pay a fine of £133. Apparently Swiss railways make £1.26 million a month from ticket fines.
I heard a BBC reporter say on Today this morning before 7am that what has changed in Pakistan over the last year is the military now accept democracy is the best way forward in their part of the world. Then after the 7am news a contributor pointed out that we have living in this country 1.5 million people of Pakistani origin, 1 million from Afghanistan and Bangladesh, and 1 million from India. To them therefore it is very important a peace settlement is achieved, if not to us Anglo Saxons. I was pleased to hear later in the day then that Presidents Karzai and Zardari have said they are hoping for a peace deal, including the Taliban, within six months. Further bilateral strengthening of security and trade is planned a few months after that.
From another piece on that programme it seems the gloves are now really off in Northern Ireland. Apparently about six months ago the Gang brought the various Republican splinter groups under one command stucture and have told them, due to the security forces’ technological listening ability, to only communicate by word of mouth, preferrably in remote places. Something I have noticed around here is that car horns are sometimes used as a sign of danger rather than the easier course, no doubt, of ringing someone up.
Later in the programme a gentleman was saying what a pretty inward looking lot countries tend to be. Somalia has been a failed state for over 10 years to the vast disadvantage of the people who live there. However the west only really started to sit up and take notice when Somalian piracy reached such a height it affected our economic interests. Before that we were so cack-handed in our interventions that we radicalised the situation even more. At last we finally seem to have learnt how to move extemely complicated areas like Somalia forward, based of course on democratic authority.
Europol is the European Union’s law enforcement agency, in operation since 1999. Today it announced the results of it’s investigation into match fixing in football. It believes it has identified 425 match and club officials, players and criminals involved in corrupt practices for 680 matches played throughout the world, including one in England. It seems the betting syndicate criminal mastermind is based in Singapore. I would think changing outcomes in cricket is much easier. You can bet I think just on when the bowler throws a no ball. For a football match you are probably dealing with a conspiracy involving several players and at least one match official. Then it would also be helpful to have as many playing Gang helpers as possible who will not breath a word whatever they see or hear on of off the pitch.
5th February 2013
When I came to upload my dairy notes to last Sunday on the website it did not work properly. I was pretty sure it would only be a little thing but I lack the skill to do anything about it. [Paul] did not have the time to look at it until last night but almost immediately, on the user WordPress screen, he could see the blog page was being linked through it’s permalink incorrectly. Now that command line has been pointed out to me I will be able to check for the error myself in the future. The website has always put it in automatically before so it was nothing I had done. I can think of three possible reasons for the fault. Either the Gang wanted to destabilise me for a meeting I had yesterday afternoon, or they wished to destabilise a regular reader or group of readers who would notice the update was late, or the update has information in it of which the Gang wanted to delay publication.
There was a half hour power cut at the American Football Super Bowl final in New Orleans on Sunday. I think there are various conspiracy theories around as to whether someone was trying to fix the match. Much more likely I would have thought, it was just a bit of a joke, to show how powerful our masters are. An audience of just under 114 million was simply too good to miss.
There was a report on Today this morning about some more horsemeat burgers found in a cold store in Northern Ireland. Apparently between 60-100% of horse DNA was found in some batches although that doesn’t necessarily neatly translate into meat percentages. There seems to be a link with Poland.
There was an extremely interesting interview with the editor of a media magazine on the progamme. He said that advertising wishes to touch your emotions, to sell you a particular type of lifestyle, entertainment or experience. In that way inanimate objects become branded. You trust them. It gives you a warm glow when you consume or use them. Not surprising I suppose that businesses are so afraid of losing that trust.
Fortunately we can only find out once about some of the terrible things that used to go on in what we thought were civilised societies. Surely we must be coming to the end of the list. Today we are told about workhouse laundries run by the Catholic church in the Irish Republic for disadvantaged woman between 1922 and 1996. 10,000 ladies passed through Magdalene Laundries sometimes completing contracts for the state which also referred girls to them. They were uppaid and just worked, prayed and slept. The giving or taking away of food was used as a control mechanism.
There was an unusually strongly worded FT editorial in last Friday’s paper asking the government to maintain our military and defence spending even if that means we have to cut other parts of our budget. It notes that Mr Cameron wishes to be out there on the global stage. In that case it suggests we should have the wherewithal to support him.
Following my note from last Saturday about Barclays I see that further on in that day’s FT there was a page of analysis. I have also done my own research. I refer to Barclays several times in my book and, separately, say in chapter 4 that my own story started getting heavy in July 2007. Coincidentially or not the FT says Barclays received investment of more than £2.4 billion that month from the China Development Bank and a group owned by the Singapore government. At the time it was to fund it’s bid for the Dutch bank ABN Amro, in competition with a Royal Bank of Scotland consortium. Barclays’ bid was then dropped leaving it presumably with the money. I believe the bad judgement of RBS, and it’s chief executive during the period, in acquiring ABN Amro was later seen as the undoing of that bank. In July 2008 Barclays raised £4.5 billion in a share issue to shore up it’s balance sheet. Just over half of those funds came from investors in Qatar, China and Singapore. In the middle of September 2008 Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy protection and the following day Barclays announced an agreement to buy various of their North American assets. The next month the Bank of England announced that all British banks should increase their capital ratios. The FT says Barclays were desperate not to come under the suffocating eye of the UK government so they could follow their own pursuits and remuneration packages. Therefore they secured a further injection of £7 billion from Qatari sources. Originally they tried to exclude existing shareholders from that transaction but had to backtrack after some objected. Last October it emerged that Barclays had paid £300 million in fees and commissions for it’s October 2008 financial deal, £66 million of which went to Qatar. The allegation now is that Barclays loaned Qatar, secretly I presume, part of the £7 billion 2008 funds so Qatar could openly invest it back into Barclays.
My diary note of 28th November 2012 goes through the mysterious death of a Russian gentleman near his Weybridge mansion just over a week before. This evening I heard a trail for a File on 4 programme about rich Russians living in this country, to be broadcast later tonight. Apparently that man died for no known medical reason.
My dealings with the Independent Police Complaints Commission, related in chapter 4 of my book, proved totally fruitless. Last week a report came out by the Commons Home Affairs Committee severly criticising the effectiveness of the IPCC. It said it was woefully under-equipped. Apparently it’s funding is less than the professional standards department of the Metropolitan Police and the IPCC covers the whole of the country.
When David Cameron answered a question on gay marriage today I noticed he was with Joe Biden. Looking into that I see the American Vice President is on a tour of Europe having travelled from Berlin and Paris. He sat in on a meeting of the National Security Council which Mr Cameron instigated when he became Prime Minister. It might become apparent in due course whether that was about something specific, which I suspect it was, or just a confidence building exercise.
With the Francis report on Mid Staffordshire hospital trust out this week Monday’s FT reports that the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, wants to introduce an Ofsted-style inspection system for hospitals, as applies for our schools. He believes a regime which categorises some units as good and some as bad would create transparency of achievement and, depending where you are on the scale, a sense of pride or a desire to do better. He has asked the Nuffield Trust to see if they can come up with an independent set of criteria for measuring success.
6th February 2013
The first reading of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill was passed in the Commons last night under a free vote. Of the 304 Conservative MPs 36 did not attend but of the 268 there 127 were for, 136 against and there were 5 abstainers. Mr Cameron, a little conveniently, did not go as he was with Mr Biden. I think he would have preferred a majority of those present and note his positive comment on the result has been in terms of the country, not his party. I heard a BBC journalist say this morning that he will hope the public thank him for doing the right thing not blame him for leading a divided party. An indication, in my view, that some MPs against were voting with their hearts and not their minds is shown by various remarks made indicating they do not accept the democratic vote. Their objective now it seems is to limit, as far as they can, the effects of what they emotionally feel is the wrong decision.
I think I am correct in saying that Mr Cameron decided to go for the legalisation of gay marriage at the Conservative Party conference last October. I am sure that was an entirely thought led process. He knew the majority of the public were in favour, that it would pass in Parliament, that he would be announcincing a referendum on Europe to increase the confidence of the eurosceptics, that it would be a free vote and that he could accommodate any objections of The Churches. It was an entirely sensible thing to do.
As far as the politics is concerned my feeling is Mr Cameron wanted to impose some discipline on his party. To try and make them see sense. He wants to lead them where they should want to go, if they will allow him to. Unless his party comprises people the public respect they have no chance of winning the next election. Open fighting by some will make voters feel uncomfortable about them all. He wants to draw them into one of those rings I talk about in chapter 8 of my book. He desires to get them securely in there and then for them to shut up, at least in public.
The states which currently allow gay marriage are Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, South Africa, Argentina and Canada. There are non on the Eastern Hemisphere of the globe outside of western Europe and Africa.
The American company Virgin Media was created in 2006 by the merger of Virgin Mobile, NTL and Telewest. It is now being bought by another American company, Liberty Global, for £15 billion. The combination will create the world’s largest broadband company with 25 million customers in 14 countries. In the UK it will be second only in pay-TV size to Rupert Murdoch’s BSkyB. I hope it will also provide healthy competition for BSkyB.
I mentioned about a child abuse investigation by Scotland Yard, Operation Fernbridge, in my diary note of 21st January 2013. Two arrests have been made this morning. The police have asked for anyone with information of happenings at the Elm Guest House or Grafton Close care home, both in Barnes, during the 1980s to speak to them.
In a coordinated operation officers in the UK, France and Belgium have today raided 35 addresses here and 40 over the channel to break up a major people-smuggling network. It is thought the traffickers were bringing illegal immigrants to Europe from Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan. All three American Gang territory I suggest.
When you think there are 27 countries in the EU it cannot be easy to get reforms agreed. However today it has been achieved for the Common Fisheries Policy. I don’t consider even eurosceptics would argue that rules across national boundaries are required to prevent overfishing. Otherwise we would all just take what we like and no fish would be left. It is intended that a new law will take effect next year, most importantly ending the current discard measures where good dead fish are thrown back into the sea because they are outside the allowed quota for the fishing vessel involved. At the moment it is estimated that discards account for a quarter of all fish caught.
It has been announced today by Environment Secretary Owen Paterson that from 2016 all dog owners will have to have a personalised microchip attached to their animal for accountability and transparency purposes. I think that will make it much harder for various silly Gang games to be played.
The most recent Francis report has been published this morning on the past standard of patient care at Stafford Hospital. Mr Francis has made 290 recommendations one of which is, I think, that hiding of lapses of good care should in future be a criminal offence. Davd Cameron says a new post of chief inspector of hospitals will be created in the autumn.
Yesterday Bulgarian officials said that the tourist bus bombing in their country last July in which five Israelis died, was most likely the work of Hezbollah. Just as I was turning my computer off last night I noticed a BBC webpage on the story. Israel believes Iran was also involved and the page has a video clip of a calmly spoken Mr Netanyahu asking the world community to categorise Hezbollah a terrorist organisation. He says the EU are considering that request.
It seems that when Anwar al-Awlaki was killed in a US drone strike in Yemen in 2011 US media found out that the aircraft came from Saudi Arabia. However, as requested by their government no doubt, they did not say anything. Then within the last few days a US justice department memo has been leaked on it’s operational rationale for drone attacks which I imagine brought the subject back to the top of journalists’ focus. Whether in a coordinated way or not, I do not know, but their media have now told us all about the CIA drone base without revealing it’s exact location.
Michael Crick is the journalist who broke the Plebagte story. On Monday he came back to it in a Dispatches programme on Channel 4. He interviews Andrew Mitchell who says, as the story was breaking, he realised he was being stitched up. However he felt powerless to do anything about it. Before Michael’s first broadcast the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police said that his service would not be taking the matter further. Equally in the early days of the story Mr Mitchell says he was phoned by Mr Cameron who suggested he resign. Mr Mitchell resisted and put sufficient doubt into the Prime Minister’s mind for him to ask the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood, to carry out an internal investigation. I suspect that was not particularly thorough as, on a political level, it had by then been decided that No 10 would (indicated by Sir Jeremy at the Commons Public Administration Committee) take the line that Mr Mitchell would keep his post on the basis he disputed the policemen’s account and had apologised for what he had said. In view of Michael Crick’s investigations I believe most people would agree Mr Mitchell should not have lost his job. I do not think Sir Bernard Hogan Howe nor Mr Cameron come out of the affair smelling of roses. I would not say either of them did the right thing by Mr Mitchell who ultimately felt he was coming under so much personal pressure he just had to get himself out of the heat of the kitchen.
There was a discussion on the World at One today about some tweets two special advisers in Michael Gove’s Education Department have apparently been sending out making statements attacking journalists and others. The Labour Party consider the matter should be formally investigated.
On the same programme was a former Chairman of the Conservative Party, Lord Fowler, who yesterday sucessfully helped to introduce a Lord’s amendment to the Government’s Defamation Bill currently going through Parliament. The effect is that it should now contain a low cost statutory arbitration route members of the public can take if they consider they have been defamed. That approach is entirely in line with the Leveson proposals. Lord Fowler explained that the challange to the Government’s stance arose, as much as anything, through dissatisfaction with how implementation of the Leveson Report proposals are being handled. He complained that everything is being discussed behind closed doors. Nobody knows what’s going on. And that that lack of transparency is exactly the opposite of what Lord Justice Leveson recommended.
Things have changed a lot in the banking world since 2007. The FT’s front page yesterday says the era of light touch government regulation has finally gone. And, to be cynical, that only took a banking crisis and rising public bad feeling towards the banks to achieve it, even this far down the road. Yesterday George Osborne announced, against the wishes of the sector I believe, that more stringent provisions are being introduced to split their industry into separate retail and investment parts. If clever ways were thought up to get round those rules the government will have no hesitation in taking any appropriate corrective action required.
7th February 2013
The most popular page on the BBC website at the moment is a story about Kate and Gerry McCann taking legal action against 60 year old ‘ish Tony Bennett from Harlow, in the hope of making him comply with an agreed court order previously served on him. It seems Mr Bennett wrote letters to various people including the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary and senior police officers alleging the McCanns were involved in Madeline’s disappearance. He then published those letters on line, the one to David Cameron in May 2011. In 2009 Mr Bennett had promised to the High Court he would not publish his thoughts about Kate and Gerry in the future. It is alleged that Mr Bennett has broken that promise 26 times. The McCanns now want him to be made to keep his promise.
Now I am aware Michael Gove will be making an announcement in the Commons later I have looked a bit further into the Education Department twitter row. It seems it has arisen as a result of an anonymous twitter account making disparaging remarks about the Observer’s political editor. Apparently it has also made allegations about the charachter of the FT’s education correspondent including insinuations about his private life. The Observer looked into the account and, I think, found a link with two of Mr Gove’s special advisers whom it names. The paper published it’s story last Sunday.
I imagine then that Mr Gove’s department has been fighting a bit for several weeks to preserve their English Baccalaureate Certificate reforms. The fact that they were possibly losing the battle made them all feel quite spiteful towards their perceived enemies, so the tweets were made. I also think it may also explain why I heard no mention of Mr Gove’s name in the recent rumblings about a leadership challenge to Mr Cameron. Before I had received the impression he was a rising star in the Party.
Owen Paterson, the Environment Secretary, has confirmed today that 93 flood defence schemes are about to be started in England. They will protect 64,000 homes and businesses employing 4,700 people.
A report has come out today by the Royal Acadamy of Engineering saying that we are as prepared as we can be should the earth receive strong outburst of radiation and particles from the sun as sometimes naturally occurs. If it does happen the report chairman compares the effects to the Icelandic volcanic eruption in 2010. Our lives would be affected in various ways by one large event. I talk about both subjects in chapter 13, it’s appendix and chapter 7 of my book.
Yesterday it was reported that the substance affecting sea birds off the south coast is an oil additative. The presumption is, I think, that it will have been of a type added to ship fuel which deliberately or otherwise got into the sea. Whether indentification of the viscous liquid will help find the vessel concerned, I am not sure.
Mr Gove has now spoken in the Commons and on the lunchtime radio. The EBac has been abandoned. Other of his intended measures will be retained. There will now be more consultation on the best way forward. Earlier I heard a lady from the National Union of Teachers say her organisation had garnered multifaceted opposition from arts bodies, sports and business groups as well as teachers and regulators. All said the changes would make schooling too narrow and not properly prepare youngsters for the potential fullness of life. I also see the Commons Education Select Committee had been critical of the pace and make up of the proposals. On the World at One I thought Mr Gove sounded a little defiant. He said his proposal was too ambitious, a step too far. Just before him a thirteen year old girl said she found the whole thing baffling and confusing. She would now find it harder to decide how she should progess in her education. Mr Gove was asked about her comments. I did not think he answered the question very understandingly.
Yesterday in Parliament on Today this morning recorded the Prime Minister very concisely state various failings at Stafford Hospital. He said some patients had to drink water out of dirty flower vases, many were given the wrong medication, treated roughly or left to wet themselves and then allowed to lie in urine for days. Apparently it is feasible that up to 1200 patients died as a result of lack of care inside the building. Yesterday on Today staff there were allowed to tell their stories of abuse anonymously. If that had not happened they all thought they would be sacked. Then at the end of this morning’s programme there was a discussion on how to change uncaring culture in an organistion. A contributor said that what we all tend to do is tackle the symptons not the cause. I am sure he is absolutely right but it is the most incredibly difficult thing to do. It is what the phrase long term project was invented for.
When I wrote the end of the last paragraph I was thinking about my personal circumstances. However of course it is exactly what I have been doing with my Gang story these last few years. And that is way it is proving so demanding.
Statistics undoubtedly can be quite helpful. The government have announced the the workings of five more hospitals are to be investigated due to unexpectedly high mortality rates. Two are in Essex three in the north west.
The radio news this morning reported the conclusion of a year long investigation in Australia which has uncovered widespread use of illegal performance enhancing drugs in unspecified professional team sports there. The network comprises sport scientists, coaches, support staff, doctors and pharmacists with everything being facilitated by Organised Crime. Interestingly I picked up before 7am that a political slant also applies. Two reports have been issued, one for public viewing and a confidential one for police forces. The authorities do not like worrying us.
It seems there have been tensions in the Tunisian political system for some time but things came to a head yesterday when the secular opposition leader was shot dead by gunmen on his way to work. Violent demonstrations are taking place. The prime minister has announced plans for a new technocratice government.
The Gang like to break us up into as small groups as possible. It makes us easier to control. Today has been highlighting for the last couple of mornings the role of language and local dialect in social interaction. I expect a broadcaster would tell you a distinctive voice and accent is good. It should make someone interesting to the audience. However the voice of polite society and commerce is standard English. That is probably what will get you on in the world. As a schoolchild, if you can slip in and out of street talk and proper speaking as you wish, I feel that is the ideal situation.
The news also reported that the Roman site at Pompeii is in a near derelict state. £90 million is being invested by the Italian government and the EU to make it a proper tourist attraction. The trouble though, with it being southern Italy, is that officials are worried about most of the money being diverted into the hands of the mafia, or cammorrah. They will see what they can do to prevent that.
In front of the evening television I have read a report in Tuesday’s FT of a speech Michael Gove made on Monday at the Social Market Foundation criticising Labour for attacking him over his ongoing Ebacc reforms. That means his U-turn took place over the next forty eight hours. The only person with the authority to bring that about, I would say, is the Prime Minister himself.
After writing that I read a FT editorial suggesting the Liberal Democratics had something to do with the decision. In that case I feel a key person might have been David Laws, Minister of State for Schools.
David Gardner writes in that issue about the slush money allegations against the Spanish prime minister and some of his colleagues. David points out that Spain has only been democratic since 1977 and ever since there have been various instances of financial impropriety by politicians.
Another short piece there records that President Obama spoke on the phone with Prime Minister Netanyahu last week to agree his visit to Israel, the West Bank and Jordan sometime this spring.
Possibly associated with that I see a few pages further on that President Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad has just visited President Mohamed Morsi in Cairo to improve their bilateral ties.
Just below is an article saying that China has just revealed it’s strategy to lift as many as 80 million of it’s population out of poverty by 2015. It wants to increase minimum wages to 40% of average salaries by then.
8th February 2013
I write about Dale Cregan in my diary note of 19th September 2012. His trial started yesterday in Preston, out of the immediate area where he lives of Manchester. No chances were taken with security with some police openly displaying machine guns. I applaud that. The connection came, in my view, last night. Police were called to a burglary at a house in Manchester at 8.30pm. A stolen car was seen driving off, no doubt at speed and using keys from inside the property. A short time later it swerved, due to some unexpected happening I am sure, crashed into eight parked cars and caught fire also causing heat damage to four nearby houses. The two occupants of the car were killed. They may have been burglars but they did not, I suggest, deserve to lose their lives. And all because a stupid person wanted to make a very small minded point.
The similarity between Anders Breivik and the uncaught former Los Angeles policeman who is thought to have shot dead three people so far, it seems to me, is the desire to kill and the publication of a hateful manifesto. I was alerted to the story by Today this morning. I hope the man is soon caught.
As far as the difficulties at the Bolshoi Ballet are concerned, also reported about on the programme, you can be certain it is gang orientated but quite who may be the goodies and who the baddies I find it too difficult to work out. One man has had liquid thrown in his face which he claims was sulphuric acid, another has been accused of being behind the crime which he denies. I feel the real story though might be that the Bolshoi is a centure of artistic excellence and culture. Some people do no seem to like such places.
From the newspaper review on the programme it seems to be the consensus of journalists that Mr Gove is actually a pretty good chap. I think they must feel he has been innocently led up the garden path by his special advisers.
From the 8am news I understand the issue of women bishops is likely to come before the General Synod again in July. It seems some think the bishops leant too much towards the traditionalists late in the day for the last November vote, causing uneccessary upset. Perhaps it is because the bishops want to put that right they are now taking eight women into their formal House discussions in a non-voting capacity.
It is obviously the most terrible publicity that a major food brand has discovered some of it’s beef products might contain 100% horsemeat through no fault of it’s own. As a nice little twist we have to be told that, even though horse is perfectly safe to eat, there is a small possibility of a veterinary drug being present in it which might be harmful to us. Politicians are clearly anxious we might overreact; start running around like headless chickens. The Food Minister has told us firmly today there is no need to throw away frozen meat products. Politicians even seem to wish at this early stage to point the fingure at the criminals. It’s not down to us guv.
What I find interesting about the story is the inherent lack of accountability, just as at Stafford Hospital, which I believe will have been prior arranged by the Gang. There is no obligation on the supermarkets to test for DNA themselves unless they want to for commercial reasons. Neither are the Food Standards Agency responsible for testing, they leave it to Local Authorities. Then I suspect the supply chain for meat is so obscure and complicated no one really knows where some of our food comes from in any event. The silver lining though of course is that with all the bad publicity it will now all be sorted out to a standard it should have been in the first place. Another round to us.
My diary note of 20th December 2012 records the killing of seven female polio vaccination workers in Pakistan. The BBC have been informing us today that the same thing has just happened in northern Nigeria where nine female health workers involved in polio vaccination have been killed by gunmen. The Gang cover there it seems is that some Muslim leaders say polio vaccinations cause infertility.
A nasty Gang influenced story in my view has been on the BBC website today giving publicity to the Commons Public Accounts Committe’s investigation into disability benefit. A single private company has been in place since 1998 working for the Department of Work and Pensions to assess claimants’ entitlement. Their contract has just been renewed to 2015. However 38% of their decisions, as measure by the successful appeal rate, are wrong. The chairlady of the committee says that it unaccepable and calls for the present single contractor arrangement to be scrapped.
Aviation authorities are now ready to allow test flights of the grounded Dreamliner plane. They have ovbiously satisfied themselves that the in-air integrity of the flying machine is sound. It seems possible the end result might be that a different on board power source will be used rather than the existing lithium batteries.
9th February 2013
I am very pleased David Cameron appointed the then Northern Ireland secretary, Owen Paterson, to be the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs last September. I don’t think he will have any official contact with our security services in his current post but he will have when he had responsibilities across the water. It seems to me the Department has approached the horsemeat story in much the same way as it did in July 2012 when the then minister met farmers disgruntled at how supermarkets and suppliers seemed to be stitching them up over how much they were being paid for their milk. The discussions took place at the Royal Welsh Show as I relate in the chapter 12 appendix of my book. The meeting this morning, with the supermarkets and the FSA, were at the Department’s London offices. I applaud Mr Paterson for getting involved, acting as a coordinating chairman. There was no obligation on him to do that at all.
Yesterday his Food Minister chose to talk about the possible involvement of criminals when he could equally have used the word fraud. Then, after he had spoken to Mr Cameron I suspect on his return from Strasbourg, Mr Paterson himself went in front of the cameras. The phrases now in use are that the mis-labelling is either down to gross incompetence or an international criminal conspiracy.
The chief executive officer of Morrisons was one of the attendees at today’s meeting. In his view the problem can be staisfactorily remedied by going back to a simple supply chain, using people you know. The drive for cheap food has led to supermarkets cutting corners, not to ask too many questions of all their suppliers. The retail processed food chain comprises the farmer, the abbatoir, the food processor and the supermarket. In my language, as I go through in chapter 8 of my book, those four parties need to be in a single secure ring. In the last few days of writing my publication I relate in the chapter 12 appendix how I took an unfinished carton of adulterated milk into my local police station. If the authorities investigated that, one possibility they will have needed to exclude was that it was not tampered with before it reached me. I confirm it was bought in one of our major supermarkets.
In chapter 3 of my book I say I feel that for me to ever go to Mexico would be too risky. A story illustrating, in my view, the sort of operation the Gang find it acceptable to carry out there is on a BBC webpage today. Spanish is the official language of the country and some young Spaniards go to Mexico City to make their fortune. A group of 13 Spanish friends there decided to rent a beach house near Acapulco for the Bank Holiday weekend. One night masked gunmen entered the property, tied up the men and raped six women. Wherever we are in the world we should not tolerate the Gang living among us.
By some warped sense of logic the Gang believe that if they retaliate against any perceived barrier resisting their view of the world, everything will be fine for them. The worst example, as I explain in Chapter 5 of my book, was 9/11. But it goes on all the time. I suspect they target Chicago, and therefore it’s inhabitants, solely because it happens to be President Obama’s home town. My chapter 6 suggests how a plane could easily have crashed there in October 2010. Then on today’s BBC webpage is the story of a 15 year old majorette, Hadiya Pendleton, shot dead in a park in her city of Chicago apparently as a result of mistaken identity. Her group had been to watch the President being inaugurated and she had been the lead in a video against gun violence. Last month was the deadliest in Chicago for gun violence in 14 years. Mrs Obama is going to Hadiya’s funeral.
The radio news this morning noted a ceremony taking place to remember the 1953 Fraserburgh lifeboat disaster. It was a stormy night and some of the fishing boats coming back to port said they were having difficult getting in. The lifeboat went out to accompany them. Unfortunately however it was that vessel which capsized, drowning six of it’s crew.
I get the feeling a few journalists have been speaking among themselves on what we can do about our Gang problem. I suspect they muse it can only be tackled in global terms. This morning a former Labour MP was on Today answering questions on where we should go from here in Mali and North Africa bearing in mind our experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. One element he was sure about is that there must be democratic legitimacy for all actions taken. And he asked is it really fair for us to be seeing how quickly we can respectably get ourselves out of here. Would it not be more appropriate for us to assert that we will stay and support until they can do it on their own. That, as Mr Cameron would point out, should be in our interests too as it would stop nasty people coming to our shores. The trouble though of course is that it wouldn’t be equitable for one capable country, or group of countries, alone to take that burden on their shoulders. It would have to be some form of combined effort, possibly a coalition of all responsible governments in the world.
We are in for severe weather again tomorrow but not as bad as they are having it in the New York area again. As before it is the combination of two storms merging into one, this time dumping up to three feet of snow. The National Weather Service have called the storm potentially historic. The worst hit area is Connecticut. The population have been told to stay inside and not use their cars creating almost a total shutdown of outside life. People are panic buying petrol. The essential power cuts are there too with over 600,000 homes being without electicity. One source lost was the nuclear powered plant at Plymouth, Massachusetts. Apparently it lost power itself causing an automatic shutdown.
A man, who used to teach at a music school in Manchester, and his former wife were found guilty by a jury yeterday of sexually abusing a 14 year old girl in the 1970’s. The girl had become disruptive in her music class, was referred to a psychiatrist and it was decided she should go to live with the couple. It was alleged the abuse took place both at their home and at school. She became a gifted violinists but at some later date tried to commit suicide. She had four children and ultimately moved to Guildford in Surrey. Perhaps she had been accusing the couple for many years. If so, as a result of the Jimmy Savile revelations no doubt, she started to be believed. A few days after giving her evidence to the court she apparently comitted suicide without leaving a note. We and the jurors were only told yesterday after they had reached their verdict. Quite a similar case, it seems to me, to the lady nurse working in a London private hospital who was found dead after she took a phone call from an Australian radio station.
10th February 2013
Yesterday morning the sea shanty singing group, Fisherman’s Friends from Port Isaac in Cornwall, were preparing for an evening gig at a Guildford music venue. A large metal door fell unexpectedly inside the building killing the manager of the group and seriously injuring one of the singers.
It has taken them a couple of weeks to get organised but I reckon the Gang are now fighting back in Northern Mali, having sent in brainwashed jihadists and infiltrating fighters. There have been two suicide bombings in Goa over the last couple of days and this afternoon gunfire is being heard throughout the town.
It must be difficult being a politician. Owen Paterson has been asked on television this morning why he is not banning meat imports from the EU, something he cannot do under the rules as there is no definitive risk to public health from the horsemeat scare. He has therefore, no doubt, dropped the workd criminal, just referring to fraud. However a new phrase he has used is that the discovered actions were a conspiracy against the public.
The EU budget negotiations on Thursday seemed to get off to a bad start so I am pretty sure there was no officially agreed plan. However, after reading the relevant page of yesterday’s FT, I think the European Council president, Belgian Herman Van Rompuy, knew how he wanted to play it. As he started to declare his position after much prevarication, with the crucial support of Angela Merkel it seems, Francois Hollande realised he was being outmanoeuvred. He was not happy but he could not be seen to be preventing a deal. The result is that the bloc’s spending has been reduced, by 3% over the next seven year period, for the first time in it’s 56 year history. That fits in with what the German Chancellor wants for her voters in her own elections in September and applies even more so to our Prime Minister to bring home to his political party who otherwise have a had a pretty bruising week. Another group, besides the French, who will not be pleased with the outcome are the European Parliament themselves. They now have the power to bring the deal down if they wish. We will see how that goes.
A cruise ship operated by Thomson Holidays was carrying out a standard evacuation drill, when docked in the Canary Islands today. Crew members were lowering a lifeboat to the water when a cable or winch broke. It fell over 20 metres causing the death of five crew.
Mexico elected it’s new president two months ago who wants to concentrate on economic reform to move his country forward. Am important element in that is to improve the workings of the state oil company Pemex. Last weekend the FT reported on an explosion at the headquarters building of the company in Mexico city. 37 were killed and over 100 injured. It is thought a gas leak and a spark caused the explosion.
I am really pleased Simon Kuper took the trouble to visit Tel Aviv and Ramallah for his article in last weekend’s FT Magazine. Nothing can ever be entirely one way but he says there are a few signs that peace might come. No Israelis died in violence on the West Bank last year, the first since 1973.
I ended my book by saying we all need to gain as much confidence as we can. One proviso to add perhaps is that you should be a normal type of person. There was a feature in the same issue on city traders who had become so immersed in their risky trade that out of office hours they had turned into gambling addicts. A lady who helps them change their ways says their defining trait is that they have a grossly exaggerated confidence in their ability to guess correctly.
The next page in the magazine is about Twitter co-founder Biz Stone. He was working for a media podcasting company in the States in 2006 which wasn’t going anywhere. He was asked with Jack Dorsey to do some brain storming and came up with the Twitter concept. Their colleagues didn’t think much of the idea but it soon took off. Biz insists they were never interested in making money. They employed a corporate social responsibility adviser long before they worked out how to create advertising revenue which only came on stream in 2010. The platform now has over 200 million users.
Gillian Tett was in thoughful mood in the same edition. If you are a university student in America nowadays you need hardly go to lectures. You can progress just as easily sitting in your room looking at a computer screen linked to a webcam in the lecture hall. Indeed you could be on the other side of the world and gain the same knowledge. Yet the price of higher education there is rising expotentially. It is now four times higher than it was in 1980. If the costs keep rising distance learning could become a real competitor to traditional seats of learning. We all know what the web has done to newspaper finances.