1st April 2014
David Cameron has announced today that we has called a review of the workings of the Muslim Bortherhood in this country, to be given to him by the summer. Jonathan Rugman said on Channel 4 News this evening that it will involve the resources of MI6, MI5, the Foreign Office and the Home Office. The chairman will be our ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Sir John Jenkins. No doubt Mr Cameron will have been speaking to him over the last couple of days after Mr Obama’s visit to the country at the weekend. Possibly Mr Kerry’s changed flight plans on Sunday might also have been involved bearing in mind that the Prime Minister’s arrangements will have taken a few days to get sorted. We will be told some of the conclusions in due course but not all I expect. I think part of Mr Cameron’s idea might be to get the five investigating parties talking to each other in a purposeful way. I expect the ambassador is also a knowledgeable man.
I anticipate Mr Cameron also shared some of his views about the Brotherhood with Matteo Renzi who visited Downing Street today. The Italian Prime Minister said Britian inside the EU is crucial for Italy, now and in the future.
A 12 year girl at an Edinburgh school was killed today when a free standing dividing wall in a changing room collapsed on her. In December 2011 a pupil at the same school was significantly injured when she was being rescued from a broken lift by staff and inadvertently fell down the shaft.
Moldova and Trans-Dniester were the subect of an item on Channel 4 News this evening. Moldova, created in 1991, is between Ukraine and Romania but the slither which is Trans-Dniester, with it’s many Russian speakers, wishes it were further east, with it’s motherland. Since it’s lost fight for independence in 1992 it has been patrolled by Russian peacekeeping forces. It is one of those unfortunate accidents of history and could do wih a crime free future I feel.
Jonathan Miller reported from Lebanon encamped with yellow flagged Shia Hezbollah fighters. Their traditional enemy is Israel but for the last nine months they have been engaging on the government side in Syria. When you fight other people’s battles though you invite retribution. The Lebanese town of Arsal has become a battleground to the death beween Hezbollah and Sunni al-Qaeda linked Jihadi groups coming in from Syria. As always it is the ordinary people who are suffering.
2nd April 2014
I didn’t know it was on the cards but from a BBC Kent webpage I see that yesterday the individual units in Hampshire, Kent, Surrey and Sussex were merged into the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit under the directorship of an Assistant Chief Constable in Thames Valley Police which cover Herts, Bucks and Oxon. Previously Kent were joined with Essex for serious crime, in view of the perceived importance of the Thames I think. However things have moved on in more recent times.
Arrangements to find the missing plane are being set up for the long haul. Australia has created the Joint Agency Coordination Centre to oversee all the various activities going on. Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak is travelling to Australia to meet with his counterpart Tony Abbott today. Just in case some of us haven’t worked it out we have also been told the mystery of the disappearance might never be solved.
The Welsh health minister has suggested, so we understand smoking is an anti social habit, that e-cigarette puffing should be banned in enclosed public spaces. He is also mindful to introduce a minimum price for alchohol of 50 pence per unit. Final decisions will be made in the summer after the end of a consultation period.
An 8.2 magnitude earthquake struck just off the coast near the mining area of Iquique in Chile yesterday. It was measured by the US Geological Survey. No depth has been given for the seismic source. High waves were produced and at the moment six deaths have been recorded with tens of thousands evacuated from coastal areas.
Weather conditions are such at the moment that red dust is arriving in the atmosphere from the Saraha Desert. Defra have advised that pollution levels will be high over parts of the country for the next couple of days. That obviously isn’t very nice for people with respiratory conditions but it is little more than a pinprick for the rest of us. It will pass.
William Hague and Angelina Jolie were in Bosnia yesterday to highlight the activity of using rape as a weapon of war. It is estimated that between 20-50,000 women suffered that way in the Bosnian war of the middle 1990s. The two will also be prominent at an international conference in June to discuss the issue.
I noted last Wednesday about some missile tests North Korea had carried out. On Monday apparently the North and South of the peninsular exchanged shell fire. It wasn’t that bad though as the North gave advanced warning it was intending to lob into disputed territory and South Korea only fired back the same number it had received. We all like to play games I suppose.
In 1970 at least two paintings were stolen from an art collector’s home in London. Some time later the relevant pair, a Gaugin and Bonnard, were left on a train in Italy. In 1975 a factory worker from Turin bought them at a railways lost property auction for £19. He then retired to Sicily. The man began to have suspicions they might be valuable and eventually contacted the police. Presumably they are now being returned to their rightful owner. Today they are worth at least £8.8 million. And if you believe all that, from a BBC webpage today, you will believe anything.
As reported on the World at One yesterday Mr Xi Jinping made his mian speech in Bruges then at the end of a very low key European visit. He said China is a peaceful nation. It gives respect and seeks it. It has big challenges ahead. He would like to see Europe and China cooperate more.
I think I have really dropped myself in it this time. I try and stay out of political discourse but what can a chap do when the Prime Minister disagrees with him. On 7th March 2014 I accused Waitrose of not running their business smartly. I wrote to them about it and received a full, incredibly courteous, reply honestly addressing the issues I had raised. Mr Cameron visited the John Lewis store in Cheadle today and said he couldn’t see why there was such a fuss over Waitrose’s free cups of coffee. I admit I could be biased for a private reason not appropriate to mention. However I have also been told by a friend that at least one family in this country go to their local supermarket, not Waitrose, every day for no paticularly obvious reason. I suppose I will have to accept that Mr Cameron knows more about it than me.
A short article in the paper says that Mr Obama has two aims over future bulk storage of private citizens’ communications. Firstly the data should not be the property of the state. Secondly if intelligence agencies want access to something specific they must be able to rationally explain their reasons to a judge.
3rd April 2014
My household water account is with Southern Water. As I live alone my consumption is low. I have a septic tank so have no mains drainage rates. I used to pay £10 per month by direct debit. In October 2013 I received a statement based on an estimated reading. It told me my direct debit was going up to £36.30 per month. I did not check it properly. Last week I received an ammended October bill telling me my account, including all payments to date, was £222 in credit. That estimated usage was out by a mile and although they have not told me the water company must have found out by coming here recently and reading my meter in the garden. However on the revised bill just received there was no mention of them changing my monthly payments. By the next reading date of October 2014 I reckon they would owe me over £400. I rang them up this afternoon to cancel the arrangement and go back to the old fashion way of six monthly statements and bills. I wouldn’t call the chap rude but he was completely lackadaisical. However once I started using a few words like unacceptable, and knowing the call was being recorded no doubt, he bucked up. He asked if he could call me back once he had worked out what my refund would be, which he did five minutes later. I am writing to the Consumer Council for Water about it.
During the Somerset floods Mr Cameron made a commitment that dredging of the River Parrett would start before the end of March. I feel that was pretty brave of him, bearing in mind there was such a long chain of command down to the men with the diggers. However it came off. Work started on Monday.
After Mrs Merkel’s awayday recently to see the Queen, and others, Her Majesty and Prince Philip have made a similar trip to Rome. Their destination was the Vatican for tea, and the Presidential Palace for lunch. It is the first time the Queen has met the Pope. I noticed Prince Philip make a point of greeting the Pontiff with more than just a formal handshake as he walked into the room. I expect final details for the trip were arranged when Prime Minister Renzi was here on Tuesday.
A military psychiatrist shot thirteen people dead at the home of America’s Amored Corps, Fort Hood in Texas, in November 2009. Another soldier, this time under psychiatric care, killed three and injured 16 there today. He was confronted by a female armed military officer. Before she could do anything I think he blew his brains out. That must have been horrible for her. President Obama has said he is heartbroken by the tragedy.
There was quite a fuss last July when the government rowed back it’s forward momentum to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes, associated with rumours about their election strategist Lynton Crosby. They seem to be back on track today however, reiterating their commitment to the measure. After a short consultation period they hope to have provision for standardised anti smoking packs on the statute book before the election.
Afghans go to the polls this weekend to start their election of a new president to replace Mr Karsi. There are nine candidates of all shades. It will be interesting to see what materialises.
Tower Hamlets in London has a directly elected mayor with considerably more powers than a normal local authority leader. Monday’s Panorma programme was about the man, a Bangledshi community Independent candidate winning in October 2010 on 13% of the eligible vote. The allegation is that he is out to gain influence and re-election in May through granting favours and council finance to his clan. He is a brazen gentleman. He spoke to Panorma about their criticisms as much as they wanted and ensured he always had an answer.
Coming back to Kent on Sunday afternoon I listened to a repeated Radio 4 programme in the car on Payment Protection Insurance for consumer loans and mortgages. It painted a salutory tale of how blatent financial greed can corrupt everyone in sight. Ultimately it is going to cost the banks the incredible sum of £22 billion in compensation. The first tug on values was the profit margin on the poilicies themselves. Only £15 in claims was paid out for every £100 received in premiums. If a business tried to offer a better deal to customers they were just squeezed out of the market by more powerful players. After time it was bank customers who were providing nearly all the premiums. Often borrowers were nor even asked if they wanted the cover. Once they had cornered the market the banks got really greedy and started to keep up to 95% of those payments for themselves in the form of commission. As everyone was on the make it wasn’t really possible to argue that you were being hard done by other nasty people in the circle. Then to increase profits every trick in the book, using contractual small print, was used to get out of valid claims. When reality started catching up on the industry they were in complete denial they had done anything wrong. They went through every court available fighting the inevitable. Ultimately the final appeal was lost and the floodgates were opened. Even then it seems the financial regulators had no proper understanding how these things work. Instead of getting the banks to simply pay the premiums back, unless you said you were happy with your policy, they set it up the other way round. You had to ask the banks for compensation. Even then not all banks would give it to you using the unreasonable assumption that you would have been willing to pay your PPI by instalments rather than the lump sum actually charged. That refusal to accept consumers’ legitimate rights allowed the claim companies to come in, treat you like a child and do it all for you, for an exhorbitant fee. You just hope those who purport to look after us have finally got a handle on things.
A professor was interviewed on Today on Tuesday about the current Ebola haemorrhaging virus outbreak in West Africa with 80 deaths so far, mostly in Guinea. The initial contamination comes from infected wild animals but once in the human population spreads through some form of body or fluid contact. There is no cure or vacinne available although the gentleman did say that normal good hygenic practice will combat it.
After that we were told about two German doctors who won the world bridge championships in Bali last year. However their title has just been stripped from them by their ruling body on the basis they were cheating by coughing in a pre-arranged code. On was telling the other what cards they had in their hand. The men deny it. It makes me remember about that man on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire who, with the world watching him, a court decided cheated in the same way in 2001. He used a coughing accomplice sitting behind him. It just shows that in this life, if someone perceives it to be possible, it will be tried.
The head of the International Rescue Committee, David Miliband, was on the programme on Wednesday. He pointed out that America has been spending $10 billion a month on it’s military operation in Afghanistan where his organisation has 700 staff. He hopes just a fraction of that can be spent on humanitarian assistance to the population once the Yanks have gone home.
This morning the edition highlighted that we are just a few days away from the 20th anniversary of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Under cover of the civil war the ruling Hutu elite planned the extermination of the civilian Tutsi minority population. Over a period of 100 days approximately 800,000 people were killed, mostly hacked to death I believe. I think we have to accept that there is evil in the world.
Another item intimated that a group of state schools in Birmingham, with high numbers of Muslim pupils, have been infiltrated by religious extremists. If that is correct it will have been orchestrated by the Gang in my view, although no one on the ground will realise it. Those of strong Muslim faith no doubt just think they are trying to get things done their way. One particular school was visited by invitation. It received an outstanding grading from Ofsted 26 months ago and was looked upon highly by the Department of Education I think. It was very open of them to allow that access I feel with all the fuss going on. A local MP, Liam Byrne, was interviewed. What he failed to understand was how the school could have appeared to have been doing so well a relatively short time ago but now is full of religous hotheads. I expect it is somewhere in the middle.
Last Thursday’s FT notes that the day before the Siemens chief executive met with Vladimir Putin in Moscow. The German apparently made a long term commitment to continue doing business with Russia.
4th April 2014
My wash hand basin in my bedroom is by the window. That looks out over my neighbour’s property with it’s long drive approach to the replacement house currently being built to the west. It used to be overgrown with trees and scrub. However that was all cleared last summer making it completely open. I don’t think the people who live there will have been pleased with their loss of privacy but when you are in a larger circle and are asked to do something, no doubt you don’t refuse. For some reason as I walked across my bedroom for my shave, at my normal time, I must have glanced behind me. There was a white van cum people carrier with a darkened side window stationery on the drive. The Gang, in my view, were using the hidden camera in my bedroom to wait for me to get to the basin before calling the vehicle up. But when I stood by the window and watched they realised the game was up. The vehicle came ahead anyway.
I haven’t seen Jimmy Carter on my television screen for a long, long time. But, after my note of 21st March 2014, there he was last night on Newsnight. Kirsty Wark asked him about Edward Snowden. He said if Edward returns home he would have to go through the proper American legal and court processes. However with a mischevious smile on his face he sugested that if he were President, he would then pardon him.
It is reported this morning that two ships are directly looking for the lost plane’s black box on the ocean floor. They will only have a few days to do that before it’s battery runs out. As no wreckage has yet been found it is looking as though it could have been cleverly sunk with least disturbance to everything inside the cabin. Possibly then all the people inside, except say for a couple with means of protection, were unconscious or dead by means of it’s internal air flow system, when it was flying. That might throw a spotlight on the five bags put into the hold and taken out again plus the two in the cabin of the Iranian men with false passports. My suspicion is that everyone who needs to know, including the Chinese president, is fully aware exactly how it was done. I really hope they will be able to find evidence so we can be given an indication too. Otherwise the fantastical conspiracy theories, involving aliens and spaceships no doubt, will be going around social media for years to come.
If I am right I feel pretty sure the decision to tell Mr Xi was Barack Obama’s alone. I anticipate his intelligence forces told him it would be the worst thing he could possibly do, to trust a country like China. However something like that is for the President alone to decide, no one else.
A new law comes into force on Sunday restricting the actions bailiffs can take when enforcing money court orders. They will not be able to enter homes when only children are there for example nor knock on your door in the middle of the night.
Our good news story this morning is the reopening of the Dawlish railway line originally cut by the storms at the beginning of February. Even with the additional damage occuring two weeks later everyone has pulled together and got the main line into Cornwall open in good time for Easter.
Following my note of 5th September 2013 last Friday’s FT reports that the Office of National Statistics have decided to reprieve our census. We will complete the next one online apparently. I hope that does not mean those without computers will be excluded.
In an interview with a man who was one, it was suggested ministerial special advisers always get on badly with career civil servants. Apparently there are about 100 of them out of the government staff machine of 150,000. He saw his job as getting information to his minister which traditional public employees would not normally let them see. Ministerial aides though of course are not always whiter than white as the stories of Jo Moore and Damian McBride show.
According to the paper a relief agency says there has been an upsurge in violence by Boko Haram in north east Nigeria over the last few months. It seems more than 1,000 people have been killed this year, with 250,000 displaced and 3,000,000 affected in some way.
In his column Philip Stephens makes the simple point that there are no certainties in life. There are plenty of countries around the world with the ability to fire armed nuclear weapons. Their leaders must make sure it does not happen.
The joint article there by George Osborne and his German counterpart, Wolfgang Schauble, was much remarked on by other news outlets. It is a positive piece looking for constuctive reform of the eurozone but recognising that the UK’s position must also be protected. We will remain outsiders looking in.
From Today this morning I know there has been a lot of negative press comment about the curt apology Culture Secretary Maria Miller made to the House of Commons yesterday. It related to some incorrect expenses claims she made for her home in London which she shares with her disabled parents. The two sides do not like each other. Because of that when some information reaches them to hurt the other they will gratefully accept it. One example here, in my view, was the Gang Master arranging for details of Mrs Miller’s claims to come out just as she was deciding what to do about the Leveson report. With that bit of destabilisation all he had to do was watch the bickering unfold: it seems as stong today as it ever was. It would be nice if the warring parties could look above their hurt emotions, however it seldom happens like that I am afraid.
There were representatives from the Metropolitan Police Federation and the force heirarchy on Today this morning. From an email survey of 250 officers by the lower ranks’ association the conclusion has been drawn that there is an unreasonable target and bullying culture in the service. If that is correct it could be there is a pull for ordinary bobbies to create crime so that targets can be met. However the senior man disagreed with that proposition. He said the bigger picture is that murder, crime and anti social behaviour are all down. There are bound to be pockets of bad behaviour in an organisation of nearly 50,000 but the force isn’t getting everything wrong. Londoners are generally happy with their police.
The radio news passed on that the US Senate Intelligence Committee had voted to publish as much as possible of it’s report into past allegations of torture, through waterboarding and other means, by the CIA. It’s conclusion is that those methods had no measurable effect in the war on terror.
Another intriguing item was that American spies set up a Twitter like social media vehicle in Cuba. I would look upon that as a direct American versus European Gang activity. 40,000 young people signed up to the service apparently which appears to have been designed to destabilise the Cuban government. It was discontinued over a year ago.
I wrote about Daniel Morgan in my book. His brother was on the edition. He wants answers to Daniel’s killing in a south London pub car park 27 years ago for which, after five separate investigations, no one has been successfully prosecuted. I think he could be worried that the police are about to start another criminal investigation which will stymie progress by the independent review set up by Theresa May in May 2013. I missed that news but see from the Gov.uk website that it is being chaired by Sir Stanley Burnton, a retired Court of Appeal judge. It is looking at how police corruption affected the handling of the murder inquiry and the treatment of Daniel’s family in that process. It has been tasked with checking connections between police officers, private investigators, journalists at the News of the World and other media involved with the case.
For good or bad a milestone in my story was the death of Marie Colvin on 22nd February 2012. I believe that happened on the personal command of the Gang Master. I think he hates women. And probably he has been doing more today. On the eve of elections two female Associated Press journalists have been shot when a police commander fired bullets into their car in Khoust, near the Afghan border with Pakistan. The German lady photographer has died. The Canadian lady writer is stable. The man is being questioned.
5th April 2014
I have had an unexpected twist to my light bulb saga which I last mentioned on 9th March 2014. By chance when I went out last night I left the kitchen lights on. On coming back one of the three had blown. As I was brewing my early morning cup of tea I got the open pack of bulbs from the draw in the playroom. Neither of the two in there worked either. I opened a new pack. The one from that carton worked fine.
This short story involes me and four of my neighbours. After the recent storms one of them, an aged widow, asked if I could clear up some fallen branches in her garden. I am pleased to do so. I walked up the footpath which runs behind our houses earlier to have a look at what needs doing. That took me past another back garden, also of an elderly widow on her own. There was a man not known to me sitting on a bench on her back terrace not doing anything, at a point I can’t see from my own garden. I walked up the garden. He was the window cleaner. He was embarrassed he had been caught doing nothing. I believe the primary reason for his presence was to listen to the people next door, nearer to me, who were out on their balcony. Depending on how you look at it I think he was provided support for, or intimidation to, them. He would be able to report to the local Gang Director exactly how they had acted in relation to me. I already knew they were there, out of my sight, because a short time before I had said something to myself when pottering in my own garden. From silence they immediately started talking to themselves. I would definitely call that low level intimidation towards me. My own sound had made me aware that someone was taking a secret interest in me. I was the instigator not them. It is the sort of thing which makes you feel instinctively uncomfortable, almost as if it were your own fault. Shortly after that one of the builders’ machines at the big neighbour’s house noisily started up causing an irritation to all the neighbours on a Saturday. That lasted for about half an hour.
Yesterday I wrote about a vehicle stopping on my neighbour’s long drive. From within my garden this morning I noticed a rake and loppers left on their cleared ground. Bearing in mind all the garden tools I have had stolen over the years I believe those were deliberately left there as a lure, in the hope I would pinch them in retaliation. It would have meant getting my steps out to climb over the chainlink fence but that is something I have done before. However trespassing is a non actionable misdemeanour, theft is not. I think it likely there would have been consequences for me if I had taken the bait, although probably not involving the police.
It seems logical to conclude that the set up was in direct response to my vehicle note. If so of course it means my local Gang Director has direct technological spying acess to my diary notes as soon as they are written, well before they are published on my website.
Then a few moments after I came into the house from the garden this afternoon I noticed a reasonably young lady with a dog walking up the path. She stopped for about fifteen seconds behind a fir tree on the edge of my garden where I could not see her, before continuing. It was near where the two implements lay. I suspect she was asked to stop at that very point and tell somebody if she could see anything lying on the ground. The messaging would have found it’s way back to the Gang Director who of course already knew the answer. You could look upon that as supportive bonding behaviour between pals or creating psychological pressure, depending on your point of view.
David Cameron spoke at the Conservative’s Spring Forum today. A lot has happened since the last one twelve months ago. I watched a video clip of him at that time. I would like to think that, even if I hadn’t seen it, I would still have acted in the same way in the intervening period. However I have remembered quite a few times since what he said then, especially when things were not going well for me.
On Wednesday 48 year old Scotsman Peter Campsie was killed by two gunmen in Rio de Janeiro where he lived and worked for an Aberdeen oil drilling company. It is thought they were trying to steal the vehicle he was driving at the time. He leaves a wife and three children. I think it possible his death could be connected to that of the much younger Mikaeel Kular in January 2014.
I heard on the radio news at Friday lunchtime that the NHS blood and transplant service decided last week to offer organ transplants to people who have irreparably damaged their liver through excessive drinking. The associate medical director of the service says their transplants are for humans not angels.
In last Saturday’s Weekend FT Magazine Simon Kuper puzzles why Vladimir Putin decided to take over Crimea. He doen’t think it can have been for hard headed strategic reasons. Whoever was in power in Kiev they would not have been stupid enough to badly upset their bigger neighbour by acting against it’s interests. He quotes an American psychology professor who suggests Mr Putin displays narcissistic tendencies. He seems to aspire to greatness, likes to be worshipped and lacks empathy. I am not sure if that is right but apparently a survey shows 74% of Russians think a war over Crimea is impossible. I know Mr Putin would not clash with that sentiment.
The paper notes that Mr Cameron met with the Danish prime minister, whom I wrote about on 9th February 2014, at The Hague summit. If her political fortunes at home fade it seems possible she might be persuadeded to go for a top EU post. I suspect, with her discreet direct access into the British political scene, the prime minister might be quite pleased about that.
Further inside a short piece records that the former Norweigan prime minister, Jens Stoltenberg, is to be the new chief of Nato. His term will start in October.
The editorial wonders why the Financial Conduct Authority has decided to investigate the appropriateness of 30 million policies issued by the life insurance industry going back to the 1970s. It muses whether that is a good use of resources or time. I have heard of no public clamour for such a review. However of course if we get lots of refunds out of it, as for PPI, we would be daft to say it is a bad idea.
A commentator on the opposite page suggests the Conservatives are under pressure to move closer to Ukip’s position on the EU. In that situation the author suspects Mr Cameron might have to look upon Mr Clegg and Mr Miliband as his allies in securing a better deal for us within the Union.
6th April 2014
Everyone seems to think the start of the Afghan elections went well. This time it is estimated seven million people voted out of a population of 12 million, as against 4 million in 2009, a third of them women.
Just after lunchtime yesterday it came through that the Chinese state news agency was reporting that a single pulse had been picked up from the ocean floor by one of it’s search ships. Later a second pulse was detected 1.2 miles from the first. After that we were told Australia earlier had also detected one single pulse in a different search area. Hopefully we will have some more details tomorrow.
Separately I see from a BBC webpage this morning that Malaysia is setting up a special team to investigate the plane’s disappearance to include members from Australia, China, America, Britain and France. I guess France is included because of it’s experience in dealing with the 2009 Atlantic Ocean Air France crash.
It seems parts of the press are really keen to see Maria Miller lose her job. It looks like a battle of wills between them and Mr Cameron is taking place.
I don’t think relations between MPs and it’s standards authority, which oversees the expenses payment system, have ever been good. The chairman of IPSA, Professor Sir Ian Kennedy, has said this morning he feels the process should be completely separate from MP decision making. At the moment one of Parliament’s committees decide, as in Mrs Miller’s case, on issues of dispute. The accusation in this case is that they have been lenient with her. Public comment on the standing of MPs in our society is still pretty awful.
As a business owner I have been a party to an employment tribunal in the past. From today new rules come in. If an employee wishes to make a claim against their employer they must first use the services of Acas, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration service, to see if a negotiated settlement can be reached. I am sure that will reduce the number of cases which actually reach the tribunal’s door.
There was a live discussion in the studio on Sunday this morning betweem Edward Sourton as interviewer, Archbishop Welby and Cardinal Nicholls on helping the poor in our society. The Archbishop suggested that the influence of God, through the power of prayer, draws people such as those in the two churches, together. His predecessor, now Doctor Williams, has said that the work of the church is to see what God is doing and get along there to do it with him. The large number of children educated in Church of England schools will help with that. He also spoke about politics. The church wishes to change the direction of society in a political way, by example and argument. It seeks to engage with the government of the day in achieving it’s aims to enable an individual to obtain self determination, solidarity with others and space to grow free of constraint. It does not seek to trivialise it’s involvement though by suggesting that one party’s views are better than anothers. We are all on the same side. Both men agreed they strive for the common good, of all that live on the planet. I would say it is unachieivable but it is a nice concept, to want the best even for those who are pretty horrible to you.
Next week the Cardinal travels to Rome for a conference on human trafficking. It is between his church, charities and policemen form 20 different countries. It seems there is a network of Catholic ladies who are able to befriend the victims of trafficking and then make make contact with church friends in the person’s place of origin. Arrangements are made for them to go home and be protected there from further manipulation. The idea is that in the future the police and Church will act as part of a cohesive team.
Earlier in the broadcast was a piece on the Muslim Brotherhood which Edward says was formed in Egypt in the 1920s and now has a presence in 80 countries. Kevin Bouquet went to the offices of an internet publishers above a disused shop in north London. The company owner was quite happy to speak to the journalist but did not agree that his office is a venue for high level Muslim Brotherhood meetings of representatives from around the world. His willingness to speak to the media shows an open outlook I feel. It is a pity perhaps that former President Morsi did not have the skills to ameliorate the Egyptian population after he had been elected in a democratic vote.
Although Northern Ireland has virtually no politically motivated violence now the elected parties still haven’t found the strength to make that final reconciliation. Next week, during the state visit of the Irish president, Martin McGuiness has been invited to the banquet at Windsor Castle. I heard on the radio news this morning that Buckingham Palace has said the Monarch is greatly looking forward to meeting all her guests. In 1979 her cousin, Lord Mountbatten, was murdered by the IRA. It would be nice to think the leaders of those who live in Northern Ireland could follow the lead given by their Queen.
In composing that paragraph I have come across a BBC webpage dated last Tuesday. It records that Mr McGuiness has recently been to Colombia, home of the FARC Marxist-Leninist guerilla group, to brief their president on how progress was ultimately achieved in the Northern Ireland peace process. I wrote about Mr Clegg visiting Colombia on 4th February 2014 and Mr Hague on 2nd March 2014.
A BBC report today is about the 15 million tonnes of food we waste in the UK each year at a cost of £60 for every household per month. As I have mentioned before I do not throw anything away. The House of Lords European Union Committee has called the situation repugnant and a real problem for the whole of the continent. It suggests that if we can’t organise ourselves sufficiently the supermarkets should help by not making such enticing offers to us.
Doctor Maggie Aderin-Pocock, presenter of the Sky at Night, was a guest on Good Morning Sunday earlier. She, Clare Balding, Samatha Cameron and Miriam Gonzalez all went to the event at the Basildon girls school I wrote about on 22nd January 2014. Clare asked her if she thought science conflicted with religion. Maggie said no. The universe creates wonderment. We will never understand everything. Scientific enquiry and faith are parts of our lives. There is no reason why they should not exist in harmony.
7th April 2014
When I was on the footpath yesterday I noticed what I thought could be an irregularity in implementation of a planning permission my neighbour with the long drive has obtained on his property. However I am not an expert so I have decided to enquire of my local council about it to see what they say. I am also sending a copy of the letter to my MP. If necessary I hope that he and I together will be able to ensure all planning rules and regulations are being correctly followed.
Today demonstrators, all men I suspect, have occupied governmnet buildings in Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv near the Russian border in Ukraine. They say they want a local referenduum to join Russia and have asked for Russian peacekeeping troops to join them to provide protection from Ukrainian forces. It seems to me someone with authority should give them a good talking to before some blood is spilt.
I use Windows XP on my office computer and there was a discussion on Today on Saturday about support for the operating system ending tomorrow. The gentleman didn’t think it is too serious. Most updates are to remedy flaws found in the software. If they haven’t been found in the last 13 years it is unlikely they ever will.
The Team Rector speaking on Thought for the Day noted that the Pope met with Rwandian bishops last week asking them to forgive their genocidal enemies. I feel the Queen is following the same path at her Windsor meal this week. It is unfortunate therefore that the Taliban can’t see things in the same way. They had no wish to participate in the weekend’s elections. They just want to kill people if they don’t get their way, it seems.
The broadcast finished with a discussion about men crying, especially over poetry. The consensus was that men should be more emotional. Four of the males present agreed that they cry sometimes. Occasionally I have times when tears roll down my cheeks, as over the weekend. More often it is a question of my eyes welling up. To be frank I do not go through a period of 24 hours when that does not silently happen at some point. If you were watching me though you would never know.
It has turned out that it was the Australians who were picking up authentic pings from the ocean over the weekend, not the Chinese. I suspect the latter news was deliberately fabricated by the Gang Master to show his displeasure. There has been commentary on both Today and the World at One during the day about where we are. Then from the map on the BBC webpage it seems the search area has been within a narrow north-south arc no doubt plotted by the Immarsat satellite. I also heard last week that authorities believe they have worked out the speed of the aircraft so, on the assumption it flew until it’s fuel ran out, that would also have helped to narrow down the area of interest. A man from the black box manufacturers has said he is confident his equipment will transmit at full signal strength for 35 days before the batteries start to fade, so that gives the boats a bit more time to get a definite fix. The ocean there apparently can be over 2.5 miles deep, out of the box’s pulse range, so the detection device has been pulled along under the searching boat I think on a cable up to a mile long. Apparently the Australian ship located a pair of signals initially, as it steamed ahead, for 20 minutes. It then turned around and heard them for another 13 minutes. The Australian commander of the operation says they would like to get one more positive pass before they send down equipment, or a manned submarine perhaps, to the ocean floor. A remote vehicle would take over two hours to get down there. Interestingly an academic gentleman on Today said recovery of the second black box voice recorder might not help the autorities. He thought it quite possible the tape would be blank as the pilots could have been unconscious for a length of time before it crashed. I don’t know if he had specific reason for saying that but if he did it could mean the plane was being flown remotely, as a drone, over the water. Any operator I imagine would only needed to have control of speed and direction, automatic pilot would have done the rest.
Kent Police were called to a rural address in Wrotham just after 1.30 this afternoon. There they found the body of Peaches Geldof, 25, in her home. They are calling the death unexplained and sudden. Later they said it was not suspicious. Peaches leaves a husband and two sons of one and two.
I see from the evening BBC TV news that Asda, owned by Walmart the largest grocer on the planet with over two million emplyees, have decided they are going to expand themselves out of competitive trouble. It seems to me that mindset is the same I wrote about on 7th March 2014 when referring to Waitrose. Because of Walmart’s size they have pretty limitless pockets. They can do as they like. For the rest of us I suspect we will have lots of empty, unsightly Asda sheds blighting the landscape in ten years time.
I think Today must be upping their budget. This morning Mishal Husain was in India reporting on their general election. Jim Naughtie was over in America commenting on Alex Salmond’s trip there promoting Scottish heritage. John and Sarah were in the studio.
Following my note from yesterday I hear from the newspaper review on the programme that the Daily Mirror thinks the Prime Minister too sees the Maria Miller story as a trial of stength. It suggests he is stupid for doing so.
The Labour Party have asked Sir Kier Starmer to see if victims can be treated better in our legal system. He said on the broadcast that currently if a victim comes forward to tell their story they invariably vow afterwards they would never do it again. That is an unacceptable situation.
The gentleman on Thought for The Day suggested that money is the great spiritual issue of our age. It can do immeasurably good. But it can also lead to avarice. You need to have strong values to make sure you stay on the right altruistic side of the fence.
The reason for another discussion was persecution against jornalists for just doing their job. UNESCO says it is the worst ever. British journalists from all the major news organisations have observed a minute’s silence today. They wish to protest at the intimidatory atmosphere they often experience when trying to report the truth.
I wrote a note on 29th March 2013 about Mr Obama doing his best to bring people together, in that case at Ben Gurion airport. Having read the editorial in last Monday’s FT I think he tried to do the same at The Hague summit where two attendees were the prime ministers of Japan and South Korea. The President sat between the two at the conference table apparently and no doubt told them how much they have in common, despite the difficulties of history. They should talk to each other more. They are on the same side.
8th April 2014
I started writing about my Gibraltar holiday on 27th January 2014. Something I haven’t mentioned however is the problem I had with my hotel booking. When I went to the airport handling desk at Gibraltar airport it was because I had just discovered that the hotel I had booked was not just over the border as I thought but an hour’s bus journey away into Spain. I arranged somewhere more convenient and cancelled my reservation as soon as I could. It was not until I read my credit card statement a couple of weeks later that I realised the hotel concerned has taken the equivalent of a cancellation charge from my card a few days after I booked the flight. They only way they could have done that was by using the card details I entered when booking with Easyjet. The advertisement, by a reputable online hotel booking company, came up on the Easyjet website immediately I had confirmed my destination. It showed the hotel to be near a promontory which I took to be Gibraltar. It gave no intervening distance however. I took a screen print. When I checked it out some time later the promontory concerned seemed to be a nature reserve further west along the Spanish coast than Gibraltar. I complained to the booking company that I had been tricked by a misrepresentaion. They contacted the Spanish hotel for me who refused to pay any money back. Although it was the hotel who debited my card I have no legal remedy against a foreign organisation. I asked the booking company for a refund. Our email correspondence went on for several weeks, on each exchange with a different person. Sometimes it was positive, sometimes not. After one negative email too many I issued my County Court summons. When that arrived at the company’s head office of course the issue went up the management tree. I was immediately contacted and speedy settlement made last week. It wasn’t their fault nor was it mine. It is what the Gang arrange when they have their dander up.
The Scotsman and former former Nato secretary general, Lord Robertson, was interviewed by Jim Naughtie in America for this morning’s Today. He has always been against Scottish independence. Lord Robinson says that if Scotland does break away he believes it will have a large destabilising effect, not only on us but also the world in general. We are small but we have a big voice out there. A divorce cannot be anything but unpleasant. In his confidential conversations, I suspect, has been told similar things by various world leaders. He suggests those people should let it be known what they think. We do all live on the same planet. Politics can be very debilitating sometimes.
The argument against of course is that you should not meddle in our people’s private affairs, especially if they are squabbling. It all looks so unseemly. Certainly Nicola Sturgeon has been pretty upset by the Lord’s remarks. She has called them crass and offensive.
An early newspaper review on the programme tells me the Sun has seven pages of print and photos this morning on the death of Peaches Geldof. I feel that is unnecessarily unkind. The editor might be able to show the coverage has sold him extra nespapers. However I hardly feel that is the point. Money should not rule our lives. A close knit family is in shock and grief. Just because they are celebrities doesn’t justify, I consider, such lurid attention. The tragedy should obviously be reported but in a responsible way.
The Ukranian deputy foreign minister was on the edition. He said steps were being arranged to take back for the state the occupied buidings in Kharhiv, Luhansk and Donetsk. He described the situation as under control but difficult. At lunchtime William Hague told the House of Commons there is indication elements of the Russian state are setting out to deliberately undermine the stability of the Ukraine government in the run up to presidential elections at the end of next month.
The broadcast ended with one of those serendipity moments about our favorite number. An author who has done some surveys reckons it is seven. He might well be right. It is probably all quite deep. He had lots of highfalutin reasons for his conclusions but I am not sure it matters too much. The least popular apparently is 110.
The first Prevention of Terrorism Act, conferring emergency powers on the police in times of crisis, was introduced a few days after the Birmingham pub bombings on 21st November 1974. 21 people died and 182 were injured in the Mulberry Bush and the Tavern in the Town pubs in the city centre. Using that legislation six Irishmen were convicted for the attacks and sentenced to life imprisonment. In 1991 their terms were quashed by the Counrt of Appeal after queries were raised about the scientific evidence used. It was decided as well that confessions were extracted under the threat of violence. The sister of one 18 year girl who died is running a campaign with her bother for justice for the dead. I saw a programme about them on BBC 2 last week and she was on Channel 4 News last night. She wants an inquiry and a new investigation.
By chance I also heard the Archbishop of Westminster mention the name Giuseppe Conlon on the Sunday Proramme at the weekend. The name Giuseppe is Italian for Joseph. Looking into that I see Giuseppe, named after the man who ran the local ice cream store an internet page says, came here from Belfast in 1974 to help his son. However he was framed for suppying explosives to terrorists, as one of the Maquire Seven bomb makers for the Guldford Four, and sentenced to some years in goal. He died there in 1980. In 1991 his conviction, with the other six, was quashed. His son was Gerry Conlon who was the supposed leader of the Guilford Four. All of the other Maquire Seven were Guiseppe’s relatives. Guildford was the location of terrorist bombings at two pubs frequented by soldiers, on 5th October 1974. Six people were killed and 65 wounded. The Guildford Four were sentenced to life imprisonment. Their convictions were overturned in 1989.
On 7th November 1974 a bomb was thrown though the window of the Kings Arms pub in Woolwich, frequented by soldiers, now on the route of the London Marathon. Two people were killed. Woolwich is also where Lee Rigby was murdered last year.
In December 1975 an active service unit of the IRA was cornered in Balcombe Street, near Marylebone Station in London. Four men were chased there after they had fired gunshots through the window of Scotts Restaurant in Mayfair. On 12th November 1975 they had thown a bomb through the same window killing one and injuring 15. It was the culmination of a 14 month reign of terror on the capital when 40 bombs killed 35 people. Those four men were given full life sentences. At their trial they claimed responsibility for the Woolwich and Guildford attacks but not Birmingham. They were released in 1999 as part of the Good Friday Agreement.
Fitting all that into my story I feel it is possible to reach some tentative conclusions. The American Gang are a secret organisation. They fooled the IRA for a long time until the terror group realised in the 1990s that violence was not the only way. The Provisionals probably came to the mainland in March 1973 all on their own. The Gang watched them with interest. However the Gang Master is interested in big, strategic decisions. If he could panic the UK government into introducing laws against terrorism I anticipate he thought that would destabilise society pretty well. I suspect therefore that the Birmingham bombings were a Gang operation. Then of course there was his old enemy the European Gang. It seems plausible that Gerry Conlon’s father had European Gang connections based in Italy. To put his family in jail and kill the godfather figure there seemed like a pretty good wheeze I am sure.
Peter Hain, Northern Ireland secretary for two years from 2005, was also on Channel 4 News last night. He is floating the idea that there should be some form of peace and reconciliation process for offences committed in Ireland before the Good Friday Agreement. I think he wants people to be able to admit their past hateful crimes and not be too badly punished for them. I do believe in consequences for wrong doing but I suppose I also believe foregiveness is a good human quality.
Last Tuesday’s FT records that the Turkish local elections ended satisfatorily for Mr Erdogan. His Justice and Development party received just over 45% of the vote over the country as a whole. Daniel Dombey says the Prime Minister is master of his own fate for the time being.
Things did not look good for Barack Obama’s new public healthcare insurance system when software problems hit the website last autumn. However Wednesday’s paper reported that the target of 7 million registrations had been reached by the deadline date two days earlier. That does not mean political critics have been won over though. A spokesman for Republican leader John Boehner is quoted as saying that the fundamentally bad law must be replaced.
Following my note about the OSCE of 22nd March 2014 an article there says the 100 observers arrived in Ukraine at that time and are now based in nine cities. Numbers are hoped to rise to 500 in due course. I see that one covered location is Donetsk which I mentioned earlier today.
On another page we are told that private health insurers such as Bupa are in the practice of offering their customers cash sums if they are prepared to have some treatments on the NHS, free to all of us. It will obviously save the insurer money to pay a smaller amount to the patient for what would otherwise be an expensive procedure in a private hospital. I feel that is a reprehensible decision for a private company in the healthcare sector to make. Money is everything. Also I am pretty surprised people who have made the conscious decision they would like private treatment are willing to go along with it. It is just the sort of activity I would expect the Gang to be behind; coming in secretly on both sides to get their desired result, destabilisation of the NHS.
Thursday’s paper says that, despite the energetic and best efforts of John Kerry, the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks are on the verge of collapse. The mutual bickering is so great, meaningful progess is no longer possible.
Both Today this morning and Channel 4 News this evening covered the unexpected retirement of the chairman and general secretary of the Police Federation. After a hearing of the Home Affairs Select Committee today, and the release of Federation correspondence, it is clear the two men felt they were getting nowhere with some pretty unruly people. Just because you are apparently at the top of the pile does not necessarily mean you are in charge. It is one of those culture things I am afraid, little people controlling big people.
The Northern Ireland Secretary, Theresa Villiers, was on the broadcast. She said the groundwork in the Province prepared by Richard Haass has been built on by the party leaders. She felt that victims’ search for truth must be central to their deliberations. She indicated private talks are going well although there is still a lot more to be done.
9th April 2014
Nick Robinson said on Today just now that David Cameron returned from Windsor castle last night preparing to defend Maria Miller at PMQs at midday. It was only then she contacted him to say she had decided to resign after all. There may have been a few quite conversations going on but I am happy to accept that is the crux of it. The Prime Minister’s letter to her is in the same form as that for David Laws. He has supported her as best he can and hopes critics will not snipe if he invites her back to government when things have all quietened down, after a decent time.
I feel Mrs Miller’s is basically a personal story. Her apology to the House of Commons was not complete. In that circumstance I feel she should have given media interviews to fully explain her position. I suspect she did not do so out of consideration for her family group. She wished to protect their privacy. However it was her job on the line which she obviously did not want to lose. I believe she would have been able to find a form of words to show the public the unfair pressures to which she had been subjected whilst not referring to anything others had told her they did not want her to divulge. Essentially it would have been about those family members talking openly and frankly to each other. Anyway, last night she did the right thing. She put the interests of her Party before those of herself.
A BBC webpage published on 7th March 2014 is in the most popular list this morning. It is about an 18 year old university student in North Carolina who supplements her income, to finance her education fees, by appearing in porn films. She confided in a friend who did not keep it private and soon all her friends seemed to know. In that situation she thought she might just as well go public on the campus and wordlwide web. Instead of being bullied and put down by others she wants to control the conversation and use it to start a dialogue. She says there is a lot of abuse in the sex industry. But for her it brings artistic satisfaction. At the end of a long day she feels she has completed an honest day’s work.
A positive outcome of Mrs Miller’s resignation I feel is that there will surely be further reform of how MPs regulate themselves. It has not been pleasant to hear of the low esteem in which they are still held by most members of the public. The perception is that there is one cushy law for them and a much harsher one for us. It is unfair, but it is real. They need to get themselves in a positon where the popular press do not feel the need to bang on about them all the time. Mr Osborne said in his 2014 budget that he wants to trust the public more. I think that principle should be extended to Parliamentary regulation, at both ends of the building. We have the right to vote. We should also have a voice when a Member has acted badly.
I am not sure what was going on on Monday in the Indian Ocean. After the signals picked up over the weekend you would have expected further developments, however no news came. Still we are told that yesterday the Australian boat, Ocean Shield, has re-established contact with ping sources, presumably from two black boxes, using it’s US Navy borrowed locator. Contact has now been made on four separate occasions at four different surface spots. The signals get diffused apparently as they rise up the ocean, and could be bouncing off physical features down there, so it is not really possible to say exactly where they are coming from or how many sources there are. I believe the area though is down to about that of the size of London. There seems to be quite a bit of speculation around so it is difficult to know whether what you hear is accurate. They say information is probably sufficient to send down a remotely controlled submersible craft to look for wreckage although, no doubt while the signals are still coming 33 days in, the authorities want to narrow down the area as much as possibe. Only one vessel is being used to exclude any extraneous noise. Dozens of sonar bouys are also being deployed suspending microphones 1000 feet under the surface to see if they can pick any sounds up.
Gary Gibbon was saying on Channel 4 News tonight that Mr Cameron wanted Mrs Miller to maintain a dignified silence. When her team started acting intemperately over the last couple of days, with the prospect of a slanging match breaking out, he sent an intermediary to speak to her yesterday about bowing out. I would like to think however that he left the final decision up to her.
Philip Stephens remarked in last Friday’s FT that power relations involve military prowess and economic strength. Equally important though you must have credibility. People need to know you mean what you say. I suspect that last factor is extremely difficult for politicians, whose job it is to please.
It was on the radio news this morning that Toyota are to recall over 6.5 miilion cars worldwide, one of the largest numbers ever, for a variety of manufacturing defects. That will cost them a lot of money. However if you are out there in the real world running a respectable. competitive business you are nothing if you do not have the confidence of your customers.
Another item recorded that Russia and Ukraine are finally going to start talking to each other, next week. To make that manageable though their officials will be joined by those from America and the EU. A venue has not yet been set.
10th April 2014
Gary O’Donoghue was on Today this morning saying that George Osborne, as David Cameron’s right hand man, might have been involved in the resignation of Maria Miller. Interestingly for me he has been in Brazil and is now going to Washington. It seems possible he might have had a phone conversation with the Prime Minister suggesting too much political damage was being suffered by the government.
11th April 2014
I see Tony Abbott is in China at the moment on an official visit. From there he has said that surface searches for signals from the crashed palne will continue until the batteries run out, then their little remote controlled submarine will be sent down. He refers to the ocean floor search area now being down to some kilometers.
When I got in last night I saw a BBC webpage clip of the Malayasian acting Transport Minister talking to a BBC journalist. He is alo the country’s Defence Minister. He came over as a man who has been treated fairly by all those mirky people swirling around him. He spoke remarkably freely. He knows the plane will be found and all apsects of it’s disappearance will be thoroughly and correctly investigated. He has been told that the main black box recorder will provide about 25 hours of data before the crash. When he was asked about the estimated search cost so far of over $150 million he asked his interviewer to keep a sense of perspective. He then mentioned Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Eqypt, Libya and the Senkaku Islands. He said the expense of finding MH370 for the innocent families involved is peanuts when you think about the costs those other situations have created.
I have just read a letter, published by the Russian News Agency, which President Putin has written to the leaders of 18 European countries about Ukraine. I look upon it as an acceptable and smart political tactic. It presents Russia’s side of the case. It says they will not be cowed. If they are not listened to Russia could, if it wanted, start making Ukraine pay for all it’s Russian gas up front with no credit facilities at all. I feel Mr Putin is transparantly setting out his negotiating position in preparation for the four party talks now scheduled for Geneva next week.
Then in similar vein of not being cowed a BBC webpage reports this morning that Ukraine’s acting prime minister is today visiting the hot head city of Donetsk, and other areas, to speak to local leaders. He will calmly speak to those men and say, no doubt if they are nice to him, he might be prepared to give their region more autonomy.
Over the last few days there have been quite a few old BBC webpages coming up in their list of 10 most read. I suspect their computers aren’t working properly.
It has been in focus over the last few days that we do not think highly of our politicians. We find it hard to believe what they tell us. I feel it was pretty brave therefore for Mr Cameron to have spoken publicly, just before Easter, of his belief in Jesus Christ. I am pleased to record his remarks on the BBC webpage and YouTube. Faith is a subject he wishes to disuss with his three young children. He takes Holy Communion at church every other week. He asks that we should reflect on what Christianity, and its philosphy that you should love your neighbours, brings to Britain. He considers faith motivates people to do good. He thinks it is good to support other people, without fanfare or recognition, sometimes at a distance, by emotionally sharing their burdens. It is terrible in this world that Christians, and others of faith, are persecuted simply for what they believe.
After the resignation of Euan Sutherland from the Coop a month ago Lord Myners did the same yesterday. He has left the board but will continue with his report into how the structure of the group can best be reformed. Reading between the lines it seems he was getting a lot of internal critcism and thought to step away from that hubbub would give him more freedom of expression. The analysis is that the acquistions of Somerfield supermarkets and Brittania Building Society detroyed a massive amount of value for the group. The Coop Bank’s results came out this morning showing a loss of £1.3 billion for last year. It appears likely further big losses will be posted in the society’s other main business of neighbourhood supermarkets, pharmacists and funeral services next week.
Prominence was given yesterday by BBC radio to the death of a Devon farmer who emigrated to Winnipeg 16 years ago. He was visiting his mother in the Bahamas after the death of his father there when he was shot dead in her home during an apparent burglary. I suspect journalists know more about the gentleman than it would be appropriate to report.
Muslims in India represent about 13% of the mainly Hindu population. They live mostly in urban areas and Today yesterday was saying mainstream society treats them very much as an underclass. Mishal Hussain, who is Muslim, went to the city where her grandmother was born for the broadcast.
Mishal also did a piece on the standing of women in Indian society. Apparently a lot of low level sexual harrassment, or teasing, by men goes on. Some think the way to deal with it is to segregate females, such as by having women only metro carriages. I personally think that is an easy way out. It is accepting that men can’t be changed. It is treating woman as second class citizens.
During his trip to Washington Jim Naughtie has been talking to people about Ukraine. A man from the State Department said there has been a lot of new thinking in the West about the country, just in the last six months. As an example John Kerry apparently has said Russia has been acting like a 19th century dictator but we will be using 21st century values to deal with that.
Sarah Teather is leaving Parliament at the next General Election. She was quite cross with Theresa May yesterday, as reported on Yesterday in Parliament on Today this morning. She thinks goverment simply doesn’t provide enough support to asslyum seekers, especially in monetary terms. There was a broad cross party discussion about it. One MP said he was aware of some assylum seekers whose applications had been outstanding for 10 years and more, who with that status are not able to obtain any employment. At a human level that must be completely demoralising.
In 2011 a film maker set up a Facebook page for himself and a few friends where they could post photos of women they saw on the London Undergound system eating food. Permission of the ladies was not asked although I imagine they are not identified in any way. He looks upon the photos as art. He was on the programme this morning debating with a women student who thinks it is wrong. The discussion came down to the issue of consent, as I see it. She thought the females should be asked if they minded, at least after the event. His argument I think was that he and other photographers are breaking no laws and if that upsets people it is not his fault. I am on the ladies’ side.
Another issue I feel is the power of publicity. As soon as the media became interested his site went viral. I expect it started to attract the wrong type of person. He has been pushed into the media spotlight where, perhaps, he is not as well equipped to deal with focused questioning as some savvy politician. You could argue that in itself is hardly fair. On the other hand of course he did consent to pop into the Today studio this morning. Life is extremely complicated sometimes.
Nigel Evans MP was unaminously cleared by his jury yesterday of nine accusations of sexual assault, including one rape, made by seven men. His defence was that he never did anything with any of them which wasn’t consentual. It appears that during the trial some of the witness changed their evidence and the cohesion of the prosecution case was lost. Afterwards Mr Evans said that for him life would never be the same again.
I think the North West Division of the Crown Prosecution Service will have dealt with Mr Evans’ case, as they did for those of Bill Roach and Michael Le Vell. Lancaster Police made arrests of the first two men and the Machester force the last. All were found not guilty. In Mr Evan’s trial three of the men on the prosecution side only came into that category after they had been contacted by police. They did not look upon themselves as victims. All that could indicate some form of collusion between members of the police and the CPS although, of course, it is by no means certain.
In the wider context there has been quite a bit of comment about the culture of Westminster. Many MPs are away from home during the week. Most are men. They are powerful people helped by young researchers. Some of those assistants willingly react with them in private, some might do things against their better judgement and no doubt a few will believe they are being bullied to comply for the sake of their jobs. I therefore applaud the Speaker’s decision to set up a confidential telephone line any staff member can use to report matters about which they feel uncomfortable. It levels the playing field between the big and the little.
I wrote about the Trans-Dniester region of Moldova on 29th and 30th March 2014. Saturday’s FT had a piece about it and whoever is in charge they are into smuggling arms, frozen food, tobacco, alcohol and sometimes people. The author confirms that Russia is not really interested in the region. Left to it’s own devices it seems to be lost in an old fashioned world of big crime. The people’s loyalties are with Russia but, like us all, want a better life. That draws them westwards. It biggest company hopes to export caviar throughout the world. It won’t be able to do that tied to Russia’s apron strings.
The FT is a well informed paper and from what it is saying at the moment, in that edition and others, the Israel-Palestine talks will fail. Both sides had better start looking to the future then. They are neighbours and have no alternative but to continue living next to each other. A peaceful way would have been so much better. Sanctions may be on the cards for Israel. After the end of the month they should be able to show they tried as hard as they could.
Cristopher Caldwell writes there about the 5-4 US Supreme Court decision to remove all funding restrictions in American election law. He says the outcome is right in principle but wrong in practice. If it does not apply already I think that will make it easier for the Gang to encircle every likely presidential candidate in both parties. Whoever wins will tend to be in their pockets. The voters I am sure will not be influenced by money as such but their choice could be between tweedledum and tweedledee. You just hope all those involved have sufficiently strong values to protect themselves from those temptations of corruption.
On the same page is an article about the Yamaguchi-gumi based in Kobe, Japan. I have not heard of them before but they are apparently the country’s largest Organised Crime group. Their membership has fallen to 60,000, a third of what it was in the 1960s. They want others to know what a nice lot they are really so have created a new website promoting their softer side. Whether it will make any difference I have no idea but that openess certainly means they are not on the American Gang side of the fence.
Elsewhere is a note that Ethiad, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, is hoping to buy nearly half of Ilatian carrier, Alitalia. It is also looking to raise it’s stake in Air Berlin based in that city. I wonder if that means it’s business could be aligned to the European Gang.
The force of the human spirit comes though in a posting from Turkey. It is about a particular Syrian businessman, one of many, who has fled Aleppo in Syria and crossed the border to start again. He has the knowledge to make fine industrial tools and with no capital has built up an operation employing over 20 people. He would like to return home one day but realises that may not be possible for 10 years or more.
12th April 2014
Yesterday I read a BBC webpage about Pope Francis saying he thought he had no alternative but to take on his own shoulders the evil that has been perpetrated by some Catholoic clergy in sexually abusing little children. I feel that is quite a profound way of seeing something, otherwise difficult to understand. He will see it does not happen again. Children especially have the God given right to develop naturally without molestation.
I was pretty sure I was onto something a few days after I posted my 1st March notes, in my book, on 2nd March 2010. They went to 54 politicians and journalists in Britain and America, and 21 others. On 16th March 2000 the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee published their report on the Omagh bombing in August 1998, the worst atrocity of the troubles when 29 people were killed. It was the way the members stood as a group in front of the cameras on publication, to give themselves solidarity, that gave me the signal. I suspect the report might have been gathering dust. My initiative blew the cobwebs away. To quote from my book, the chairman said he thought the criminal justice system had let down the victims’ families by not bringing the bombers to court. The day before yesterday the system tried to make amends. A new criminal case has started. There had been prosecutions in 2002 against Colm Murphy and in 2006 against Sean Hoey but they failed.
Seamus Daly, now 43, was first mentioned by the Panorama Programme as being a likely bomber in 2000. Furustrated by lack of progress the bereaved families started a civil action against Mr Daly and four others in April 2008. Mr Daly and three others were ordered to pay the families £1.6 million compensation in Jume 2009 on the grounds that they were the bombers. Mr Daly and one other appealed. The second judge reffered to the evidence against Mr Daly as being overwhelming. From a Wikipedia page it appears Mr Daly does not think a lot of the law. In 2009 he was stopped in a court car park in the Irish Republic and charged for not producing driving documentation when asked. He was there I think for a court hearing of the same offence which had happened previously on a public road.
Mr Daly’s wife is currently anticipating to give birth to a baby in Northern Ireland. On Thursday he travelled from his alleged Irish home to attend a hospital appointment with her and was arrested there by the PSNI for the bombings. He has been refused bail at the Magistates Court hearing.
Some sort of impediment to progress on a prosecution must just have been cleared. The inescapable conclusion is that it was something to do with the Irish President’s visit here last week. For the arrest to be made the PSNI needed to know of Mr Daly’s movements as they were happening. It seems the two states are talking to each other and showing a bit of trust. Then I wonder how Peter Hain views the development. He has been arguing over the last couple of weeks that an assurance should be given to alleged perpetrators of past crimes that their offences would no longer be investigated. I am not sure if he would have included Mr Daly’s alleged offence in that category or not.
The Panorama journalist who has followed the story throughout is John Ware. He was on the World at One yesterday. John’s view is that the Northern Ireland detectives at the time tried their best. However the significant evidence apparently derives from telephone calls made between the bombers just before the atrocity. They drove in from the Irisah Republic. The Garda he believes had lots of interesting information about all that. However it was never passed to their Northern Ireland colleagues. Things would probably have been very different if it was. John also suggested that the official dossier against Mr Daly hasn’t changed significantly for the last ten years. If that is correct it would be nice to know how often Mr Daly has been popping into Northern Ireland over that period.
In February 1979 the Shah of Iran fled his country. He died in Cairo in July 1980. In November 1979 the American embassy in Tehran was seized by Iranian students. 52 Americans were held hostage for 444 days before they were flown out of the country in an aeroplane. In the intervening period, in April 1980, President Jimmy Carter ordered a failed attempt to try and rescue them. In September 1980 Iraq invaded Iran.
It seems one of those Iranian students was a young man called Hamid Aboutalebi. He was a translator and may not have been part of the active group. He has since done well in life becoming Iran’s ambassador to Belgium, the EU, Italy and Australia. He has recently received a posting to be Iran’s UN representative in New York. Last week the US Congress passed a law that allowed it’s officials to refuse an ambassor entry onto it’s soil if they thought that appropriate. Mr Aboutalebi has just been refused a visa to travel to the States. A lot of high emotion has naturally been created. I hope Mr Obama and Mr Rouhani will now talk to each other, even if not directly, and sort something out to their mutual satisfaction.
And I trust no one outside the circle concerned will disagree, with regard to Iran, that those paragraphs show how the Gang have influenced events in Iran from 1979 continuing to this day. For all that time over 50 million innocent people have been treated like collateral victims through no fault of their own.
I have just heard Norine Dorris explain on a commercial radio report why Nigel Evans’ life has been shattered. He wanted more than anything else to be Speaker of the House of Commons one day. That will no longer be available to him. Then he has a £100,000 legal bill due. He cannot afford to pay it.
As I indicated yesterday, Tony Abbott went to China on Wednesday. He took 30 businessmen, his Foreign and Trade Ministers with him. He had talks with Mr Xi Jingping yesterday. From reading the Guardian the trip seems to have gone well. The Chinese I suspect have a different way of doing things than us and, although he has not been so presumptuous, Mr Abbott obviously hopes to clinch a ground breaking bilateral trade deal with the quickly expanding economy. It seems Australia have made such deals recently with Japan and South Korea. I expect while he is there Mr Abbott will also go through with Mr Xi how to manage the investigation into the crashed airliner and release details to the people of the world. The Chinese had more nationals on the plane than anyone else so I feel it should be carried through in the way they want.
The Gang Master made his arrangements over the Malaysian plane, in my view, to please himself. It was horrible of him. But in doing so he seems to have done the rest of us, other than the bereaved, a favour. World leaders appear to have started talking to, and trusting, each other. They have become aware who the real enemy is. The crucial event I feel was Mr Xi’s decision to travel to Europe. He kept a low profile whilst here but I am sure no one minds about that. The proof of the pudding is in the eating.
I noticed on Today yesterday that Sarah Montague gave an incorrect time check. I was in the kitchen at the time and pointed it out to the radio. I did wonder as I said it how much negative comment she might receive on social media through it. I didn’t notice it this morning but it seems Evan Davis had just done the same thing. Evan specifically referred to it afterwards. It was of course neither here nor there which he wanted us all to know.
The Jewish Ed Miliband, an aetheist apparently, is currently on a three day trip to Israel and Palestine accompanied by his lawyer wife, Justine, and Douglas Alexander. Nick Robinson went with them and broadcast a piece on the programme this morning. The couple visited Mr Miliband’s relations. Nick says his meeting with Mr Netanhayu was warm. The journalist make no negative comment about prospects for the peace talks.
Then later Sarah interviewed Dennis Ross, a former adviser to President Obama, on the situation. He said he is worried but obviously isn’t panicking. He is leaving that to those who live there. Life will go on for the rest of us even if they do still wish to obliterate each other. It seems John Kerry has made substantial progress in his discussions with the parties but not to the breakthrough stage. It leaves the position extremely delicate. They need more space and time to build up that most intangible of things, trust. Without assistance from anyone else they have started doing exactly the opposite; destroying it by taking small minded unilateral and retaliatory measures against each other. Mr Ross asks for outsiders to keep their own counsel for the time being. He does not think it helpful for the Swiss to be openly siding with the Palestianians. I felt he was asking the opposing sides to try and come at it from a different angle.
It might help if they focused on a point of commonality bewteem them, Mr Kerry. It is well known he has flogged himself mercilessly to help them as much as he can, perhaps spending more time on aeroplanes in the last few momths than ordinary people do in a lifetime. He has probably given them greater priority than to his own family. It would be a total rejection of all his kindness, a real punch in the solar plexus, to deny him a small amount of recognition now. All that is being asked, as I understand it, is that they continue talking for a bit longer. They have come too far to throw it all away now.
The fall out for MPs this week, from conclusion of Nigel Evans’ court case and Maria Miller’s resignation, has been quite depressing. The impression given of the Palace of Westminster is of office premises where excessive drinking takes place and people are over familiar with all and sundry, often in an unwanted sexual way. Douglas Carswell MP was saying on the broadcast that a way of restoring citizen’s trust and confidence in the institution must be found. His idea is that MP’s should be ultimately accountable to the voters. If enough of us feel strongly enough about an issue we should have the right to tell them to go. In the court process we allow 12 ordinary people, picked at random on behalf of us all, to decide the fate of an accused person. If an MP has strayed he thinks the threshold for a referendum on their future shound be signatures from 20% of their electorate.
Greece has just borrowed 3 billion euros on the open market. That means hard headed financiers think they will get their money, with interest, back. It many ways it is a remarkeable turnaround and, I suspect, has happened much quicker than people dared hope. A Greek government minister was in the studio explaining the position. The fact that the Gang is upset about it, in my view, is shown by the 24 hour general strike on Wednesday to protest against the continuing austerity, with 20,000 people marching through Athens.
13th April 2014
The Sunday Worship proramme on Radio 4 this morning came from a Church of God of Phrophecy building in Birmingham with a modern style sevice. The organisation is based in Tennessee and looking at their website I feel it pretty brave of the BBC to give them airtime. The Corporation are obviously happy to take on any detractors.
A BBC webpage published this morning says that a 7.6 magnitude earthquake took place yesterday our time. It was 18 miles under the sea near the Solomon Islands, north east of Australia. The islands suffered flash floods just over a week ago in which at least 16 people died.
Nigel Evans has told the Mail on Sunday he thinks the public purse should pick up his £130,000 legal costs, not £100,000 as I wrote yesterday. He said an attempt had been made to publicly execute him. Cleared defendants in public trials do receive reimbursement of their fees I understand but only up to the legal aid level. Additionally Mr Evans suggests the charge should come out of the CPS’s budget as an encouragement for them not to start actions which they might lose.
Possibly a harsh view but perhaps they could commit themselves to a percentage chance of conviction beforehand, with rewards and consequences flowing depending on the soundness of their judgement. That might sound a bit like a game but it is how the Gang Master does things. It lessens underlying tensions. It could be tried on a small experimental scale just to see if it worked. If it did you could build on it. In any event I suspect the big man has now created a real adversary in Mr Evans. That was quite stupid of the Master I reckon. When someone feels so wronged as Mr Evans obviously does he will not let his fight against that source of badness, drop.
I do not intend these notes to go on for ever. I am not concentrating therefore on the climate change debate. It is a long term problem outside of my scope. However I see The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have just published a report which estimates we are currently on course for a increase in global temperature above 3.7 degrees by 2100. To prevent an irreversible change in the world as we know it, we probably need to keep the advance below 2 degrees. To deal with the challenge we will have to start acting as a single global community. And as my story shows that will not be easy for us. I will watch with interest what my children can expect during their lives.
William and Kate seems to be having a good time on their tour of New Zealand and Australia. They always make sure they finish their engagements early in the afternoon so they can spend some quality time with little George.
Things are getting difficult in Ukraine again. Armed militia have created positions in up to seven towns and cities in the east of the country. The pattern seems virtually identical to what happened in Crimea. This time however the acting Ukrainian president has made a live address on television. The army will be used to restore sovereignty to occupied premises.
It seems possible some of the militia are Russian army units not wearing official uniforms. If so they have invaded a foreign country with far less excuse than over Crimea when the local administration invited them in. There is no strategic, rational purpose for the developments at all in my view. I cannot believe it is what the Russian government want, or indeed is in the interests of Organised Criminals based in Russia. The only conclusion I feel is that the American Gang have their own people in key positions within the Russian state, and probably within the European Gang too. In old fashioned terms you might say there have double agents and sleeper cells about. The aim now would be to destabilise both Ukraine and Russia so, at the crucial moment, the Gang can move in and take over the big business interests they want for themselves. Russian leaders out in the open apparently can do very little about that. Perhaps the leaders of the European Gang should start to protect their flanks.
There was a conversation on Broadcasting House this morning with the Commander, on board, of the specialist hydrographic survey ship, HMS Echo, in the southern Indian Ocean. He said it is an area of big swells where cold water from the Antartic meets warm tropical flows. He noted his ship’s role in the search for the crashed plane is to provide reference readings for the Australian boat Ocean Shield. By mapping the normal sounds of the ocean in that area it allows the other boat to identify the unique signals coming fron the aircraft’s black boxes. He said the search area is now down to ten by five nautical miles. He remarked it is the most challenging job of his career.
The World this Weekend at lunchtime visited an experimental flood prevention scheme in Somerset. Last summer, on land they own on Exmoor, the National Trust built some weirs on a small river. When the winter rains came the barriers diverted water onto the field through which it flowed. There earth banks held the flood until it drained away naturally. Then Shaun Ley went down to the hamlet below, Bossington in Porlock Bay. He visited some residents who thought the works upstream had prevented their cottage from flooding this year.
Immediately afterwards was a programme on the sort of folks who start up small technology companies. Invariably they are inexperienced and have quite a contrarian outlook on life. Gillian Tett of the FT, in her anthropological mode, was saying that the young men who go down that route tend not to accept the norms of society, in politics, in social behaviour and in fact just about everything. I think we need people like that.
Following the appearance by the Archbishop of Westminster on the programme last week, Sunday visited Rome for the conference on human trafficking. The Home Secretary and Metropolitian Police Commissioner were attendees together with delegates from 20 countries. Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said that his force works closely with the Catholic Church and charities here to help as many victims, mostly women, as possible. We are leaders in the field. The next meeting will be in London in November.
I wrote about state Muslim schools in Birmingham on 3rd April 2014. The programme gave me more details about the story. It all started apparently with the leaking of the unsigned trojan horse letter, the authenticity of which has not been proved. It detailed a conspiracy by a small clique to impose strict Muslim teachings into some of the city’s schools. The population of the area is 90% Muslim so interpretations of what is appropriate are bound to be quite finely balanced depending on those around you. Authorites arranged at least 12 Ofsted inspections to see if they was any substance in the allegations. That I suspect is where the faultline has been. According to Liam Byrne the regulator is working at a glacial pace and there seem to be a lot of destabilising leaks about their likely views. People are being horrible to each other simply because emotions have become so aroused. Mr Byrne says all accusations must be fully investigated, and then considered conclusions reached as soon as practically possible.
14th April 2014
Nigel Evans has been in the news studios this morning, including Today’s. He has asked the Home affairs Select Committee to look into the issues raised by his case which they say they will do. Regarding the impression given by some that the workings at Westimster are an excuse for sexual improprietry he says that simply isn’t true.
Our former ambassador to Russia was on the broadcast speaking about Ukriane. He put forward a very sympathetic view of the Russian position. They wish to maintain order as much as anyone else he suggests. Their desire is to negotiate. That opportunity of course will come to them in Geneva on Thursday. Thankfully, despite last night’s TV address, there has been no violence so far today. The Ukrainian government is managing to hold off under severe provocation.
There was a piece publicising a Panorama programme being broadcast tonight about GlaxoSmithKline, our largest pharmaceutical company. The allegation from a former salesman of their’s is that doctors in Poland are paid to use their products. It seems the culture of his job changed in 2010. Suddenly his superiors did not see anything wrong with offering bribes. He was told if the company paid doctors, prescriptions were written for their drugs, if no money was forthcoming that didn’t happen. All of them no doubt wanted to make as much money as possible. One of his managers and 11 doctors have been charged by the Polish authorities.
I have not heard of the position before but we have a Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman whose job it is to invetigate our complaints against any public and governmental body. The lady was was reinforcing the view on the edition of the MPs on the Public Administration Committe who think we should complain more. She said the organistaions concerned should not look upon complaints as negative critiscism but rather a valuable source of positive intelligence. That is how well run companies like Marks and Spencer or John Lewis see things.
The government are making funds available to the NHS for one year so that 1100 GP practices can extend their opening hours, to evenings and weekends, to benefit seven million patients. Jeremy Hunt was interviewed and said it was part of a larger plan so that people go to hospitals less. He sees GPs as the future lynchpin of our health service. They are your point of contact with it, someone you know. In future you will be able to email them, ring them or speak to them over Skype. Your doctor will be the person responsible for your well being, and also those close to you on his or her register. Ultimately it is about making the best use of the technology which is now available to us.
The Muslim schools story has moved on today. It now seems 25 teaching centres are being investigated. Pressure has built up sufficiently so that officials who were keeping their own counsel are beginning to express views publicly. Some of those I understand are officers from the West Midlands Police Counter Terrorism Unit. It appears they will be visiting the schools to tell parents how they see things. Hopefully they will not worry Mums and Dads any further.
David Davis is concerned, writing in Monday’s FT, that GCHQ could frighten away our developing high tech industry based around east London’s silicon roundabout. Those companies are sensitive about their privacy and that of their users. He is not sure our technology spies fully understand that. Blandly to say they are keeping us all safe is no longer sufficient. Perhaps the new Cheltenham chief, for which the paper says there are three candidates, will bring in some new practices.
15th April 2014
Ten year old Billy Hughes died in his garden on a modern suburbian housing estate in Glasgow last night. He apparently got tangled up in the rope of his garden swing and accidentally hanged himself.
My note of 11th September 2013 mentioned about a UN lady coming here upsetting the establishment. With the extra knowledge now around I hope that won’t happen with the visit of the UN Special Rapporteur looking at violence against women around the world. She has been refused entry to speak to women at the Yarl’s Wood immigration centre in Bedfordshire which probably hasn’t helped. Today she has said that, in comparison with other countries, we have an excessively laddish sexist culture, particularly promoted by our media.
Peter Clarke used to be a Deputy Commissioner of The Yard in charge of counter terrorism. He retired in February 2008. It has been announced today that Michael Gove has asked him to lead an investigation into the surroundings of the trojan horse letter. Mr Clarke has accepted. With his background it is a controversial choice and has generated some heat. It shows, in my view, that Mr Gove is a conviction politician. One detractor is the Chief Constable of West Midlands Police. His criticism though is not about Mr Clarke’s abilities, it solely flows from his assessment of likely public perception of the appointment. It seems to me the Chief is straying into political territory there.
When William Hague appeared on Today this morning talking about Ukraine he seemed genuinely unsure about how their governemnt would react to the provocation they have experienced. He would continue to urge restraint but he fully recognised we all have our red lines. It would be for them to decide on an apropriate course of action. Later in the day Ukraine’s acting president announced that a security operation against the seized sites had begun. He said it would be followed through stage by stage in a responsible manner.
I mention in my book how the Today team started saying good morning to all their guests, probably starting in 2010. I think now the further that process goes the better. In the past I felt that to be excessivly kind to a stranger can come over as insincere and fawning. I now look upon it as a culture thing. My recent experience is that people genuinely appreciate you being particularly nice to them in an individual way. For example the lady from HSBC bank on the Today early financial news this morning, thanked Andrew Verity for having her on the show. Andrew replied that she was most welcombe. It was a warm hearted exchange which I think we should all take at face value.
An event covered was a bombing yesterday of a bus at a terminal on the outskirts of the Nigerian capital Abuja. It was the first extremist act there for two years and killed 70 people. All of the 100,000 plus population will now naturally feel unsafe. The bombers will have travelled down from the Boko Haram stronghold in the north east of the country no doubt.
It is illegal to cut a woman’s private parts for non-medical reasons, whether as part of your religion or otherwise, under the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003. Immediately after that the programme highlighted that our first court prosecution for FMG is underway under an alleged offence occuring in 2012. A lady doctor was saying FGM is about more than just not being considerate to women, whether they realise it or not. It is a physical attack on little girls. It can traumatise them for life.
Tuesday’s FT wrote that California’s rainy season has just finished without it receiving any. 2013 was the driest year on record with their drought now in it’s third year.
16th April 2014
The BBC reports this morning that rock star Paul Weller’s children has been awarded £10,000 damages in the High Court for pictures the Daily Mail published of the family in October 2012 as they were out shopping in Los Angeles. The paper had bought them from a paparazzi photographer who had snapped away without consent. The paper argued that the public lifestyle of the family, as a group, gave implicit agreement for the photos to be taken. The parents’ winning contention was that it breached their children’s privacy.
A story has surfaced this morning about Ed balls doing a seven point turn earlier in the month out of a tight parking spot in the road by his constituency office in Morley, Leeds. He is aware he touched the bumper of another car once during the operation. The owner of that car it seems told the police the day after the incident that damage was caused to her offside wing. I am sure the damage is there. The question is, of course, how it happened. In a dispute it would be one person’s word against another’s. Without any evidence I think Mr Ball’s version would win the day. The shadow Minister however does not wish to go down that route. He has accepted responsibility and says he will pay for all damage found. I heard an MP say on the radio the other day his colleagues are paranoid about using a five item supermarket till with six items in their basket. You can see why. Realistically Mr Balls, being in the public eye, is not in a position to fight back. When I believe I was bullied in Hampshire last year I fortunately did not have that contraint, as I remarked in my note of 20th October 2013.
17th April 2014
I have just got back after a couple of hours out. As I was carrying something a bit heavy I went into the house through the sun room, off the garden. Whilst I was away some kind creature, a God like person presumably, had placed my slippers by that door from the bedroom where I had left them. I was able to put them on immediately, rather than traipsing all the way upstairs. Extremely thoughtful of them.
A BBC webpage this morning tells us the story of a border collie in a Cumbrian town. Some time ago he was hit by a car. It means that he now wishes to attack them when he has a chance. He has possibly been trained to do that, perhaps without his owner’s knowledge, by biting at the tyres of paked cars near where he lives. His work causes slow punctures. More than 10 vehicles have been affected over a six month period. He was only indentified when when one of them, who had lost 12 tyres, set up a CCTV camera to see what was going on.
I know a black labrador in my private life. It is thought at some time she has been attacked by a larger dog. She is fine with humans but goes for other dogs in fear when she has the chance. She has to wear a muzzle, and be on a strong lead, when out walking. It is a difficult situation for her owners who have no thought of putting her down.
I have just watched a clip on a BBC website of President Obama talking about Ukraine. He says it is not up to Russia nor the USA to make Ukraine’s decisions for it. Their government is comprised of responsible adults and they can do that for themselves. His job is to create an environment where Ukkrainian leaders can move where they want, in peace and quiet. He wishes President Putin saw it in the same way.
I heard on the lunchtime news that the Met yesterday seized 30 firearms, including a Thompson machine gun, at an address in Leyton. A man of 51 has been arrested. It was an intelligence led operation, code I believe for information received from MI5.
On the Cameron Christian theme again the Prime Minister has written an article in the Church Times about his faith. As he is a politician it is easy to be cynical. I think that would be a mistake. He encourages Christians to speak to the rest of us about what they believe. He remarks that if you are of faith you are obliged to be tolerant, kind and respectful towards your fellow citizens. It is a good way to live. He sees himself as working together with our religious leaders.
I do have to say I find Mr Putin a trickier individaul. I note however that when giving a four hour press conference today, in answer to a question, he called Mr Obama a decent and brave man. The people who go along to the studio, and his public, all hold him in great admiration. He must be doing something right. I just wish he didn’t come over to me as so anti-western.
Nevertheless it doesn’t matter how you get there so long as you do. Today in Geneva the four parties have agreed on a set of principles for Ukraine. Those are that all military formations in the country must be dissolved. Armed men will vacate all buildings and leave their weapons behind. No punishments shall be metered out. The changes will be overseen by observers of the OSCE. We can only hope that those intentions will be realised. If necessary there must be some hard talking to those on the ground.
I am sure thre will be a lot more information to come through on the sinking of the South Korean ferry yesterday near islands about 20 miles from it’s destination of Jeju. A large part of the passenger list consisted of students from one school going on a trip. It seems over 250 people drowned when they could not move around on the badly listing vessel as it went down after hitting an underwater obstruction in shallow water.
I was out yesterday and as I was coming home listened to the World Tonight on Radio 4. The breakaway republic of Trans-Dniestr or Tansnistria, officially part of Moldova, has allowed a BBC jourmalist to visit, from where he reported. As I mentioned last Thursday it has had a troubled history. Since the civil war of 1992 the people who live there have been in a state of legal limbo. Not unreasonably they yearn for their position to be regularised.
I have remarked before that life is politics. You just can’t get away from it. But in a strict sense I would say Today is far less political than it was. It takes an interest much more in social issues I feel than before. If that encourages it’s listeners to see the world in a different light perhaps you could argue it is more valuable. Yesterday there was a discussion on the ebbing and flowing over time of the popularity of beards, and the reasons for it. On one level it was something and nothing, lighthearted banter. But it exuded camaraderie. If it bonded listener to presenter, in an aura of confidence, that must have been no bad thing.
I wrote about the current Labour MP for Rochdale, Simon Danczuk, appearing on Today on 28th November 2012 when he talked about Sir Cyril Smith. Another diary entry came on 19th September 2013. Mr Danczuk was on the broadcast having just published a book on the subject. The additional allegation now is that when Sir Cyril came to Westminster as MP in 1972 he joined an informal paedophile ring, with top connections, based on two guest houses in Barnes. It seems any police investigations of paedophilia which did take place in Rochdale and Barnes were always stopped at a high level, possibly by MI5 and Special Branch. Mr Danczuk suggests that if the Barnes accusations were aired at the time it would likely have brought down the government.
Writing that reminds me that I said, on 27th November 2013, I intended to read Norman Baker’s book. I ordered it online from Kent County Council library service earlier that day. I am still waiting. When I look at my account there is a note that it was on transit to my local library on 4th December 2013. I must chase it up.
I have had a recent converstaion with my teenage son when he referred to the starvation which still takes place in our world. I said I thought we had got past those times. Then I listened to Today this morning. In the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk in Damascus mothers are boiling grass in order to give something that looks like food to their children. A man from the United Nations said it disgraces us all. It is an affront to the concept of humanity.
The radio news reported that Which and the Food Standards Agency have both carried out tests on lamb products, mainly curries and kebabs, from your local takeaway. They have found that nearly a third of products sampled also contained other meat, such as beef, cheaper than lamb. Some tests found no sheep meat at all. The businesses concerned of course are all small and unsophisticated. I suspect they are as much victimised as clever Dick. The NSA will be reminding them though that transgression from the food regulations will result in a fine of £5,000.
18th April 2014
I wrote a private note for myself yesterday about a particular car leaving my neighbour’s property. I have just sat down in the same place. A similar, but not the same, vehicle has driven out of the gates. A moment later a man walked through my neighbour’s grounds, in my view. It is the same position as wih my light bulbs, which I last wrote about on 9th March 2014 and 5th April 2014, I am afraid. The Gang perceive they are in a fight wih me. They are in a fight wih everyone. It is a mindset they can’t get out of. I am a law abiding person and I would like other people to be too. I am doing nothing wrong in publishing my notes. Criminals should not be looking at paragraphs I choose not to circulate. If the Gang wish to act in animalistic ways that is a matter for them. However they do not always have to be bound by ritualistic behaviour. Human beings adapt and change to the circumstances in which they find themselves. The Gang need to move forward, not be ossified in the past.
Just before 7am his morning Today played a verse of an Easter Hymn. It brought a tear to my eye. The same happened when I heard some of he things Cardinal Nichols said on Thought for the Day. One factual point he made was that the Metropolitan Police and the Catholic Church have been combining to combat human trafficking for the last three years.
There was interview with Doctor Raj Mattu on the programme. He was a consultant cardiologist working at a Coventry hospital who witnessed a patient die, in 2000 I think, in the recovery room through what he considered to be negligent practice. An extra bed had been placed there meaning normal wall sockets and the like were not available to it. In my view that is just the sort of thing the Gang would arrange. All it would then need is for a couple of Gang helpers to forget to do non standard tasks for the life in that bed to be lost. Doctor Mattue complained within the hospital. He saw his role as being an advocate for patients who might one day be in the same position as the one who died. He was told to shut up. Eventually he went public, to the BBC in 2001. That was when the bullying started. He was spied on by hospital security and accused of sexual impropriety and bullying himself. In all he had 200 allegations of misconduct made against him. In 2002 he was suspended. His NHS trust was cleared of blame for the first and other deaths in 2004. In 2007 his employer decided to allow him to return to work after suitable retraining. The doctor however was not happy with the plan put to him for that so he was sacked for misconduct in 2010. He appealed to an employement tribunal and has just been told that the dismissal was unfair, meaning he will get compensation. The NHS’s costs for the 14 year fight are £6-10 million. The doctor and his wife have been through some terrible psychologically traumatic times. All the senior managers, including the Trust’s chief executive, are today in equivalent or better posts within the NHS.
The morning news has said Bark Obama rang David Cameron last night, during his Easter break on Lanzarote I think. I would be pretty sure that would have been to discuss how Russian allied protestors can be persuaded to peaefully leave their positions in eastern Ukraine.
I have been travelling today. I stopped for a coffee at a garden centre on the outskirts of Shrewsbury. I had my drink on the balcony overlooking the plant self service displays. I was beginning to think I was going to be on my own. But after ten minutes the Gang helpers started emerging, probably about a dozen in all, browsing the items. Some were a bit rough but some were not. After another five minutes, just as I was leaving, two separate ladies came out to the tables to bag their seats looking at me whilst their companions no doubt were buying food orders at the counter.
For my own interest, as much as anything else, I am going to relate in a bit of detail how I believe that crowding system probably works for the Gang. I will use the bits and pieces of information I have picked up over the years without referring to the source. Athough I am speculating, because the Gang are a hidden organisation, nothing below is inconsistent with the totality of knowledge I currently hold.
Most towns in the country will have a Gang man who is the titular king pin around, known to all. He will operate from home with his team, probably a rural property behind high gates. The next tier up is the Gang Director, in charge of a particular geographical area. He will be more hidden but plenty of people will be aware of his identity. He has a high tech communications system available to him and will probably be based on a small industrial estate with lots of unobtrusive protection around. His young full time male employees wear black and drive black cars so their genre can easily be identified by those in the know when they are out and about. The Gang Director is responsible for all helpers in his patch. They are used to stamp Gang authority on an area on a daily basis by their presence in groups and to crowd targetted individuals such as myself. Everyone in the Gang control room knows how it works. The duty manager is there for unforseen events but otherwise the operative goes though his normal daily functions as his screen prompts him.
In the field the vast majority are willing helpers, in small gang structures of their own and only too pleased to perform the no risk favours as they come through, for the monetary benefit they are receiving in other ventures. They realise that the requests are not coming from their own group but trust the system they are in. It would not be wise to ask questions. The important thing is they will be protected whatever happens as they move around. Equally they know from experience that helpers who become uncooperative seem to have coincidental misfortune befall them.
The top layer is the Gang Master and his aides. He is spoken of in hushed tones. Everyone knows he exists and he might well thought of as a God like figure. You do not mess with someone who can make red Saharan desert sand fall on your car at will. Only the top man in the control room has contact with the Gang master’s group. He might not even be fully cognisant the connection is being made himself. He can be deceived in the same way as anyone else. His instructions probably just appear on his screen as they do for the youngsters around him. In that way the Gang Master can direct a particular operation far away from his American home, in a garden centre in Shropshire say, without any tell tale signs he is actually doing it.
The keys to that modus operandi are modern technology, intelligence, the number of Gang helpers available and immediate access to a single peice of information, such as the location and number of a mobile phone, within a vast data pool. Everything revolves around the mobile phone. All Gang helpers must have their high tech devices live wherever they are.
Once the tracker on my car shows I have stopped, the Gang spring into action. They send out a photo by silent text to all helpers in the vicinity asking for sightings. Once I have sat down, at a cafe table for example, they are able to send the crowd in. It usually takes about ten minutes to organise.
I left at 9.15 this morning. I knew as soon as I saw the man on the pavement in the distance in my village, looking at his mobile phone, that there was probably an illegal drug retailing operation in flow. The shop was open as I drove past. Business is business I suppose. But I was a bit surprised it should be happening on Good Friday.
It’s not for me to be honest, but everyone does seem to be steaming ahead with the power of social media. A BBC webpage reported today that Delta Airlines has told a customer she would not be able to breastfeed on their flight without suitably covering herself. The lady was upset and tweeted about it. It is up to her to decide what she feels comfortable with. Parenting blogs picked up the story and in no time at all Delta were referring to their previous misinformation. They do of course welcome breastfeeding Mums on all their flights. The benevolant power of the crowd.
I am not sure it had ever sunk in wih me before but Gillian Tett clarifies in last Friday’s FT that a subprime loan is one to somebody who quite likely will find it diffiult to pay back. She warns that another Amercian credit crisis could be looming, not based on property as before but this time, amazingly, on cars. As always it comes down to money and greed. Finance is still very cheap, as low as a 2% interest rate for the specialist financiers. However their profit margin on lending you money to buy a car can be as high as 20%. The bubble is being created with ever more imaginative ways of persuading you to part wih your money. Just as for property a derivitatives market, where bond products are traded using car loans as security, is now in place. The get rich quick bunch seem to be deluding themselves that Americans love their cars so much they will make any sacrifice to see the loan company does not repossess them. At some time though the straw will break the camel’s back.
19th April 2014
The radio news reports this morning that a 21 year old man fell to his death near Mount Snowdon yesterday evening, as he was out walking no doubt.
I have just heard Catherine Pepinster say on Thought for the Day that if you know the truth, the truth sets you free. It is a Christian saying I think from the Bible.
Yesterday I was writing about the Gang having a vast amount of searchable information available to it. This morning the Independent publishes an interview with the independent Surveillance Commissioner who checks up on the activities of public bodies, including the police, outside of state security services. It seems there are a vast array of automatic number plate recognition cameras by our roads around the country, picking up the movements of 18 million car journeys every day. It is obviously pretty important all that information is used responsibly.
Three men walked up to a former dissident republican leader yesterday afternoon in west Belfast near to or at his place of work. They led him to a yard where they shot him dead. It seems likely the gunmen had fallen out with their victim. The First Minister, Peter Robinson, has said that such people need to understand that their continuing ways of violence will not drag people back to the difficulties of the past. I feel he was speaking directly to the Gang there. His deputy, Martin McGuiness, said the men are, and were, criminals. They are delusional if they believe they have political motives.
The significance of the story of course is that yesterday was Good Friday, the day associated with Northern Ireland’s turn towards peace in 1998. The connection I make is with the killing of Lee Rigby in May 2013. Lee’s main killer was deliberately triggered into carrying out his deed on the day he did I believe by those around him, his brother and friends. I think it will have worked in much the same way yesterday with the murderers of the 43 year old man, whose wife and four children will this morning be in total shock and grief. The day was of no great significance to them. They had just had enough of the chap and got rid of him in the heat of the moment. I do wonder though what the perpetrators think about the collateral damage to his family.
20th April 2014
I am writing in my Easter residence with lovely views over the sea, in a village of not much more than a thousand. A companion innocently mentioned something to me yesterday which, with my knowledge, made me want to go for a walk. The approach to the expensive property, which you cannot see from the road, runs up the side of a well used public cark park. In times of tension it would be quite commonplace to see drivers sitting in parked cars keeping an eye on movements in front of them. On the hillside grounds is a garden seat, placed there in my view for the same purpose. It is an unusual flag the house has on the pole down by the road which I did not recognise. At the entrance to the car park someone has placed some little jars of preserves and home cooked cakes in a purpose made display. If you take one you are asked to put your money, as marked on the labels, in the honesty box. I didn’t look but I suspect there was a security camera in the vicinity watching over it. You can’t be too careful in these wicked days, after all. I expect by chance it also covers the approach road. There is no obvious indication who runs the self service counter. Where the unobtrusive tarmaced track reaches it’s u-turn some yards further up the slope, is an overlooking dwelling, looking quite old but probably of relatively recent construction. It could serve as a guard house for it’s neighbour’s security gates just around the bend. A look on the internet has given me the name of the big house and the family who live there. The gentleman is associated with the Parish Council.
The BBC says the Archbishop of Canterbury will say in his Easter Day sermon that there is a lot of crying going on around the world at the moment, in such places as Syria and Rwanda, by people who are unhappy. When he spoke to Clare Balding on Sunday earlier he said he had been up half the night, terrified at the thought of being interviewed by her. I suspect he had a twinkle in his eye at the time.
Yesterday, in a piece with the Daily Telegraph, the Archbishop was very candid about the problems he has with recognising gay marriage. He refers to it as an almost impossible situation. The last thing he wishes is to hurt other people but he must do the right thing by everybody. Christians in places like South Sudan are being murdered because unthoughtful people associate them with homosexuality. He must do his best to see that doesn’t happen.
I watched a documentary drama on BBC 4 last night about Hitler’s last few days in his underground headquarters in Berlin, based on the testament of people who were present at the time. What surprised me was the power of the group think going on. Many worshipped him and certainly, I believe, if you were there one person could not have changed the collective view of the tightly knit group. As things fell apart the led turned to drink and debauchery, the leaders planned how best to commit suicide and have their remains burnt afterwards. Mrs Goebbels could not bear the thought that her six young children should leave there outside of a Nazi world. So there was no mistake she gave them a sleeping potion, and then administered the oral poison herself. For herself she chose to be shot by her husband before he killed himself. For nearly all of them they won or they lost. There were no half measures. It was all emotion with no proper thinking at all.
I have read the Sunday Telegraph today which contains an article about the capsized South Korean ferry. It seems it might well have been a catalogue of errors, lots of little mishaps leading to a catastrophe. If there was no collision as I originally thought inevitable, which now seems likely, it will be truly tragic. Since 2011 the shipping line has had several misfortunes probably damaging the overall confidence of employees in their own ability. My suspicion is that Gang culture ran deep. On this particular trip the boat had been delayed meaning the staffing rota was not in it’s normal pattern. As the ship proceeded through a narrow passage between islands, it either struck a submerged object or it’s course was suddenly changed by the inexperienced third mate who was in charge at the time. If the vehicles on the cargo deck had not been properly secured any rapid deviation could have caused them to move making the vessel tilt badly. Even then, with the captain back in charge, decisions were not taken in accordance with written procedures I think to quickly prepare the passengers for evacuation.
The FT published it’s lunch conversation in a London hotel with Singapore’s Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong, last weekend. It took place around the time of the recent The Hague nuclear security meeting which I had not realised he attended. He had also had a meeting with David Cameron. Perhaps a little indiscretely he made a quip to Gideon Rachman about asking the NSA for a transcript of their coversation if Gideon’s tape recorder didn’t work. Mr Lee’s opinion is that, with the emotional forces of greed and fear so stong in the system, a future financial crash is inevitable at some point. The question will be whether regulation is by then sufficent to stop normal people suffering terrible consequences.
From that piece I understand Barack Obama has lamented his loss of privacy through not being able to browse in a book shop any more. I feel that is a ramification of the society in which he lives. David Cameron I understand goes shopping in Waitrose in Chipping Norton. No doubt he has a security man discreetly floating about somewhere but it doesn’t stop the Prime Minister doing what he wants. In America any of the President’s fellow shoppers could legally have a hand gun and shoot him dead virtually before his security entourage had blinked.
On financial regulation the editorial says the US Federal Reserve is proposing that in future it’s largest banks should lend no more than 20 times the money they themselves hold on deposit. It is the standard apparently which everyone used to go by in the good old days. For the rest of us, under the 2010 Basel III agreement, the ratio is 33 times. The smaller number means the percentage of panicky investors all drawing out their money at the same time has to be higher to make the bank fail.
The edition has a three quarter page analysis article on the presumption that recent court cases and regulatory probes show that American pharmaceutical companies are quite corrupt. They inappropriately induce doctors to prescribe their products, are selective about the trial data they publish and generally always put profit before patients. From the news there certainly seems to be a deep unease, almost fear, amongst those big companies at the moment. Their reaction apparently is to merge with each other, to make themselves as large as possible so they can squash anyone who is being horrible to them.
Christopher Caldwell suggests that Republican strategists are taking a big chance with the 2016 Presidential election. It seems they are going to depend on the judgement of men with limitless cash in their pockets to decide who will run for them. The reasoning apparently is that the muggins Republican voter will go along with whoever they chose.
That paper related that the former Barclay’s boss, Bob Diamond, has moved onto pastures new. He has acquired banking interests in Nigeria, Rwanda, Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. He has told the FT it is only the start of his investment vehicle’s involvement in Africa.
A connection I had not made about the Omagh bombing, the worst single atrocity of The Troubles, and given to me by that issue, is that it occurred four months after signing of the Good Friday agreement. The darkest hour is just before dawn. We are now nearly 16 years from that event. It is naturally difficult but I do feel now is the time for Northern Ireland politicians to make that big final leap forward.
George Parker interviews our new Culture Secretary, Sajid Javid, for the paper. He is an interesting man. He was brought up in a Bristol Street notorious for every conceivable type of crime, from murder down. After comprehensive school he went to Exeter University and then into banking. Wikipedia says that by 2009 he was earning £3 million a year. The article shows though that he is a highly emotional person. Margaret Thatcher is his hero and through his Pakistani roots he feels a strong bond and love for Britain, where he was born. For reasons unexplained he found a mission in 2009 to go into politics and has been an MP since 2010. My suspicion is that he is an individual who could so easily have become corrupted by his experiences of life. To his great credit that never happened. Perhaps he now feels he has a debt to repay or duty to perform.
I didn’t know anything about it but my companions wanted to watch the first episode of the black comedy, Fargo, on Channel 4 this evening. It features Lester Nygaard played by Martin Freeman who was also John Waston in the Christmas 2013 series of Sherlock. It is an Amerian co-production between several companies, and set in the state of Minnesota, bordering Canada. I think it likely the plot will be complicated and unexpected, somewhat like Line of Duty. My immediate reaction is it has been written by someone with insight into the brutality and psychological harm the top Gang tier can engender in innocent, targeted groups. That will be magnified and dramatised to produce a gripping, different type of fictional tale.
In this episode Lester has been mentally destabilised after meeting a psychotic professional killer in a hospital out patients department. Consequently Lester has just killed his nagging wife by hitting her with a hammer. The policewoman is about to enter the room. Everything is lost. Then Lester sees a sign on the wall. It says you are right, they are wrong. He has a surge of clarity and confidence. He runs against the wall knocking himself out. When the lady appears she thinks he has been the victim of a crime like his dead wife, not the perpetrator of it. That, for me, is how the Gang operate. Against all rational thought they encourage you to believe you are the chosen one. You can do anything you want. Little you can manipulate those big nasty people above you.
21st April 2014
The robotic submarine search for the crashed Malaysian plane is now two thirds complete without having found anything. That will mean my thought, when writing my note of 7th April 2014, about the possibility of a nuclear powered manned submarine being used to point the machine in the right direction, must have been wrong.
There was a fire in a power station in Gibraltar yesterday cutting electricity to nearly the whole territory for several hours. The reason it has made news here is because it took the internet betting services of our major bookmakers, based there for tax reasons, offline during a busy day of sport. All a bit of a pointless operation by the Gang if you ask me.
Vince Cable has been on the media this morning announcing that the government will be tightening company governance rules in next month’s Queen’s speech. In future businesses will have to register with Companies House exactly who has an interest in controlling the entity above a 25% threshold. There will also be additional compensatory and discipinary rules against directors who have been shown to have acted improperly. A BBC report suggests it is an historic step in the fight against corruption and tax evasion in the corporate world.
The Boston Marathon has been run today. There were 9,000 more runners than last year with some 500,000 watching. Security was tight but I am sure everyone had a great time.
I wrote about lead in petrol and crime statistics on 9th January 2013. There has been a programme on Radio 4 about it this evening and the causal link seems more compelling than ever. But not only in relation to crime, also bullying, deliquency in the young, substance abuse and suicide as well. On an accompanying BBC webpage there is a graph of the removal of lead from petrol and the drop in violent crime in the USA 23 years later. The lines match almost perfectly.
22nd April 2014
I am now in the Lake District for a couple of days. On the way up I stopped at Leyland for a coffeee and some petrol. Interestingly it was quiet for my drink in Morrisons. It was an unexpected visit, I presume there were no Gang helpers in there at the time and it wasn’t thought worthwhile rushing about. The crowding was when I came out, and vehicle based. Everything was set up though when I had a coffee at Booths in Ulverston in the afternoon. The girl bottle feeding her baby came in with her partner soon after I arrived. The chap who hadn’t shaved for a couple of days was a lot closer to me. I was trying to read some tourist leaflets at the time but thought I should let him know I had noticed. I stared at him head on for a full five minutes. He did not look at me once. The girl with the baby blushed. Another young lady in the corner, who was there when I arrived also noticed. I think she may haver been an employee. She was discreetly interested and even came down to have a closer look at the chap who had his back to her. I suspect she had seen similar things happening before. If the Gang story were more out in the open she would not have to guess of course what is was all about. She was watching an individual being targeted by Organised Crime.
The confident girl who was walking on her own in front of me during my riverside walk in Kendal before that I reckon was only about fourteen. She did not know I was the focus of her favour. No glance was made at her phone until she got to the point where she had been told to sit down. Whether she realised she was on an enticement exercise I have no idea. At any rate she felt perfectly safe in the hands of her gang.
As I travelled northwards on the main road it was very noticable how the standard of the carriageway suddenly improved as I passed the coastal Sellafield nuclear processing plant leading up to the industrial area around Workington. I see from Wikipedia that Sellafield employs 10,000 people.
On Friday a seven year old boy was seen running down an alleyway near his home in Aberdeen on fire. He died in hospital today. It seems possible children of his own age poored petrol over him and set it alight. Some people say they got it out of an open council van. Police are investigating.
At least 41 people have died in political unrest in Venezuela in the last two months. Last Tuesday’s FT reports that a senior Vatican dimplomat has gone there to try and mediate between the parties. A member of the opposition coalition has said they must either talk to the government or kill each other, there is no other way.
23rd April 2014
Joe Biden was in Ukraine yesterday giving his support, by taking the trouble of visiting then, to their leaders and Parliament.
Although it seems America wishes to take a low profile I heard Frank Gardner say on the radio yesterday that the Yemeni government have just carried out a major strike against Al-Qaeda in their tribal areas, with USA support. They hope to have killed some of the group’s leaders.
The wildlife presenter Chris Packham was on PM yesterday speaking from Malta. The EU allows the country to shoot small migrating birds for a few days each year and, besides being cruel, he says it is endangering some species. It seems you have groups of grown men in full hunting uniform roaming the island displaying their little dead trophies on their trouser belts. If you express an opposing view to them they do not like it and can get quite vindictive.
On Monday Sryia announced it will have a presidential election in June. The UN and America have denounced it as a parody of democracy. Even so I hope some good might follow. A ceasefire needs to take place for a start. The opposition can have no objections putting itself to electors provided that happens in a peaceful environment. It would be nice to think the disparate groups could talk amongst themselves and put up a unifying candidate.
Today, yesterday reported on a new system of family justice which has just started. The Justice Minister, Simon Hughes, was telling us it would make a big change to what has been a dysfunctional system. Previously there had been overlapping for children, divorce and family violence matters, between Magistates, County and High courts. Now there will be a single Family Court with clear rules of operation so that everyone knows where they stand.
On the programme this morning was a piece on the death of 16 Sherpas four days ago who were caught in an avalance on Everest as they were getting the mountain ready for the climbing season. Western climbers bring in millions of dollars in fees to the Nepalese government at this time of year and it seems they pass on very little to the men on the ground. Grieving families are currently being offered $400 in compensation. It is producing a lot of upset. I think it likely the Gang will have caused the avalance.
It is a story I feel which illustrates the Gang’s instinctive political nature. They study us and see where we have disagreements and differences, a natural part of everyday life. Then they take action to bring those underlying issues to a head if they can. The new, usually destabilised, situation often creates a different opportuniuty which they take further advantage of in some way.
After my note on Monday about the long term trend in the reduction of violent crime the BBC reports this morning academic research to reinforce the view. In 2013 hospital A&E departments in England and Wales saw a 12% drop in recorded injuries from non medical admissions over the year before. It is thought that is related to a drop in binge drinking.
Last night police were called to a home in New Malden, south London where they found three young children dead. All were born with a life threatening genetic defect inherited fron their parents which I am sure they did not know about at the time of conception. Their mother has been arrested on suspicion of murder and police say they are not looking for any other person. The family are South African as is the father’s employer, Investec Bank, who my business have used for many years. I was in contact with them recently following complications with closure of the account. The gentlman is a director in charge of investment banking at their healthcare division. At the time of the deaths he was in South Africa with family members and the couple’s fourth child, I understand.
Yesterday the Duchess of Cornwall’s 62 year old brother died in New York. He leaves a wife and daughter. It seems he had gone outside to smoke a cigarette at a charity associated event. He fell and hit his head on the pavement. He was taken to hospital where he died.
When I wrote about my stop off at Leyland yesterday I saw separate police vehicles close to me on several occasions. I have not mentioned it before but it is a common theme, at home and away. Two more drove past me in Cockermouth this morning. On this trip there have been more vans than cars. I can just imagine what the drivers might say if they were told off. But Sarg the intelligence boys have told us he is in the area and he should know we are keeping a protective eye on him. As the one on the receiving end I have to say it doesn’t feel like that. It comes over as intrusive intimidation, just as it was for the Guardian newspaper which I wrote about on 3rd February 2014.
I was impressed with Keswick. It is not touristy but a traditional market town of character. Towns leaders go out of their way, in my view, to create a pleasing environment for their visitors. The only Gang influence I noticed was all refreshment based; the food wagon in one of the public car parks, the gaudy national coffee shop far too big in comparison with it’s neighbours, and the prominent local cafe at the top of the street with it’s outside seating area. There you will find Gang helpers congregating, with anoraks on when it is cold, projecting their gang culture out into the town for anyone who is attuned to notice it.
Tony Blair has given a speech in London today on Muslim extremism, and made himself available to the media. He wants the West, Russia and China to come together to stop it. Otherwise he believes the Middle East and North Africa could fall into chaos. I think public debate about such issues is important. However I suspect Mr Blair would be willing to use force if necessary should his persuasive abilities fail. I think that would be wrong. Extremism is a political problem. It takes time to change people’s minds. Politicians should recognise their limitations, get their heads down and do what they can in practical ways. I am puzzled by the timimg of Mr Blair’s intervention.
I heard Jeremy Bowen say on the TV news this evening that the Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations are dead in the water. Against that backdrop it seems, the Palestinians are having another go at unity. Hamas and Fatah, after their split in August 2007, have announced they hope to form a coalition government of both Gaza and the West Bank within the next five weeks. Mr Netanyahu is not pleased. He looks upon Hamas as a terrorist organisation.
Last Wednesday’s FT says that Robert Hannigan will become the new head of GCHQ in the autumn. He has led defence and intelligence work at the Foreign Office since 2010. Before that he advised Tony Blair on the Northern Ireland peace process.
The editorial applauds Mr Renzi’s moves to bring in new heads with proven track records to Italy’s state owned companies. I am sure he has a massive job on his hands to meodernise his country but at least he has started. Three chairmanships go to women.
A few turns of the page before we are told that Silvio Berlusconi has been sentenced to 12 months community service in an elderly persons home, for the crimes of which he has already been found guilty. The punishment has been structured in such a way to allow him to campaign for his Forza Italia party in next month’s European elections if he wishes. I feel that is a wise judicial decision. If the sentence could have been seen as harsh I think it might have caused a lot of upset in political circles.
24th April 2014
Over the last 24 hours there have been words and actions in support of the sides in Ukraine. Foreign Minister Lavrov has spoken as has President Obama. For us we are told that 600 American troops are going to Poland for exercises and that Brtitain has had military aircraft up in the skies looking at Russian warplanes flying in international airspace.
I heard Paddy O’Connell on the Jeremy Vine show at lunchtime yesterday looking at the cost of a gun licence which is currently £50. The Home Office minister of state for crime prevention said he wants to make the licencing system self financing so the rest of us do not subsidise the fee. The Chief Constable of Hampshire Police, ACPO lead for gun control, said that currently with the interviews which have to be carried out, the expense of each application is £195. The representative of the Shooting Sports Trust was open on the subject. He hopes the police can be a bit more efficient so his members do not pay too much in the future. All three parties will now see if they can work out an agreed solution.
It is not a story which has registered with me before but last night on Channel 4 News Michael Crick was going through the work history of a London policeman who for a long time has said the Met have been manipulating their crime statistics. He estimates that sexual offences are under reported by up to 25%. He has written a book and publishes a blog about it. His employer started misconduct procedings against him for not working through the correct channels. Last month he decided he would resign from the force in May and gave interviews to the BBC on television and radio a fortnight ago. No doubt that will have made powerful men even more angry. He has now been charged with gross misconduct, with a sacking in view, for being so public about his views. The intention would then be to put his name on a struck off list available to all. That no doubt would jeopardise his prospects of getting any future job in the same line of work.
A week ago there was an atrocity in the South Sudanese civil war. Hundreds of people were killed in a market area of Betiu along tribal lines. Famine generally is close in the region. David Miliband appeared on the programme to warn us of the dangers. Two workers of his charity, The International Rescue Committee, were killed at the time in a UN compound.
After a six hour meeting today the Israeli security cabinet unanimously decided to suspend peace talks with the Palestinians. I have just watched a video clip of Mr Netanyahu giving an interview to Jeremy Bowen. The Prime Minister is not in a state of despair as I have seen him before. He is helpfully clear on his position. He will not negotiate with Hamas terrorists who wish the destruction of the Israeli state. With that he seems to think the ball is now in the Palestinians’ court. That is one way of looking at it. However, as he is now, I think Mr Netanyahu has more confidence than that. He needs to get Hamas to change their mind, so they are no longer terrorists. It was that crucial change in attitude of some key members of the IRA which allowed the peace process in Northern Ireland to ultimately be concluded. President Abbas I am sure would help him do that, as would several others working behind the scenes who wish both men well. It would be a glittering prize for Mr Netanyahu. You never say never in politics.
I stayed in central Lancaster last night. I booked the hotel online at about 9pm the evening before. However that allowed long enough for a hidden camera to be put in my room I consider. The only possible place for it was the smoke alarm on the ceiling. I dressed by my third floor window overlooking the street below. Almost as soon as I got there a young lady sat on a piece of street furniture in my narrow line of sight, on the pavement by the traffic lights, looking at her mobile phone. It wasn’t made for that. She looked pretty uncomfortable. Nevertheless she was happy to do it without any idea of why she was there I suspect. When I came back to the window she had gone.
An example of pooling of resources and joint collaboration was highlighted in last Thursday’s FT. The charity Cancer Research UK, drugs companies AstraZeneca and Pfizer, and the NHS are teaming up to provide £25 million of funding to the National Lung Matrix Trial. At centres across the country patients will be treated experimentally with combinations of drugs to see if treatments can be individually tailored to the characteristics shown by their particular cancer cell mutation.
Geoff Dyer writes in the issue that America does not seem to have learnt the lessons of the Cold War. Apparently it has been US policy since 1945 not to threaten force when it is displeased. President Obama is putting that philosophy into action by not talking of premeditated military action from him over Ukraine. Nevertheless his mood seems to be all retaliation with no incentive. The director of an American think tank believes it could indicate the President has not worked out a strategy. Mr Putin should be given a vision using clear logic that the way the world, not only Russia, sees him could be transformed through making an accommodation with the West. It seems to me some quiet talks should currently be taking place between the sides, out of the public eye. I hope the importance of positively moving forward is fully apreciated by everyone.
Yesterday I wrote about an Italian court being wise. As mentioned in the editorial it appears a recent EU court ruling has been just the opposite. It has decided that a mobile phone app offered by Uber, for ordering private taxi pick ups, must not be offered in it’s jurisdiction: it would be unfair to licensed taxi cabs. If a traveller does use Uber the driver concerned will be liable to a fine of 10,000 euros. It seems to me the decison is anti competitive and against the interests of customers.
25th April 2014
Barack Obama arrived in South Korea today on his Asian tour. On Tuesday there were reports of activity at the North’s nuclear test site. Obviously some factions in the regime wanted to express their disapproval about the American President coming so close to their neck of the woods. No firings have yet taken place.
Things are not sorting themselves out in Ukraine. I heard Barack Obama talk of it being the world against Russia. The remark reminded me of Sir Bernard Hogan Howe saying after the 2011 London riots that he headed the biggest gang in town. No doubt the President wishes to marginalise the Russian government as much as possible. There have been phone calls between all the top players today, including one between Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin, in preparation for ecomonic sanctions being strengthened. John Kerry has said Russia is funding and coordinating the separatists. He has accused them of intimidation, distraction, deception and destabilisation.
I wrote about my Guernsey flights on 18th and 20th February 2014. The airline was Flybe. A fortnight ago there was a strange story going the rounds about a think tank saying London City Airport should be shut as it made no economic sense. After reading an article in The i yesterday I think I can see the Gang connection. It was bad tempered pique. The Gang Master will have known Flybe was in negotiations with the airport to start low cost flights from there to five destinations in competition with larger rivals. He looks upon that as challenging his commercial interests. The new flights were announced yesterday.
26th April 2014
I am a Neighbourhood Watch coordinator and received our newsletter this morning. It tells me and my neighbours about Think Jessica which is a campaign to help people, particularly the old and vunerable, who are psychologically destabilised by the techniques of criminals. As global networking groups become aware of targets, victims’ names are circulated in suckers’ lists. Apparently it is possible to get a victim in a mental state where they wish to send money to fraudsters even though they have been told they are being fleeced. They start doing it in secret. It is estimated that Organised Crime collect £3.5 billion a year worldwide from their scams. The same edition says 90% of emails sent every day are thought to be junk.
Yesterday Ukraine’s interim prime minister accused Russia, manipulated by the merican Gang in my terms, of wanting to start World War III. On the face of it it seems an outlandish thing to say. However I suspect there is much more than a grain of truth in the remark. The Gang, probably better than anyone else, understand how war can destroy the psyche of a nation.
Last week a series of programmes started on Radio 4 called In Search of Ourselves. Thursday’s edition covered behaviourism and the work of B.F. Skinner, in the 1960s I think. He believed that a person’s behaviour could be conditioned by what goes on around them. It seems to me that is what terrorism does. I am surprised reasearch is not currently taking place to see how behaviourism might be part of the Gang story, especially into how fear affects behaviour. From a quick look on the internet it appears Professor Skinner’s work became discredited and no one has wanted to be associated with it since.
A good news story around this morning is that average car insurance premiums fell by £100 in the first three months of the year, 16% less than the year before. I expect one reason will be that the cash for crash scam is getting more difficult to operate successfully.
Ed Davey was on Today on Wednesday talking about the government going ahead with eight renewable energy projects. However there was no hiddeness about how it would affect consumers’ bills. Green technology is more expensive than burning carbon. Our gas and electricity bills will go up by 2% by 2020. Even if the percentage had been considerably larger I think it is the right approach. When I ran my business I found that provided applicants understood at the interview stage exactly what a job entailed they were not put off at all by challenging terms of employment. They knew exactly where they stood. What got at them more than anything else was when the goal posts were moved after they had joined.
A counter terrorism police officer was on Today on Thursday explaining how a multi agency approach is being tried, to persuade young Muslim men from going to Syria. Apparently some 2,000 have travelled from Europe including 400 from Britain. Even if their initial motive is humanitarian they can often end up as radicalised, with hatred in their hearts. The idea is to particularly engage with mothers to see if they can speak to their sons using the experience of age.
Chuka Umanna was on the programme on Friday expanding on Labour’s pledge to end zero hours contracts if they win the next election. He called them exploitative towards employees, giving a bad employer the opportuniy to bully any employees it does not get along with.
This morning’s edition interviewed a 24 year old lady who was nearly raped in Hull last spring. She managed to phone 999 as it was happening and the police arrived in time. The man pleaded guilty in court soon afterwards. Nevertheless his sentencing hearing has been adjourned possibly 11 times due to various inadequacies of contributing parties. It has caused his wanted victim distress. The judge too is totally exasperated. He says he will pass down a sentence next time whether all the reports are ready or not. I have little doubt that Gang influence has been involved. Keir Starmer, a former Director of Public Prosecutions, spoke and called for a victims’ law. He will be reporting to the Labour Party about it in the autumn.
There was a piece on Thursday’s PM about the Metropolitan Police talking to unsatisfied victims of crime in a more comprehensive way. They have set up a form of independent conciliation service, within their force, which Londoners can contact if the wish. The programme spoke to a man, probably in his twenties, whose flat was burgled. The police carried out no apparently meaningful investigation which he did not feel was sufficient. When a meeting was set up with the officers concerned he was able to understand the complexities and limitations of their role and came away satisfied. The procedure should assist both parties. For the policeman it is intelligence on how the public may view his conduct. For the victim the restorative aproach helps him realise that perhaps the whole world isn’t against him after all.
I see from their website that the OSCE, formed in 1994, is officially the United States Mission to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe. I heard the American ambassador to the organisation speak on Today yesterday morning about Ukraine.
The evening radio news yesterday told me the Arhbisphop of Canterbury has entered the debate on the relevance of Christianity in our society. In his website blog Doctor Welby says his Church has far greater influence on us for good than the size of it’s congregation might suggest. Indeed the recent furore shows people have feelings about what it represents. He would have been far more worried if Mr Cameron’s views had been treated with indifference. Then Mr Clegg has also joined in saying he would rather the Church be disestablished from the State. The Bishop of Rochester was talking about it on Today yesterday morning.
27th April 2014
There is a big do in Rome this morning. One million people are going to the Vatican City. Past Popes John Paul II and John XXIII are being beatified as saints. Representatives from 100 countries are attending. The Queen’s envoys are the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester.
A British forces helicopter crashed in Afghanistan yesterday. The cause is not known so it is being described as an accident. All five servicemen on board were killed. One is referred to as an Army reservist working in intelligence. I suspect he was the Gang target. Interestingly as soon as it happened the Taliban were claiming responsibility for shooting the aircraft down. In my view that was a devious Gang arranged twist to muddy the waters about one of their own operations. The Taliban would love to have been involved. It only needed a few choice private words to make them think that they actually were. It is like knocking at an open door.
I feel the OSCE observers currently being trained hold the key to de-escalation of tensions in eastern Ukraine. I imagine others think the same way so I was not surprsied when a group of eight of them were stopped in Sloviansk on Friday. They were taken to premises controlled by the self declared separatist supporting mayor who has seized the city. It did not seem to fit in though when the leader of the OSCE group at a press conference today reassured everyone they were being well looked after. The mayor was with him and had just arranged for one of his colleagues with diabetes to be released. I think the only way of making sense of those events is to assume there is some talking going on in the background at a higher level. The group leader was advised to say his team were the guests of the mayor and the mayor was encouraged to release the observer on humanitarian health grounds.
I heard on the news this evening that today’s beatification is seen by some as a political move by the current Pope. The Polish Pope John Paul was seen as a conservative and the Italian Pope Paul a liberal. The good feeling generated will hopefully unite both sides of the Catholic Church.
Today is Holocaust Memorial Day when the extermination of 6 million Jews by the Nazis is remembered. President Abbas has reached out with an olive branch to the Isreali people by describing the tragedy as as the most heinous crime in modern history. A Hamas spokesman has said they will not provide Fatah with any cover for negotiations with the enemy. That indicates to me Hamas would not be willing to talk to Israel under any circumstances. I would like to know a bit more why they feel that way.
Although things have been difficult since our financial crash the effect on us has not been nearly as bad as the Great Depression of the 1930s. As pointed out by a contributor in last weekend’s FT that brought fascism into mainstream politics and led to the Second World War. This time in Europe we have had politicians plugging into our fears of immigration and exactly what our neighbours’ intentions are towards us. Do we want to be with them or against them. In America the similar type trends have been illustrated by the Tea Party. However the author feels it is all reasonably manageable. Mainstream politics will prevail in the long run.
The editorial picks up the theme as far as Ukip are involved. It suggests the Party plays on our negative emotions. Established politicians can use rational argument against them but, coming up to the European elections, it is unlikely to work. In that situation perhaps a small amount of emotional pressure the other way might help to balance the tables. It could show us they are quite a brittle, individualistic lot.
The same column notes that the people living on less than $2 a day, one definition of global poverty, has almost halved since 1981. However more than a third of the world’s population, 2.8 billion souls, still get by on under $10 a day. At this juncture it is very important that our world leaders do not allow any of that number to slip below the poverty line.
Something I have never seen before in the paper is a company information panel for it’s readers on an important issue of the day. The one in that issue sets out the paper’s position on press regulation. The existing Press Complaints Commission is about to become defunct. To replace it the FT will be creating it’s own editorial complaints commissioner to be appointed by an independent panel. It hopes that will provide a real, transparent vehicle for readers who wish to complain about any subject matter appearing in the publication.
In the Magazine Simon Kuper also mentions that we are making good progress in fighting poverty. The UN set a Millenium Development Goal in 2000 of halving those living on less than $1.25 a day by 2015. We got there in 2010. Next year a new set of MDGs will be set. He wants the one billion disabled people in the world remembered. If they can be helped it will make a big difference not only to them but also their families.
This month many of the 1.2 billion people in India will be voting in their general election. I heard about it on India Uncorrupted? on Radio 4 at lunchtime, and in particular the Aam Aadmi party. It was only formed in November 2012 but has made a big impact because it tries to represent the interests of the little man against big vested interests. 30% of MPs in the last parliament had criminal records. Currently there is no law against that happening. It seems corruption is endemic in their political system, solid within their culture. An example was given of water supplies in rural areas. Often there is no state provision so villagers have to buy from private companies with water tankers. They are charged exorbitant rates. If they complain they get beaten up. The police are not interested to help. The politicians, with their kickbacks, have a disincentive to bring in a public supply. The AAP will not reach the threshold of power this time but they hope to create an influence.
28th April 2014
In the early hours of this morning a fire occured in a terraced house in the Parliamnetary constituency, I think, of Sheffield Heeley next to Nick Clegg’s of Sheffield Hallam. Five family members perished. The house is a few miles from the Hillsborough football stadium.
The initial search pattern for the crashed Malaysia Airlines plane has now been completed with nothing found. Tony Abbott says a new phase must now begin. Also, it seems, if any wreckage were to come to the surface that would have happened by now. I can only think that the plane has settled on mountainous ocean floor which with the depth has deflected it’s black box signals so much, human readers on the surface became confused as to where they might be emanating from. Prime Minister Abbott says they will now spread out their focus over the next few months. As far as Australia is concerned it will not shirk it’s responsibilites in spending the necessary money to see that job through.
A BBC team has just been to the Syrian opposition city of Aleppo. We heard about it on Today this morning. Not many civilians are left. The few who remain exist in fear of their lives. Government helicopters fly over at 6,000 feet and drop barrell bombs. It is not possible for them to say exactly where they will land. The idea, I am sure, is to spread as much terror as possible. That is exactly the motive at play, in my view, in America on 11th September 2001.
There is a Panoroma programme on this evening about Bernie Ecclestone. As I noted on 23rd July 2013 Mr Ecclestone is a fomer second hand car dealer from south London. He rose to probably become the richest man in Britain. He himself says minimisation of his tax is a priority. At his current German trial on corrption charges his defence is that he paid a £26 million bribe because otherwise he was afraid details would be given to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs about his family trust arrangements. Panorama has been looking into whether those are vehicles for illegal tax evasion. In 1995 he gave away part of his Formula 1 interests to his wife. She put them into a family trust in Liechtenstein. I imagine she was not resident in the UK for tax purposes. When she relinguished her personal rights she came into a large sum of tax free money from the trusts. She could then do, in private, what she liked with her money. If that had been her husband however he would have paid £1.2 billion in UK tax. When the couple divorced in 2009 part of the settlement, disclosed to the German court, was that she should pay her former husband about $100 million a year. The suspicion arises therefore that Mr Eccletone was in control of the family trust arrangements all along. A divorce is usually a fractious process. I feel you would not pay sums to your former, still extremely rich, husband unless you thought you had to, under some form of previous verbal agreement say. That would mean Mr Ecclestone should have paid tax on his former wife’s disposal.
If there is Gang influence around though, there will inevitably be a twist. From 1999 HMRC were investigating Mr Ecclestone’s tax affairs. However in 2008, just before his divorce, they settled with him for a single payment from the family trusts of £10 million. They then closed their files. That sum is the amount of interest the trusts accrue every six weeks.
I wrote about Simon Danczuk’s book about Cyril Smith on 17th April 2014 and the suspicions of a cover up to protect a high politician. Rochdale Council had announced in January 2014 a QC led independent inquiry, but paid for by the council, into their northern aspect of the matter, to report by this July. This morning at a joint press conference with the Greater Manchester Chief Constable they said they were expanding the review and the policeman asked for more victims to come forward. Mr Danczuk was on Today this morning and the MP said he felt uneasy about that closeness. The council are one of the parties the police should be investigating. It gives an unfortunate impression if they appear to be working as one. Even with no guilt yet found I guess David Cameron now wishes he had never employed Andy Coulson. 11 potential Rochdale victims have already been identified to the satisfaction of police but no arrests have been made. It is almost as if somebody is playing for time in the hope that something for them will turn up.
Just before midday police were called to a Roman Catholic secondary school in Leeds. A 61 year old teacher of Spanish, Religous Education and Physical Education, just coming up to retirement after 40 years service, had been stabbed. Witnesses say it happened in a classrom and the attacker, a 15 year old male pupil now detained, approached from behind. She was taken to hospital where she was pronounced dead. It is the first killing of a teacher here since 1995. All the local comment so far is that she was a lovely, kind lady. Such things always seem to happen to the nicest of people.
At round about 2.30 pm news came through that Max Clifford’s 10 person jury had found him guilty, in some cases by a nine vote majority I think, of eight of the 11 charges against him. Those were of various indecent asaults including oral sex, dating from the 1960s, 70s and 80s, but not rape. I understand all the victims concerned, except the first, came forward after publicity about the case was reported in the media.
I heard David Mellor say on PM this afternoon that he was aware of the evidence against Mr Clifford and, in his opinion, he was clearly gulity as found. In the past Mr Clifford, in association with The Sun, had fabricated and published untrue stories about Mr Mellor. Later I watched Neil Wallis, who had worked with Mr Clifford over many years, on Channel 4 News. He said Mr Clifford had often spoken of his sexual exploits outside of his marriage. At his trial Mr Clifford said he had had sexual intercourse in his office with women but always with their consent.
When he was charged I remember Mr Clifford saying no one who knew him could think he was guilty of the accusations made. On leaving the court today he did not answer questions on the advice of his lawyers. He stood in defiant silence in front of the cameras. It seems to me Mr Clifford genuinely believes he did nothing particularly wrong. He lived in a nasty, murky world. What he did, like a past American President also I believe, he thought to be insignificant in comparison with what was going on around him. The jurors today did not agree with him.
As anticipated the US has announced tougher economic sanctions against Russia today. Seven individuals and 17 companies are targeted. The BBC says all are closely associated either to President Putin himself, his friend Gennady Timchenko or Bank Rossiya.
Last Monday’s FT highlighted a downside for Russia if it’s relationship with Ukraine breaks down. There is a factory in eastern Ukraine which makes the engines for most Russian military helicopters. If Kiev decided to impose an embargo the future secure defence of Russia would be problematic at the least.
29th April 2014
I have just spoken to a firm of solicitors in Hertfordshire about some property documentation I have signed which became lost in the post. No names are stated on the correspondence I received from them, however I have recently been copied in on email correspondence which does identify the lady handling the matter. But the man on the other end of the line was not prepared to put me through to her until I had answered three security questions. I reckon he must have thought I was a terrorist.
It was on the radio news this morning that David Cameron has told party activists, if the voting turns out that way, he will not be prepared to remain as Prime Minister unless an in out European Union membership referendum takes place before the end of 2017. I feel that is helpful because it makes his position plain to all concerned. Other people can have discussions about what they were do under different scenarios. Even if he were not PM I am sure Mr Cameron would have lots of good things to do. I suspect Mrs Cameron might actually be quite pleased.
Another item reported on a phone call between the defence ministers of Russia and America. Russia has said they will not invade Ukraine but are upset at the rhetoric coming at them from the West.
I had Today on in the kitchen this morning when I heard someone say Thank You as an interview started. It was so unusual it made me prick up ny ears. It was 16 year old Malal Yousafi. She speaks with a maturity vastly greater than her age. Her subject was the nearly 200 girls who were abducted from their school in northern Nigeria a fortnight ago. It is thought the kidnappers are Boko Haram who do not approve of Muslim girls being educated. Malala says such people have no real concept of what Islam actually teaches.
Immediately before that Thought for the Day was about 19 year old Stephen Sutton who has terminal cancer. He wanted to do a few things before he died and set up an appeal on the Justgiving website for the Teenage Cancer Trust. His aim was to raise £10,000. This morning the figure is over £3 million. Stephen says none of us should take things for granted. His circumstances and motivation have persuaded others, in a smaller way, to do some good. He believes it is not the length of time you have on this earth but what you do with it.
Another interesting part of that segment was a man telling Evan Davis about the book he has written on high frequency share trading. In the past regulators have encouraged it I think in the belief it encouraged competition. They are now having second thoughts. The trouble is, in a Gang influenced world, if it allows trickery the concept of transparent pricing goes out of the window. More than that the Gang want you to know what they are doing because they believe you can’t stop them. In this case traders in New York began to notice that someone seemed to know the shares they were about to buy before their transaction was complete. The price went up. One aspect of his book, the author says, is about their fight to bring back honest dealing to the system.
First of all high frequency traders have unparalled intelligence about market prices on a day to day basis. Then to help them along, physical infrastructure has been built which allows them to complete their trades fractionally faster than anyone else. For example a straight underground pipe, containing fibre optic cable presumably, has been laid between Chicago and New Jersey at a cost of $350 million allowing a trade between those offices to take place two milliseconds quicker than normal. However that expense is just a drop in the ocean in comparison with the tens of billions of dollars, due to the volumes involved, high frequency traders are suspected of syphoning off from markets every year.
Specifically a trader makes an order on behalf of a client of a large number of shares. That goes through to a central dealing desk at another location where the transaction takes place. As it is travelling there the high frequency trader steps in and buys the same amount pushing the price up for subsequent trades. Then his friend in the exchange, for a kickback no doubt, gives the order to him so he can sell that bargain at a higher price than he just paid for it. A nice little earner.
Towards the end of the programme the chaiman of the European Principals group of the Futures Industry Association spoke. The gentleman was in denial that such a thing could happen. As far as he was concerned no one could know what trades are coming through until they appear on the screens at the exchange. Perhaps he will change his mind when the court cases start.
Early on Jeremy Bowen reported from the City of David in East Jerusalem. Jerusalem itself is a holy place for Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Both Israelis and Palestinians see it as their nautural seat of government. After the 1948 Arab-Israeli war it was divided, with the east to Jordan and the west to Israel. In the 1967 Six Day War Israel took control of the east as well. The City of David is surrounded by a Palestinian settlement but many Jews feel it’s ownership for them is an essential part of their heritage. It is where King David built his palace and established his capital. Jeremy uses it as an example I feel of the nub of the issue between Palestinians and Israels, two sides who obviously want peace, whatever Hamas may say.
It is whether Palestinians are going to be allowed to have a viable independent state. If you are an emphathetic person, it seems to me, you will recognise it is essential to your future well being. Without it you will always have resentment and peace will never favour your people. It would undoubtedly be an extremely difficult, and in some quarters unpopular, political principle for the Israelis to put in place, even privately, but I feel it is the only way forward.
The chief executive of Whitbread, who own Costa Coffee and Premier Inns, was on the business section. They have had good results. His strategy is to increase market share, as I heard the Asda boss argue recently, which I noted on 7th April 2014. I wonder if that culture is the way we should be going. If you open more outlets you are bound to sell more but it doesn’t necessarily follow that you are particularly good at what you do. It is the mentality of the steamroller, it seems to me. When the going gets tough, as it well might, my prediction would be that Whitbread reduces it’s prices to put it’s smaller competitors out of business. That would help with it’s market share too.
A two day tube strike started in London yesterday evening and in the middle of the broadcast Jim Naughtie was interviewing the Acting General Secretary of ASLEF about it. As they got under way the man asked the interviewer how he was. James is long in the tooth. He said fine but you could tell from his innotation that he did not want to be put off from the focus of the questions he was just about to ask.
One of Ann Maquire’s pupils from the 1980s spoke. She said that the lady acted as a mentor and source of inspiration for her, as she did no doubt for many others. Ann gave the best of advice for her future life which she remembers fondly to this day. The grief created by one death has spread a long way. A doctor said that it will be particularly difficult for those shortly taking exams. A traumatising experience tends to shut down the thinking part of the brain. The youngsters will need caring attention.
A full programme ended with a discussion about the possibility of openly putting CCTV cameras in residents’ rooms at care homes. An operator is thinking of offering the facility to it’s customers. There would then be no need for worried relatives to surreptitiously put cameras in rooms without telling anyone, to keep an eye on their loved ones. It could be in the interests of both staff and elderly people. Issues of privacy and consent would have to be addressed but, it seems to me, there can be no harm in having an informed debate about it.
The Home Secretary is hosting an international London conference starting today to try and help Ukraine recover state assets which it is alleged it’s former President took for his own personal use.
I wrote about the In Search of Ourselves series on Saturday. Today’s edition was on the history of the treatment of psychiatric disorder. The basic approaches are talking and psychological cures, and medication. So many men coming back from the Great War were mentally damamged, therapy was the tradition then. After the Second World War the social setting of how an individual related to his companions came to be considered. However from the 1970s psychoanalysis, especially in America, became discredited. The emphasis of treatment became pharmacological and biological. Martin Sixsmith traces that back to the discovery of chlorpromazine as the first anti-psychotic drug in 1952. It made mentally unwell people quieter. They were no longer such a problem for the rest of us. By 1964 50 million people around the world had had chlorpromazine prescribed for them. Common drugs like librium and valium followed. In 1978 it is estimated 2.3 billion people took valium tablets, not only as an anti-depressant but also as a semi recreational drug. My note of 13th February 2014 suggests that middle class heroin users in America today often start by taking prescription painkillers. A British academic and author was saying that assertive promotional campaigns by the pharmaceutical industry do seem to have had an effect on prescribing rates. Doctors have come to believe that mentally unbalanced people need to take drugs to make them act normally.
I noted on 28th November 2013 that the government’s policy of charging university students tuition fees did not seem to be working out as planned. To expend £27,000 for a three year further education course is a massive commitment for a young person, as my 17 year old son is currently mulling over. Last Thursday’s FT says the average cost for all students is actually £40,000 of which the state can only expect to receive back just under £23,000. The career pay level of so many will not reach the threshold where repayments become due. That figure means taxpayers are only saving 5% of the cost of university education before fees came in. The big winners are the universities themselves. Their receipts have risen by 25%. Students’ debt is to the government not them.
A small piece on the same page records that UK car production is up 50% over the last four years. We hope to make 2 million units a year by 2017. Demand from our key market, Europe, is now beginning to pick up.
The paper says that, like Greece, international investors are now happy to lend money to Portugal. The country has just raised 750 million euros at a good rate of interest for a ten year bond.
David Pilling there was saying South Korea has quite a swashbuckling culture. The conecept of physical protection of the individual is not held in high esteem. Over the weekend their Prime Minister resigned because of the ferry sinking. He said he hoped his sacrifice would start to make people view these things in a different way.
After America’s action yesterday over Ukraine the EU has imposed extra economic sanctions today, on Russian officials and politicians. Included are the deputy prime minister, the armed forces chief of staff and the head of military intelligence, as well as some Russian supporters living in eastern Ukraine.
30th April 2014
This business does my head in sometimes. My really private thoughts I do not write down or verbalise in any way. I mentioned on 5th and 18th April 2014 that I believe the Gang read my written notes as soon as they are typed, whether I chose to publish them or not. I am not sure however whether that situation applies to good people who are also watching me and will be operating under a given set of rules. For the avoidance of doubt therefore I record it is my wish that any note I write in any file on my computer I would like to be read by the Prime Minister. He then has my permission to show it to any other person he considers appropriate. If, after today, it later transpires that has not happened I consider consequences will flow for the decision makers concerned.
The former Archbishop of Canterbury was on Today this morning telling us about this year’s Pushkin Prize. Alexander Pushkin was a Russian poet who died in 1837. Lord Williams is chairman of the judges this year. More generally he said that faith is continual. You have bad days and good days but the bedrock of your beliefs, for each of us, remains unabated. It is as it should be.
Thought for the Day from Leeds was about Ann Maguire. The Bishop said good teachers provide role models to our children and instil in them the quality of calm, purposeful persistence. If you decide to be good you can change lives.
The ordinary people of Iraq, with the continual killing and violence going on around them all the time, are still having a most terrible time. Kevin Connelly’s dispatch made the point that they try and carry on as normally as they can, as we all would. Kevin went to a wedding. He said that occasion is a statement of faith in the future. He suggested it is the same for anyone who decides to vote in a democratic election.
The families of the kidnapped girls in Nigeria are trying to make their voices heard. As reported on the programme a demonstration is being held in Abuja this afternoon. The government seem to be so afraid of Boko Haram they want to look the other way. It is not possible to hide 200 individuals. Sometimes, like the Arab Spring, people have to show the commitment to have their voices heard for things to be done.
A later item passed on that the Daily Telegraph has established through soil samples that the regime have this month been dropping barrel bombs from helicpters in Syria containing chlorine. The substance is commonly available but is still a chemical weapon. Such action has the Gang written all over it. It is so small minded. Effective chemical weapns have now just about all been removed from the scenes of conflict. So Gang Members have resorted to the next best thing even though chlorine gas quickly disperses in the air and can hardly be called an effective form of terror.
If the law tells you you must kill someone I think it must be horrible for those who have to carry out the act. In American prisons you also have witnesses to executions. One in Oklahoma yesterday went wrong. The normal method, used yesterday, is that three injections of different drugs are used. The first causes unconciousness, the second through paralysis stops the lungs breathing and the third shuts down the heart. In this case the prisoner was writhing around when he should have been dead. He finally expired after 45 minutes by a heart attack, we are told, after curtains had been drawn around him.
The BBC webpage says it is thought the man’s veins split meaning he didn’t ingest the substances properly. I think it more likely one or more of the drugs were faulty by Gang manipulation. Even if contamination were proved to be the cause though I don’t think it would get us anywhere. American authorities have been experiencing difficulty in getting the required poisons from their normal suppliers in Europe. If necessary I expect it chould be shown that these drugs came from some form of cowboy. The Gang only ever act when they have full cover in place. Under no circumstances will they allow a smoking gun to be left, leading back to themselves. That is why I am still around.
Gang manipulation on the political front was in view this morning, in my opinion. I noted on 1st June 2013 that Partrick Mercer had decided he would not stand at the next General Election. Yesterday, three weeks before the European elections, it was leaked that the Commons standards committee would be suspending Mr Mercer from Parliament for six months for his past behaviour. The MP immediately jumped the gun and said he is resigning forthwith. That of course means a by-election is required. Onto the stage steps Nigel Farage. He was placed into a pretty impossible position. Putting his name forward as a candidate would be immensely risky. However with the media hype over Ukip at the moment the pressure for him to stand is immense. Yet if he ran and lost the Tories would rub their hands with glee and call him a spent force. If he decided against he would be accused of running scared. In the event he took the latter option which he announced on the 8.10 slot on Today this morning. The Gang hate the political class, full stop.
Last Saturday’s FT went to a conference near Moscow of Russian intellectuals. They were worried. The outlook for the Russian economy does not look good. Because of current tensions capital outflows are forecast to be $100-150 billion next year. That is not a pleasant prospect for the future prosperity of the Russian people. For the average citizen it is where they live and where they must stay. Free businessmen however invest their money where they think they will be able to make profits. They have no particular ties to Russia. At the moment President Putin is very popular with his people just as Mrs Thatcher was at the time of the Falklands War. Unless the situation is turned round though it seems unlikely it will stay that way.
It was an embarrassing few days before for the Confederation of British Industry. It’s members come from all sectors with every shade of opinion so it was not a good idea for them to register with the Electoral Commission to lobby for a no vote in the Scottish referendum. As word spread about it their chiefs said they would go back to neutrality. The sign that the story was Gang orientated, in my view, was that the application had been made, in mistaken good faith, by a relatively junior official.
The Lex Column had some paragraphs about Amazon. It’s share price peaked in Janury but since have lost 25% of it’s value. That however has got nothing to do with performanace, the company’s income stream is as good as ever. Share buying however is all about confidence. If you lose it you sell.
The Home Secretary has announced in the Commons today that police stop and search powers are to be reviewed and a revised code of conduct drawn up. Her requirement is that it’s frequency should come down. If that doesn’t happen she will bring in legislation.
The online encyclopedia Wikipedia can be edited by anyone after they have registered for that activity. I look at it’s pages a lot. The radio news reported this morning that government computers have made over 100 changes inserting offensive and inaccurate changes to it’s content. No doubt Wikipedia have a record of all computer IP addresses which make alterations. That is very much a culture thing in my view. It is people thinking they are being terribly clever, and acting stupidly, during office hours. It doesn’t say a lot for our seat of government I am afraid.