Thursday, April 30, 2009

Iraq - The War of The Vanities!

Today, saw the official ending of our six years of military presence in Iraq.

Only future generations will be able to provide a clear answer as to whether we should ever have been in the country in the first place; many of the official documents recording the decision to take military action are still classified as secret.

Countless lives have been needlessly lost, both of our troops and the Iraqi people. The benefits achieved from the 'liberation' are still not completely obvious.

The reasons given to the UK population for such a drastic show of force, have been proven to be false. Our leaders betrayed our trust and that of the military personnel who were sent into battle on their orders. No-one has been charged with misleading us all.

It seems ironic, that the man who made the ultimate decision to go to war in Iraq, is now prancing around, with his usual air of self-importance, as an envoy for peace in the Middle East.

His successor, Prime Minister Gordon Brown, has said:

"Today Iraq is a success story. We owe much of that to the efforts of British Troops"

Opposition Leader, David Cameron disagrees and has called for an official enquiry into the war. He said:

"There are vital lessons to learn and we need to learn them rapidly and the only justification for delay can, I'm afraid, be a political one."

Whoever is ultimately judged to be right, it will be too late to be of much comfort to the families of those troops and Iraqis, whose lives were sacrificed for what appears to have been nothing more than a war of vanity.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Twitter - Long May It Last!

No-one can doubt that Twitter has been an unqualified success story. It came from no-where to being one of the most mentioned - and used - websites on the internet.

Celebrities are not considered A-Listers unless they are known to be posting their (often vacant) thoughts, using less than 140 characters. Their popularity is judged by the number of followers they attract while their posts become ever more banal.

Even the ultra conservative and ever serious BBC ends several of its news reports, by giving out a Twitter address for its reporters.

Marketing experts, have wasted no time in tapping into the potential of the medium. They are able to instantly sort and target relevant groups of people, based on searched keywords associated with the on-going live conversational threads.

When I started Twittering I did not really get it. Within a week, though, I was happily Twittering away and posting pics from my mobile. I was addicted.

It has, today, even been blamed for spreading panic over the predicted pandemic from Swine Flu. That seems a bit unfair to us Twitterers, as we are only discussing what we are being told by the media - or are we?

Media 'experts' are now predicting the slow decline of Twitter and are claiming we will get bored and move on to something else.

Personally, I disagree and think its potential has not even begun to be realised, Third party developers are thinking up a multitude of new ways to hold our attention.

Whatever the end result may be, it is certainly a fun way, to go about talking to yourself. The day does not end unless I can post...."goodnight world!!"

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Parliamentary P***Heads!

Foreign Office Minister, Gilliam Merron, has been forced to reveal that the government holds a staggering 39,500 bottles of wine, spirits and liqueurs worth around £792,000 in the parliamentary cellars.

Maybe, it was because they needed the additional storage space, that they sold all of our gold reserve at bottom of market prices and why PM Gordon Brown looks like he is permanently suffering from the mother of all hangovers.

It seems when it comes to the social lives of politicians, we are once again buying the round!

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President Flies Into Trouble In New York!

As stupidity goes, it must be right up there at the top of the table!

The decision to fly Air Force One - the US presidential plane - at low altitude over New York, accompanied by a fighter escort, understandably, caused a minor panic among some of the city's residents.

The horrific events of 9/11 are still fresh in the minds of most people and it is almost unbelievable that the US Air Force and the presidential staff, had not allowed for this obvious fact when planning such a flight.

The Mayor of New York was angry and stated that had he been consulted on the plan, he would have suggested it was a very bad idea.

So what was the purpose of a fly-past which caused so much concern? The US airforce wanted to photograph Air Force One flying against the New York backdrop.

Officials at the White House have now apologised and it has been confirmed the president was not on the plane.

It is, however, good to know that tax dollars are being seen to be spent so wisely!!

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Pandemic Of The Press!

It seems we are all doomed. Well we are if we are to believe the stories in the tabloids and the reports being shown on tonight's early evening news.

Apparently, two people in the UK have now been confirmed as having Swine Flu, the highly contagious version of the flu family for which we do not have an effective vaccination available.

The outbreak was first reported as being an epidemic in Mexico, where it is thought that around 150 lives have been lost to the virus. Now, it is known to have crossed the border into the US and our own press are gearing up to supply us with a frenzy of doom and gloom stories over here.

Their emphasis tonight, is on the possibility it will become a pandemic - a word I had never heard until the last major outbreak of flu a year or so ago. I seem to remember that particular strain of the virus was blamed on migrating birds at the time.

Judging by the overall tone of panic attached to tonight's news reports, we must now brace ourselves for a beating by a positive epidemic of case histories. Stories like how the available supply of face masks has run out, due to the overwhelming demand by an increasingly terrified public, will become the norm.

It seems we are far more likely to find a vaccination against the Swine Flu than we are to find an effective protection against the doom peddlers of the tabloids.

Sadly, they really are a pandemic on their own!

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

London Marathon - Life's Lesson To All!

The London Marathon is the ideal example of what human nature is really about. It should be absorbed by everyone, but especially politicians, teaching professionals, life advisers and anyone with an 'ology' at the end of their profession.

Not only is it a vast spectacle, run through the most beautiful city in the world, by people of all abilities and all having a common aim and coming from differing backgrounds, it is a reminder that life is really just a simple thing.

It is proof that whatever our ability, social standing, disability or academic achievement we can all be successful and share a common dream.

We just achieve it at different times and by feeling different levels of hardship and pain.

See? The meaning of's simple really!!

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The Value Of Wealth!

Today, sees the publication of the annual Sunday Times Rich List. As its name suggests, it is a league table of the richest people in the UK.

According to news reports, it seems those listed this year, have seen their fortunes decline over the past 12 months. Those fortunes have suffered heavily through falling property valuations, a decline in retail spending and all the other effects of an economic downturn

What surprises me, however, is that we still care about who is the richest in the list, how they are coping, or the value of their present wealth; they are still super rich by anyone's standards.

When a rise in the cost of a litre of fuel can mean real hardship for us 'ordinary' folk and rising prices in supermarkets account for a huge percentage of the average wage, the super rich can absorb these conditions without even noticing. They have more than enough to be able to live on, despite the falls in the paper valuations of their wealth.

So, what is the reason we absorb such information about people who are so far removed from the reality of life they may as well be from another planet? Do we aspire to be like them? Is it a case of envy or simply jealousy?

I wish I knew the answer, but I fear it has become part of our human nature to look at wealth as a yardstick by which we are all judged. If you are rich, you have a value in life but if you just get by, you have very little value in our society.

Is it now time we started to re-evaluate our 'values' and judge a person's worth as being a value in the person and not in what they have?

Perhaps, if we had not allowed ourselves to become brainwashed by the media into buying 'envy' magazines and following the lives of pampered rich celebrities, we would not have overstretched ourselves by trying to keep up with something we should not really want.

Sadly, though, that has become the basis of our human nature!!

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Driving Into More Debt!

The much awaited - and feared - budget was announced in Parliament today by the Chancellor. It contained very few surprises and confirmed what we already know - we are heavily overstretched and it will take years to pay back what we have borrowed as a country.

One piece of news that did make the headlines was the £2000 rebate against the purchase of a new British made car. All we have to do is send our old models (over 10 years old) to the scrap yard.

Of course, in theory, this is a good idea, as it helps the environment and gives a vital shot in the arm to our struggling motor manufacturing industry - what little there is left!

So far so good then. Let's all rush out to the nearest showroom and purchase a new eco-friendly car and get shot of the dirty old gas guzzler. But wait.....that is when we run into the problem!

Most of us who drive ten year old cars do so because we cannot afford to have newer models. It is not an eccentricity in our genetic make-up but a necessity. The average price of a new car has to be at least £10,000 leaving an £8,000 shortfall.

The recession we are experiencing, has been exacerbated by the banks refusing to make loans and from people who have overstretched themselves by borrowing too much, when money was in plentiful supply.

There lies the dilemma. On the one hand, it is unlikely that we will be able to find the finance necessary for the car and on the other, if we get the loan, we are just adding to the unmanageable debts we already have.

Someone in the Treasury should have looked up the term Catch 22!

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tesco.....Time For Change!

Supermarket giant, Tesco, has just announced a record profit of £3.13bn. It is the largest profit ever to be recorded by a British retailer.

Of course, their PR reps are working overtime to play down how it was achieved but to me it can only be explained my one thing - overcharging!

From now on, I am going to make every effort to avoid handing over my ever dwindling cash pile to them; I am going to try to shop at the cheaper Asda and its similar ‘friends’.

After all....every little bit helps!!

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Child Poverty - Is It Greed or Need?

Various charities, have today been lobbying for more funds to be made available in this week's budget, to tackle child poverty in the UK. What confuses me about the subject, is that there does not seem to be a true definition of what child poverty really is.

I fail to remember ever seeing pot-bellied, semi-naked children, scavenging the streets of London searching for morsels of food that will suppress their hunger until their next bit of luck.

Of course, that is because our form of poverty is one that comes from a nation of plenty. Our form of poverty is dreamt up by charity workers whose jobs are about marketing the idea, until we all believe it is true. Our form of poverty is often about parents who will smoke, drink and watch plasma tellies rather than use the money to feed and clothe their kids. It includes women who make a career out of childbirth 'on the state' and kids who have Nintendo Wiis but no proper shoes for school. Often, it is a self inflicted 'poverty' and is more about priorities than true need.

However, it should not be forgotten, that there are many single parents who's benefits bring them below the so-called poverty line and who are not taking advantage, or complaining loudly, of their situation. They budget carefully with what little they receive and make the best possible life for their children. Sadly, they are the forgotten ones; it is those who confuse greed with need, who always make the headlines.

The notion of 'poverty' in this country is really just an insult to those in this world who are suffering the true meaning of the word. They would love to experience the hardships that our own 'poverty' stricken families suffer.

I guess, in reality, the true definition of child 'poverty' is really to be found in the meaning of perspective!

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Communicating The Truth!

The best analysis of our present government has been made by a veteran civil servant who has said:

"They have a strategy group and a communications group, but the truth is that the Government has no strategy and they do not communicate to each other, let alone to the general public."

Let's hope someone can communicate their latest unsurprising fall in the polls before they think they have the mandate to lead us down another dead end policy alley!

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Facing The Music At The Pirate Bay!

The conclusion of the much anticipated Pirate Bay trial in Sweden yesterday, saw the owners of the company jailed for a year and penalised further, by having to pay a massive amount in compensation to record companies.

The whole question of having the right to exchange information on the internet has heated up again.

The Pirate Bay is a website where users can freely link up and exchange music - and other files - without paying for it. Unfortunately, the big record companies see this as being a breach of copyright and an avoidance of their high charging for recorded music. In short, they say it is illegal and decided to pursue their case against the directors of The Pirate Bay. It was effectively a test case and it is questionable why it was decided to try it in Sweden, when it is clearly a universal problem.

The Swedish courts found in favour of the record companies, but its decision has raised numerous questions about its legitimacy.

The Pirate Bay was only the site through which its users exchanged music; it was a conduit that enabled them to do so and it did not actively - openly at least - encourage it. The court, effectively penalised it for being in existence and nothing more. The site's owners did not gain financially from the actual file sharing between users but from the fees paid by advertisers on their site. It did not store the files but acted as a gateway between user's computers.

However, it was judged to have profited from copyright violations and was therefore found guilty.

Of course, if record companies did not overcharge for their product then there would not be such an incentive to 'pirate' downloads in the first place. The cost of an average CD has often been criticised but has ever been fully justified.

There is also the argument that often a consumer will download a track by a new artist, when they would not be prepared to pay out for the whole CD without trying it first. Subsequently, though, they will often buy the CD.

On a discussion board, one contributor summed it up something like this:

"Cut off the heads of four and another eight will grow in their place"

I am thinking that the record companies have only won a minor victory and their 'problem' will not disappear just yet!!

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

PM In 'Cleaning' Mode!

The funniest quote of the day must come from the Prime Minister, who was holding a special meeting of his cabinet in Glasgow (why Glasgow and how much did that cost?)

He said:

"I think the most important thing we do is reassure people everything is being done to clean up politics in our country"

It seems he must have conveniently forgotten that several of those with him today, are personally responsible for the need to clean up politics in the first place!

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Smile - You Must Be A Terrorist!

If it was not so ridiculous, it would be risible.

Austrian tourists, Klaus Matzka and his son Loris came to visit London - as millions of tourists do every year. The country depends heavily on welcoming visitors and we are blessed with some of the most interesting architecture in the world.

Klaus, a 69 year old ex TV cameraman, has an interest in transport and both he and his son took many pictures of red double decker buses. They also photographed the architecture around transport termini like Vauxhall and others.

It was while taking similar pictures in the borough of Haringey, they were apprehended by two police officers and told that photographing anything to do with transport, was "strictly forbidden". Their treatment by the police was either another misuse of anti-terrorism powers or the police officers involved were deliberately abusing their position - either way, it was totally untrue. They were then forced to delete every picture featuring transport before eventually being allowed to continue on their way.

Klaus said in a telephone interview:

I've never had these experiences anywhere, never in the world, not even in Communist countries."

It is within his words that the worrying truth is to be found. Years ago, we in Britain would have been severely critical of situations like this happening in countries behind the Iron Curtain. However, in the last few years, we have been sleepwalking into a modern form of communism with all its related restrictions on freedom. We have the highest rate of surveillance in the world and a massive amount of our personal information is being harvested and stored by the government and its various departments.

It is high time we all wake ourselves up, before incidents like this one become the accepted normality to us all!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Hillsborough 20 Years On

Today, is the 20th anniversary of the terrible disaster at Hillsborough stadium. Ninety six football fans were killed, just six minutes after the start of an FA cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

Their deaths were caused by the panic that ensued after the terraces became overcrowded. An exit gate had foolishly been opened, allowing even more supporters to enter the area. The solid barriers by the pitch meant there was no escape for those at the front and they were crushed to death.

The police have been severely criticised for their handling of crowd control and many families of the deceased feel that justice has still not been achieved.

We can only hope, that the lessons learned from the disaster, will never be forgotten and such an incident is not permitted to happen again.

Police Need A Demonstration!

Another week and another police officer is suspended after being caught on video at the G20 demonstrations in London. This time, it is for allegedly striking a woman on the leg with his baton and hitting her in the face with his hand after she apparently swore at him.

Yesterday, the police from a different force, pre-empted a planned demonstration at a power station and arrested the demonstrators before they had even set off for the location. They had no idea whether it was to be a peaceful protest, or not, but decided to bring it to an end before it had even started. No-one was subsequently charged with any offence.

Democracy is built on the bricks made from freedom of speech; it is the right of everybody to voice their discontent and peacefully demonstrate at the site of their displeasure.

The police should attend to provide an impartial and visible deterrent to both sides in a dispute and to intervene only when a breach of the peace is likely to happen. However, since the 'reign' of Margaret Thatcher and the violent confrontations which took place with the miners, the police have become increasingly political; they are no longer seen as being impartial.

The assumption now, is that all demonstrators are hell bent on violent confrontation when normally, the majority are not. Of course, there has always been the minority who profess to be anarchists and try to incite violence but the police know that.

The present methods of containment used by the police are themselves confrontational. The practice of 'kettling', where demonstrators are held in one place, often for hours at a time, by officers wearing helmets and hidden behind riot shields, does not inspire confidence by those being 'contained'.

The new Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Paul Stephenson, has ordered a review into the methods used by his officers at the G20 protests.

Let's hope it is an impartial investigation and starts on the assumption that democracy is a right and not a gift from the government!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Politicians Should Blog Off!

The rather unsavoury allegations this weekend concerning politicians and their unelected special advisors, have demonstrated how low the standards of political campaigning have become in the UK.

We have become a nation with 'personality politicians' - which seems to be a bit of an irony seeing as we have a prime minister who demonstrates very little personality!

However, this is not a criticism of just our ruling party, which has had an embarassing Easter weekend explaining how one of Gordon Brown's most trusted aides was sending emails from Number 10, alleging tasteless and untrue gossip about senior members of the opposition. The 'gossip' was planned to be published on a proposed blogging website run by an ex-Labour special advisor to another serving government minister. Both have now quite rightly been pushed aside while the PM has been forced to express his 'regrets' and write a personal letter to the proposed 'targets'.

The opposition, have in the past, been known to use similar techniques using the internet, albeit they were not so blatantly untrue and scurrilous.

It seems that instead of convincing voters, by arguing over their policies, politicians now have to lie, cheat and accuse each other to crawl to the top; it has become all about character assassination and very little about substance. In short, they have no intellect to create policies. They rely, instead, on sound bites and forced sincerity to convince the TV watching and online voters.

Is it any wonder that trust in politicians has reached an all time low, when they see themselves as being in a class of their own? They have acquired an arrogance that is out of proportion to both their abilities and to their worth.

Of course, not all politicians behave in such contemptible ways; some are actually there because they still genuinely believe in serving and protecting the interests of their constituents. They are, however, becoming increasingly, in the minority.

The internet has revolutionized the way we gather and share our information. If unscrupulous politicians are allowed to use it as a tool to spread lies and deceitful propaganda in order to manipulate the voting public, then the value of all of its information will eventually be questioned and doubted.

We all have a duty to make sure that never happens.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

£250 For Just 'Turning Up'

Remember the two days of snow we had in February? Yes, they were the days when the buses could not run in London, schools closed for health and safety reasons and many people just stayed at home.

Many others, who had a conscience or worked in essential industries, persevered and struggled through the unusual conditions, with no thought of reward other than their usual paycheck.

However, for 224 of the 1,400 members of staff at the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in London - who are not regarded by many as essential - their decision has paid off handsomely, with each getting a £250 bonus for braving the conditions.

A spokesperson for the CPS is quoted as saying:"CPS London decided these staff who struggled into work in extreme conditions should be rewarded for doing so."

The money is being paid out of a special fund, to reward staff who make a special effort or come up with innovative ideas. Surely, that is what we all get paid for in the first place?

At a time we are having to borrow vast amounts of funding to even stay afloat as a country, it does not seem to be the wisest allocation of public funds and is another slap in the face for those who work in the lower paid essential services like health care etc.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Fuel Prices Flowing Uphill - Again!

On April 1st, the government increased the price of a litre of fuel by 2p. The increase followed a similar rise at the end of last year and both rises were contrary to the prime minister's words last summer, when he told the Commons there would be no more increases for at least 12 months.

I noticed yesterday, the price at my local Asda has increased by yet another 2p in the last week.

On the 22nd, the Chancellor of the Exchequer is presenting his latest budget, which incidentally was postponed from an earlier date. He is expected to announce an increase in fuel tax of at least another 2p per litre. As you will have already worked out, that will make a total of 6p in less than a month!

It is not just drivers who suffer from higher fuel prices - it is everyone!

Hauliers, who are already suffering from the fall in trade from companies who are struggling financially, are themselves fighting to stay afloat. Hundreds of professional drivers have already been laid off. Public transport fares will increase and so will the cost of getting to work by car. Food prices, which have already increased by at least 15%, will rise again, as delivery cost increases are passed on to customers.

The government see road users as an easy target because they usually accept small rises with little complaint. The odd 2p, dribbled in over time, is not immediately noticed. However, when you see the effect of such a rise over a year it becomes less palatable.

The campaigners at the organisation Petrol have published a calculator allowing us all to work out how much each rise will be costing us and how much revenue the government will collect.

Give it a try, it might be the jolt we all need to start saying 'NO MORE'!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Met Police, Mistakes and the Media!

It has not been a good week for London's finest. The Metropolitan Police have been in the firing line, twice, in just a few days.

Firstly, they have been accused of contributing to the the death of a newspaper seller, who had a heart attack soon after being pushed to the ground, by an officer policing the unrest at the G20 summit last week. An officer has now been suspended, while a full investigation is carried out into the incident.

Today, the head of the anti-terrorism unit, Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick, was forced to announce his resignation after being photographed leaving his car in Downing Street, while on his way to a meeting with the prime minister. He had inadvertently let photographers 'snap' him when he was carrying a document marked 'Top Secret' outlining a suspected terrorist plot.

While both of these incidents stem from individual moments of stupidity, what they have in common, is how they have been escalated so quickly by the way the media has handled them.

The first incident was recorded on video by a passing tourist who sent it to the media. The resulting images were immediately transmitted to the masses and helped generate the present outcry. Of course, as we know from televised sporting events, video taken from just one angle does not always show the true story and one could argue that there should have been a modicum of restraint before full publication took place.

In the case of Bob Quick, the detail on the paper in the photo could not have been read, unless image enhancement techniques were applied. The media could have shown more responsibility and withheld the story in the interest of National Security but instead they decided to expose the stupid error "blundering Bob" had made.

If we are all to continue to enjoy the basic right of freedom of speech and if we are to avoid laws denying us the right to take photographs openly in the streets, the editorial teams in our media are going to have to work a bit harder to curb their enthusiasm for a quick and easily exploitable story.

Freedom of speech is a delicate balancing act and there are plenty of politicians who would love an excuse to make us all slip from the wire!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Difference At McDonalds!

According to research by the German based, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, male chimpanzees who share the meat they have hunted with a female chimp are able to copulate with their mate twice as much as those that do not share at all.

Apparently, meat is an important part of a chimp's diet and the female is not a successful hunter - hence she is very grateful.

When you carry the theory over to the human race, it must explain why McDonalds has been such a success .... pass the fries!!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

More 'Blues' For The Home Secretary!

You really couldn't make it up

Only two weeks ago,Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, was embarrassed by the revelation that her expenses had included compensation for pay-per-view adult films watched by her husband.

Yesterday, a link from her department's Home Office website had to be removed, after it was discovered that it was connected to....wait for it.....a porn site!!

The discovery was made by a journalist who was trying to unearth more about the regulations which come into force today, obliging internet service providers to record details of emails and internet phone calls. He contacted the BBC.

The Home Office said the original link had been taken over by a new company.

It does, however, pose a more serious question. If the Home Office cannot keep track of a simple link on their own website, how are they going to be able to keep track of all the personal details in their databases, associated with the proposed introduction of identity cards?

In the words of one of the Home Secretary's predecessors , is the Home Office really "fit for purpose"?

Monday, April 06, 2009

The Italian Quake.

The earthquake around the Italian city of L'Aquila has killed over 150 people and made tens of thousands homeless.

It is one of those natural disasters that no-one ever believes will happen to them. One minute life is normal and peaceful and the next there is little left.

A claim has been made that an Italian scientist had tried to warn the authorities about the imminent danger some time ago, but he had been silenced for scaremongering. However, a spokesman for the Italian Civil Protection Agency has said he does not believe this would have been possible.

Whatever the truth of the claim, it is too late to be of comfort to the people who were killed or made homeless by the quake, which registered a massive 6.3 on the Richter scale.

It is humbling to think that an event that lasted for only around 30 seconds, could cause so much devastation and loss of life.

Once again, nature has sent a reminder of how vulnerable we really are!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

More MPs Caught Feeding At the Trough

It is becoming even easier to know when it is Sunday. It has become the day when papers like The Mail On Sunday expose the latest MP who has been caught claiming massive expenses from the public purse.

This week, it is former Defence Minister, Geoff Hoon's turn to perform in the spotlight. He was granted an official, rent free, residence during his tenure in office, while at the same time, he was claiming £70,000 second home allowance on his 'constituency home' in Derby and renting out his London house through a commercial letting agent for an estimated £70.000.

Of course. like so many of his fellow claimants, Mr Hoon has used the excuse: "I only claimed what the rules allowed for". Officially, he is correct - after all the rules were drafted by his fellow MPs.

Morally, though, he is just another greedy MP who has crossed the line of acceptable standards. If he did not possess the judgement to realise that fact, he was surely not a suitable candidate for the senior role of Defence Secretary, in the first place.

Therefore, one must assume he knew only too well what he had been doing and is guilty, along with many of his colleagues, of abusing his position and the trust shown in him by the country.

Meanwhile, a recent performer in the spotlight, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, is now having to face more embarrassment after she is said to have claimed: a £39.99 barbecue, a £2.50 toothbrush holder, a £14.00 doormat, a £104.56 gas patio heater, and a £369.99 flatscreen TV.

All are, apparently, essential commodities to enable her to 'perform her duties as an MP'

I wonder which greedy 'pig' will be caught at the trough next week!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Revealed! - Details of NATO Budget Listening Device

Radar Cat

NATO today released the first picture of its new budget listening device.

It is said to be necessary to save the western world from cat...astrophe!

We can only hope nobody mouse..takes it for something more sinister.

Only time will tell if it is to be the purrr..fect solution!!

Friday, April 03, 2009

One Trillion revealed!

Last night, I was trying to comprehend the size of a trillion. I was having trouble imagining the sheer scale of the $1 trillion package agreed by the G20 leaders at the London summit.

It seems I am not alone, as today's media have spent the day trying to explain the amount in ways we could easily understand.

I now know, that it is a figure with 12 zeros but that still did not really help me. It is one thousand times a billion which is, itself, one thousand times a million, but still that did not do it for me.

I came across a graphic - which I have now lost - explaining that if a pound was represented by a door mat, then a trillion pounds would be represented by the whole of the UK plus Northern Ireland.Things were starting to become clearer!

Eventually, I found an old BBC article with some better examples:

If a million seconds is 11.5 days, a trillion seconds would be 32,000 years

In sheer size, it is the equivalent of holding a credit card against the mountain Ben Nevis.

If you spent £25,000 per day, it would take 109,000 years to spend £1 trillion.

It is a truly earth shattering amount of money and somehow, I fear the $1 trillion mentioned yesterday, will be spent a lot faster than the last example suggests!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Beyond The Summit!

Well, the G20 summit has finally ended.

It has been hailed as a success, with our own Prime Minister saying the measures agreed on, would shorten the recession and save jobs.

I have only read the details briefly, but I am still trying to get my head around how many zeros follow the 1 in a trillion. Amazingly, $1 trillion is the figure that the G20 countries are going to make available through the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to boost the world economy.

Where is that money going to be found? Does each of the G20 countries throw into the hat and if so, where do we find our share? Does this mean we have to borrow even more than we already have and who do we borrow it from? Surely, the banks are claiming to be broke?

I am confused, for if borrowing beyond our means is the wisest way out of this financial mess, am I wrong in thinking it was just such an act that got us to this position in the first place? Surely, borrowing will just postpone the final pain of having to balance the books again?

I know that any business in this country would not be permitted to act in such a way; they would be declared bankrupt without a second thought.

I only hope the G20 leaders and their advisers, have a better understanding than the majority of their voters.

My worry is that the air at the summit was so thin they have all been hallucinating.

If so, we are the ones who are going to be very sick!!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

UK Reaches The Summit!

In case you had not heard, London is now the capital of the world - well only for another day!

We have the honour - and expense - of hosting the G20 summit of world leaders.

To call it a 'summit' sounds very impressive; it is really just an excuse for the 'club' to meet and share food and drink while meeting the new US president for the first time, since his inauguration.

It is supposed to be about reaching common agreement over the present financial mess that has befallen the world, but as we already know, the only common agreement we are likely to witness is that everyone will be appearing in the official photo.

The summit itself is not going to be long enough to discuss anything more than who has tea and who has coffee. All the real negotiation will, of course, have been done by the back room staff.

Be that as it may, I feel a sense of pride that President Obama has decided make his attendance in London his first official overseas engagement. The rest of the world's leaders must be green with envy.

Of course, there are the usual demonstrations by those who usually demonstrate and the press are having a field day comparing the president's wife to the wife of our very own PM but we can only hope that when the summit has reached its conclusion tomorrow evening, we can all feel reassured that things will start to improve.

Somehow I doubt it, but then.....I am a cynic!!

More to follow.......!