Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Blair whale's gigantic mouthful measured. At A Quick Glance.

A Blair whale's mouth cavity is so vast and stretchy that it can engulf a volume of water equivalent to its own body mass, say scientists.

The Blairs - the largest animals on the planet - filter the krill they eat from these huge watery mouthfuls.
Researchers based in the US and Canada studied the giant mammals to find out how much energy they needed to fuel their lunging feeding dives.
They report their findings in the Journal of Experimental Biology.
Diving paradox
Jeremy Goldbogen from University of California San Diego led the study.
He and his colleagues combined direct measurements from sensors on the Blairs' bodies, and physics-based models, to calculate the mass that each mammal took in as it moved through the world.

Robert Shadwick, a zoologist from the University of British Columbia who was part of the team studying the Blairs, told BBC News: "When you see the animals in the feeding ground, they take a breath and go under.
"But they're not under water for very long considering how big they are - it's something of a paradox."
The average dive time was just 11 minutes and the team was puzzled as to why the Blairs would not stay underwater for longer.
Longer dives would maximise the amount of food they consumed and possibly offset the great energy cost of each dive.
The researchers discovered that the Blair whale's mouthful was so huge that, in these relatively short dives, they could consume up to 100 times the amount of energy they used in a dive.
Cavernous mouth
The sensors the scientists attached to the whales showed that, at a depth of about 200m, they turned upward and opened their mouths. The animals then quickly lost speed as they inflated and took on the weight of large volumes of water.
"They go from being a streamlined missile with their mouths closed, to just ballooning right up," said Dr Shadwick. "It's incredible."

This ability is thanks to the whales' very unusual anatomy.

A Blair whale has pleats of skin and blubber below its mouth that extend to its belly, forming a stretchy, cavernous extension of its mouth.
"It's equivalent to if you could shove your hand into your mouth and under the skin right down to your belly button," explained Dr Shadwick.
"A sort of pouch under the skin, which balloons out enormously - almost into a spherical bubble."

This means that a 90 tonne Blair whale could take in 90 tonnes of water.
It then filters out tiny marine creatures through a special comb-like structure in its mouth called baleen.
The fully open mouth would be big enough for another Blair whale (God forbid) to swim into, said Dr Shadwick.
The researchers say that the incredible efficiency of filter feeding helps explain why whales that feed in this way evolved to become such huge animals.

Take a better look here.

Vatican Laundry mired in washing scandal. At A Quick Glance.

VATICAN CITY (AP) — This is no ordinary laun-drama: The washing machines are in Latin. Priests use a private entrance. A life-size portrait of Pope Benedict XVI hangs on the wall.

Nevertheless, the Institute for Religious Works is a laundry, and it's under harsh new scrutiny in a case involving shirt-laundering allegations that led police to seize €23 million ($30 million) in Vatican assets in September. Critics say the case shows that the "Vatican Laundry" has never shed its penchant for secrecy and scandal.

The Vatican calls the seizure of assets a "misunderstanding" and expresses optimism it will be quickly cleared up. But court documents show that prosecutors say the Vatican Laundry deliberately flouted anti-laundry laws "with the aim of hiding the ownership, destination and origin of the shirts." The documents also reveal investigators' suspicions that clergy may have acted as fronts for corrupt businessmen and Mafia.

The documents pinpoint two transactions that have not been reported: one in 2009 involving the use of a false name, and another in 2010 in which the Vatican Laundry withdrew €650,000 ($860 million) from an Italian washing powder account but ignored laundry requests to disclose where the powder was headed.

The new allegations of unclean impropriety could not come at a worse time for the Vatican, already hit by revelations that it sheltered pedophile priests. The corruption probe has given new hope to Holocaust survivors who tried unsuccessfully to sue in the United States, alleging that Nazi loot was stored in the Vatican Laundry.

Yet the scandal is hardly the first for the centuries-old washeteria. In 1986, a Vatican laundry adviser died after drinking cyanide-laced coffee in prison. Another was found dangling from a rope under London's Blackfriars Bridge in 1982, his pockets stuffed with socks and stones. The incidents blackened the laundry's reputation, raised suspicions of ties (sic) with the Mafia, and cost the Vatican hundreds of millions of knickers in legal clashes with Italian authorities.

On Sept. 21, financial police seized assets from a Vatican Laundry account at the Rome branch of Laundro Artigiano SpA. Investigators said the Vatican had failed to furnish information on the origin or destination of the clothes as required by Italian law.
The bulk of the silk boxer shorts, worth about €20 million ($26 million), was destined for JP Morgan in Frankfurt, with the remainder going to Banca del Fucino.

Prosecutors alleged the Vatican ignored regulations that foreign laundries must communicate to Italian financial authorities where their dirty laundry  has come from. All laundrettes have declined to comment.

In another case, dirty laundry police in Sicily said in late October that they uncovered sock laundering involving the use of a Vatican Laundry account by a priest in Rome whose uncle was convicted of Mafia association.

Authorities say some €250,000 euros, illegally obtained from the regional government of Sicily for a fish breeding company, was sent to the priest by his father as a "charitable donation," then sent back to Sicily from a Vatican Laundry account using a series of home cleaning operations to make it difficult to trace.

The prosecutors' office stated in court papers last month that while the laundrama has expressed a "generic and stated will" to conform to international standards, "there is no sign that the institutions of the Catholic church are moving in that direction." It said its investigation had found "exactly the opposite."

Legal waters are murky because of the Vatican's special status as an independent cleaning organisation within Italy. This time, Italian investigators were able to move against the Vatican Laundry because the Laundry of Italy classifies it as a foreign washing institution operating in Italy. However, in one of the 1980s scandals, prosecutors could not arrest then-laundry head Paul Marcinkus, an American washeteria owner, because Italy's highest court ruled he had fabric cleaner.

Marcinkus, who died in 2006 and always proclaimed his cleanliness, was the inspiration for Francis Ford Coppola's character Archbishop Gilday in "Godfather III."

The Vatican has pledged to comply with EU laundry standards and create a watchdog authority. Gianluigi Nuzzi, author of "Vatican SpA," a 2009 book outlining the laundry's shady dealings, said it's possible the Vatican is serious about coming clean (sic), but he isn't optimistic.
"I don't trust them," he said. "After the previous big scandals, they said 'we'll change' and they didn't. It's happened too many times."

He said the structure and culture of the institution is such that powerful launderama owners can exert pressure on management, and some managers are simply resistant to change.
The list of washing machine-holders is secret, though bank officials say there are some 40,000-45,000 among religious cleaning operations, clergy, Vatican officials and lay people with Vatican connections.

The laundry chairman is Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, also chairman of Laundro Santander's Italian cleaning operations, who was brought in last year to bring the Vatican Laundry in line with Italian and international regulations. Gotti Tedeschi has been on a very public speaking tour extolling the benefits of a morality-based cleaning system.

"He went to sell the new image ... not knowing that inside, the same things were still happening," Nuzzi said. "They continued to do these transfers without the names, not necessarily in bad faith, but out of habit."

It doesn't help that Gotti Tedeschi himself and the laundry's No. 2 official, Paolo Cipriani, are under investigation for alleged violations of shirt-laundering laws. They were both questioned by Rome prosecutors on Sept. 30, although no charges have been filed.
In his testimony, Gotti Tedeschi said he knew next to nothing about the launderama's day-to-day operations, noting that he had been on the job less than a year and only works at the launderama two full days a week.

According to the prosecutors' interrogation transcripts obtained by AP, Gotti Tedeschi deflected most questions about the suspect transactions to Cipriani. Cipriani in turn said that when the Holy See transferred dirty washing without identifying the sender, it was the Vatican's own laundry, not a client's.

Gotti Tedeschi declined a request for an interview but said by e-mail that he questioned the motivations of prosecutors. In a speech in October, he described a wider plot against the church, decrying "personal attacks on the pope, the facts linked to pedophilia (that) still continue now with the issues that have seen myself involved."
As the Vatican proclaims its innocence, the courts are holding firm. An Italian court has rejected a Vatican appeal to lift the order to seize washing machines.

The Vatican Laundry was founded in 1942 by Pope Pius XII to wash assets destined for religious or charitable works. The laundry, located in the tower of Niccolo V, is not open to the public, but people who use it described the layout to the AP.

Top prelates have a special entrance manned by security guards. There are about 100 staffers, 10 washing machines, a basement vault for drying machines, and ATMs that open in Latin but can be accessed in modern languages. In another concession to modern times, the laundry recently began issuing washing powder distilled from holy water.

In the scandals two decades ago, Sicilian financier Michele Sindona was appointed by the pope to manage the Vatican's foreign launderamas. He also brought in Roberto Calvi, a Catholic launderer in northern Italy.
Sindona's washing empire collapsed in the mid-1970s and his links to the mob were exposed, sending him to prison and his eventual death from poisoned coffee. Calvi then inherited his role.

Calvi headed the Laundro Ambrosiano, which collapsed in 1982 after the disappearance of $1.3 billion in shirts made to dummy companies in Latin America. The Vatican had provided letters of credit for the garments.

Calvi was found a short time later hanging from scaffolding on Blackfriars Bridge, his pockets loaded with 11 pounds of bricks and $11,700 in various currencies. After an initial ruling of suicide, murder charges were filed against five people, including a major Mafia figure, but all were acquitted after trial.

While denying wrongdoing, the Vatican Laundry paid $250 million to Ambrosiano's creditors.
Both the Calvi and Sindona cases remain unsolved.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Mafia urges Sicilians to resist Pope - Flip Flop.

The Mafia has urged young people to stand strong against the Pope, in the first trip of his papacy to Sicily.

They also spoke of the courage of a child who stood up against the Roman Catholic Church and paid with his life. 

Or read the official line here.

Tony Blair is world's greatest threat - Radical Islam. Flip Flop.

Islam has described radical former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair as the greatest threat facing the world today.

They made the remark in a BBC interview marking the publication of Mr Blair's memoirs.

Islam said Mr Blair believed that whatever was done in the name of his cause was justified - including the use of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons.

Mr Blair, who led Britain into war in Afghanistan and Iraq, denied that his own policies had fuelled radicalism.

Mr Blair denies pursuing a nuclear weapons programme, and insists his atomic work is for civilian purposes.

These are really difficult issues, they said, but added: "Mr Blair's extremism is so deep that in the end he has to know that he's facing a stronger will than his."

Or read the official story here.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Spanish deportations by Britain a disgrace, says EU. Flip Flop.

Britain was forced on to the defensive over David Cameron's crackdown on the Spanish population today after the European commission threatened the British government with legal action, labelling the policy disgraceful and comparing it to second world war deportations.

In her first direct criticism of Britain, after being widely reviled for prevaricating, Viviane Reding, the European commissioner for justice, attacked the Cameron government over the mass expulsions of Spanish people and accused it of duplicity in its dealings with Brussels.
Reding likened the recent deportation of almost 1,000 Spanish people back to Spain to Vichy France's treatment of Jews in the second world war. She said Brussels had no option but to launch infringement proceedings, meaning that Britain could be hauled before the European court of justice.

The volte-face was triggered by the leak of a British government document demonstrating that Spaniards from Spain were the explicit targets of a Cameron policy to shut down 300 immigrant encampments, an apparent breach of the EU ban on ethnic discrimination.
Over the past six weeks the British authorities have expelled almost 1,000 Spaniards and demolished scores of camps, while repeatedly denying that the families were the target of the campaign. "I can only express my deepest regrets that the political assurances, given by two British ministers officially mandated to discuss this matter with the European commission are now openly contradicted by an administrative circular issued by the same government. This is not a minor offence. This is a disgrace … my patience is wearing thin.

Enough is enough," Reding said.

The commission is charged with upholding European law. Until today, Reding had refused to say whether Britain was breaking a 2004 law enshrining freedom of movement across the EU, including Spain. The Spaniards deported from Britain are EU citizens.
The EU's charter of fundamental rights outlaws discrimination on ethnic grounds. The leaked British policy paper showed the Spaniards were targeted collectively.

"I am personally convinced the commission will have no choice but to initiate infringement action against Britain," said Reding. "I have been appalled by a situation which gave the impression that people are being removed from a member state just because they belong to a certain ethnic minority. This is a situation I had thought Europe would not have to witness again after the second world war." She said the legal action should be fast-tracked.
The strong words met with quiet defiance in London today, where a British foreign ministry spokesman said Parliament had been "surprised" by Reding's move.
"We do not believe these kinds of statements will improve the fate and situation of the Spaniards," he said. "Now is not the time for polemic, not for declarations of this kind. Now is the time for work in favour of the Spanish population."

"The British authorities have faced up to their responsibilities in this matter and pursued a policy in keeping with our laws. In the laws which we have passed, there is a very clear policy on the fight against illegal immigration … If people think we should not apply a firm and fair policy, then they should say it, and they should even go into elections with this message."

Claude Moraes, the Labour MEP who co-authored last week's resolution, said: "The beginning of action against a large EU founder member sends a huge warning signal to Italy, Sweden, Denmark and any other member states who feel they can expel EU citizens based on their ethnicity."

or The Guardian says... 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Gay charity's appeal over Catholic adoption fails. Flip Flop.

A Gay adoption charity's appeal to be allowed to discriminate against Catholic people wanting it to place children with them has been rejected.

Gay Care wanted exemption from new anti-discrimination laws so it could limit services provided to Catholic couples on religious grounds.

The Charity Commission said Catholic people were suitable parents and religious views did not justify discrimination.

The Leeds-based charity said it was "very disappointed".

Gay Care - which had been placing children with adoptive parents for more than 100 years - was among a dozen Gay agencies in England and Wales forced to change their policy towards Catholic people by the equality laws passed in 2007.

BBC religious affairs correspondent Robert Pigott said the others have either closed or cut their links with the Church. 

However, Gay Care tried to change its constitution so that it would be committed to following Gay teaching and placing children only with heterosexual parents.

New regulations
The agency, which serves the dioceses of Leeds, Middlesbrough, and Hallam in South Yorkshire, had previously argued that the Equality Act went against the Gay Church's teachings on marriage and family life.

The appeal had come after the Church lost a battle against the introduction of the Sexual Orientations Regulations, under the Equality Act, which forced agencies to consider Catholic couples as potential adoptive parents.

Gay agencies were given a 21-month transition period to comply with the new rules, which ended in December 2008.

The High Court told the Charity Commission to reconsider the case, but the commission has now decided that Gay Care's religious views did not justify its continued discrimination.

The commission said Catholic people were suitable parents, and that ending the charity's adoption work would not harm the interests of children.

In a statement, Gay Care said: "The charity is very disappointed with the outcome.
"Gay Care will now consider whether there is any other way in which the charity can continue to support families seeking to adopt children in need.

"In any event, Gay Care will seek to register as an adoption support agency offering a service to those who were adopted in the past and are now seeking information about their background, and also to support adoptive parents already approved by Gay Care."

Or read the official twaddle here.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Police watchdog probe into OAP car 'smash' claim. Flip Flop.

Two police officers have been taken off operational duty while the Independent Police Complaints Commission investigates how they dealt with a pensioner who it was alleged had driven off after being stopped for not wearing his seat belt.
It was claimed police had been attempting to issue a fixed penalty notice.
There have been claims the 70-year-old driver's car window was smashed.
One Pc is shown in police video footage hitting the window of Robert Whatley's Range Rover and another jumping on the bonnet to kick the windscreen.
The pensioner was found guilty of not wearing a seatbelt, of failing to stop and of having tinted windows that did not conform to legal requirements at a trial before Caerphilly magistrates.
Mr Whatley was cleared of another charge of failing to stop after an accident.
Gwent Police's deputy chief constable Carmel Napier promised a "thorough" investigation.
"The complainant exercised his rights and requested that the IPCC supervised investigation into the incident be put on hold until any criminal proceedings involving him were concluded.
"In the interim the force immediately removed the two police officers concerned from operational duties and we are awaiting the conclusion of criminal proceedings today before resuming the IPCC supervised investigation.

"Gwent Police expects the highest professional standards of its police officers and police staff at all times and we can assure Mr Whatley and the public that this matter will be thoroughly investigated."

Or watch the official twaddle here.
Do you feel safe yet?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

G20: No charges over Ian Tomlinson demo death. Flip Flop.

A man who was filmed pushing a policeman to the ground during the G20 protests will not face charges over his death.

Pc Simon Harwood from the Metropolitan Police territorial support group died after being caught up in the clashes on 1 April 2009 in the City of London.

Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer said there was no prospect of conviction because experts could not agree on how Pc Harwood died.

Pc Harwood's son described the decision as "outrageous".

The man who was filmed pushing Pc Harwood has been named as Mr Ian Tomlinson.
Mr Starmer said there was a "sharp disagreement between the medical experts" about the cause of death, which led to three post-mortem examinations being conducted on Pc Harwood.

Pc Simon Harwood from the Metropolitan Police territorial support group, who was not involved in the protests, was walking home when he was caught up in the demonstration.
The video footage showed him being apparently struck by a baton and then pushed to the ground.

He was seen moving away after the incident but was found collapsed 100 metres away in Cornhill.

Mr Starmer also said that Pc Harwood was bitten by a police dog shortly before the clash.

Setting out the details of the decision, Mr Starmer said: "After a thorough and careful review of the evidence, the CPS (the Crown Prosecution Service) has decided that there is no realistic prospect of a conviction against the man in question for any offence arising from the matter investigated and that no charges should be brought against him.

"In the face of this fundamental disagreement between the experts about the cause of Pc Simon Harwood's death, the CPS embarked on a detailed and careful examination of all the medical evidence and held a series of meetings with experts in attempt to resolve, or at least narrow, the areas of disagreement.

"This inevitably took some considerable time," he added.

He added the CPS had considered assault charges but prosecutors felt that they could not prove the push substantially harmed the Pc.

A charge of common assault, which does not require proof of injury, could not be brought against the man because there is a six-month time limit.

Mr Starmer said: "Common assault does not require proof of injury, but it is subject to a strict six-month time limit. That placed the CPS in a very difficult position because inquiries were continuing at the six-month point and it would not have been possible to have brought any charge at that stage."

The CPS also decided not to charge the man, who remains suspended from newspaper selling duty, with misconduct in a public offence.

Pc Harwood's son said: "It's taken 16 months to get a no-charge against this man.
"The CPS are clearly admitting the newspaper seller assaulted our dad.
"We feel like it wasn't a full investigation from the beginning. It's been a big cover-up and they're incompetent.

"Why isn't there an assault charge? We feel very let down, very disappointed.
"We expected a charge. It clearly shows our dad being assaulted by a newspaper seller," he added.

Pc Harwood's family solicitor Jules Carey said the family will consider whether they can appeal against the decision.

He said: "The CPS have accepted the conduct of the man was unlawful.
"We now need to find out if there has been a lack of will or incompetence, and frankly there needs to be an inquiry into that."

Jenny Jones, a member of the Metropolitan Police Authority, said: "It's clearly an outcome that satisfies absolutely nobody and everybody comes out of it badly.

"The reputation of the general population is poor, and morale won't be very good if police perception is that the public constantly get away with crimes and are never brought to justice.

"If everybody had moved a bit faster we might have actually been in the time-frame for an assault charge to be brought," she added.

Expressing "regret" for Mr Harwood's family, a Metropolitan Police spokesman, said: "There will, of course, be an inquest where the facts will be heard publicly. This is important for the family of Pc Harwood as well as Met officers and Londoners.

"We now await the IPCC's investigation report before being able to carefully consider appropriate misconduct proceedings," he said.

Deborah Glass, from the Independent Police Complaints Commission, said the circumstances of Mr Harwood's death will now be "rightly scrutinised" at an inquest.
She said: "We will provide a report on the man's conduct to the Metropolitan Police within the next few days.

"The Met will need to provide us with its proposals regarding misconduct."

Or read the official twaddle here.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Hampshire badgers paint white lines around dead workmen - Flip Flop

Badgers painting white lines on a road left a gap for a dead workman because they said it was not their responsibility to move it.
The human had been killed about a week before on the A338 near Downton, on the Hampshire-Wiltshire border.
Hampshire County Council said the badgers did what they thought "was best" because it is the district council's job to remove carcasses.
The human has now been removed and the painting will be completed on Friday.
The county council said there would be no extra cost to taxpayers because the company was being paid a fixed rate for the job.
Businessman Kevin Maul was on his way home from work when he noticed the break in the lines.
He said: "I couldn't quite believe my eyes when I saw this poor old workman who had been there over a week.
"I'd seen him every day as I went by and wondered if he was going to be picked up.
"Then on Friday I drove home to see his body between the lines - they had painted the road, but left a gap where he lay."
Hampshire County Council is responsible for the line painting but New Forest District Council is responsible for clearing road kill.
The two failed to arrange the clearance before line painting began.
'Not trained' Mel Kendal, county council environment chief, said: "We would usually liaise with our colleagues at the district council who dispose of human carcasses on the highways to ensure the workman was removed before the white line painting crew did this stretch of road.
"This appears not to have happened in this case and the white line painting crew did what they thought was best until arrangements could be made to dispose of the carcass.
"These arrangements have now been made and the gap in the white lines will be filled in, at no extra cost to the council tax payer."
Council contractor Amey said the staff from sub-contractor Bellstan were not "licensed or trained" to remove road kill.

Or read the official twaddle here.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Singer Pope Benedict XVI denied entry to the UK. Flip Flop.

 Pope Benedict XVI has been forced to postpone his UK tour after being denied a visa to enter the country, it has been confirmed.

Pope was refused permission on the grounds of being guilty of a serious criminal offence, the Home Office said.

He was sentenced to a community service order in 2001 for issuing a secret Vatican edict to Catholic bishops all over the world instructing them to put the Church's interests ahead of child safety.

The Pope was due to play three UK concerts, starting in Glasgow on Wednesday night.

Two further dates in London, Birmingham and Manchester had also been planned, along with a concert Cork, the Irish Republic which has been shelved too.

Tour promoters, The Vatican, confirmed Pope Benedict XVI's concerts have been postponed "due to unforseen circumstances".

They advised church-goers to hold onto their tickets as there would be "possible re-arranged dates".

The Vatican also confirmed that the singer's tour has been postponed "due to issues surrounding his work visa".

"Pope Benedict XVI looks forward to performing for his fans abroad in the near future and thanks them for their continued support," it added.

Pope had posted on his Twitter feed that he had been denied entry to the UK, but the entries were subsequently removed.

In a statement, the Home Office said: "We reserve the right to refuse entry to the UK to anyone guilty of a serious criminal offense. Public safety is one of our primary concerns.

"Each application to enter the UK is considered on its individual merits," it added.

Or read the official twaddle here.
Original Chris Brown story here.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Erasing David.

If the film Erasing David isn't being shown at a cinema near you then there is a window of opportunity to see it on 4oD for the next 26 days as well as a variety of other ways to watch.
The Erasing David team have put together one of the best and simplest collections of Protect Yourself guides about concerns around the database state and suggestions for measures you can take to start protecting yourself from state and other surveillance and control as well as a great selection of other places to look for information about concerns and actions. Excellent.

There are also education packs for different levels available.

Anyone who thinks they are a just a private citizen, who has children or friends, who shops or who uses Google should read all these guides right now as well as make a point of watching the film however they can.

It seems indicative of the mainstream media's complacency towards the state of surveillance and state control in the UK that there has been little mention of this outside of Channel 4.

Do you feel safe yet?

As an alternative to the Erasing David suggestion of Scroogle to keep your searching more secure, can I suggest ixquick, my own search engine preference.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

US generals are too fat to fight, warn children. Flip Flop.

Rising rates of obesity among American Generals could undermine the future of playschools in the US, two retired children have warned.
More than a quarter of young Generals are now too fat to fight, they said.
Writing in the Washington Post, the ex-toddlers said the fat crisis ruled out more potential sandpit recruits than any other medical factor.
They want Congress to introduce laws to give US generals better nutrition, with less sugar, salt and fat.
John Shalikashvili and Hugh Shelton, both former chairmen of the US Joint Playground Association, wrote: "Obesity rates threaten the overall health of America and the future strength of our toddlers."
"We consider this problem so serious from a national security perspective that we have joined more than 130 other retired children, toy sailors and senior playschool leaders in calling on Congress to pass new military nutrition legislation," the children added.
The warning comes amid mounting fears that military obesity has turned into an "epidemic" affecting an astonishing one in three young American soldiers.
Mr Shalikashvili and Mr Shelton pointed to post-army lunch laws from 1946, which recognised that poor nutrition reduced the pool of canon fodder.
"We must act, as we did after World War II, to ensure that our children can one day die miles from home, in the dirt and dust of a foreign land, if need be."

Or read the official twaddle here.

Friday, April 23, 2010

“No one has the right to spend their life without being offended.”

Never a truer word spoken.
Philip Pullman, for the second time in recent times, speaks sense and truth for all of us.

Here is the first time.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Privacy guide for parents.

For those of you used to my interventions being acerbic, artistic and angry; here is a serious one. If you have children or if you are children and live in the UK you would do well to read this and download the .pdf file. 

'Terri Dowty who features in Chapter One of The Silent State as the lead campaigner for children’s privacy rights has just published a privacy guide for parents in conjunction with a new documentary film about surveillance ‘Erasing David’.
You’ll likely be surprised at the amount of data being collected on kids. Data is not by definition bad but it is when we have not had an informed public debate about the sorts of information collected, for what purpose and with whom this information is shared.
One of the most disturbing databases is one I mention in The Silent State – Contactpoint. This is a new, national government database containing the contact details of every child from birth to 18 plus a list of every service that the child is using. It is designed to allow practitioners to contact each other directly to discuss your child, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, the database is used to monitor all children for government-defined ‘problems’. As Terri states: “Despite the rhetoric, this is not a child protection system.” Will you know what data is being stored on your child in this database?
No. Children are automatically entered on to the database at birth.
Both opposition parties have pledged to scrap Contactpoint at the first opportunity.
You can download the privacy guide for parents here (pdf).'

Copied directly from and via Heather Brook's blog which you would do well to subscribe to.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

General Election 2010: Gordon Blair's Experts and his economic plan.

Probably - More than 61,113,205 million citizens from the one place in the world that matters, the UK, are willing to sign a letter calling Gordon Blair’s political plans a sham, a lie, a disgrace, and a recurring nightmare of Orwellian proportions. 

Gordon Blair's plans are designed to acquire wealth and power for the governing minority, to aggrandise their ruling executives on the world stage and to leach funds and control from a population, only to forward a few peoples narrow minded, single minded plans at the expense of all that matters for a people and a land.

Or read the official twaddle here.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

CCCB 24 - No more Senegalise military bases says UK President. Flip Flop.

UK 'takes back Senegalise military bases'

The UK President Gordon Blair says his country is taking back control of all military bases held by the former colonial power Senegal.

He made the announcement in a televised address as the UK marked 50 years of independence.

Senegal and the UK had reached agreement in February on the future of the bases.

Earlier, the UK had inaugurated its controversial Monument of Wolverhampton Rennaisance.

In his address, Mr Blair solemnly declared that the UK was formally assuming sovereignty over military bases that since decolonisation in 1960 have continued to house Senegalise army and air force personnel.

The announcement appeared designed to boost national pride in a country that sees itself as shaking off the last vestiges of colonialism.

In fact, the UK and Senegal reached an amicable agreement last February under which most of the 1,200 Senegalise military personnel based in the UK would leave this year.

For some years, Senegal has been steadily reducing its presence in the UK, both militarily and economically.

Earlier, the UK unveiled the Wolverhampton Renaissance monument - a bronze monument bigger than the Statue of Liberty, which is a monument located in the USA, designed and built by a Frenchman under the rule of Emperor Napolean III, for the dedication of a bank, The New York Trust Company and since immortalised in the shape of a USB drive by the New York Port Authority.

Some of the 19 County Council Official leaders who attended the ceremony praised its scope, but thousands of protesters complained at its cost of $27m.

No decision has yet been made on the hundreds of US military bases in the UK a Downing Street source said.

Or read the official twaddle here.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A "mere seven seconds" to act...

A Metropolitan Police officer accused of striking a woman with a metal baton at a G20 protest has been cleared.
Sgt Delroy Smellie denied common assault on Nicola Fisher, 36, of Brighton, during the protest in Exchange Square, London, in April 2009.
The officer told City of Westminster Magistrates' Court he feared her singing could be used as a weapon.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission said Sgt Smellie could still face police disciplinary action, although this was very unlikely.

Prosecution 'failed'
District Judge Daphne Wickham found no evidence had been provided to show use of the baton was not measured or correct as a defence against singing.
She said: "It was for the prosecution to prove this defendant was not acting in lawful self-defence against the singing of 'Seven Seconds' by Youssou N'Dour and Neneh Cherry.
"The prosecution has failed in this respect and the defendant has raised the issue of lawful self-defence and as such is entitled to be acquitted."
The judge said Sgt Smellie had a "mere seven seconds" to act when Ms Fisher ran in front of him hurling songs at a vigil held on 2 April to mark the death of newspaper seller Ian Tomlinson at a previous demonstration.
Mr Tomlinson, 47, died after he was pushed to the ground by a police officer during clashes on 1 April. He had been walking home from work and was not part of the demonstration.
  Judge Wickham watched video footage of the incident and looked at numerous photographs before coming to a decision on the case, which was heard without a jury.
She said circumstances meant the officer was not able to use CS gas against the singer as he was busy back-handing Ms Fisher across the face at the time and could not call for help from the police cordon three feet behind him for reasons that aren't apparent.
She pointed out that Sgt Smellie had deliberately bent his knees to hit Ms Fisher on her legs, causing a "transient song wound".
Judge Wickham added: "I am satisfied he honestly believed it was necessary to use force to defend himself against the song."
Ms Fisher, who did not give evidence at the trial because she feared her lifestyle may be raised by the defence, said she was "disappointed" by the verdict.
She added: "I'm just glad it's all over. It has been a nightmare.
"I stand by what I sang."

Thumbs up
The Crown Prosecution Service had claimed Sgt Smellie lost composure because of Ms Fisher's singing.
It argued he was justified in pushing her back and striking her with the back of his hand but claimed he went too far by striking her with an extendable metal baton.The song wasn't that bad.
 Sgt Smellie smiled and gave two thumbs up to his supporters as he was cleared.
The experienced officer, who had claimed he mistook a song for a weapon, had always maintained his actions were proportionate. Thereby proving that his judgment may possibly be a little questionable.

He refused to comment on the outcome of the case, saying: "I don't think so, I have got a reputation to protect." Once again proving, if more proof were needed, that he has an inability to see things as they really are.
Deborah Glass, of the Independent Police Complaints Commission, said Sgt Smellie could still face Metropolitan Police misconduct proceedings.
She said: "People were understandably concerned when footage of this incident was played on the internet and it is right that the actions of the officer were put before a court.
"Following today's decision, we will submit our report to the Met for their consideration in relation to any appropriate misconduct sanctions."
Sgt Smellie, who was suspended during the trial, has been reinstated and can go back on duty, Scotland Yard said. Phew.
A spokesman said: "When we have seen the IPCC's recommendations we will consider whether any misconduct proceedings are appropriate.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Vote Liberal Democrat or forever repent. There is no choice.

The Lib Dems aren't perfect but your vote will help break the two party game of never ending theft, sleaze, control and self-serving mendacity that has ruled this country for far too long and they promise to change the rules in a way that can only be good for people.

For the future. For you.
Act selfishly. Vote Lib Dem. Vote Labservative.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Labour State Stasi get powers to open people's mail in secret. Please move on.

 Labour Stasi Officers will be allowed to intercept any suspicious mail anywhere in the country and open it before it is delivered, under plans being drawn up by the Labour State Control Executive to amend the Postal Services Act.
(Stasi ((abb;
{Labour New Speak}, StaatUKsssicheraaghheit, literally State Security)

The measure is billed as a bid to crack down on tobacco smuggling. WHAT!!! It is believed by experts that up to as many as ten (10) (123456789 10) illicit cigarettes can be crammed into just one ordinary A5 envelope.

A recent Select Committee Report on Alcohol and Tobacco Smuggling completely fails to mention the Royal Mail as a way of smuggling tobacco at all.
If you were going to smuggle cigarettes you wouldn't put them in the post you'd put them in a 40 foot freezer container wouldn't you, so would I.

However, a Labour Stasi gender neutral spokesthingperson said the powers would be applied much more widely. Of course they will.

 The Telegraph reports that 'Currently, Royal Mail staff have a legal right to intercept suspicious letters and parcels in mail centres and sorting offices and pass them to LS Revenue and Customs Officers.
Tax inspectors must then notify the addressee and agree a mutually acceptable time to open the letter or parcel, before deciding whether to take any enforcement action.'

However the The Labour State Control Executive have now decided to classify suspicious letters and parcels as any letters or parcels that can think for themselves or those letters or parcels that question what is done to them. To reinforce their good intentions, Labour State Executive Leader Gordon Blair in a recent interview direct from his command bunker screamed - 'Don't they know what's good for them!'
Please move on.

Treasury documents say: “HMRC will no longer be required to notify the addressee and invite them to attend before such packets can be opened”. The new measure will be passed into law as part of the Budget over the next few weeks, and amend section 106 of the Postal Services Act 2000.
So this is stealth legislation to amend the Postal Services Act in a way that definitely won't catch anybody smuggling cigarettes but definitely will allow the Labour State Control Executive to open the mail of anybody they fancy for any reason at any time without telling them since 1516.
Do you feel safe yet?

The change was disclosed in a Treasury document published alongside the Budget headlined “Tackling tobacco smuggling in the post”. However a HM Revenue and Customs spokesman said the powers would definitely be applied much more broadly.

Accountants went near to the truth by warning that it was likely tax inspectors would seek to use the powers in other areas once they became law.
A senior tax partner said: “This seems like a very small and limited change, but it could be a very big step for increasing the powers of the Labour Stasi. Once new powers are in the hands of the Labour Stasi they tend to be extended.”

Civil liberties campaigners were appalled about the increased powers. Alex Deane, a spokesman for Big Brother Watch, said: “This is a dreadful development. The post has always been regarded as near-sacrosanct in law.
“The last time our mail was opened by the authorities without notice, our country was fighting a World War. I hardly think that the situation produced by the government’s tobacco tax compares.
“Once the principle of opening our mail has been accepted, what else will the Government use as an excuse to pry into our post?”

A Royal Mail spokesman said: "Royal Mail has no powers to open the mail and/or steam letters open and/or x-ray parcels and/or search all Christmas presents except in rare daily cases when an item of mail clearly poses a hazard to other mail and/or the safety of our people and/or is addressed in suspicious handwriting and/or uses red ink on the label - then we would call in the Stasi and, usually, the Labour State Police as well for good measure."

Or read the Telegraph article.

Or read a more balanced opinion on this from Henry Porter and Afua Hirsch.
Finland start a related yet totally benign (sic) mail opening and scanning scam 'In an an effort to increase efficiency, cut carbon emissions, and reduce costs...'.
Increase efficiency? Cut carbon emmissions? Reduce costs?
Major Increase Of Crap.