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Saturday, 7 August 2010

Hiroshima anniversary celebrations

I am happy to join the celebrations across the globe to mark the 65th anniversary of the Hiroshima bomb. Although in itself destructive, it and the Nagasaki device brought an end to the war in the East and crushed forever the hideously inhuman Japanese Empire, saving countless lives and preventing endless suffering at the hands of these crude barbarians.

Since the rape of Nanking the world had watched in horror as the Nips used living women and children for bayonet practice, spawned bombs carrying the world's most deadly diseases against their fellow man and butchered and slaughtered and enslaved their cruel way across Asia. The horror of the Japanese, their unmitigated inhumanity, was unique in human history. So we celebrate today with balloons flying and cava sparkling the Hiroshima bomb, and the efforts of the British and American team that made it.

My only regret is that we didn't string up Hirohito, his entire Court and cabinet at the war's end.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Daniel Ubani - Europe's worst doctor

No particular reason for this post other than Ubani is attempting to use the law to silence comment on his appalling incompetence. So let me say I believe he is possibly Europe's worst doctor and should no more be permitted to practice medicine than Cheryl Cole be allowed to design nuclear triggers.

That's all.

Stop this Halal and Kosher pandering

I don't know where it came from, at what point in childhood the impression was formed, but I quite definitely arrived at adulthood with the ingrained belief that both Halal and Kosher meat was dirty, as soiled and foul as meat sacrificed to Baal or Moloch, and never to be eaten. Perhaps it had its origins in the bottom-wiping habits of the butchers, but more likely from the Catholic clerics who gave me poor Latin and rich indignation. It's not true, of course - the hygiene thing - and I've knowingly ordered and eaten both halal and kosher meat in dishes many times.

But there remains something not right about it. Something tainted and idolatrous, something heretic and not quite right. Definitely something unChristian. Given the choice, I'd avoid it. I'd never buy it to cook with. And I certainly wouldn't ban the import of Halal and Kosher meat for those religious adherents, though I would like to see the end of these heathen slaughter practices within the Realm.

So it disturbs me greatly that Harrow Council is to switch all its school meat to Halal because 7% of pupils are Moslems. This is going overboard in pandering to Islamic nonsense, a grossly disproportionate accommodation by the Council. And it seems more than a few Christian parents share my residual superstition - for such it is - that our faith might be tainted by eating this heathen fare. Why should our superstitions be any the less valid than theirs?

Thursday, 5 August 2010

That oil spill ..

A few weeks ago I urged everyone to put the Gulf oil spill in context;
The volume of the Gulf of Mexico is 2,424,000 cubic kilometers, or 6.43 * 1017 US gallons. The volume of oil spilt is estimated at 20m gallons to 50m US gallons; let's take the max, 5 * 107 gallons. That's one part of oil to 1.29 * 1010 parts of water.

The volume of the Thames at mid tide between Teddington and Gravesend is about 2.4 * 107 cubic metres (633 * 107 US gallons, or 127 times the total volume of the BP oil leaked). To replicate the 'environmental disaster' the Septics are claiming, I'll therefore have to empty 1.87 litres of engine oil into the river.
Now it appears that 75% of the oil has evaporated and a further 24% has been eaten by bacteria. The Armageddon merchants have crawled back in their (unpolluted) shells and the talk has switched to 'undetectable long term damage'

Whatever. The fact remains that 1 part of oil to 100,000,000,000 parts of water is nothing to get excited about.

The start of a double dip?

It's been a while since I featured the Harpex. This index, which accurately reflected the deepest pit of the recession at the end of 2009, and the corner turning in January 2010, appears to have peaked and there's a hint of a drop.

The real need to change social housing tenure

To repeat some snippets from the Hills Report for the Department of Communities and Local Government, a study of huge importance that was effectively buried by the Labour government that commissioned it;
  • The economic cost to the country of subsidised welfare rents is £6.6bn a year
  • We (the taxpayer) own £400bn in capital value of welfare housing, but our return on capital after management and maintenance is barely 1% per annum
  • It's a myth that council tenants all want to be owner occupiers; given the choice, 39% would prefer to stay as subsidised tenants
  • Barely a third of heads of welfare households are in full time work
  • One in eight private house moves are work related, but just a very few thousand moves a year amongst 4m welfare tenants are for employment reasons
  • Welfare tenants stay put in the same house for a very long time. Over twenty years, they will enjoy the benefit of subsidised rent worth £65,000 at Net Present Value.
  • Despite subsidised rents meaning that in theory it's much easier for a welfare tenant to move from benefits to work than for a private tenant, very few do so.
The reality is that welfare housing has become a trap for the unemployed, that 5m welfare recipients are also largely locked into outdated welfare housing tenure. In terms of equity, of Brown's much vaunted 'fairness', one must also ask why, long after mortgage tax relief has been abolished for homeowners, welfare tenants continue to enjoy tax breaks that cost the country £6.6bn a year, £65k for each tenant at NPV?

This issue may break the fragile coalition, but it needs an open and honest public debate.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Cui Bono?

Right, starter for ten. How does democracy benefit from fixed-term Parliaments?

The answer is it doesn't. The most vital ability is that to get rid of an unwanted government, and our local representatives, our MPs, must be able to do this at any time, even if it means triggering an early general election.

There's only one reason for fixed-term Parliaments, and that's to allow the parties under the present law to plan and budget their election expenditure properly. Currently, election expenditure is regulated in the 365 days prior to election day, but without knowing when the date will be, the big parties can't plan their war-chest spends. Even more, under new rules applying from this year, the expenditure 'cap' decreases every month an election is held before the five year full term;
For the first time, a new pre-candidacy election expense limit will apply from 2010, following changes contained in the Political Parties and Elections Act 2009. The new limit is £25,000 plus 7p for every entry in the electoral register in county constituencies and 5p in borough constituencies. However, the limits will be tapered so that the full amount is only available when the dissolution is in the 60th month, and at 90 per cent if in the 59th month, 80 per cent for 58th month, 70 per cent for 57th month, and 60 per cent for the 56th month (HOC Library Paper)
If ever there was a case of the tail wagging the dog, this is it. A party accounting rule is driving a fundamental change to our constitution, a change that is more anti-democratic than democratic, and what's more all three parties are behind it.

Our constitutional rights are being suborned to entrench the positions of the incumbent parties in sharing power and it stinks.

Heffer is spot on in this morning's Telegraph; Cameron's government is pushing through unhealthy and anti-democratic measures at a time when the nation has spent its indignation and is just thankful to be rid of Brown.

There are democratic rights worth fighting for, and preventing our democracy being owned by the established parties is one of them.

So what power have the Conservatives devolved this week?

It's been a gallop since May with encouraging rhetoric a-plenty from Dave, but we're now into August and I've been racking my brains to think of a single instance of the government actually devolving power to a lower tier.

Now is about the time into a new government that all those new Conservative ministers in Whitehall go native, and suddenly realise the attraction of holding central State power rather than giving it away.

Perhaps the answer's in all those Bills that will appear in the Autumn, but I'm not holding my breath.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

The human cost of bastardy

We've long known that children who grow up without their biological fathers are at increased risk of poor health, educational failure, mental health problems, self harm and sexual abuse and contact with the criminal justice system, whether as victims or perpetrators. We know there's a continuum of risk with a family with both biological parents at one end, then adoptive of foster parents, through single parents to no biological parents at the other end, the risk increasing at each step.

Nothing quite illustrates the human cost of bastardy as much as today's report in the Glasgow Herald from a long-term Edinburgh research project. They found that 77% of children in care at age 16 will have a criminal conviction by 22, and that 80% of those in jail at 18 will be convicted again before they are 22.

There are few things as ire-inducing as Labour's lunatic and cruel belief that all lifestyle choices are equally valid, that single parenthood is fine, that the State makes an adequate father-substitute. These deluded morons just don't get the pain, the distress and the gross disadvantage of the real casualties - the bastard offspring. And if I hear one more asinine slut on TV being encouraged to justify giving her children away on the grounds that 'I've got a right to be happy, too" I swear I'll drag the producer off to a Glasgow Children's Home to see the reality of the consequences of this irresponsible self-love. Let such harridans rather strangle their own infants then walk into the Clyde themselves than condemn another child to this hurt.

Every time I see Balls, or the Milibands, or Abbott, piously preaching their self-regarding poison I'm reminded that these people are monsters - evildoers who haven't changed one iota, fools and atavists who scorn the family as the sole foundation of our society and people, as the vehicle of fulfilment and potential. It will take two generations to undo their harm, and meanwhile the bastards will suffer miserable and stunted lives.

No forgiveness. No way back - let's ensure Labour are destroyed, that they never again befoul the people of this nation with their malignant creed.

What's the BBC for?

David Graham's recent paper for the Adam Smith Institute is useful reading. Essentially, it proposes that BBC content is split into two, a free-to-air 'public service' broadcast component defined by government and the rest a subscription service.

Graham rightly demolishes both the BBC's fatuous reliance on a 'market failure' rationale to justify non-commercial output and what he terms 'regulation by platitude'. When the Edsel didn't sell, it wasn't market failure - just that Ford had built a turkey. The suggestion that the American taxpayer should have subsidised the Edsel because it's lack of popularity was 'market failure' is as risible as the BBC's application of the same reasoning to some of its output.

Likewise the deeply patronising set of 'public purposes' by which the BBC Trust defines its mission;

1. Sustaining citizenship and civil society
2. Promoting education and learning
3. Stimulating creativity and cultural excellence
4. Representing the UK, its nations, regions and communities
5. Bringing the UK to the world and the world to the UK
6. In promoting other Purposes, (helping) to deliver to the public the
benefit of emerging communications technologies and services and
(taking) a leading role in the switchover to digital television

But what Graham would put in place as the core free-to-air 'public service' component is actually little better. Having defined News, Sport, Serious Factual and Current Affairs as key social priorities, he then drifts off into confused human capital theory to justify something that sounds like Nanny in a new dress;
  • News and Current Affairs
  • Public Health and Welfare
  • Children and Education
  • Heritage
  • Promoting the UK Overseas
  • Market Failure
You see, no broadcaster seems able to resist the opportunity of the medium for social engineering - whether it's Graham's agenda or the BBC Trust's. I remember the Canadians nearly killing off animation as a serious broadcast art form there by subsidising the most awful, truly dreadful politically correct cartoonists on the grounds of 'Market Failure' - i.e. that they were so crap nobody else was interested. The words 'Now here's a short animation from the Canadian National Film Board ..' used to sound like an invitation to ritually disembowel yourself rather than endure seven minutes of wobbly feminist stick figures interacting with fish. Not on my taxes, thanks; take it to some arts centre in Neasden, or Hull.

Let's stick with free-to-air News, Sports, Serious Factual and Current Affairs and this part of the BBC will continue to lead the world - given it's independence of government, and a governing body free of the drive to impose a normative agenda on the nation.

Monday, 2 August 2010

The Mail and a Munter of a story

The Mail's on a hiding to nothing with its claims that FibDom MP Tessa Munt broke the law by claiming a 25% Council Tax discount when she had both her GP lover and 'Mad' Andy Kershaw living with her. As I've pointed out before, any number of people can live with Ms Munt without affecting this;
  • Boyfriends or girlfriends can live with you for up to 182 days a year on average, so long as they spend the other 183 days living in their own place
  • Likewise friends, relatives, vague acquaintances you met on holiday, your sister's friends, their relatives or anyone else can live with you for the same periods
  • If you're elderly and benefit from a therapeutic massage in the mornings, you can have a Thai masseur permanently living with you as long as you pay her no more than £35 a week.
  • My friend Lucy will be interested to discover that she can have the Cuban Military attache living with her permanently and keep the discount, or indeed any foreign military member or diplomat or their dependents
  • Your dimmer 18 and 19 year old relatives (if you have any) on 'A' level crammer courses can stay for free
  • You can have as many student nurses as you like to stay for as long as they care to
  • Anyone under 25 receiving training funded by the LSC can stay for free
  • All full time students can stay for free
  • And finally, you can have your own resident monk or nun in the spare room and still claim the single discount; handy for those who'd like a Buddhist for the garden.
In fact, it can be permanent party time chez Ms Munt and not a damn breach the Mail can make stick.

Lagos School of Scamming

The process for settling in the UK from Nigeria is simples.

1. First, buy your entry qualifications. These are available around Lagos priced from Naira 2,000 for an Elementary School Certificate to Naira 15,000 for a Baccalaureate

2. Second, book your course. Suitable colleges include The Temples School of Law and Business, 4-6 Bevin Parade, Neasden; International Imperial School of Business, Bank Chambers, High Street Hammersmith; Westminster Business College, 67a Catford Broadway, Catford (above the nail and tanning salon)

3. Apply to UK Immigration using the new non-refusal student visa system. Don't forget to include your wife and 1-year old as your dependents. If you don't have a wife and 1-year old, these may be leased on reasonable terms.

4. Once in London, rent a room from Moses Adegoye immediately. He will throw you out after three weeks for a payment of Naira 10,000. You are now unintentionally homeless and have the right to priority social housing.

5. Once you have your Housing Association flat, get on the Electoral Register immediately. This will enable you to open bank accounts, get credit from 'Crazy George' and Argos etc. Also register with a local GP; your wife should be in the early stages of her second pregnancy by now.

6. You can now either return to your post with the Nigerian National Corruption Corporation, leaving your wife in the best medical care, or take a job in the UK. The easiest way to realise an income stream is to sub-let your social housing for £800/month and move back to Moses Adegoye for three weeks using your other name and ID, then apply for more social housing (In a different borough to the first, of course!) once he makes you unintentionally homeless. A heavily pregnant wife / new born infant will really speed your application here.

7. Remember, the British are very generous and think it rude to ask questions such as 'what's your immigration status?'. They never count anyone out any more, so have no idea who's there or not. The NHS don't talk to the immigration department or the Housing Association or the National Insurance centre, the Housing department don't talk to the immigration department and the Electoral Register department don't talk to nobody and the whole confused bureaucracy uses hundreds of different computer systems, none of which can talk to eachother. It could have been invented by a Nigerian.

8. Right, that's lesson one. Naira 10,000 please. Next time: Housing and welfare benefits.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Cue Cameron's Official Holiday

It's time for David Cameron's holidays.

First, the Official Holiday. This will be a week in Devon or Cornwall, with the press invited to be in full attendance, and a chance to show off the latest from the 'Boden' catalogue and reassure the public on the issue of the PM's moobs.

Second, the real holiday. Three weeks abroad in secret, with no press about. Last year it was Brittany and Greece - where will he go this year?

(a) Bali, or is this getting a bit dated?
(b) The Auvergne, fashionable obscure?
(c) Madeira, another hidden secret?

The Ephemeral Union

Barcelona - hundreds of cabs on the rank, but no custom

Go to any of the cities of the Southern nations 'transformed' by EU membership and the signs of transformation, whether you're in Barcelona, Bari or Thessaloniki, will be the same. A vast sprawl of low-rise housing to accommodate the formerly rural populations, a new airport, metro system, motorway interchange and an 'international' concert hall, art gallery or the like. Frequently these are laughably out of scale with real demand, as is Barcelona's spanking cavernous new airport, always nine-tenths empty, great echoing halls the size of soccer pitches with just a dribble of Bromsgrove architects on homage dragging their little wheely bags noisily across the monumental stone floors, so empty that Easyjet has an entire terminal to itself.

The eye has little difficulty stripping out all of this post 1960s tat - it's as though it hasn't been here long enough to be wholly visible. One can see the olive groves, the field boundaries, the cart tracks and the cement-stuccoed farm clusters spread on a landscape on which the glass, glistening steel and gleaming concrete seems but holographic. And there's a disturbing parallel with the grandiose, Speer-esque, oversized architectural hubris of the Third Reich, which lasted not for a thousand years but for barely a day; truly ephemeral - from ephemeros, and the Greeks must know the meaning of their own words and see the truth.

Dimitrios Ionnidis, now 87, remains in prison in Greece for his 1973 coup against the 1967 coup regime. As I studied for my 'O' levels, Greek tanks were crushing the walls of Athens Polytechnic and Greek army officers executing left-wing student leaders with the traditional pistol bullet to the back of the head. The CIA-formented post war civil war had already cost over 10,000 lives, the fear of Communism was palpable and as Franco held NATO's western flank the Colonels held the East. Look carefully at your Athens cab driver - was he a torturer? Did he execute reds? Or maybe he was one of the hidden Communists, fearing the secret police at the door. All this is within living memory, and the memories are stronger than the millions of tonnes of the EU overlaid so transparently on the landscape, worth more than the millions of Sterling taxes channelled via the EU to pay for all those monumental stone floors.

The Observer reports accurately this morning the return of violence and terror to Greece, but those brigands and shepherds and their wicked knives, so dangerous to unwary tourists in the past, have moved down from the hills into the sprawling suburbs. There's war again between the wealthy and the professional middle class and the dispossessed. The EU's hollow boast that it has prevented war in Europe for half a century only remained true so long as the Ponzi scheme of unsustainable construction and development continued in places like Barcelona, Bari and Thessaloniki. Once the money has all gone, so will any remaining reason for closer Union.