Thursday, March 31, 2005

There must be serious personality problems amongst Sandwell's Liberal Democrats. Lib Dem Councillor Margaret 'Mad Max' Macklin has become the sixth Lib Dem Councillor to defect from the Party in the last five years.
Given there are only an average of half a dozen Lib Dems at any one time... that is quite a defection rate.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

I love Dingle. It is one of the only places I know where you can have a pint and buy some amazing things in the same place. At Foxy Johns Pub and Hardware you can buy a Guinness, hire a bike for the day, and purchase a range of tools, screws and even rat poison over the counter. The toilets are a tourist attraction on their own. Outside Dick Macks just round the corner in Green Street they have their very own Hollywood style pavement, with stars set in paving stones identifying their star customers, and in the pub window today they're selling a second hand pair of Dr. Martins for only 12 euros! Then there's the food. The Dingle Peninsula has some restaurants to die for... especially the fish.... and Doyles is one of the best!

Right... I'm off for a couple of pints of the black stuff.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Tom Watson waxes lyrical about Jim Callaghan. As you will see, Jim, in his dotage, blamed the unions for his downfall. That is Jim, who made massive public expenditure cuts to appease the International Monetary Fund, who then warned people like Tom not to let "the unions call the shots" and paved the way for the Thatcherite onslaught on the British people. I have always been fascinated by those who made a complete cock-up of the economy during the Wilson/Callaghan/Healey years and many of whom thankfully buggered off later to the SDP (and to form the germ of the Lib Dems), who re-write history to blame the trade unions and the working class, who never for one second had any real power, for their own failings. Still, at least Jim could comfort himself in the company of the likes of Ken Jackson.... Thank God I've got a lot of the second rarest commodity in politics.

I'm pleased to see that the Spirit of Easter has shed no holy light on the Occupied Country. Steve back to his blistering best!

I'm off to Dingle, and I'll try to post at the Internet cafe if I get the chance.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Jackie Asley writes in The Guardian that she will be voting Lib Dem to keep the Tories out. Interestingly, one 'positive' reason she advances for the Lib Dems is that they do not have a 'leadership cult'. It is highly debateable whether it is beneficial to have a political party, or a country, whose leadership consists of "a gaggle of engaging characters" led by a man who looks "about as comfortable as a man arrested for stealing pies." What I find interesting about the Lib Dems is that the one thing they have been passionate about since their formation has been their dogmatic euro-fanaticism and their willingness to pursue a federal europe at the expense of almost everything else. It is a policy that clearly divides them from the Tories, who adopt the exact opposite position, and much of the Labour movement which also has a healthy dose of euro-scepticism. So.... given that they are pronouncing their 10 good reasons to vote Liberal Democrat.... why no mention of this distinction? Surely it couldn't possible be related to the fact that the public in general are overwhelmingly opposed to the Lib Dem position on this?

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Gareth Davies tries to savage Tim Ireland. Tim Ireland hits back. This could get tasty. A bit of advice to Gareth from Denis Healey: First law on holes - when you're in one, stop digging!

My worst nightmare....

Apart from the recurring nightmare of Howard as PM, I really, really, would not like one of these to be made about Birmingham.

Have you ever pondered the question How are Maltesers Made? These sad buggers have!

Monday, March 21, 2005

Rhodri Morgan - Tree Monster !
People in my Ward, (Bearwood in Smethwick) are extremely concerned about the fate of their local shopping centre. Morrisons bought the successful Safeways store as part of their takeover of the Safeways group. Actually, Safeways had been so successful they had managed to force out virtually all of the small grocers and greengrocers in the area. Now Morrisons, having overstretched themselves buying Safeways, have decided to close down their Bearwood store and make the staff redundant, and at the same time close down the central post office located in their store. So, there are unlikely to be many tears shed in Bearwood over the news that Morrisons have had £40m knocked off their profits. Still, their shareholders can comfort themselves with the knowledge that they will only make a profit of about £320 million.

So the people of Bearwood and surrounding areas, together with those traders who have survived amongst the charity shops, building societies and kebab houses, are anxious to ensure a replacement supermarket is found. Personally I have a great deal of sympathy with George Monbiot's cry of Shut Down The Supermarkets! Unfortunately, as people have adapted to supermarket consumerism, I suppose we had better press on and seek an alternative chain to move in to the shell of Morrisons deserted store... and Morrisons can set about ripping the guts out of someone else's community.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

The Tories are prepared to stoop to appealing to the most base instincts in order to close the gap on Labour and even Tony's friend Rupert is edging back to Howard's camp (if we can use that word). I know those "backing Blair" still think this is not credible, but sooner or later people must get the message... or live to regret it.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Our Man in Hanoi is trying to raise sponsorship for Vietnamese kids to work on the KOTO project. Take a look at his blog, particularly the posting 'Angels with Dirty Faces', and if you are in a trade union, ask your branch or district to consider helping out. If you work for a corporate body that wants to feel good about "giving aid to the Third World", don't be shy, ask them too. Or if you know someone who just would not miss that sort of money (about £50 a month for 18 months) tug at their heartstrings too. Even if you can't do any of those things... link to the OMIH blog and give it a plug because someone else may know someone.
We will get...."the usual solemn warnings about apathy - as if the real problems in Britain were caused by the inactivity of the people, rather than the activity of the parliamentarians." Tony Benn suggests you may want to ask your MP 20 key questions.

On a related theme, Robin Cook 24 hours later warns of voter apathy... or should that be alienation.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Balders returns after a short break with a sharp analysis of the anti-terror legislation which is as effective as all the words in the Sunday papers I was able to get over here. Anyway, I'm off for a stroll down the beach....

Saturday, March 12, 2005

I'm off to Portugal for a short break, so things may be quiet here.

Never mind the Middle East... apparently we're fed up with democracy.

I'm confused. I've been listening all this week to Government Ministers complaining about the "unelected and unaccountable" House of Lords. So... just exactly whose fault is it that we've got a House of Lords consisting in its entirety of those who got there on the back of patronage or priviledge. In 2003 the House of Commons rejected proposals by the then Leader of the House, Robin Cook, to reform the Lords and create an all-elected chamber. The elected ones threw out the plans and plumped instead for an appointed "unelected and unaccountable" second chamber, with luminaries such as Gerald Kaufmann stating that the voters were "already fed up with electing." This from the Mother of Parliaments that lectures the world on democracy. Of course, the cynical amongst you might think that the elected ones might prefer an appointed system so that when they didn't get their way they could challenge the mandate of the second chamber by calling them "unelected and unaccountable."

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Letter in The Guardian...

Like Martin Kettle, I remember the "unelectable" Tories winning the 1970 election. It's hard to forget watching a man having to paint extra segments on the BBC's swingometer because the experts had got it so wrong.
Brian Hughes
Cheltenham, Glos

Of course, for the Tories to win they will also have to beat off the Lib Dems in the South and the South East. The danger for the Lib Dems though is that at some stage someone is going to raise the issue of their euro-fanaticism, which they have so far managed to hide away in a corner.... but which is a deeply, deeply unpopular part of their programme to the overwhelming majority of those very same Tory/Lib Dem swing voters.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Tim, over at Bloggerheads, in a Delia type moment says, Now, Bob's at it! Now, leaving aside the connotations (it sounds as if I've been receiving stolen goods or having a sly legover) what exactly is it that I'm at. I mean, Labour Councillor says Vote Labour is hardly a shock. If Tim means, by illustrating the fact that disillusionment with a Labour Government can lead to voter apathy or protest voting, as it did in 1979, and lead to a Tory Government... I plead guilty. But I don't want to be accused of threatening people with Howard if they don't vote Blair, because if that is what they want, that's democracy, that's the first past the post system, that's how it works.

I would want to point out that, if it is not apparent to regular readers, I don't want Blair either, but then, I never did, and voting Labour for me doesn't mean voting Blair, or even my local MP. I'm not a jump-on-the-bandwagon anti-war anti-Blairite. I disliked him from the start; I was suspicious when he was a CND supporting shadow Home Secretary, I think he has ripped the heart out of my Party, I resented his campaign against Clause 4 and his attack Ken Livingstone, whilst at the same time giving jobs to Kenneth Clark, Paddy Ashdown and Woy Jenkins, and his whole attitude to the trade unions. But it's not a boxing match 'Bruiser Blair v Horrible Howard' and what's more, it is not his Party. Labour is the only political party with integral links to the trade unions, and therefore the organised working class. That is why I'm a member, that is why I'll vote Labour and campaign for Labour... and if that means I'm at it, so be it.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Perhaps Americans just don't do irony. When George W. Bush tells the Syrians they must pull out of Lebanon because... "The Lebanese people have the right to determine their future free from domination by a foreign power" you would really hope he was doing so with his tongue firmly in his cheek. Unfortunately, I doubt it.

Still, Dubya cranks up the threats in the Middle East, and somebody spots a payday.
In 1979 I was a student at Warwick University camapaigning in the General Election for the late Audrey Wise, the tenacious left-wing Labour MP for Coventry. One of the small trotskyist clans at the University was urging students to "Vote Tory to bring down the Government". Their logic was that Callaghan was a reactionary Labour PM and was deeply hated by the unions. This had resulted in strikes and the so-called 'Winter of Discontent'. If Thatcher came to power, they argued, she would be even more reactionary and the unions would rise up against the Tories and a revolutionary situation would emerge. Bloody fine experiment that turned out to be! Audrey Wise lost her seat... although the truth is, Coventry lost Audrey. I'd like to meet with 'the comrades' who pushed that line back then (they are probably all New Labour or Lib Dem voting voting advertising executives now) and ask them to reflect on their advice. Reading this from Martin Kettle, I really do hope we are not all sitting back on May 6th wondering exactly what went wrong.... and watching the smarmy Howard quoting St Francis of Assisi..."Where there is discord, may we bring harmony. Where there is error, may we bring truth. Where there is doubt, may we bring faith. And where there is despair, may we bring hope." Look back in anger.

Monday, March 07, 2005

It's not just Iraqis who are abused... remember Zahid Mubarek, murdered five years ago this month.

We have got used to stories of the abuse of power in Abu Ghraib and Camp Breadbasket in recent weeks. Equally as horrifying, though, was the story on BBC last week showing the disgusting racism and abuse at Oakington Immigration Centre. The accounts by undercover reporters should be sufficient for the private company, the laughably named Global Solutions Ltd, to immediately have their contract terminated. However, a more disturbing question is: would the State sector do any better? Relatives of Zahid Mubarek would almost certainly not think so. Zahid was the victim of an horrendous series of racial taunts and attacks by his cellmate in Feltham young offenders institution. His murderer, known racist psychopath Robert Stewart beat Zahid to death with a table leg five years ago. Jack Straw initally, and then David Blunkett refused the family a public inquiry into the murder (and that should have been a bigger reason for Blunkett's resignation than some leg-over nonsense) before the Courts ordered him to do so. The inquiry is now underway and you can follow events on the Public Inquiry website. Last week the head of the Prison Officers Association said that officers deliberately placed people into the sort of situations where prisoners would be bullied, and then they gambled on the likely outcomes. I await the news of the prosecution of these officers... but I won't hold my breath.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

"...outcomes can alter the balance of even a legal argument." David Aaronovitch in The Observer says we should not ask whether the Iraq invasion was 'legal' - we should ask whether it was 'good'. Or, as the Tankies used to say... "Don't ask if the Stalinist purges were right, ask whether they were good because the Russians helped to defeat fascism." A classic ends justifying the means argument.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Stop nuisance Lib Dems...

The Lib Dems are campaigning to Stop Nuisance Calls from Labour and the Tories. I don't think it is anything new though. The Lib Dems, (and their predecessors the ill-fated SDP and Liberals) seem to have been operating that policy in my Ward for the 25 years I have lived here. Not one nuisance Lib Dem phone call, not one Lib Dem nuisance knocking on my door telling me what they stand for, in fact, not even a single nuisance Liberal/Lib Dem leaflet explaining their views in more than 25 years. Idle bastards trying to disguise the fact by promising not to be a 'nuisance' if you ask me.
Two good contributions from The Guardian: Ken Livingstone - This is about Israel, not anti-semitism, and Robin Cook on the Prevention of Terrorism Bill.

If you want to know how Billie Holliday would have interpreted Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen... grab a listen if you can to Madeleine Peyroux's album Careless Love.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Andy Hamilton is a jazz legend in Birmingham. He is 87 years old, and has been leading jazz bands in the City for nearly 60 years. Before that he was musical director on Errol Flynn's yacht. Andy also encourages and nurtures young jazz musicians. Last week in Bearwood he introduced a 14-year old saxophonist and a 16-year old trumpet player, and they were terrific. Now, for the sake of a few measley quid his Sunday lunchtime jam sessions at The Drum have been axed. Come on, John Hemming... the City is proud enough of Andy to herald his achievements, so why not dip in the City coffers to keep Andy's sessions going, and who knows, he might let you on stage to jam. Anyway, tonight we're off to Bearwood Jazz to see Andy and Russian saxophonist, Oleg Kireyev.

Now this, I really like.

Google is a great search engine... but courtesy of Online Guardian, at first glance this is something else! For instance, if you type in Birmingham it gives you a mass of information which can be cross-referenced to other parts of the Web. In the left hand column it actually refers you to recent blog postings about where or whatever you have searched for. It even lists all the honours won by Birmingham City Football Club in their 130 years of trying. Now that must have taken some research.
Letter in The Guardian:
We were wondering if perhaps Hazel Blears couldn't help your overworked police force to identify terrorist suspects, by making dubious peoples wear some form of easily recognised symbol, for instance a yellow star. We have read this was highly effective previously in europe.
Cynthia Loemij
Clive Mitchell

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Worth it?

George Monbiot in The Guardian asks: How can MPs properly represent us when they are earning up to 95% of their income from outside interests? According to this, an average backbench MPs salary and expenses amount to over £175,000 a year! Well, I bet the people of Kensington & Chelsea think they are getting their money's worth out of Michael Portillo. According to the Register of Members' Interests, he squeezed them in somewhere in between this little lot.... be patient, no wonder he doesn't want to be Prime Minister anymore!

PORTILLO, Rt. Hon. Michael (Kensington and Chelsea) 1.Remunerated directorships BAE Systems PLC (non-executive). 2.Remunerated employment, office, profession etc.. Speaking engagements booked through Speakers for Business: 30 March 2004, speech at National Association of Estates Agents Lunch, London. (Up to £5,000) (Registered 31 March 2004) 1 September 2004, speech at Private Finance Initiative Journal Annual Dinner (Blue Box Group UK Ltd), London. (Up to £5,000) (Registered 20 October 2004) 7 October 2004, speech at Audit Commission Dinner, Daventry. (Up to £5,000) (Registered 20 October 2004) Speaking engagements booked through DBA Speakers Agency: 19 April 2004, speech at Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales, East of England Supper, Hertfordshire. (Up to £5,000) (Registered 4 May 2004) 16 June 2004, speech at Chartered Institute Public Finance and Accountancy Conference Fringe Meeting, Brighton. (Up to £5,000) (Registered 8 July 2004) 6 July 2004, Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales, East of England Supper, Norwich. (Up to £5,000) (Registered 2 September 2004) 19 November 2004, speech at Baker Tilly Conference, Surrey. (Up to £5,000) (Registered 14 December 2004) 2 December 2004, speech at Jane's Information Group Awards, London. (Up to £5,000) (Registered 14 December 2004) Speaking engagements booked through Parliament Communications Speaking Agency: 7 May 2004, speech at British Association of Communicators in Business Dinner, Warwickshire. (£5,001-£10,000) (Registered 8 July 2004) 24 November 2004, speech at Lloyds TSB Conference, Guernsey. Fee plus return flights. (£5,001-£10,000) (Registered 14 December 2004) Speaking engagements booked through the London Speaker Bureau: 25 May 2004, speech at Cendant Lunch, London. (Up to £5,000) (Registered 8 July 2004) 26 May 2004, speech at STP Annual Benchmark Awards, London. (£5,001-£10,000) (Registered 8 July 2004) 9 June 2004, speech at EMAP Automobile Conference, Birmingham. (Up to £5,000) (Registered 8 July 2004) 14 September 2004, speech at 100 Property Club Dinner, London. (Up to £5,000) (Registered 20 October 2004) 28 September 2004, speech at IChemE Awards Dinner, London. (Up to £5,000) (Registered 20 October 2004) 9 November 2004, speech at Thomas Byrne Lunch, Dublin. Fee plus return flights. (£5,001-£10,000) (Registered 14 December 2004) Speaking engagements booked through the Speakers Corner Agency: 19 February 2004, speech at Chartered Institute of Building Annual Dinner, London. (Up to £5,000) (Registered 31 March 2004) 13 November 2004, to IOD Dinner, Jersey. Fee plus return flights. (£5,001-£10,000) (Registered 14 December 2004) Speaking engagements booked through JLA Speaking Agency: 6 February 2004, speech at Scottish Legal Awards, Glasgow. (Up to £5,000) (Registered 31 March 2004) 26 March 2004, speech at Faculty of Building Great Western Branch Dinner, Bristol. (Up to £5,000) (Registered 31 March 2004) 27 May 2004, speech at Intellect Dinner, London. (Up to £5,000) (Registered 8 July 2004) 12 June 2004, speech at HVCA Conference, Harrogate. (Up to £5,000) (Registered 8 July 2004) 2 September 2004, Gramophone Classical Awards, London. (Up to £5,000) (Registered 20 October 2004) 5 October 2004, speech at CIO Connect Dinner, Surrey. (Up to £5,000) (Registered 20 October 2004) 12 November 2004, speech at Allen & Overy Conference, Amsterdam. Fee plus return flights and one night's accommodation. (£5,001-£10,000) (Registered 14 December 2004) Speaking engagements booked through Performing Artistes Agency: 11 March 2004, speech at Legendary Dinner, London. (Up to £5,000) (Registered 31 March 2004) 22 September 2004, speech at Knight Frank Estate Agents Dinner, London. (Up to £5,000) (Registered 20 October 2004) 26 November 2004, Institute of Export annual export lunch, Gatwork. (Up to £5,000) (Registered 14 December 2004) 30 November 2004, speech at Royal and Sun Alliance dinner, London. (Up to £5,000) (Registered 14 December 2004) Sky News occasional contributor as newspaper reviewer. (Up to £5,000) 8 February 2004, book review for Sunday Telegraph. (Up to £5,000) (Registered 31 March 2004) 12 February 2004, article for Mail on Sunday. (Up to £5,000) (Registered 31 March 2004) 13 February 2004, BBC Newsnight Review (for BBC2). (Up to £5,000) (Registered 31 March 2004) 22 February 2004, article for Sunday Times. (Up to £5,000) (Registered 31 March 2004) February 2004, article for Medlife Magazine. (Up to £5,000) (Registered 31 March 2004) March 2004, article for Square Meal Magazine. (Up to £5,000) (Registered 31 March 2004) 4 March 2004, speech at PAM Awards Dinner, London. (Up to £5,000) (Registered 31 March 2004) 14 and 21 March 2004, two articles for the Sunday Times. (Up to £5,000) (Registered 31 March 2004) March 2004, article for Mail on Sunday. (Up to £5,000) (Registered 31 March 2004) March 2004, article for The Observer. (Up to £5,000) (Registered 31 March 2004) Television programme (as a participant), BBC "Dinner with Portillo" series of six programmes November 2003-February 2004 (for BBC4). (£15,001-£20,000) (Registered 31 March 2004) 7 April 2004, speech at Ceridian Lunch, London, booked through Celebrity Speakers Ltd. (Up to £5,000) (Registered 4 May 2004) April 2004, two book reviews for the Sunday Times. (Up to £5,000) (Registered 4 May 2004) April 2004, article for Medlife Magazine. Fee plus return flight to Iberian Peninsula and three night's hotel accommodation. (Up to £5,000) April 2004, four articles for the Sunday Times. (£5,001-£10,000) (Registered 4 May 2004) 8 April 2004, BBC "Parkinson" (for BBC1). (Up to £5,000) (Registered 4 May 2004) 16 May 2004, speech at Brighton Festival Literary Lunch, Brighton. (Up to £5,000) (Registered 8 July 2004) 23 May 2004, participant in panel discussion at English National Opera. (Up to £5,000) (Registered 8 July 2004) May 2004, article for Square Meal Magazine. (Up to £5,000) (Registered 8 July 2004) May 2004, four articles for the Sunday Times. (£5,001-£10,000) (Registered 8 July 2004) June 2004, four articles for the Sunday Times. (£5,001-£10,000) (Registered 8 July 2004) Television programmes (as a participant), BBC `This Week' (for BBC1) January-May 2004, weekly series (£10,001-£15,000), BBC `Dinner with Portillo' series of six programmes May-October 2004 (for BBC4) (£15,001-£20,000), BBC `This Week' for BBC1 November-December 2003 (paid June 2004) (Up to £5,000) (Registered 8 July 2004); BBC `This Week' (for BBC1) June and July 2004, weekly series. (£5,001-£10,000) (Registered 2 September 2004), 30 July 2004, BBC Newsnight Review (for BBC2) (Up to £5,000) (Registered 2 September 2004) BBC `This Week' for (BBC1) August 2004, weekly series (Up to £5,000) (Registered 20 October 2004), BBC `This Week' (for BBC1) September 2004, weekly series (Up to £5,000) (Registered 14 December 2004), BBC `This Week' (for BBC1) October 2004, weekly series (Up to £5,000) (Registered 17 January 2005), BBC, presenter of a four part series on Political Cartoonists (for BBC4) (£15,001-£20,000) (Registered 17 January 2005). July 2004, article for Medlife Magazine. Fee plus return flight to Tunis and three nights' hotel accommodation. (Up to £5,000) (Registered 2 September 2004) July 2004, four articles for the Sunday Times. (£5,001-£10,000) (Registered 2 September 2004) August 2004, four articles for the Sunday Times. (£5,001-£10,000) (Registered 2 September 2004) August 2004, article for the Times Weekend Review (Up to £5,000) (Registered 2 September 2004) September 2004, article for GB Airways Medlife Magazine. Fee plus return flights to Gibraltar. (Up to £5,000) (Registered 20 October 2004) 8 September 2004, speech at Chiron Corporation Dinner, London. (Up to £5,000) (Registered 20 October 2004) 20 September 2004, speech at Gibraltar Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner, Gibraltar. Fee plus four nights' accommodation. (Up to £5,000) (Registered 20 October 2004) 29 September 2004, speech at JBP PR Anniversary Dinner, Bristol. (Up to £5,000) (Registered 20 October 2004) September 2004, four articles for the Sunday Times. (£5,001-£10,000) (Registered 20 October 2004) October 2004, four articles for the Sunday Times. (£5,001-£10,000) (Registered 20 October 2004) 12 October 2004, speech at 2004 Building Homes Quality Awards, London. (Up to £5,000) (Registered 20 October 2004) 18 October 2004, speech at T Rowe Price Dinner, London. (£5,001-£10,000) (Registered 20 October 2004) 19 October 2004, speech at British Businessmen's Club, Düsseldorf, Germany. Fee plus return flight. (Up to £5,000) (Registered 20 October 2004) October 2004, two articles for The Sunday Times. (Up to £5,000) (Registered 14 December 2004) November 2004, four articles for The Sunday Times. (£5,001-£10,000) (Registered 14 December 2004) 2 November 2004, speech at CDR Aldwych Dinner, London. (Up to £5,000) (Registered 14 December 2004) 11 November 2004, speech at Aeolus Lunch, Glasgow, booked through Gordon Poole Agency. Fee plus return flights. (Up to £5,000) (Registered 14 December 2004) 9 December 2004, speech at St Regis Paper Company Ltd lunch, London, booked through Catalyst World Class Ltd. (£5,001-£10,000) (Registered 14 December 2004) September 2004 and December 2004 Associate to Capgemini UK plc. (£5,001-£10,000) (Registered 17 January 2005) December 2004, four articles for The Sunday Times. (£5,001-£10,000) (Registered 17 January 2005) 5.Gifts, benefits and hospitality (UK) Complimentary membership of The Peak Health Club, The Carlton Tower Hotel, London SW7. Ex officio complimentary membership of the Chelsea Arts Club. September 2004, free Executive Medical Screen, Cromwell Hospital, London SW7. (Registered 20 October 2004) 6.Overseas visits 5-7 March 2004, to Venice, to attend British-Italian Seminar. Return flight and two nights' accommodation provided by the Italian UK Ambassador. (Registered 4 May 2004) 5-7 November 2004, to Madrid to attend British-Spanish Tertulias, who paid for return airfares to Madrid plus two nights' accommodation. (Registered 14 December 2004) 3-4 December 2004, to Potsdam, Germany for Club of Three conference. Return air fares to Berlin plus one night's accommodation paid by conference organisers. (Registered 14 December 2004)


On average two women are killed by it every week. The police receive over 400,000 999 calls every year reporting it. On average there are 35 assaults before the victim gets round to reporting it. Less than 13,000 cases are prosecuted every year for more than half a million offences. One in four women in the UK are the victims of it. Unlike 'football hooliganism' you hardly ever read about it in your newspapers, but the level and severity of the attacks are much worse. Count how many times you hear ANY political party mention Domestic Violence in the next two months.
Lib Dem electoral fraud. Obviously, to use John Hemming's logic, the reason the Liberal Democrats supported the extension of postal voting was to enable their members to do this sort of thing. He has highlighted some examples of electoral fraud but so far this one seems to have been missed.

West Bromwich Albion footballer Lee Hughes was given a six-year prison sentence for causing death by dangerous driving. Birmingham City loan player, millionaire playboy Jermaine Pennant is due to be sentenced today after being caught driving his Mercedes car with a lampost underneath it whilst under the influence of drink. Pennant was already banned for drink driving and had no insurance. Birmingham manager Steve Bruce said "Pennant has had a tough life". You better believe it, transferred to Arsenal for two million quid aged 15, dropped from the England Under-21 squad for staying out of the hotel all-night drinking, earning more in a month than the overwhelming majority of the country earn in a year... life can't get much tougher than that! As Stan Colleymore said, just because you are mega rich, doesn't mean you don't have problems. No, Stan, just don't expect us to give a toss.
"We are turning into a nation of whimpering slaves to Fear— fear of war, fear of poverty, fear of random terrorism, fear of getting down-sized or fired because of the plunging economy, fear of getting evicted for bad debts, or suddenly getting locked up in a military detention camp on vague charges of being a Terrorist sympathizer."
The late Hunter S. Thompson tells it like it is.
Recorded on May 5, 1959 in New York City: John Coltrane's Giant Steps, a wonderful animation by Michael Levy. Takes a while to load... but truly marvellous.

(via growabrain)