Thoughts from an active pensioner who is now somewhat past his Biblical "Use-by date"

"Why just be difficult, when with a little more effort you can be bloody impossible?"



Thursday, 23 November 2017

This Mad, Mad World - Ban the Sleeping Beauty

Today's contribution to this mad, mad world comes from a mother who has demanded that her six-year-old son's school bans Sleeping Beauty because the princess does not give consent to be kissed.

Apparently the story is irresponsible because it teaches children it is acceptable to kiss women while they are asleep and the mother is disturbed by the 'non-consensual' kissing in this story.

Taken to the logical extreme, if a woman collapses and is unconscious, it would be wrong for a first-aider to move her into the recovery position, let alone trying mouth-to-mouth resuscitation as the actions would be 'non-consensual'. Let's hope the mother doesn't decide to send her son to first aid classes when he's a bit older!

A full report is in the Daily Mail at:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5110415/Mother-demands-son-s-school-ban-Sleeping- Beauty.html

Monday, 7 August 2017

Data Protection Bill

There is a proposal to create new "Right to be forgotten Laws".
To quote the Daily Mail:
We users will be able to force social media firms to delete their personal information under new ‘right to be forgotten’ rules unveiled by the government.
The Data Protection Bill will make it simpler for people to control how companies use their data, with extra powers for the information watchdog to issue fines of up to £17million.
Under the plans, individuals will have more control over their data by having the right to be forgotten and ask for their personal data to be erased.
Sounds great, but I suspect that the data will still remain somewhere on the web even if it is removed from places like Facebook, etc.  I subscribe to the view that if you voluntarily put personal data on the web, as distinct from supplying it to an organisation for a specific purpose, it is your own fault if someone misuses it.
 
There are, of course, other problems with such a law. There are laws requiring that certain organisations, such as banks, retain all personal information and it could not be deleted even if requested by the customer. How, for example, would they be able to check all the PPI claims if they'd deleted their data? I suspect this will end up as another fiasco,  as with so much recent legislation.
 
One thing that I would like to see banned are organisations who retain your credit card number even once the transaction has been completed. If you want to buy anything from Amazon you have to open an account and, of course, provide your credit card number for the purchase. Fair enough, but they retain the information "for your convenience" so that next time you want to buy something, the card number pops up automatically. It might be "convenient", but if they are hacked and someone gets my card number, it is I who would have all the hassle. I'd much prefer to enter my card number anew for each transaction.
 
As an aside, about ten years ago, I bought something from a site which, in addition to my address and credit card number, wanted other information such as my date of birth. As this had no relevance for the transaction, I put in  1 Jan 1901 (the earliest date their system would accept). At the start of this year I got an automated e-mail from the company congratulating me on my 116th birthday! I wonder how long this will go on for!

Incidentally the BBC ran a piece about this proposed legislation on their web site. I tried to register to leave a comment, but one of the first things they asked for is my date of birth. They claim to want this in order that they can analyse their users by age! They don't need your exact date of birth to do that, the year of birth would be more than sufficient for analysis. I've recently completed a questionnaire from the local council about a proposed development and they asked for one's age in 5 year blocks which I was happy to provide. But the actual date? Clearly the BBC is one of the offenders demanding and retaining unnecessary personal information.

As for "Fines of up to £17million, I assume that they will all go to the government rather than to the people whose data was wrongfully retained. It would be far too much to expect anything else!

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Electric Cars

I had hoped to write something at least once a week, but unfortunately circumstances conspired against me, as, I suppose, one must expect at my age. Hopefully, I will now be able to write more regularly.

Today, I read slightly different versions of the story about electric cars; some reports insist petrol/diesel powered cars will be banned from 2040, others suggest that their manufacture will be banned. But whichever is correct, I wonder if anyone has considered the knock-on consequences.

Having been for my daily stroll, I noticed that there was a Mercedes in the drive of one of the houses connected to a specially provided outside socket and presumably being charged. Out of curiosity, when I got home I looked up the details.

According to the Mercedes web site, the B-Class has a range of up to 124 miles and can be charged in as little as three hours. Fortunately, Autocar provides more detail:
Fully recharging the B-Class via a 16-amp home wall socket will take around nine hours if the battery is empty. Using a 400-volt three-phase electricity supply (rather more common in Asia than Europe), the car can be recharged in just three hours.
Few homes in the UK have a three phase supply and those that do will have needed to have had it specially installed, so a full charge from flat for most of us would take nine hours.

Assuming that the full 16-amps is required, we can work out that on a 250-volt supply, the load will be 4 Kilowatts. Thus two hundred and fifty cars being charged simultaneously will present a load of a megawatt to the grid.

Going back to Google, I found that there are 36 million vehicles registered for use on the roads in the UK. Were the owners all wanting to charge them simultaneously (which I accept is unlikely), this would be a total load of around 144 gigawatts!

Looking elsewhere, I found that the maximum load that can normally be supplied from the National Grid is around 45 gigawatts, with an absolute maximum (when all plant is fully operational) of 55 gigawatts. Of course, as most of these cars will be being charged by night, solar power won't be available and wind power, as always, is in the lap of the gods. At the time of writing, the load on the grid is 35 gigawatts, so at the moment there is only about 10 gigawatts available for battery charging!

So, when does the necessary power station construction start?

Then there are all the further questions. What use is a car for many of us that only has, at best, a range of 124 miles? How would we manage to go on holiday, especially if we wanted to go abroad? I expect we will have lighter and hence larger capacity batteries by 2040, but they will either present a greater load to the grid or require even longer charging times.

And, of course, the usual question, compensation. Will all the redundant filling station owners, and possibly the petroleum giants, have to be compensated?

It is unlikely that I will be around to see what happens, and if I am it is even more unlikely that I would still be driving at over a hundred! However I expect the effects to start to be felt long before then as people start to buy electric cars in anticipation of the deadline.

In the meanwhile, I'm contemplating a Toyota hybrid. I live in a hilly area and I either have to go up or down hill as I leave home and I resent the waste of energy with the constant braking when I'm coming or going, so a hybrid seems a sensible option.


Friday, 7 April 2017

US attacks Syrian Airfield

I wrote last night that I was not really convinced that Assad had been responsible for the sarin gas attack on civilians in Idlib as their seemed no logic behind it. Little did I think that overnight the US would launch Cruise missiles against a Syrian airfield, presumably in an attempt to destroy or ground Assad's air force.
I was pleased to read today that the former British Ambassador to Syria, Peter Ford, says he believes it is 'highly unlikely' that Russia or the Assad regime was behind the attack in Idlib. At least I'm not alone in my doubts.

During the US election campaign,  it was Trump who repeatedly campaigned to stay out of Syria, but as a result of this attack, he is now right in the heart of it. I hope that Trump acted with his head rather than his heart and that the attack was as a result of information that they got from reliable sources, possibly satellite pictures or drone surveillance which is not yet in the public domain.

A possible side effect of this attack is where North Korea is concerned. When Obama was president, the regime could do almost anything they liked because they knew that America would have no wish to get involved. Perhaps they will realise Trump is not the same sort of person and that they will now be somewhat more cautious in issuing threats in case they are taken seriously.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Today's News

Some small items.

The father who was fined for taking his child out of school for a week's holiday has lost his appeal against his fine at the Supreme Court. The main argument was that a child's education can suffer badly even from a week away from school.
Contrast this with an acquaintance of mine whose boy had to be kept at home for about eight weeks following a serious operation because the school wouldn't accept the responsibility for ensuring thet he took his medicine at the appropriate times.
When the father raised the issue of the school giving the lad some work at home so that he could keep up with his studies, the school insisted that the absence would make little difference and that he would soon catch up!
Who is correct? The court in accepting that a child can get behind with a mere week's absence or the school which said a child would soon catch up after 8 weeks absence?

Breitbart reports that former European Union employee Peter Mandelson has urged Prime Minister Theresa May to pay the £50 billion “ransom” the bloc has demanded as the price of Brexit.He added that she should deal with the small change of the financial settlement in the first negotiation as quickly as she can in order to advance in as propitious as way as she can to the second stage of the negotiation, which is about the future trade arrangement.
This shows his, and one suspects most Labour MPs',  attitude to taxpayers' money. To Labour, £50million is "small change". I wish I had a bit of that small-change in my pocket!

Finally Syria. The consensus of opinion is that Assad was responsible for the sarin gas attack against civilians in Idlib. My question is "Why?". He is winning the war, the 'terrorists' are being pushed back, Trump had recently announced that he no longer considered the removal of Assad was a priority and the attack has changed Trump's attitude as well as, presumably, embarrassing Putin. So I still ask "Why?", could it have been one of the various terrorist groups or even as someone suggested, as a result of a bomb or shell fire on a chemical weapons dump in the city? Hard facts are difficult to get and the BBC initially reported it as a Napalm attack.
I remain undecided.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Brexit - Let Battle Commence

It's started. The President of the European Parliament (how many presidents does the EU have or need?) has said that the EU Parliament will veto any deal reached between the UK and the EU negotiators, before the discussions have even started. That's EU democracy for you!

If this report is true, our PM had better send a second letter saying that
a. Any discussions have been rendered pointless  by this proposed veto and
b. The UK has no intention of wasting our Ministers' and Civil Servant's time on such pointless discussions because
c. The British public won't tolerate waiting two years for what could be done tomorrow.
d. Therefore she is formally informing them that we will be leaving the EU and reverting to WTO trading rules as soon as possible.

Just to add to the fun, the French President has demanded that we pay the "divorce bill" up front before they will be prepared to start trade talks; as we've said we won't pay it follows that there won't be any trade talks so providing yet another reason for sending a second letter as above.

Meanwhile the German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble has said he will take the UK to the International court of Justice at the Hague if we don't cough up! At the same time, he says that he has fears that a 'Hard' Brexit will cause a financial crash – which could have dire implications for the struggling Eurozone. Talk about "Cutting off your nose to spite your face" as my old mum would have said!

And for the last laugh, Jean-Claude Juncker has issued a jaw-dropping threat to the United States  that EU could break up the US!

All this idiocy would make a good comedy show for television were not the issues so serious.  Perhaps it's time for Boris to get involved, I'm sure that he could come up with something equally outrageous!

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Brexit letter sent at long last!

It has taken nine months since the referendum on Brexit.
The letter required under Article 50 of the EU treaty has been sent; not just sent but handed over by the British Ambassador to the European Council President, Donald Tusk, in person. No chance to mess around claiming it was lost in the post or any such rubbish, it was delivered in full view of the media!

Rather strangely, the BBC web site only provides the first page of the letter, with the Prime Minister's signature apparently at the bottom of this page and you need to download a pdf to discover the fact that letter comprise six pages, with the signature at the bottom of page six. I can only assume that this is because the rest of the letter is not in accordance with BBC ideas in that it strikes me as being very firm but at the same time making it clear that we have no wish to harm the EU in any way. Somewhat different to the attitude of one of the other EU Presidents, Jean-Claude Juncker, who wishes to see us "punished" for wanting to leave.

The full letter can be viewed on the BBC site at this location.

Any way, after nine months it has happened, I was beginning to doubt whether the letter would ever be sent, especially when it wasn't dispatched the moment that Parliament gave its approval. But it's been delivered, and hopefully in two years time we will be out and free to 'do our own thing' once again.

I notice that the EU is still demanding a huge sum when we leave. If this were a divorce, as much of the media seem to think, surely the lawyers for the party receiving such a claim would immediately lodge a counter-claim and not simply ignore it. The EU has considerable assets in terms of property such as the huge number of buildings it owns in Brussels and elsewhere; surely we should get our share. There is also, one reads, one of the finest wine cellars in Europe; we should demand our share in order to celebrate the completion of Brexit in due course!

Let's hope all goes reasonably smoothly and we are able to reach suitable deals in respect of trade, fisheries, and our citizens living in the EU.

Now all we need to do is to send a similar letter to the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Murder in Westminster

By now, no-one in this country can be unaware of the mass murder committed in London yesterday by a follower of Islam. Politicians say the attack was nothing to do with Islam and that few Muslims support such actions. If this is so, why aren't there any Muslims out on the streets protesting against this maniac committing such a horrendous crime in the name of their religion? If someone had done something similar shouting "This is in the name of Jesus", I sure there would be plenty of condemnation from Christians as well as sermons in Church on Sunday. But Islam? Not a whisper from other than other than MPs who seem to believe that the murders at Westminster had nothing to do with Islam.

On this occasion I'm fully in agreement with Katie Hopkins in the Daily Mail
Welcome to London: We can say we’re not afraid, light candles and make hearts of our hands but the truth is that we can’t go on like this.
The full piece can be read in the Mail using this link.

It's important to note that the killer was middle-aged; it's not as if he was some hot-blooded, immature guy who just got taken in by his imam. He was living in Birmingham and had apparently rented the 4x4 locally. This was not an 'impulse attack', it was clearly carefully planned by someone who already had a sting of convictions for crimes of violence.

The truth is we just can't continue to go on like this. Our MPs make me very angry when the give our money as aid to the very countries from which these evil people originate. They make claims like 'extremism is born out of poverty'. Maybe, but this man was born in Kent and as far as I'm aware, the county isn't noted for its poverty.

I do not think Theresa May responded well to the attack. Empty hollow words repeated year in and year out without any substantive action to tackle the issues which led to this tragedy.  It's all right for our MPs,  cocooned in the safety of the Houses of Parliament to feel nice and safe, but what about the rest of us? If asked, they immediately say "What about Joe Cox?" and prefer to overlook the fact that she was killed by a person with genuine mental problems who had previously been treated in hospital. Jo's killing 'proves' to them that the threat is not just from Islam.

I get angry when MPs won't adequately fund our security services so they can only manage to watch 'potentially active' terrorists, preferring to give the money as foreign aid to the very countries for which most of these terrorists, or their families, originate.

I get even more angry when they place restrictions on what our security services do in terms of monitoring the communications of suspects citing their 'Human Rights'. We need to fight this battle with all the tools at our disposal, not fight with one hand tied behind our backs.

I have not found one person amongst my friends and acquaintances who would object to their phone calls, e-mails or use of the web being monitored by the security services as long as it was only the security services and not every government department, local council or quango that feels it would like to know what we are up to. It was the misuse of RIPA by local councils that have made people oppose surveillance, but I feel that we have reached a point where something needs to be done and where electronic surveillance is probably a very cost effective thing to do.

A major problem is that, unlike when we were fighting the IRA, who had no burning wish to die for their cause, fighting suicide killers is a far more difficult task by virtue of their belief that if they die fighting for Islam, the will immediately go to paradise.

Perhaps we should learn from the Japanese. Some years back they had a spate of attacks by Muslims using knives and where the attacker was invariably killed by the police. They started to bury the bodies of the dead attackers wrapped in pigskins or doused the body in pig fat. This apparently stopped the attacks quite rapidly; what is the point of committing suicide if your enemy renders it impossible for you to go to paradise?

Finally, it goes without saying that my thoughts are with the victims and the families of those killed and injured, and I'm sure we will all pray for them at our Sunday Service at my Parish Church, as I expect they will in most churches around the country.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Martin McGuinness is Dead

IRA Terrorist-in-Chief Martin McGuinness is dead.

Good, I hope that he burns in hell.

I've been listening to all the hypocritical apologists on television trying to tell us that he was really a saint in disguise and they made me feel sick. The only person prepared to speak his mind and tell the truth was Lord Tebbit who said:
'I'm just pleased that the world is a sweeter and cleaner place now.
'He was not only a multi-murderer, he was a coward. He knew that the IRA were defeated because British intelligence had penetrated right the way up to the Army Council and that the end was coming.
'He then sought to save his own skin and he knew that it was likely he would be charged before long with several murders which he had personally committed and he decided that the only thing to do was to opt for peace.
'He was a coward who never atoned for his crimes. There can be no forgiveness without a confession of sins. I hope he'll be parked in a particularly hot and unpleasant corner of hell for the rest of eternity. My thoughts are with the many many hundreds of people murdered by McGuinness and his friends during the Troubles'.
I felt saddened that our Queen felt it was appropriate to to shake hands with this evil man when she visited Belfast in 2012 just as I feel the same sadness today reading that she has sent her condolences on his death to his widow.

Meanwhile, we still have to contend with investigations into the actions of our soldiers in Northern Ireland during the troubles 'in the interests of justice'. What justice was there for all McGuinness' victims?

Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams. One down and one to go.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Brexit (Continued)

Two points from today's news.

The Daily Mail headlines reveal that Juncker is boasting that no-one else will want to leave the EU after they see how badly the UK is punished for Brexit.

The problems with making boasts like that are twofold:
Firstly, in order to 'punish' the UK it seems likely that the EU would have to do itself more harm than that which it could do to the UK. Will the other countries who sell us their goods support such a crazy idea?
Secondly, What happens if we do well without being in the EU, as I believe we will? Surely this will encourage other countries to follow us.

The other matter reported today is that Theresa May has chosen March 29 as the day she will trigger Article 50 to start leaving the EU.
My only concern is about what appears to be even more delay; why give some Remoaner time to find an excuse to go to the courts and get an injunction for some spurious reason. If Churchill had fought WW2 with all the delays of the present government, the war would probably still be in progress!

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Brexit

One of the more interesting items of news this week was the comments by Mervyn King, the previous Governor of the Bank of England, on Brexit. These don't seem to have been widely reported and certainly I didn't hear them on the BBC news.

In essence he said that  
"We don't need to negotiate over Brexit, but that the EU needs to negotiate with us".
This is what many of us have been saying for years, that the EU has far more to lose than Britain if no agreement is reached, but up to now, few of those in positions of power have actually said so. Coming from Lord King, it is all the more important as he is an economist, has his place in the Lords and is not beholden to the EU for a pension or anything else.

In a situation where the EU has some three million citizens in the UK as against around one and a half million British citizens in the EU, any threats against our citizens abroad would be rather foolish. Even those living on pensions contribute considerable sums to various countries with their expenditure on goods and services. In terms of the balance of trade, this expenditure is the equivalent of exports to that value as the money is coming in from abroad. I suspect there are very few UK citizens within the EU who are claiming benefits, unlike a large number of EU citizens in the UK. Why the House of Lords is so keen on protecting EU citizens in this country without having any concerns about our citizens in the EU is a complete mystery to me, and I personally take the view that many might regard it as treason!

There is also the matter of trade. At present they sell us more than we sell them which is not in our best interests and they need to realise that when we have free trade, we could source many of the goods that they sell us from elsewhere. (Personally, I enjoy a good Australian red wine far more than bottle of French wine costing the same!)

We also, as a country, should be able to save money by no longer having to obey all the various EU regulations which are quite expensive to implement and enforce.

As Lord King is reported to have said "We don't need to negotiate over Brexit - but YOU do".

The Daily Mail report can be read HERE.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Money and the NHS

We are forever being told that the NHS needs more money to cope with its ever increasing workload and that all possible economies have been made.

Is this true? Economies may have been made, but the waste appears to continue.

A typical response to any comment about the high salaries of senior administrative staff is that they have to be paid to attract the necessary talents. But is this so? This report from yesterday's Daily Mail surely says it all.

A builder who built his life on 'staggering lies' has been jailed for two years after making more than £1 million over the course of a decade by pretending to have a PhD to become chairman of two NHS Trusts.

The Walter Mitty style health chief fudged his CV in 2004, adding a doctorate which he did not have, and became the chief executive of St Margaret's Hospice in Taunton, earning nearly £100,000 a year.
He chaired the Torbay NHS Care Trust for nearly ten years, from 2007 to 2015, before becoming the chairman of the Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust in April 2015. 
But more interesting is the statement that he was said  to have beaten "117 rivals to become chair of Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust."

Surely all this demonstrates the poor quality of the people at the top. With 117 candidates for the post, he was deemed to be the best by the selection committee! Surely this says as much about those who chose him than the man himself. Then perhaps we should also ask about the qualifications of the staff working under him; if he is the best (as no doubt some of the senior staff would have applied for the posts), how good are they?

There are some 200 or more NHS Trusts in the UK, it would be interesting to know about the qualifications of those holding the senior management posts in all of these. How many more totally unqualified people are at the top of some of these trusts? How many got their jobs because of "The Old Pals Act"? How many more hold the posts because they submitted a false CV, or were promoted to a post for which they were not qualified?

I suppose of more concern from a prospective patient's point of view, a relevant question is "How many doctors within the NHS are not really doctors and totally unqualified to treat patients?" If a trust can't be bothered to check up on  a candidate for appointment as chairman, how well does it check candidates for medical roles?

Surely a wide-ranging enquiry is called for into the NHS recruitment procedures and their effectiveness.


Saturday, 18 February 2017

Fake News

"Fake News" is very much in the news these days although it has always been around since time immemorial. Probably the main reason for it being more prevalent now is the expansion of social media and "Instant News" sources such as Twitter which make it far easier so spread such news.

For me, the original fake news was, of course, Lord Haw Haw during WW2, and it was only when I got older and started to read books involving the occupied countries did I realise how desperate people were for news and the risks that they were prepared to take to obtain something like the truth.

In those days, the BBC was the main source of reliable news worldwide. Yes, during the wartime it might have been guilty of the sin of omission at the behest of the censors, but as far as I'm aware it never actually told lies.

But why is it happening now and who is responsible?

I would argue that once respected news organisations such as the BBC along with certain once well trusted newspapers are largely to blame. Far from delivering the impartial wide ranging news that people would once risk their lives to hear, we now seem to get only that what the BBC wants us to hear. They would claim that the choice of news is a matter for editorial judgement, which of course is true provided that the choice is made in an impartial manner.

But I would question whether the selection is impartial. Since Trump was elected in the US, news from the US seems to have occupied far more air time than all the news from the rest of the world put together. But nothing much from Europe, nothing of events in Sweden or Austria or even Paris. Nothing about the very serious problems with immigrants or the major disturbances that they are causing in Paris. Last week Breitbart reported that hundreds of violent thugs took to the streets of Paris near to the Gare du Nord on Wednesday night burning some 47 vehicles but I didn't see anything about this in the UK media. In UK media there has been lots of coverage about Trump's wall, but virtually none about the fences that many European countries are building along their southern borders.
 
Indeed, the previous week, Breitbart was accused by many many news outlets of itself peddling fake news. The news? Breitbart reported that rioting migrants had set fire to Germany's oldest church. "Fake" they all screamed! Yes, it wasn't Germany's oldest church, it was their second oldest!!

The only news about immigrants seems to be that our hard-hearted prime minister is refusing to let in some unaccompanied, suffering, destitute children whose only wish is to come to Britain. Nothing about the fact that Sweden, having let in a number of such 'children', found that they were raping genuine children and that subsequent medical examinations and bone scans revealed that most were nearer thirty than twenty.

But even if you don't spend your time searching the internet for news and are not aware of the BBC's omissions, you only have to watch one of their discussion or documentary programmes on television to recognise the bias. Discussion panels are invariably biased well to the left and questions  frequently start with a biased assumption. And when we come to documentaries, man-made Global Warming is a proven fact.

So what is "Fake News"? Apart from a few items that can be almost instantly disproved, such as the recently reported death of some "celeb" who was seen a few hours later on television, most seems to be either news that has not been reported by the usual media sources or a totally different slant on reported news. This is clearly why the media and governments are getting so alarmed. In this brave new world, we should believe all that we are told by approved news outlets and not believe what I prefer to refer to as "Independent" news sources. It is surely indicative of the decline in our media when one can watch "Russia Today" and feel that there is more truth in some of their news than that offered by the BBC.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Bercow and Trump

A major item in today's news seems to be the rant decision by Speaker Bercow that President Trump was not a suitable person to address the Houses of Parliament. This seemed to be a personal decision, no doubt egged on by some lefties, but he has been forced to apologise to the Speaker of the House of Lords for speaking out on the subject without consultation, as any invitation would normally be a consensus decision of the two Houses,

But, care of the Guido Fawkes blog, I now have a list of many of the rather unsavoury people that have been invited by the Speaker to the Commons where he has entertained them since his appointment.

Invited to tea in the Speaker's House at public expense
Vietnam - Vice Chairman Luu
North Korea - A party of four including the “Speaker of North Korea”

Invited to address Parliament
China - President Xi Jinping
Kuwait - Emir of Kuwait
Indonesia - President Susilo Yudhoyono
Singapore -  President Tony Tan Keng Yam

In all these countries there are major Human Right abuses and many basic freedoms are severely restricted.

Compared with these the alleged failings of Trump are trivial in the extreme.

I think that if I were Trump I would get the US embassy to organise some kind of spectacular "not-to-be-missed" event during his visit. Something like hiring the Albert Hall or the O2 Arena for a day and putting on a show of the best of America (and I don't mean all the so-called celebs who boycotted his inauguration). Invitations should go to "ordinary people",  and could include some MPs but certainly not Bercow and his Labour supporters!

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Demonstrations

It's a great time at the moment for those who like to go to demonstrations, indeed there are so many taking place at the moment that it's hard for them decide which to attend!
It all started  with Trump's election in the United States. and the number of reasons to demonstrate seems to be increasing daily.

Indeed, I suppose it started before the election with demonstrations about Trump's attitude to women and what he may or may not have done in the past. Strangely, there was no mention of Bill Clinton's activities whilst he was in the White House. Was that the first time the premises were used for extra-marital sex? If so, perhaps there should be a plaque to mark the event.

Then came the election result with huge demonstrations claiming "Trump's not my President". I can vaguely understand these taking place in America in spite of the factual error; if they were American citizens he was now their President, like it or not. But why the huge demonstrations with the same slogan in London and other cities? I can't imagine there are that number of American expats in London, so if the rest were British, what is the point of having a slogan that is 100% true? Trump isn't their President, unless they believe we are now a state of the USA rather than the EU.

Then the demonstrations followed fast and furiously. One, which apparently had Merkel's approval was against the Great Wall of Mexico, and tended to overlook the fact that some countries within the EU bordering Turkey are building fences and installing razor wire along their borders. I suppose fences are OK but walls are not!

Next came Trump's decision to withdraw funding for some abortions. This angered the feminists in spite of it only being for abortions abroad paid for as part of aid. But why worry that it doesn't affect Americans at home, it's a good reason to go out and have another demonstration.

This was followed by Trump's decision to cut back on funding for some 'green' projects and approve the construction of two oil pipe lines as well as allowing the greater use of coal in industry. Totally logical, you can't make steel without using coal; all that has happened is that jobs were lost in America and industry had to import from elsewhere, usually China. Overall there was no change in global emissions. But does that matter? No, let's go and have another demonstration.

And then, of course there is his most recent decision, to ban people from entering the country who were born in a number of predominately Muslim countries. It is for just 90 days, presumably to give officials sufficient time to devise a stricter vetting process. This immediately started protests with an number of newsworthy people who had been born in these countries promptly complaining that they'd never be able to return to their adopted home. Mo Farah, a Somali who has British citizenship but now lives in the US was affected. No-one ventured to ask why he had apparently returned to Somalia from where he is supposed to have fled in fear of his life. Even though foreign born British passport holders have been assured that they will be allowed to enter the US, the moaning continues.

And whilst on the subject of moaning, these events seem to have totally eclipsed all the EU remoaners, although I expect there will be demonstrations against today's parliamentary vote on Article 50. If I were the sort who organised demonstrations, I would be demonstrating against those MPs who voted to remain regardless of the fact that a huge majority of their constituents voted to leave in the referendum. Taking the Trump slogan, the residents of these constituencies should be out there marching with banners "You are not my MP"!

Oh, I nearly forgot the coming State Visit by Trump and the petition to cancel it. There's now another one asking for the visit to take place and considerable doubt as to the authenticity of many of the signatures for them both. The claim is that Trump is a monster, and in today's Daily Mail, Piers Morgan provides a list of a dozen far greater monsters who have had State Visits during the Queen's reign. Amongst them were two of those that I especially hate, Emperor Hirohito of Japan and President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe.

I've probably missed some demonstrations, but never mind, it doesn't really matter they're all the same. Many of the demonstrators don't even seem to know why they're there judging by the variety of posters on display.

The only people who don't seem to have had a demonstration are our police forces who are forced to protect these demonstrators. They should be out their campaigning either for more police or a limit on the number of demonstrations that may be held per week.

Happy Demonstrating!

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

ADHD

I was reading yesterday about a teenage motorist who was in court for a string of motoring offences including knocking a cyclist of his bike and failing to stop.

In mitigation, his solicitor argued that he suffered from ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).

Surely anyone suffering from ADHD should be automatically banned from driving. After all, paying attention to your surroundings and what is happening is probably the most important aspect of driving and any driver who doesn't do so  is a great danger to others as well as himself.

Additionally, any person who is hyperactive is also a danger, drivers need to be calm and cautious in what they are doing.

In my view, ADHD is one of those illnesses which should preclude someone from having a licence.

Friday, 27 January 2017

President Trump and Theresa May

Those self-serving individuals who present their assessment of global politics in the form of a "Doomsday Clock" have decided that the world will be a far more dangerous place since President Trump was elected and Britain decided to leave the EU. They advanced it by 30 seconds so that it now stands at two and a half minutes to midnight (whatever that means).

This is rather strange, as for various reasons, I now feel safer.

Firstly, Brexit. This will mean that the EU will lose one of the internationally most important countries and will speak with that bit less authority. It will also lose a large chunk of its income, and unless the remaining countries are prepared to pay more,  it means that there will be less money to throw around and thus less attractive to countries like Ukraine where it was the EU's dabbling that led to the Russian intervention. Hopefully, without our support, it will not get involved in things that could lead to military intervention, making, in my view, the world a somewhat safer place.

Then comes Trump, very outspoken, whose actions so far seem to to indicate that he will actually do what he said he would do before being elected, a novel change! He wants to spend more on the military and updating weapons which is what any prudent leader should do. At the same time he says that America is no longer prepared to get into unnecessary wars, such as Iraq and Afghanistan and even that he will only support NATO if all the other members of the alliance pull their weight and spend more of their GDP on defence in line with the US.

When it comes to dealing with Russia, I don't believe Putin is stupid. He now knows that Trump means what he says and is unlikely to do anything which might trigger a forceful response. Both Russia and America have a common enemy in Islam and just as Trump wants to build a wall to keep out the Mexicans, Putin has to spend quite a lot of resources maintaining a watch on its southern borders which mainly face Islamic countries.

One of the other factors affecting the "Doomsday Clock" was Trump's decision to scrap many of the "green" requirements. He is going to allow coal mining, new oil pipelines, fracking and other activities which are frowned on by the "Greens". I believe that he is correct to do so. What is the point of closing down heavy industry in the US to reduce emissions (and create unemployment) when third world countries then start their own new industries, probably causing far more emissions and damage than previously. Countries want steel and whether it is produced in China, India or America, there will be emissions. I fail to see why bringing production "home" is a danger to the world and makes an iota of difference to the "Doomsday Clock", it will reduce US unemployment and ensure that the product is of the proper quality.

So on balance, my conclusion, which is the opposite of the "experts", is that the world will now be that little bit safer.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Theresa May's Vision of Brexit

Yesterday Theresa May made her long awaited statement as to what she meant when she said "Brexit means Brexit".  Some say we have had to wait far too long for an indication as to Britain's position, but surely this is Cameron's fault. He was so convinced that the country would vote to remain in the EU that no preparations had been made by the Civil Service for a possible Brexit vote.

 Most of the arguments to date have been over the so-called soft or hard Brexit options, the former appearing to me to be almost the same as remaining a member of the EU under a new name.  She  made it very clear that we wanted to control Britain’s borders and create an immigration system that “serves the national interest”.  And whilst we would like free trade arrangements with the EU, this will not be at the expense of us either having free movement of people or paying vast sums into the EU coffers. Most importantly, as far as I'm concerned, is the fact that the UK “will take back control of our laws and bring an end to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in Britain”. 

She also said that we do not wish to remain in the existing customs union as we would be required to have the common tariffs with the EU which are designed largely to protect various EU producers from world wide competition. She also pointed out that the existing customs union precludes us from negotiating our own trade agreements with other countries.

Most importantly she said that she prefers 'no deal' rather than a 'bad deal'. This, of course is something that Cameron would never have said which was why he got nowhere in his pre-referendum discussions.

Mrs May made it clear that existing EU laws which applied to this country would be enshrined into UK law and any that were no longer required would subsequently be repealed.  Whilst this would satisfy those workers who were worried about the possible loss of some rights that they had obtained under the EU, I am sceptical about the subsequent repealing of unwanted rules; no legislation ever seems to get repealed!

She said that she expects co-operation to continue on matters like security and other areas of mutual interest. Surely no one is going to oppose such an idea, although with the EU, who knows?

The Remoaners of course found fault with almost everything that she said. Clegg announced that he would vote down the deal in Parliament before talks have even started. So much for democracy, listening to the debate in Parliament and the electors views, 'No, I will vote it down regardless'. Tory MP Ken Clarke claimed that Britain could still find itself under the jurisdiction of the European Court as part of its new trade deal with the EU. And as usual Queen Nicola of Scotland had her moan about wanting to be consulted. They just won't give up and accept the result of the referendum!

Hopefully, regardless of what the High Court says, I believe that Parliament will vote in terms of allowing Mrs May to send the letter required under Article 50, as the alternative would be a snap General Election at a time when every poll suggests that the Tories would get a large majority.

Monday, 16 January 2017

EU Dictatorship


Donald Trump has said that Britain that we will be first in the line for a rapid trade deal with the US. Great, at least he doesn't want to put us at the back of the queue like Obama.

And the EU's response? Don't you even dare think of starting informal talks with the US before Brexit is complete.

Just who do they think they are?
Britain is a sovereign country, and as far as I'm aware we are free to talk to anyone or any country  about any subject. Why even Queen Nicola of Scotland is free to go and talk to whoever she likes, even if there were times when I'm sure that many at Westminster would like to stop her!

Mrs May should send our trade negotiators to Washington immediately following Trump's inauguration to start talks. This would at least show the EU that we are serious about leaving and running our own country without EU interference. If all goes well the deal could be in place to be implemented the day we leave the EU.

What is the EU going to do if we ignore their demand? Throw us out?
Yes please, it would be far quicker than lengthy talks and probably considerably cheaper.

I suspect that the French Official who demanded that penalties are imposed on the UK if we leave the EU but who has recently backtracked to say that France would want access to our financial markets might not agree; nor I suspect would the German car industry.

I think that on balance, the UK has a far better hand than the EU, lets hope Mrs May plays her cards wisely.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Hacking

Hacking seems to be everywhere these days! The Russians were accused by the Democrats of hacking into their  computers; the Germans are claiming that the Russians have targeted international peace monitors in Ukraine; the Chinese appear to be hacking everyone; the list is for ever increasing.

But what's new? Surely this has been going on for years? What else are organisations like GCHQ and the CIA expected to do. What do we expect the Russians and Chinese to do? From time immemorial, countries have spied on both their friends and enemies. All countries expected that other countries would spy on their activities. Until the internet came along, you tried to recruit people inside government departments, which of course led to the Official Secrets Act with its severe penalties.

But all that is now 'old hat'!
Everyone seems to keep a record of everything they do on a computer which is connected to the internet whether this is needed or not. And once it is connected to the internet, unless you are very, very careful, anyone can hack into it. Why should countries bother to infiltrate spies into, say, the Ministry of Defence or Foreign Office, when the information is on computers and there for the taking, protected only by a simple password?

Not only that, but many with confidential data have it on lap-tops or other portable devices and use it in insecure locations. Just go into any local coffee shop with "free wi-fi" and see how many people are using computers. The banks like to stress the advantages of mobile banking but rarely mention the risks involved.

Why do individuals and governments take these risks? Is it really necessary for all computers to be connected to the internet? Is it really needed for work or is it for vanity? I use a computer dedicated to video editing, it's not connected to the internet, I download any software updates onto a memory stick using another computer. I don't need to worry about its security, Windows updates or even anti-virus software. This way the computer is faster and doesn't have problems of possible interruptions when rendering video or burning DVDs

Meanwhile, those in or close to government who need to use the internet should be asking whether their defences are adequate to defend against the ever more sophisticated hackers. Clearly in the case of the Democrats in America they were not; the password used by one well known Democrat was stated to be, surprise, surprise, "Password". It doesn't need Russians to hack that, I'm sure many a computer aware teenager would be able to do it if he had the mind to do so. After all, it is a British teenager who has been accused of breaking into the Pentagon's computers!

So next time we read about the Russians, or anyone else, hacking into a government computer, this is what we should expect. We should not be blaming the Russians but blaming those responsible for having a computer system that was insufficiently secure. We should also expect GCHQ or some other state organisation to be doing exactly the same; spying isn't a one way process.

Meanwhile, I would urge anyone who does internet banking to do it at home and, as a minimum, to encrypt any data stored on their computer using a suitable program and a strong password.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

New Year Mayhem

Or what the papers DON'T say!
If you believe what the BBC and most newspapers tell us, New Year was generally peaceful both here and in Europe at large. The worse thing that happened was that too many people got drunk and that the NHS was overwhelmed by the A&E admissions.

But Breitbart tells a different story.
First we read that the City of Augsberg in Bavaria where, as well as a spate of sexual attacks, revellers were also attacked and several properties were damaged by Syrian migrants using fireworks.
Then another report from Austria reveals that there multiple cases of sexual assault, violence, and attacks with fireworks committed across the country by migrants.
A further report from Germany relates that in Dortmund, a mob of more than 1,000 men chanted ‘Allahu Akhbar’, launched fireworks at police, and set fire to a historic church.
This, according to most of our media, was a generally peaceful start to the new year. Whether the locals where the above events took place would agree with this assessment is questionable.

Of course, the EU apologists will tell us that Breitbart is part of the new "alt-right" responsible for fake news, where in practice they are the people exposing the fake news that all went well over the new year. But in the case of the reports above they quote the local newspapers reporting the events, and even if you can't read German, the pictures and video tell their own story, just don't expect to see any of the videos on UK TV.

The good news today is that the British Ambassador to the EU has resigned. Much of the media, led by the BBC are trying to convince us that this is a total disaster for our forthcoming negotiations with the EU as he is the most knowledgeable person in the UK concerning the workings of the EU. He is also firmly in the 'Remain' camp and has been part of the message of doom, most recently with his leaked warning that it could take ten years to negotiate a new trade treaty with the EU.

I trust that when it comes to his replacement it will not be up to the Foreign Office but is let to the Brexiteers in the Cabinet. My choice would be Nigel Farage!

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Happy New Year

Slightly belated, but I've decided that it's time to start trying to write something at least once a week.
Last year was not a good one for Mrs EP and myself with us both having a number of health problems. Thankfully, the NHS, at long last, appears to have sorted things out for both of us, we are both feeling better and hopefully we can both look forward to 2017 with more optimism.

A slightly disappointing start to the year from a bell-ringer's point of view; this was the first year since WW2 that we have not been able to "Ring in the New Year" at our Parish Church simply because insufficient ringers were available; we now have only eight reasonable ringers along with a couple of 'apprentices' which is not enough for eight bells after allowing for absences due to sickness or other commitments. Only one of the eight ringers has not retired, and some young blood is essential if we are to keep the bells ringing for Sunday Service, weddings and other special occasions.

As far as we both are concerned, the highlight of the year was the vote for Brexit. A majority of those who voted saw through all the gloom, doom and dire predictions. The country is still here, we're not all starving and life seems reasonably normal for all of us except those who have to use Southern Rail. Fortunately, as I can still drive, the only time that I now use public transport is to attend the local hospital using my pensioner's bus pass, so avoiding the £1.50 per hour hospital parking charge.

To me, the most unexpected event of the year was the election of Donald Trump as the new American President. My reaction is that he was the better of the two candidates, but I simply can't understand why a country of some 320 million people couldn't find two better candidates. Nevertheless, we could be in for an interesting year!

The worse aspect of 2016 has been the rise of Islamic terrorism with major attacks in France and Germany. I fear for something similar in this country and am thankful that nothing has happened so far over the Christmas and New Year period.

So much for 2016. I would conclude by wishing my readers a Happy, Safe and Prosperous New Year.