Saturday, 29 November 2008
It seems that Smith is now back in Devon as a financial adviser, obviously an important job in these difficult times, but I hope his football nous is not lost to the next generation.
Wednesday, 26 November 2008
The convicted businessman was obviously cleverer than the Haringey mother. The reports in the media detail his m.o. in evading action by the authorities. However, the signs were there.
One that leapt out at me was the report that "in 1988, burn marks on one of the girl's faces were spotted at their school but were put down to school bullying". Who decided that it was "only" bullying - the school authorities or a social services team leader? What sort of school was it that accepted the diagnosis but failed to investigate the "bullying"?
Lord Laming wrote (para 6.602) in his report on the Victoria Climbié case: "While I accept that social workers are not detectives, I do not consider that they should simply serve as the passive recipients of information, unquestioningly accepting all that they are told by the carers of children about whom there are concerns. The concept of 'respectful uncertainty' should lie at the heart of the relationship between the social worker and the family. It does not require social workers constantly to interrogate their clients, but it does involve the critical evaluation of information that they are given. People who abuse their children are unlikely to inform social workers of the fact. For this reason at least, social workers must keep an open mind."
Let's hope that the government has taken the message on board.
13:30 Plenary meeting (the Siambr)
- Full agenda
- Questions to the First Minister
- Business Statement and Announcement
- Statement by the Deputy First Minister and Minister for the Economy and Transport: The Rail Programme and Re-prioritisation of The Trunk Road Forward Programme (45 mins) - postponed to 2 December
- Statement by the Minister for Rural Affairs: CAP Health Check (45 mins)
- Statement by the Minister for Children, Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills: Higher Education (45 mins)
- Debate on Sustainable Procurement (60 mins)
- Votes and proceedings
- Record of proceedings
Thursday, 20 November 2008
It is depressing that, when we are all more aware of the prevalence and dangers of viral attacks, what could be critical IT systems are still not secure against them.
I believe it was outrageous for MPs to vote themselves £10,000 as an allowance for communications, something that was always going to be exploited for self-promotion, when they are already very well paid for what they do. However, once having been granted, the allowance should have been administered impartially. A MP should not be punished for rising above identikit lobby-fodder, especially when the expression of his opinions is not funded by Parliament. Paul Flynn has not changed the funding of his web-site since he first set it up yonks ago. The causticity of his views should not have been unknown to the authorities, pre-communications-allowance.
Tuesday, 18 November 2008
It appeared that he had recognised the danger of following the unthinking views of Reagan and GW Bush on Islam by promising to open talks with the Muslim leaders of Iran.
Two of his early appointments to his shadow White House team are worrying. His chief of staff will be Rahm Emanuel, son of an Israeli zealot and himself strictly observant. He has now appointed Sonal Shah, linked to Hindu extremists, to his advisory board.
I have no doubt that Emanuel was appointed because he was the best man for the job, not because of his religion. It was also necessary to connect with the growing, economically important, Indian community in the US.
However, the President-elect must urgently balance his support team with one or two people who are either Muslim or visibly supportive of the rights of Muslims where they under threat, as in India, the far east or Palestine. This is important not only for America, but also for us in Britain. We are linked in the eyes of the world, rightly or wrongly, with America's foreign policy.
We can take for granted his support for Christians where they are under threat. His task will be eased in Iraq and Iran if he does not go into negotiations with apparent anti-Islamic prejudices.
"Unity" quotes a chilling remark:
there is little to distinguish [the Baby P case] from many other child killings that happen (on average once every 10 days).
Monday, 17 November 2008
One wonders, though, whether his pain would be any greater than that felt by Peter Black if he were to be similarly deprived.
There's a scene towards the end of 2010, that most inferior of sci-fi sequels, in which Roy Scheider and his fellow planetary explorers discover an endless stream of Kubrick and Clarke's iconic monoliths – from the classic original 2001: A Space Odyssey – flooding from the gaseous clouds of Europa. Thanks to the Apple chief executive, Steve Jobs, Earth may soon resemble Jupiter's moon, orbited by an infinite number of alluring black rectangles. But, rather than the cosmic, life-generating beings of science fiction, these iconic real-world objects are flash drives sheathed in plastic: they're called iPhones.
That first sentence reminded me of an old saying among computer system support technicians: never apply an even-numbered update release.
My socialist friends are busy redefining socialism as favouring the small community, clearly disenchanted with both communism and the modern Labour Party. Ironically, the most prominent people claiming his heritage in Newtown this year have been politicians (whom he despised) who believe in the big centrally-directed state, the antithesis of Owen's cooperative instincts.
Thursday, 13 November 2008
Wednesday, 12 November 2008
However, the doubt that has been cast on the wilder theories of excesses on Jersey must not be allowed to discredit the first-hand testimony of those who first raised concerns about children's services on the island.
There are still questions to be asked about people who appeared to be acting beyond the law and taking advantage of the most vulnerable young people.
Sunday, 9 November 2008
Its conclusion cannot be emphasised enough:
Here’s what we should be doing: working out how we can make Parliament matter less; how real power can be devolved not only to local councils, but further still to parishes and area committees, to cooperatives and residents’ and tenants’ associations; and - above all - to individuals. No-one should need to feel that they have to be elected to Parliament to have power over their own destiny; that power should be in their own hands already.If only we had a Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government who understood this. If only we had a Government which truly believed in putting Communities in Control, which really did want to return real power to real people. If only their words were more than verbiage.
Saturday, 8 November 2008
For once, I have picked the winning ticket. Let's hope that Kirsty can make it two in a row.
Ros Scott 20,736 votes (72%)
Lembit Opik 6,247 votes (22%)
Chandila Fernando 1,799 votes (6%)
Turnout: 47.8% (+0.4% on last time)
Ros Scott will take up office on 1st January, succeeding Simon Hughes.
Friday, 7 November 2008
It is also the title of a classic strip cartoon, which I was surprised to find actually has a Wikipedia entry. There are (far too brief) samples here.
The dim memory of "Just Jake" was dredged up by a chance wibble on CIX by Ken Palmerton of Fleetwood, recalling the classic Daily Mirror cartoon strips of the 1940s and 1950s. They may have drawn their inspiration from US originals, but they had peculiar qualities of their own, and it would be a pity if "Jane" were the only one to be memorialised.
"Just Jake" had the enviable quality of entertaining both the schoolchild and the more knowing adult, much as "The Simpsons" and "The Perishers" do today. Indeed, the original authors of the latter cited "Just Jake" as one of their influences.
So, how about it, Trinity Mirror? You've published collected editions of "The Perishers", "Andy Capp" and so on - what about samples of the classic "Just Jake", "Garth" or "Buck Ryan"?
Thursday, 6 November 2008
Yes, Guido Fawkes is the most widely-read blog (though his frequent restatements of this fact, and his putting-down of Iain Dale and the Telegraph, reveal a certain nervousness). Yes, he is a high Tory by inclination. But he is required reading because he exposes corruption in high places, in the Conservative as well as the Labour parties. And he is readable.
That is also true of virtually all the liberal and democratic blogs. In addition to the ones linked to in the first paragraph, there is the superb The People's Republic of Mortimer* from which you can link to so many others I don't have the time to list here (though I must pick out Steph Ashley's "Dib Lemming"). Top of my list is, of course, Peter Black, one of the earliest and still the best Welsh one. Glyn Davies would no doubt protest against being described as a liberal, but he is not a rightwing Conservative in the sense that Blears and her ilk use the term. And he is informative, and readable.
This is more than can be said of the average Labour blog, and this is probably what has caused Ms Blears' expression of sour grapes. Too often I have seen the announcement of a new Labour blog, only to find that it is merely a feed from the Labour PR machine. There is only one Labour MP's blog which I head for when a view from an individual socialist is required, and that is Paul Flynn's (again, a long-established one).
If by "left-wing", Ms Blears means "radical", then there are blogs a-plenty. Very few of them are Labour blogs, though, and one cannot see the situation changing when the Labour party goes into opposition.
*though I still can't quite forgive AM her occasionally-expressed metropolitan prejudices.
Wednesday, 5 November 2008
To be honest, it rather stretched its material. However, one or two jokes stick in the memory. One was of a trick used by one of the characters when asked his name by a mark. Scottish surnames tend to give the impression of solidity and reliablity. If you are in a pub and stuck for inspiration, you can run your eye over the labels of the scotch whisky bottles. He came unstuck once when, rather drunk, he could see only one Scotch bottle and announced himself as "John Haig and Haig".
Another concerned the production of authentic-looking bank documentation. As I recall, fictitious banks had to be based abroad (to make it difficult to be checked up on) and incorporate the name of a widely-used basic commodity. A Scottish connection was, again, useful. Hence, "The Bombay Jute Bank of Iceland".
If only this informative volume had been on the bookshelves of more treasurers. :-)
Tuesday, 4 November 2008
Monday, 3 November 2008
There has been some over-reaction to the news. Of the people who have declared publicly that they will never buy another Katherine Jenkins album, I would ask: does the fact that she gave up the habit in 2003, and that she now regrets it, count for nothing? If certain of her "friends", ready to shop her to a down-market tabloid for a few bob, had behaved more honourably, she would not have been forced into her admission and we would have been none the wiser.
If nothing else, it should show people that the drugs in question are not necessarily addictive, and do not, taken over a short period, do not appear to have caused long-term damage. Paul Flynn MP and Chris Davies MEP have long campaigned for decriminalisation of soft drugs and Ms Jenkins' evidence would appear to strengthen their case.
Katherine Jenkins' story demonstrates that illegal drugs are far more easily obtained than I would have credited or be happy about, given the doubts which must exist about the quality of the product.
The drugs, and the company of the "bad crowd" she confessed to falling in with, were clearly an attempt to fill something missing in her life, something which is now being met by her career. That the drive is still there is shown by her move to conquer America. Those with any knowledge of politics can name driven party leaders who also had troubles with a mind-altering substance. The fact that the substance in question was the legal and somewhat more socially acceptable alcohol allows them (or their posthumous reputation) to escape censure.