Thursday, 30 July 2009
Chloe and Pat met before training together, to make sure they were a good match. The training helped Chloe to learn the routes Pat needs to take her round her home town. At first they worked with a Guide Dog Mobility Instructor, who taught Pat the commands for telling Chloe where to go; then Pat walked the routes with her husband. Soon Pat and Chloe became confident enough to go out alone, and now there's no stopping them!
[Excerpted from "giving" magazine; to learn more about sponsoring a guide dog puppy go to http://www.sponsorapuppy.org.uk/.]
Wednesday, 29 July 2009
Let's face it, if he hadn't spectacularly turned his back on England five years ago, he would be spoken about now as a possible replacement for the disappointing Swann.
Saturday, 25 July 2009
I hope that someone will find time to write a full memorial tribute which does justice to this remarkable man and his long career.
The funeral will be on Thursday 30th July at 14.00 in Y Capel and 14.40 at Coedfranc Cemetery.
Friday, 24 July 2009
The photo alongside was issued in connection with a campaign for the early detection of melanoma which Peter Black has championed.
The caption on the South Wales West Liberal Democrat website is the rather tame "Peter Black highlighting ... molewatch". The picture cries out for something more creative.
Please do not send entries here, but if you email firstname.lastname@example.org, you will receive an appropriate response. ;-)
Thursday, 23 July 2009
If the decision had been made a year or two ago, work could already have started, helping to alleviate the effects of the depression in South Wales and ensuring that the improvements to the rail service come in when the recovery is under way.
It is a great example of the stop-go, short-term thinking of politicians. This is true of both Conservative and Labour ministers. There should have been a rolling programme of electrification. A team was built up for the electrification of the former London Midland & Scottish main line in the 1960s, completed by 1974. There was then a two-year hiatus before work started on the East Coast main line finishing in 1991. It would have been natural then to move on to the old Great Western lines between London, Bristol and Swansea, instead of allowing the expertise to dissipate. Of course, Labour will point to the well-known dislike of railways on the part of prime minister Thatcher. But Labour should surely have picked up the dropped baton in 1997.
Having said all that, I still welcome the prospect of clean, fast trains between London and South Wales, giving a boost to high-tech jobs in Swansea and Baglan. After that, the electrification team should move on to the Valley Lines, the home of surely the most antiquated train units in Britain and hardly a fitting service for a 21st century capital city.
Wednesday, 22 July 2009
If it were merely a matter of keeping motor vehicles off the ancient road, then I would have no objection. Roman civil engineering survived 18 centuries but was clearly no match for all-terrain vehicles. Even well-shod, walkers find it hard negotiating the churned-up pavement in places.
However, there is a suggestion that there is a long-term aim of closing the walk to all public access. I have even been told of people legitimately walking the the right-of-way being dissuaded from doing so. If this is so, then vigilance is needed to keep this marvellous scenic route open.
Saturday, 18 July 2009
Tuesday, 14 July 2009
(Iran's Council of Guardians vets all parliamentary candidates for adherence to Islam. This is presumably a major reason for the USA declaring Iran to be undemocratic. However, not only is there a de facto bar to a US citizen entering Congress, the money to fund a campaign, there is also the need to subscribe to the Abrahamic God. If there is an atheist, agnostic or even a Buddhist member of Congress, I have yet to hear of him or her. To that extent, the UK parliament is more liberal than Congress.)
In the same issue, there was a report from Israel that Shin Bet had effectively become the Guardian of the Judiciary: "Israel's internal security service has been given a de facto veto over the appointment of judges in an unprecedented decision that has the country's embattled liberals up in arms.
"The move by the Judges Selection Committee on Friday is likely to make it harder for members of Israel's Arab minority and others with views that are not mainstream to become judges, according to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (Acri). Zahava Galon, a former MP of the dovish Meretz party, said the decision was 'a scandal'. She said: 'We are turning into a kind of police state with Big Brother everywhere. A judge shouldn't have to pass the Shin Bet's tests. This is just something that isn't done.'"
I am optimistic that, now it has been exposed, this vetting will not long survive scrutiny in one of the most open societies on earth. There are also signs in Iran that internal fissures, aggravated by the recent demonstrations against a probably stolen presidential election, may lead to the end of the Guardian Council there. But I can't see the Mandelson/Brown government, with its Stalinist tendencies, giving up its chance to turn MPs into elected employees.
He may have upset a few Jacks with his expressed desire to manage Swansea, but surely the opportunity is there to take some Football League side into the Premier League and keep it there. After that, who knows? John Toshack can't go on for ever.
Saturday, 11 July 2009
Wednesday, 8 July 2009
Tuesday, 7 July 2009
Sunday, 5 July 2009
But this concerted attack is disingenuous. No government (except one dominated by UKIP or BNP) is going to reverse the sexual reforms of the last decade, and the Labour spin-doctors know it. The worst that can happen is that further reforms will be held up, but here Labour seems to have lost its nerve also.
I wonder whether the campaign is designed not to woo "the pink vote", as the headline-writers have it, but to create dissension in the Tory ranks. Mandelson and co. may be banking on a reaction from rank-and-file Conservatives to the obligatory defence by Cameron of homosexual rights.
Saturday, 4 July 2009
Murray has a perfect right to stand. In an ideal world, there would be a proportional vote in Norwich North, so that the final decision would reflect the true feelings of the electors about the state of Westminster politics - and the state of the economy, for which both Thatcher-Major and Blair-Brown share responsibility. As it is, Tweedledum and Tweedledee have been given a boost.
He is not going to win this month, but I do hope that he will find a constituency at the general election where he will be embraced - or at least given a free run - by the local Liberal Democrat party. He shares so much of our philosophy and he has so much to offer the House of Commons.
Friday, 3 July 2009
Update 2009/7/4: it is now on the premier blogspot in South Wales West as http://peterblack.blogspot.com/2009/07/gwylliaid-cochion-storm-bbc.html.
Thursday, 2 July 2009
But, as Robert Peston pointed out on BBC yesterday, conditions for attracting private capital were more difficult when the idea was first floated than now.
Wednesday, 1 July 2009
Nepal has ordered its customs officials to wear pocketless pants, with a view to discouraging bribes. You know what’s gonna happen now, don’t you? The sales of underwear with inbuilt pockets will go up! Where there is law, there is jugaad.
Senior customs official to his deputy: Is that a bulge in your pants or are you just happy to see me?
(Punya Mishra explains: Jugaad is a Hindi word which does not have a straight forward equivalent in English. [...] the closest [...] would be “situational or indigenous creativity,” the ability to make do creatively with the tools/resources one has at hand.)
I'm not sure where the Neath branch of Unison stands, but I do know that some staff members have objected to being unpaid propagandists for a "Yes" vote. If they have come out against Labour-controlled Neath Port Talbot CBS, at least they will demonstrate consistency, regardless of party allegiances - Unison in Swansea helped defeat the Liberal Democrat-led City Council when it mounted a LSVT vote.
As to Welsh Unison/Labour links, the Web one appears to be broken. ;-)