Egg attacker convicted while Tomlinson killer walks free

More serious than Murder?

More serious than Murder?

The BBC has reported that a man threw an egg at Conservative peer Baroness Warsi on a visit to Luton in November 2009 has been jailed for six weeks. The man, Gavin Reid, was convicted of under the Public Order Act of intentionally causing harassment, alarm or distress.

The video evidence suggests that the “harassment” occurred in a public place and was witnessed by both the general public and police officers. Hmm….this is very similar to the attack by PC Simon Harwood on Ian Tomlinson at the G8 summit in which Mr. Tomlinson eventually died? Both incidents were witnessed by the general public and police. Both incidents were recorded on video camera.

Amazing that the Crown Prosecution Service managed to convict Gavin Reid for throwing a few eggs yet decided not to even charge PC Harwood for a blatant and violent attack! Is throwing eggs more serious than a violent attack and potential manslaughter?

This obvious corruption allowing the police to escape justice forces all of us to consider every policeman a potential attacker who is immune from the law.

Ejection!

Ejection

Ejection

Last week I was recalling an album by Robert Calvert of Hawkwind named Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters and a fantastic track named Ejection. I have the album somewhere and should dig it out.

Today I noticed an amazing series of pictures in The Daily Telegraph of a fighter pilot escaping death by seconds by ejecting. These ejection systems must be fantastic to get the pilot out of the aircraft, figure out which way is up and then push him up and away from the failing aircraft.

I’m interested by the idea that ejection must be resisted by the pilot for fear of losing his machine but at the same time he knows that safety is within his grasp at the press of a button……….he has a split second to decide.

Ejection by Robert Calvert

There’s only one course of action
Left for me to take
I’ve tried every switch selection
That might control this state
I think for my protection
I’d better make it straight
Into ejection
Better tell base, ejection
That I think it’s a case for ejection
Blown into space, ejection
Protect my face, ejection

The radar screen’s projection
Tells me I’m too late
To make a course correction
I’m about to meet my fate
No time for reflection
I’d better make it straight
Into ejection
Bust through the sky, ejection
The air rushing by, ejection
It’s a case of goodbye, ejection
I’m too fast to die
Ejection

When a ship meets with destruction
The captain stays to drown
But no tin contraption
Is going to drag me down
My reference intersection
Tells me that I’m bound
For ejection
Eight times my weight, ejection
Got to escape, ejection
Only one move to make, ejection
Abandon this crate, ejection
Abandon this crate, ejection

Time to replace the record deck?

Goldring G101

Goldring G101

For a while now I have been looking for the ideal device to play music at home. I have an old fashioned stereo system with a record deck, a broken CD player, an amplifier and speakers. I need to go digital but I don’t want to replace my amp and speakers so what do I do? I have been plugging my phone into the stereo and this works fine. I have also plumbed my PC into the stereo and this also works. The problem with these two methods is that they are fiddly. If I crack open a beer and sit back and want to put on some music I do not want to be either booting up my PC and clicking away at a keyboard or fiddling around with a device with a screen the size of a postage stamp.

I’d looked at some of the products available such as the hand held controllers from Sonos but they don’t seem to get it. When I am relaxing I don’t want to be reading a lot of bloody menus.

Get an iPod? Well, maybe, but the screen is still pretty small and even then I would have to plug it in….or so I thought.

Recently I went downstairs. The pop star who lives there is into Apple macs in a big way and I asked him what h does. He showed me that he had plugged a little gadget known as an Apple Airport into the back of his amplifier and now plays music direct from his macbook. Hmmmm….wireless ay? Very interesting. He had a spare airport which I hooked up and sure enough I can play music direct from my macbook. Hmmm……we were getting there.

I am still left with a fiddly interface but if I got an iPod this could also play music wirelessly but I want a big screen.

Kapil Sibal and the £23 computer

Kapil Sibal and the £23 computer

The latest useless device that Apple have just launched might fit the bill. Since it’s launch I have not been inspired by the iPad. I am not going to carry it with me on a train as it’s too big. If I go on holiday I wouldn’t take it as it has no keyboard. OK, if you have too much spare cash, it’s a fun device but I can’t see a market for it. Then the penny dropped.

One could get an iPad, load it up with music and hang it on the wall. Whenever you want to play music you rub your fingers over the iPad and hey presto! This scenario is almost possible. I am told that, as yet, the iPad does not have that nifty interface for music that the iPod has. The one when you can flick through the album covers. I’m told that this interface will be available in the next version of the iPad software.

So is that it? Is the iPad the answer to my music playing problem? Has the iPad found it’s niche?

Not quite. It is odd just how much we are prepared to pay for this sort of technology. A modern amplifier costs about £150. A speaker system perhaps £200. A CD player about £75. So why would I spend £500 on a control panel?

This is also my main gripe about book reading devices such as the kindle. They are so expensive that you would be scared of leaving it on a bus.

Well India may be about to help us out. The Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi and the Indian Institute of Science in Bengalooru have developed a touchscreen device similar to an iPad but costing around £23!

The third sausage

Sausages - legitimate pragmatism or callous deceit?

Sausages - legitimate pragmatism or callous deceit?

This lunchtime Region visited the staff canteen. Audit, Marketing, Planning, Legal and Country Management all chose the same meal: Bangers and mash. Region chatted while they ate their meal; each had three sausages neatly arranged atop a pile of mashed potato but slowly a fear that had been niggling just below the surface of conscious thought rose like a submarine breaking through thick pack ice: Country Management had only two and a half sausages! At first Region were stunned then there was pandemonium.
At the beginning of the meal it had occurred to Country Management that only two sausages comprised the lunch time meal but after digging around a bit a third sausage was revealed beneath the other two. However, further investigation revealed the shocking truth: The third sausage had been cut in half and placed flat side down in order to appear as if it were a whole third sausage.
Country Management was outraged and strode off to complain. The chef was summoned and admitted that he had only had five sausages left and so had cut one down the middle but no apology was forthcoming and no replacement sausage was offered.

Country Management felt tricked into a “sucker punch”. A complaint would be made to Management. Planning concurred and branded the half sausage appalling. A debate ensued and opinion was divided. Marketing would not take the issue seriously and Audit merely made facetious remarks. “He didn’t even say sorry” complained Country Management “I felt like hitting him”. Audit pointed out that the challenge when complaining about such an issue was overcoming the comedy potential of the sausage. “It may have been different were it a burger” said Audit but “one is on thin ice when one complains about a sausage”.
Planning dismissed such concerns and agreed strongly with Country Management suggesting that a complaint be brought to the attention of HR. “They should be told that Country Management only has half a sausage”.

But was this a Planning issue? Would this not more properly be categorised, according to the new Regional standard policy framework, as being an issue for Risk? Marketing suggested that next time the meal should be poked around with a pen to determine the quantity of sausages prior to purchase.

“It really fucking pissed me off” said Country Management, “and worse still, no apology, nobody has said sorry. They’ve cut portion sizes down and reduces the size of bowls. Now this!”

Bankers, Regulators and law makers “stumble” on a bargain

Lord Levene - Gets his hands on the branches

Levene - Can't wait to get his hands on the branches

It seems that the Bankers are still lining their pockets and this time they have rowed in regulators and law makers from the House of Lords.

Lord Levene, the chairman of the Lloyds insurance market, is to create a new high street bank to be floated on AIM and initially funded by £50m from City institutions including Invesco and F&C. The bank will then issue shares to gain more funds and expand rapidly to acquire other businesses including Northern Rock’s state-owned “good bank”. Not the bad one, mind you, that is to be left for the tax payer.

I heard Lord Levene on the radio a week or so ago  who said that he considered that the High Street banking business could do very well but an article in The Independent newspaper quotes Neil Saunders, of the DataMonitor consultancy, as saying “All banks face apathy in terms of switching behaviour….It takes an awful lot to get people to change bank.”

No problem, Lord Levene has thought of that and plans to simply buy up the 600 branches that Lloyds Banking Group had been ordered to sell following its state rescue.

Lord Levin obviously spotted the chance to make some money as did half the regulators and House of Lords.

One has to wonder who it was who decided that Lloyds should be ordered to sell the 600 branches and whether any of those involved in Lord Levine’s new bank had any involvement such as the “non-executive directors” of the new bank Sir David Walker (former official of the Treasury and Bank of England and deputy chairman of Lloyds bank), Lord McFall (chaired the House of Commons’ inquiry into the banking crisis) or Charlie McCreevy (former EU commissioner). Presumably these honourable men merely spotted a chance which came about coincientally following thier decision to force Lloyds to sell its branches. One can imagine them around the board room able: “Buy up the 600 branches? By Jove, never thought of that!”

The article in The Independent says that “executives will be appointed after the flotation”. It seems odd to wait until after the flotation to appoint executives but perhaps the new bank will be such a money spinner that they could employ any old fool to run it. If past performance is any indicator of future results then they probably will though it is not known if Sir Fred is still available.

Lovely Jubbly as del boy would say.

Mandelson reincarnated as a mouthy young Tory

Mouthy Tory

Mouthy Tory

Good grief. I thought that the age of politicians cynically talking out interviews was over. Over the past 13 years Peter Mandelson had developed the art of talking a lot but saying nothing. He honed his techniques of deceit and obfuscation and almost rendered interviews pointless. His goal was to say nothing. I thought that with New Labour out of power we might return to the days when the purpose of political interviews was to give the public a chance to understand the actions of politicians. It seems that Zach Goldsmith, MP for Richmond Park, has other ideas.

In fact Goldsmith is not the same as Mandelson. While Mandelson came across and a bit of an outsider Goldsmith comes across as a member of an over privileged elite which considers that the world revolves around them.

He suffers from, what a friend from New Zealand once termed, the sickening over confidence of the English upper classes.

http://thinkpolitics.co.uk/tpblogs/videos/zac-goldsmith-vs-jon-snow-on-channel-4-news/

Raoul Moat – Neither heroic nor callous

Moat - neither heroic nor callous

Moat - neither heroic nor callous

The story of the police manhunt in Northambria ending in the suicide of Raoul Moat is still making headlines. Yesterday we heard news that Moat had made a series of recordings of his dealings with social workers where he requested help from a psychiatrist. Also we heard that a Facebook page which has been created by people glorifying Moat’s attacks and portraying him as a hero. In Prime Minister’s Question Time we heard David Cameron express incomprehension at the sympathy for Raoul Moat and say: “It is absolutely clear that Raoul Moat was a callous murderer, full stop, end of story” and “the should be no sympathy for him”. Mr. Cameron is TALKING BOLLOCKS!

It amazes me that the Western world has regular incidents where alienated men go berserk and kill many strangers and we always dismiss the killer as evil. When we do this we condemn our society to suffer a reoccurrence of the incident. Mr. Cameron’s comments are merely the absurd knee jerk reaction of all politicians: “All terrorist are cowards”, “all firemen are heros” and “all murderers are callous”….yes, yes, thank you, does anyone have anything constructive to say?

Moat had obviously built up a narrative in his mind whereby his wife had left him for a police officer, that he was being prevented from seeing his children an that the police were deliberately harassing him. At the moment it is too early to say how much of this narrative is true and how much is imagined by Moat but I believe it is this story which has moved some members of the public to sympathy.

And we should have sympathy! This man was suffering and, in the end he killed himself.

The accusation when one says this sort of thing is: What about sympathy for PC David Rathband whom Moat shot and has probably blinded. Of course we have sympathy for PC Rathband but this is a given. That is acknowledged by the whole of society and should not and is not being challenged by politicians or the media.

Further, the media tell us the news in the form of stories. A popular catchphrase amongst journalists is “simplify and emphasise” and this is what they have done with Moat. They built up his character by revealing his body building and use of steroids. They told us of his camping out in a tent, catching rabbits and eluding the police for days. The main character of this soap opera was Moat and sadly, PC Rathbone only entered the story briefly.

The shooting of Moat’s wife, the boy friend and PC Rathband are awful and were Moat to have lived he obviously should have been brought to justice and punished.

But merely to dismiss Moat as “callous” is wide of the mark. Sir Fred Goodwin who destroyed RBS and then made off with a fat pension was callous. Berny Madoff who built up the largest ponzi scheme in history was callous. Peter Mandelson publishing his diaries within weeks of Labour losing power is callous.

Moat interminable recorded rants give us some indication as to his state of mind. One can only imagine his anguish as he sat on the ground with night drawing in, surrounded by police marksman and knowing full well that his heinous crimes would, if he surrendered, push him even further from those he loved. The anguish of fighting with himself over whether to end it all or give himself up to a life that he would hate could not have been helped by having the police shoot at him with a tazer.

The obvious suffering of Moat and the resonance with many divorced fathers mean that this story was bound to draw public sympathy and Mr. Cameron’s claim that we should have no sympathy for this man is incorrect and unhelpful.

Balls talks bollocks

Balls, Balls, Banquets and Balls

Balls’ Balls – Banquets and Balls

This morning I listened to John Humphries interview the Shadow Education Secretary, Ed Balls, on BBC Radio 4’s Today program. Yes, I know, I should move on from ranting about the inadequacies of New Labour and start ranting about the Tories and Lib Dems but hang on.

Following the publication of Mandelson’s diaries and a book by Andrew Rawnsley both documenting the infighting within the New Labour cabinet between Blair and Brown, Humprys was trying to pin down Balls on his association with the infighting through his association with Brown. Mandy had called the infighting an insurgency and Humphries said that Andrew Rawnsley’s book claims Mr. Brown was vacillating before a planned “coup” in 2006 and Ed Balls told Mr Brown: “It’s too late. It’s all in place. It’s going to happen.”. An article in The Evening Standard claimed Balls also said: “Blair is never going to go. He has to be pushed. You mustn’t be weak. You’ve been weak for too long.”

So Mr. Balls waffled and said the book was full of inaccuracies but, tellingly, did not deny the specific incident.

Humphries drew attention to Labour’s part in the financial crisis and a McKinsey document stating the UK’s horrendous debt. Mr. Balls waffled, saying “interests rates were low” and “inflation was low” and went on to say that the crisis was global, implying that nobody is to blame at all.

This tosh is like a second rate rehash of Gordon Brown’s interview technique and shows that Balls, like Brown, does not understand the linkage between cheap money (low interest rates), the asset price bubble and the financial crisis. I am reading the diaries of Tony Benn – “More Time For Politics” at the moment and he wrote something which goes to the heart of New Labour spin. He said: “….I no longer feel that I am required to believe what I am told by (new Labour) ministers”.

It occurred to me that the feud between Brown and Blair may have contributed, in a very substantial way, to the prevalence of manipulators, bullshitters and bullies surrounding the New Labour government. Both Blair and Brown would have needed hatchet men and this need would have driven out any wise, thoughtful or competent advise. Leading on from this one can speculate on the whole nature of the New Labour years without the likes of Campbell, Mandelson and Balls. If wiser heads had prevailed might Blair have remained relatively sane and not led the UK into Iraq? Might Brown have had more time for the economy and avoided the worst of the financial crisis? We shall never know.

Several people have commented to me that the Tories would have screwed things up just as bad as Labour. Maybe. But of course they didn’t did they. It was Labour and you have to punish governments who screw up by chucking them out otherwise you are just rewarding incompetence.

No doubt the Tory/LibDem coalition will draw my attention in time, though right now I just find the absence of Mandy bullshit a refreshing change and with the remnants of New Labour still voluminously TALKING BOLLOCKS it is easy to get distracted.

The Labour party wont move on until it faces up to its mistakes and rejects the unsavoury characters from the New Labour years. If it doesn’t then, once the Tories have fallen out of favour, we will be faced with another Labour government  wasting its time on spin rather than achieving objectives. In the words of Monty Python’s Spanish Inquisition the Labour party need to “Confess the heinous sin of heresy”and “reject the works of the ungodly”.  ie admit that they screwed up and chuck out the likes of Balls.

Iran still stoning women to death

Iranian woman protest in Brussels highlighting barbarous practice of stoning - Photograph: Thierry Roge/Reuters

Iranian woman protest in Brussels highlighting barbarous practice of stoning - Photograph: Thierry Roge/Reuters

An Iranian woman has been sentenced to death by stoning, the first such sentence this year. Help save Sakineh and end the horrendous practice of stoning – sign the petition against this.

Also check out the Iran Solidarity web site which was formed to mobilise support and stand with the people of Iran against the Islamic regime of Iran.

And here is the president of Iran. The buffoon who condones this practice. It’s odd but in most pictures of him his head appears to be inflating like a balloon. Let’s see if we can help that ballooning process along a little bit. There we go. Maybe his head is full of silly ideas and one day soon his silly balloon head will explode!

Mr Ahmadinejad Silly Balloonhead

President Ahmadinejad Silly Balloonhead

Dalston is losing skyline like a boxer loses teeth

Dalston Lane Terraces

Dalston Lane Terraces

I was up in London today and had a look around Dalston in Hackney. Busy busy busy, at least it was along Kingsland Road near Dalston Junction. Ridley Road market was busy too as is normal for a Saturday. Wow, the ripe peppers look good! And what do you know? They have finally opened Dalston Junction station again which now links Dalston to Canary Wharf. No wonder the property prices have shot up.

Just by Dalston Junction station they have built a new apartment complex named Dalston Square. Not really in keeping with the other buildings but it will pack in the people who work in Canary Wharf. It simultaneously amuses and irritates me that the façade along the front of Dalston Square has pictures of famous London sites presumably to suggest that Dalston Square is itself in the same league as the fabulous Gothic St. Pancras Station. A little further down Dalston Lane, before Queensbridge Road, there have always been some old shops. Music systems, Jerk chicken, various stuff which gave the area some character. It seems that the houses behind them, known as Dalston Lane Terraces, are Grade 2 listed and have been left empty and are becoming derelict. The council sold them but bought them back recently and now the squatters who occupy some of them have received court papers to try and get them out.

Dalston is losing buildings like a boxer loses teeth

Dalston is losing buildings like a boxer loses teeth

The squatters say that they have been contributing to the community especially in the arts. They want to stay in the properties until renovation work commences and will allow access to surveyors. They are concerned that if they are thrown out then the buildings will rapidly degrade. They state that in the past squatters have been evicted from other buildings only for the council to render buildings uninhabitable by filling drains with concrete and removing cabling.

The squatters say that they are keen to talk to the council but that it has been difficult to “open a channel of communication” and they have now started a petition.

Given the way that buildings have been demolished to make way for Dalston Square and the huge gaps in the Dalston skyline where other buildings have been demolished it is understandable that one might think that the real motive for evicting the squatters is to demolish the buildings to build another high rise, faceless, well appointed bunch of rabbit hutches.

Check out http://dalstonlane.tumblr.com/ for more information.

Related articles:

Dalston! Paint it Black, Open Dalston, July 2009

On Dalston Terrace, Hackney Citizen, June 2009

Another “Dalston Opportunity site” burns down, Open Dalston, August 2008

Plans hatch to make or break Dalston, Hackney Citizen, July 2008

Spot the Difference in Dalston Lane, Open Dalston, September 2007