Sunday, September 30, 2007

Temporary technical problems

Due to technical problems I have had to remove a couple of my blog rolls as the server serving them was taking an age so holding up the loading of the site.

The links will be back soon.

More Ignorance from the MSM!

This time in the Mail on Sunday.

In an article about Gordon Ramsey's restaurant in New York, largely complaining of the smell is this priceless piece of sheer utter incompetent ignorance that litters the mass media:

The racket it makes has been measured at 57 decibels, they say - above the limit for local events such as rock concerts.

To give you an idea 60 decibels is what you get from you average TV, if you are 1M from it, wheres living 10M from a major road gives you 80-90.

A rock concert is some 110-120 decibels. Please note that decibels are logarithmic so 20 decibels is twice as loud as 10, 30 is twice as load as 20, not that you could hear either.

If my neighbors were as loud as that I would be happy. Clearly there is some big error in checking the story. Either the people complaining are making a fuss about nothing or the noise levels are incorrect or incomplete.

Conservative Peer in "BNP" row?

According to the Libdemograph Independent on Sunday Lady Sayeeda Warsi has plunged the Conservative party into some row about race, immigration and the BNP by suggesting that some BNP voters may have some views worth listening too.

God forbid that politicians should pay any attention to the electorate surely?

It is clear that there are problems with the current scale of immigration. Only the die hard ideologues of the liberal free movement brigade or the hard left see it any other way. Anyone with any sort of practical sense knows that the current level of immigration is causing problems.

The rag (for it is no newspaper) also tries to present the restatement of Conservative position on immigration as some sort of "lurch to the right". It isn't, the policy on immigration is unchanged.

They will be accusing us of having a policy of "British jobs for British workers" next, which would be a lurch to the far right. That is however not a policy of either the Conservative party or the BNP.

The conclusion?

Marie Woolf and Brian Brady are either too ignorant, politically biased or more likely both to write anything of use to anyone.

Hat tip to Rod Crosby on for the link.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Gordon Brown boxed in to an early election

By not killing of speculation, and indeed by allowing his close aides such as Ed Balls to keep the speculation going, Gordon Brown has boxed himself in to holding and early election.

It is true that Labour has got some impressive poll leads reported today, as can bee seen here on, however these polls are taken at the end of a Labour party conference when there has been wall to wall coverage of the Labour party. We are about to have similar for the Conservatives and that will change the way the polls lie.

The polls have been all over the place in the last couple of months, going from showing a large Labour lead to almost neck and neck and apparently back again. It is not credible. Public opinion does not change that fast.

Gordon will have either called an election before we find out how the Conservatives position has changed over the conference in which case he risks a serious surprise, or he will wait and if the polls show that Labour is doing less well, he will have to wait. This will make him look weak.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Boris Johnson wins Conservative nomination by a landslide!

Boris Johnson has won the Conservative nomination for the Mayor of London by a landslide.

Clearly this shows he has the larger than life personality it will take to challenge Ken Livingstone.

I will watch the contest with interest.

Guido has this, whilst the BBC has this.

Gordon Brown backed by Jonah!

Whilst many of my blogging colleagues (See Guido here and Dizzy here) have picked up on the fact that so much of Gordon Brown's speech was recycled Bob Shrum for people like Al Gore, I would like to point out that Bob is in fact Jonah, having backed 8 losers in a row.

It has to be said that Gordon Brown did win the leadership, but only by ensuring there would be no election. He is not in a position to do that for a general election is he?

The comment comes from this original piece by the Fink here, whilst the Times also has this.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Madeleine photo: A vindication of the McCann strategy

Many column inches of this mornings tabloids are taken over with speculation on supposed a photograph of Madeleine McCann.

Needless to say Kate and Gerry McCann are saying nothing. I have seen the photo's and I would not either, other than this:

Clearly there are many many people looking for Madeleine. Where ever she is, if alive, she is going to be hard to hide.

Even a Spaniard knows who to look for in their holiday photos.

It is an impressive publicity campaign.

The Daily Mail has this
, whilst the Daily Express has this.

Fair and handsome?

I have just seen a piece on BBC News 24 about a cream sold in India called "Fair and Handsome", and the television adverts that go with it.

It seems that people in India have had a problem with dark skin since time immemorial, with ancient remedies to lighten the skin.

This echos with me, I have to say, because when I was young I did see a psychiatric patient of Afro Caribbean decent trying to wash the colour off. What is more my late father was most amused on hearing some loony Labour councils wishing to replace "bah bah black sheep" with "bah bah green sheep" on the grounds that when he was in Africa, the darkest shade of black was called green.

Then there are those who obsess over tans, fake tanning creams and the like.

So, lets get this straight. People of dark skin are trying to become whiter, whilst those of the whitest skins are trying to get darker.

I don't see political correctness as a solution. I see discussion as a solution.

So there we have it. People discriminate, regardless of their own skin colour. There is no point in getting up tight and holier than though. We need to talk about these things and how nuts they are.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Peter Oborne on that Brown Speech

There is an interesting piece in today's Daily Mail by Peter Oborne.

For some one who hates Cameron, writing in what currently appears to be a Brownite paper, he seems remarkably nice to Dave.

However his analysis of the new leader of Labour is interesting. Making the BNP look soft? I wonder how that will play with the activists?

Hat tip to Chris D on for the link.

That Gordon Brown Speech in full

I will make the same empty promises that we did when we came to power 10 years ago (applause) and make Britain fairer (Hasn't he seen the stats?)

I will steal the Conservatives policies, especially those that we rubbished at the last general election!

I will bash immigrants in a way that would even shock Nick Griffin!

Well, that was about it.

The BBC has this.

Monday, September 24, 2007

There will not be an October election, but the speculation will damage Labour.

I have said all along that there will not be an October election. That is still my view, unless Gordon Brown gets very reckless.

However the failure to rule one out, and it being reported as a ruse to disturb the Conservatives (which has been the underlying current of some of the media reporting) will come back to haunt Labour if Gordon Brown does not have an early election.

There is of course a downside, which is that he does have an early election. If he does then he faces the possibility of losing seats, and bringing on some lame duck feeling. This is a certainty. Labour will have a smaller majority, if it has one at all, than last time.

The other thing is that the electorate may smell a rat, even if one is not there. They seem to punish those that put them through unnecessary elections. What is more, is that they may feel that the election is being called because the politicians know something they don't, for example that there is going to be an economic downturn. To be fair the polls indicate that Gordon Brown is more trusted in a crisis than David Cameron, however firstly that sows doubt, and secondly the last thing you want to do is win an election when things are about to go seriously pear shaped after you have been in power for years. We did that in 1992, and I suspect had we lost that one we would have been back in power in 1997 and still in power now. There are worse things than losing an election, there is winning one.

The big problem Gordon faces though is that election fever could well over take him if he does not quell it. he could look very stupid with all the media, and indeed Labour party speculation clamoring for one, and then not calling one. In short, he would become Chicken Gordon.

In politics, every silver lining has a cloud.

The Daily Mail has this, The Guardian has this, with this by Andrew Rawnsley, and this on comment is free on how vain it would be and this as a leader, the Times has this whilst the Telegraph has this.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Polls to the left of them, Polls to the right of them!

Volatility continues in the polls with the size of Labour's lead changing from poll to poll, in different directions.

The Latest poll in today's Sunday Mirror shows Labour on 39% (-1), the Conservatives on 33% (+1) and the Liberal Democrats on 19% (-1). The poll was carried out by ICM and is directly comparable (changes shown compared to last Wednesday's Guardian poll) to a poll conducted only last week.

With this sort of volatility I can't see Gordon Brown calling a snap election, but then I never could. Further more I can't see him building a bigger lead either.

What is clear is that Brown is tactically trying to out manouver his opponents in the short term. Tactically this is working a bit, but what about the long term? Is it a strategic mistake? I think so. I can see his big tent blowing up in his face, with recriminations later on.

On Monday I listened to Lord Paddy Ashdown talk about Gordon Brown, and it is clear he does not care for him much. the clear implication was that he thinks Brown is a tactician not a strategist. I agree. However that may make him inclined to cut and run.

If Gordon Brown does go for an October election his majority will be cut.

Political betting also has this.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Gordon Brown's Latest Gimmick

I have to say I am quite surprised by Gordon Brown's latest gimmick.

Apparently he has ordered that every hospital should be "deep cleaned" as in shut down ward by ward and effectively disinfected bit by bit.

The purpose is to rid hospitals of the so called "super bug" MRSA and other hospital acquired infections. This is of course a laudable aim, however if that was all that was required, both John Major's government and Tony Blair's would have as well.

It could make hospitals MRSA free, but only if you don't allow patients and staff back in afterwards, particularly ill ones.

What is needed is good solid discipline on things like hand cleaning.

The BBC has this.

Sorry blogging has been light, I have been working on anti spam systems.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Sorry about the lack of blogging today and yesterday

I have been working on spam cleaning mail servers.

Just to give you an idea, one mail server I look after handles millions of emails a week.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Northern Rock Shares start the long haul back

Northern Rock shares, have risen 10% this morning, whilst Alliance and Leicester have risen 21% and the Bradford and Bingley have also made up for some of their losses as well.

That is a bit of good news. The Northern Rock is still worth a small fraction of what it was 12 months ago, but at least its shares have stopped falling like a stone. The other two have not made back all their losses of yesterday but at least the rot appears to have stopped for now.

The downside it that some people are still queuing to get their money out of Northern Rock. Trust in government is clearly at a very low ebb.

The BBC has this.

PS forgot to publish yesterday. Doh!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Labour increase poll lead to 8%, so I am off to the pub...

Mind you I was off there anyway to practice pool.

According to an ICM poll in tomorrow's Guardian Labour are on 40%, the Conservatives on 32% and the Liberal Democrats on 20%.

More later.

Sky has this.

The Fed cuts rates by 1/2%!

The United States Federal Reserve has apparently cut interest rates by 0.5% to 4.75%.

Stunning really.

I wonder if the Bank of England will follow suit, after all the governments favoured method of measuring inflation is down to 1.8% even if real inflation is at 4.1%.

The worry is that the central banks are all being hemmed in by this huge debt mountain so can't really deal with things like money supply.

The BBC has this.

A Coppers Blog Goes Panorama

I have just watched A Coppers Blog on Panorama, in which Stuart Davidson has been outed as David Copperfield.

I'd like to say I was shocked, or surprised. With regret I am not. I will say something can be done.

For a start, a policeman will have to fill out a form when he arrests someone. This form is about one side of A4. Fair enough. He will then have to add about another half a side of A4 on top of that across anywhere between 30 and 50 forms. This is plainly stupid. Bonkers. Idiocy.

It is not that the information does not need to get to where it gets to, or that it needs to be verified as correct by the arresting officer. It is that we do not need to repeat the entry of the data so many times, with the obvious creation of mistakes by double entering the same data.

There are computer companies, like the one advertised on the right, that can build small and cheap systems to fill in all the forms necessary for any given crime, on the basis that the arresting officer tells it what class of offender and crime has been committed and then fills in all the fields. Alas government IT projects seem to have a much bigger and all encompassing scope, that fails to talk to the grass roots and so costs a bucket and falls on its face.

Panorama has this, whilst a Coppers Blog has this.


I note that Tony McNumpty rubbished A Coppers Blog in parliament, but has since in the face of reality at least partially withdrawn his attack.

McCann's Innocent Shocker!

In a remarkable turn a Judge in Portugal has found that the police there are in fact talking bollocks not in possession of a watertight case and can't demand that the McCann's return.

I must admit I am shocked, I thought they had them bang to rights with the theory that one of them nipped out with the body and hid it in a road works for 25 days of searing heat without people noticing the smell (does that town really smell that bad?) or that the local priest gave out keys to any passing holiday maker to hide bodies in the fridge at the Church which other members of the congregation were obviously to polite to query when they opened the fridge.

However, a judge does not give these theories credence. I wonder why?

The Sun has this, the Daily Dianna Express has this, whilst the Mirror has this.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Alliance and Leicester and the Bradford and Bingley shares under pressure!

Something I should have put in the last article really. However the Alliance and Leicester and the Bradford and Bingley are under severe pressure on the stock markets as well.

Lets just hope we don't get a run on these banks as well.

Dramatic guarantee of the Northern Rock

I have to say I am flabbergasted that the chancellor Alistair Darling has said that the government will guarantee the deposits in the Northern Rock.

This is a stunning change on the position of this morning where only the first £2,000 were guaranteed in full, and 90% of the next £30,000.

George Osbourne has backed the move, whilst rightly criticising the underlying issue of the unchecked growth in personal debt which both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have banging on about for ages.

However I am not sure that this bailout is a great idea. It may be, and it may stop the rot, but the problem I have is that the government has effectively underwritten the mortgage lending of the banking sector, and thereby house prices. If there is serious negative equity ahead then there is going to be a large hole in the banks assets which are not apparent today.

Also I note interview with people in the queues. There main reason for ignoring government assurances thus far is that they just do not believe the government. I wonder if this "unequivocal" guarantee will steady nerves. I suspect that Northern Rock employees are hoping it will.

Meanwhile the Bank of England has now the problem that it is hemmed in on interest rates. It surely can't raise them to combat inflation, yet prices will rise as the output of China grows in price. This could leave us in a bit of an ugly situation.

The BBC has this.

Northern Rock: Why was it saved?

Well, that is assuming it is saved. It seems there is plenty of doubt about that.

Mervin King said that the Bank of England would not be the lender of last resort except in very special circumstances, that being a systematic failure of the financial system.

To be fair to Northern Rock, Barclay's have also dipped into the Bank of England's fund, but only once, and not for a revolving line of credit.

As Guido notes here, the city has been aware that the Northern Rock was nothing like as solid as its share price suggested for some time before the USA sub prime crisis hit.

Guido then goes on to question whether the loan extended was not because of the traditional support for Labour that the Northern Rock has been. It seems they were generous to miners during the miners strike of 1984.

The bigger issue however is the wisdom of the loan.

The die has been cast. If a bank that has a book that looks good but no other bank wants to touch, apparently the tax payer has to bail them out.

Surely we should be asking why it is that the Northern Rock is in such a hard place, whilst other banks are not?

As the Financial Times says this damages the reputation of the Bank of England. We should remember that banks have failed before, like for example, Barrings. Their bond holders and shareholders lost their shirts but their depositors did not as the bank was taken over.

Why would Labour prop up one of its favourite bank?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Lord Owen to rejoin Labour?

Today's Sunday Telegraph reports that Lord Owen has been in talks with Gordon Brown. It also has this analysis and comment here.

I can see that going down like a bucket of cold sick in Labour's ranks, understandably so. I do not have much time for David Owen.

YouGov Poll Lead cut to 5% for Labour

Though to be fair it has drifted up by 2% since the last poll a couple of weeks ago.

The poll in today's Sunday Times has Labour on 39% (+1) the Conservatives on 34% (-1) and the Liberal Democrats on 15% (NC).

I still can't see an early election based on these numbers, and still think we will not see one until May 2010 by which time there will be a "time for a change" mood in the electorate.

Personally I am expecting continued poll turbulence over the next 3 months, though I expect the Conservatives to be ahead in at least one poll in early October.

PoliticalBetting has this, whilst Anthony Wells has this.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Run on the Northern Rock

It looks like savers with the Northern Rock are panicking. Queues are forming that go around the corner.

This looks very bad. However the Northern Rock looks fairly solid.

What seems to be happening is that savers have lost enough confidence that they want their money out just in case the bank goes bust. Fair enough, but it does not look good.

Yesterday people withdrew £1 billion. That is a lot of money. I understand that the bank has net assets that mean that even if all their savers withdraw all their money then the bank can still trade, backed up by the Bank of England, so there is no need for people to panic. That said if I had a lot of money in the Northern Rock I would be moving some of it about.

The BBC has this.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Madeleine overdose anyone?

It seems the tabloids (apart from the Sun) will go with speculation that Madeleine McCann died of an overdose.


We have had no confession, and unremarkably no toxicology report as no body has been found. So where does this speculation come from? Apparently some rumour that bodily fluids were found in the boot of the hire car which prove it. Whose bodily fluids? Are we sure that cross contamination has not occurred?

Well, apparently our forensic service is more than skeptical about these claims and rightly so. I am not ruling it out, but that is just tosh to sell papers.

Meanwhile the Daily Mail does have this piece on diary entries which have been leaked by the evidently not that shy Portuguese police.

The upshot of the entries leaked is the Kate McCann found motherhood challenging.

Could any mothers who felt it was like falling of a log backwards please leave their comments?

Flash Gordon! Aha... No, its just Stalin

Thunder Dragon has this fantastic parody of the new Satchi and Satchi advet for Labour.

Says it all really.

Thunder Dragon's blog is here.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

How the McCann's killed Madeleine!?

Now, I have been hearing a lot of tosh on the subject, but the collected gossip seems to run along these sorts of lines:

Kate McCann ended Madeleine's life by accident or design.

Well, OK, these things happen. Statistically speaking most murders are committed by someone known to the deceased, frequently a family member and trebly so in the case of a young child. As a theory it is plausible, which is why most UK police forces look to eliminate family from the inquiry as soon as possible, and as sensitively as possible. It seems Gerry McCann is excluded because he was at the dinner and never went up.

Right, Madeleine is now dead, Kate is on scene, and she has to do something.

At this point one of two things could have happened. Either she came up with her own plan, and hid the body, or she left things as they were and went down to the party to tell Gerry.

At this time of course Madeleine is "missing" so Kate is allowed to look distressed and unusual.

So either Kate tells Gerry and a conspiracy brews, or she has already hidden the body.

Here the crackpots diverge, but I will try to keep it together.

We assume, that plans to hide the body came shortly after death, and shortly before reports of Madeleine going missing. If not, then Kate and or Gerry would have been behaving strangely at their dinner engagement. You would hope that this would have been noticed.

You are in a foreign country for a holiday, just where do you hide a body albeit a small one?

Here I have heard some wild thoughts, and this is where things begin to fall apart.

At some point in time it seems the McCann's had a key to a local church, which may have had a fridge or freezer.

I doubt they had they keys on the night in question. I work well on holidays and can normally find a "local" in double quick time, but to be given that level of trust so quickly? The keys must have arrived later to allow private prayer after Madeleine went missing and can't have been available on the night.

Then I have heard the theory that they/she hid the body in a roadworks. I understand that there are a few in the area, though I do not know how close to the hotel. Just how is this supposed to have worked?

One or both of them nip out with a body? In what? The most obvious and thing would be a bin bag or possibly several. That said you don't normally find a surplus of them in hotels. Then there are suitcases. Is there one missing? Ideally you would double wrap in bin bags then put them in a suitcase.

The theory would then be that the bag or bags with Madeleine in it would be put in a hole at a road works.

The problems here are as follows:
  • It is going to be hot, and the body will decompose and smell.
  • If it is not in a solid animal proof bag, then the bag will get ripped apart and smell. People will notice.
  • People will notice something dropped in a hole in the ground, particularly the people working in the hole.
  • If it was disguised in the hole, by covering with dirt, then either Kate of Gerry would end up covered as well as looking very suspicious at 10 at night.
Then at some point this body is supposed to have been retrieved from the same hole in the ground, possibly after 25 days, whilst Kate and Gerry are under immense media scrutiny.

The other alternate theory is that at some point Madeleine was hidden in a fridge at the church complex to which they ended up with the key. Again, when did they get the keys? Also, surely someone would have noticed something that large in a fridge?

We now get on the the DNA in the boot. The theory calls for the body to be moved after 25 days, during which it has either been in a hot hole in the ground, or a fridge or possibly a combination, in the Renault Scenic. Again they were under a lot of media scrutiny. During this process some DNA got out of what ever Madeleine was being stored in, and into the boot. Now by this time the stench would have been unbearable. Also, if the body had been in a hole in the ground, surely there would have been traces of mud from the hole as well as the DNA?

Lastly, on the DNA, the technique used amplifies very small amounts of DNA, so a microscopic amount is all that is needed. Also there is nothing in Madeleine's DNA that is not also in her biological parents DNA. Consequently the DNA test does not actually tell us a great deal.

I'll go back to a point I made before. If either Kate or Gerry caused the death of Madeleine, and got the other to collude in hiding the body, at some point the relationship is going to break down. It shows no signs of doing so. If there was no collusion, how did one manage to hide and move the body without the other noticing?

The thing is that for a whole host of reasons I just can't see this stacking up.

New Foot and Mouth outbreak was Pirbright strain

This is not actually a surprise but the latest foot and mouth outbreak is the same strain as used at Pribright which means one of two things:

  • The virus survived longer in the wild than was thought likely
  • Pirbright is still leaking the virus.
Not good news at all either way really. I suspect the Institute of Animal Health will come under heavy scrutiny.

The BBC has this.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Lanarkshire sheep tests OK, as foot and mouth may be in Norfolk as well

Well, the Lanarkshire sheep at the market has tested negative for foot and mouth but there is a suspected outbreak in Norfolk.

It has to be said that we should expect a lot of suspected outbreaks, with a bit of luck we won't actually get any more becoming confirmed ones.

The BBC has this.

Is there foot and mouth at a Scottish market?

The foot and mouth outbreak has now been confirmed.

However of more concern is the possibility that foot and mouth has spread to a market in Lanarkshire. With a bit of luck this will be a false alarm. If it is not then foot and mouth could have already spread far and wide.

On the plus side, local foot paths have already been closed and animal movement restrictions put in place. So at least the right things seem to be happening.

The BBC has this.

New Foot and Mouth Outbreak near Pirbright!

There have been reports of a new outbreak of foot an mouth, this time, some 15 miles from Pirbright and a it further away from the original outbreaks in early August.

DEFRA have ordered a precautionary cull of the herd affected and immediately put in place a control zone. Reports indicate a national ban on the movement of animals will follow shortly.

This is the worst news for farmers, and needless to say Pirbright will be high on the list of suspects.

My understanding is that Merial's operation there halted production of foot and mouth based vaccines when the last out break happened whilst the Institute of Animal Health carried on its work. As yet I have not heard that Merial have re commenced production. That leaves a suspect list of one, and may raise questions over budget cuts at the Institute.

The BBC has this.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The McCann's, the backlash begins.

It is with a huge amount of regret that I see this story developing.

I noted that Gerry McCann asked for privacy and all the news outlets sat around talking about how that was what they asked for, looking for new comments rather than taking the hint.

The story moves on now, with leaks, allegedly from the forensic service in Birmingham, that the "DNA" from the hire car hired 25 days after her disappearance is definitely Madeleine's and must have been from her body.

Apparently there are two samples, one an exact match and one a partial match.

Surely someone has to stop this DNA train and ask to get off and ask what it is based on, where is it leading and what does it prove?

I hold no particular candle for the McCann's, but then I wish them no ill will either. I have watched this situation unfold with sympathy but little comment. However, I do have to wonder if they are not about to find out what happens if you appeal to the general publics better nature for too long which is that it will come back and bite like a rabid dog.

The Telegraph has this.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Is the surge working in Iraq?

The short answer is yes though it still has the feel of too little too late.

Sunni tribes are also coming on board but that is more to do with Al Qada being a better recruiting sergeant for the USA than the USA is currently being for them in Iraq. (Which is very much down to the change in tactics brought in by General Patraeus who clearly knows what he is doing and seems to have learned a lot from the British way of doing things whilst we have in part forgotten but have not been able to do because we don't have anything like enough troops to do the job.)

For more on Iraq see here.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

I just love Matt in the Telegraph!

It really need no other explanation does it?

You can see more Matt here.

If the car is so important why are the McCann's still driving it?

Is broadly the headline and import of this article in today's Mail on Sunday.

God question I'd say. Either the car is vital evidence in which case it should have been impounded or it isn't in which case the latest allegations are a load of old twaddle. There is of course a third possibility, namely that the police investigating the crime are in fact the Key Stone Cops.

Meanwhile, the McCann's are heading home. I suspect that their other children really miss home, as well as their sister Madeleine.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

The Strange Case of Madeleine McCann, Gerry and Kate suspects?

When this story originally broke i did not blog about it because I had not got much to say that was not being said elsewhere.

We now reach an odd stage in proceedings though. It appears that forensics has found traces of blood in a hire car the McCann's hired some 25 days after Madeleine went missing. I have also heard that this is supposed to be Madeleine's blood.

Here I have a mental problem. Let us assume, as it seems the police are, that Madeleine did indeed die by accident (or perhaps design) at one of her parents hands on the night of May the 3rd.

We are then asked to believe that the one responsible got the collusion of the other to cover it up. Reading between the lines, this would mean finding somewhere to hide the body for 25 days, with the police buzzing around presumably looking for it, in which time it was bound to start smelling a bit unless refrigerated.

So there you are n Portugal, with a child in the fridge or freezer whilst all the police are looking for her, for 25 days? Then you moved the body?

The logistics of both hiding and moving a body are difficult. Also it has to be noted that people who have just been responsible for someones death and then hide the body do not behave normally. Are the Portuguese police saying they just did not notice this?

If true, why did they hand around for so long and organise such a media storm to keep the Madeleine story in the papers. It just does not make sense. (Yes I know you can argue it was an attempt to cover things up).

It is just bizzare.

I wonder if they have looked at the complete hire history of the car from the day Madeleine went missing until they found the blood? That may turn up something somewhat more credible.

I also find it hard to believe that two people would be as close as Gerry and Kate McCann appear to be if one of them had been responsible for the death. It would cause much arguments between them surely?

The BBC has this.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Foot and Mouth report out and blames poor maintenance

The report into the foot and mouth outbreak is out and it blames poor maintenance on the pipes handling waste.

It should be noted that these are the responsibility of the Institute of Animal Health, not Merial.

Under funding is probably the cause because people knew the pipe was an issue.

So it's all Gordon Brown's fault!

The BBC has this.

Regrettably DEFRA have not emailed me a copy of both reports as promised. Hmm..

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Bank of England holds interest rates at 5.75%

Which is hardly a surprise as there are still major concerns over a credit crunch and banks being unwilling to lend each other money over night.

There is still the occasional flurry in the stock markets which clearly have the jitters over banking stocks.

This does leave the Bank of England with a problem though. At the moment it appears to be boxed in between the possibility that raising interest rates may cause a large crisis and not being able to raise them to deal with inflation even if it wanted to.

These clearly are not the best of times, they are not the worst either but it feels a bit like driving along a cliff edge at speed. One mistake and you are over the edge.

The BBC has this.

Food Additives Bad for your Children Shocker!

News we will have an announcement on the Religious practices of the Pope.

All papers (Well, quite a few) carry the story on the front page. The Daily Mail has this, The Times has this and this, whilst the Guardian has this, this and this and er.. this.

Usefully though we do get a list of the dodgy E numbers, which are:

  • Tartrazine E102 Lemon yellow dye
  • Carmoisine E122 Red food dye
  • Sodium benzoate E211
  • Ponceau 4R E124 Synthetic red dye
  • Quinoline yellow E104
What is scary is the things some of these additives turn up in. Obviously you would expect soft drinks and sweets, but also some smoked haddock and some meats you would assume were fresh.

What is clear is that sometimes you only observe effects when these additives are used in combination, though Quinoline yellow E104 is banned in the USA, Australia, Japan and Norway because of its effects on children.

The big issue which also comes out from these stories is why has this not been looked at before given that the first research into the issue was 30 years ago.

Foot and Mouth, It was a broken pipe says BBC!

And there I was working on the basis that DEFRA would get the report out to all media outlets at the same time.

It seems that the foot and mouth virus was found in a broken pipe which during flooding could have spread it above ground to be carried out on tyres. The virus itself should not have been live in the pipe which it is believed leads from the Merial laboratories initial chemical treatment plant to the Institute of Animal Health's secondary treatment plant.

Apparently though the BBC also learns that the tests to fully differentiate the versions of the strain between Merial and the Institute of Animal Health still has not finished. The cynic in me has to wonder why.

I await the full report with interest.

The BBC has this.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Is DEFRA sitting on the Foot and Mouth report?

One of the problems with dealing with government particularly when you are in an opposition party is that you get dreadfully cynical.

The Health and Safety Executive have completed their second report, which could well point the blame at either Merial Animal Health or the Institute for Animal Health, on Friday and handed it to the Department for Farming and Rural Affairs, (DEFRA).

They have not as yet published it. This sort of thing does tend to make me a little cynical. However they have promised to publish it by the end of the week with the "Sprat" report by Professor Sprat of Imperial College into bio security at Pirbright. That is not too long to wait so perhaps I should quieten my cynicism and just wait.

The Retreat From Basra. Is it a defeat?

Well, it does depend on how you look at it.

If the victory condition was clearing out Ba'athist forces and liberating Basra, then job done, but that was done in 2003.

If the victory condition was to leave the place in some sort of viable state then this is a abject failure. The Sun leads with the headline "The Lions of Basra" and rightly so, the failure was not of our troops making but our politicians, and indeed American ones. (Article not available online yet)

Our troops have been brave. Very brave. They have also fought well. The trouble is there has never been enough of them and they have not had the support they need.

We have never had the troops on the ground to do the job properly. We also don't have the troops on the ground in Afghanistan either, but that is a whole other disaster waiting to happen.

The Times report here highlights the mixed feelings of people on the ground. Some welcome the "end of the occupation" whilst others are in fear not knowing who will protect them from the militias.

Let us make no mistake here. We chose to go into both Afghanistan and Iraq. Practically we did have to go into Afghanistan, but we have resourced neither sufficiently to do the job.

Populus Poll puts Labour and Conservatives neck and neck

The Times reports a Populus poll conducted over the weekend which places Labour on 37% (-2) the Conservatives on 36% (+3) and the Liberal Democrats on 18% (+3). This, according to the report would give Gordon Brown a 20 seat majority. It is headlined "Voters end debate on snap election"

I can see him going for that, but then I have always thought that we would go the whole length of the Parliament and I have not seen anything to shift my view, not even the Brown bounce which I expected to end, and it almost has.

To be fair I do not expect a Conservative lead in the polls until October, and polls will fluctuate a little after that showing neck and necks and small leads for each until late November when I expect a steady but small Conservative lead, and if David Cameron and team do the job right, that lead will grow between now and the general election in May 2010.

In an effort to pad the result out there is comment on both marginal seats and the south. The problem here is that even over a number of polls the samples in these areas are small and not balanced and weighted in the way they are for the whole poll leading to all sorts of inaccuracies.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Citizens Juries?

Much has been made of Citizens Juries. Tony Blair talked about them and Gordon Brown is now.

The plan seems to be that there will be groups of "citizens" who sit on a group and chat about policy areas.

The questions are:

  • Who picks the jury?
  • Do they get paid?
  • Isn't Parliament supposed to do this sort of thing?

The Unacceptable face of the Conservative Party..

Has been invited to advise the Labour government on terrorism.

Patrick Mercer was described by Labour as the unacceptable face of the Conservative party, after this storm hit him, in March this year costing him his job.

Now they want his advice!


How politics changes.

Brown Bounce evaporates!

Conservative home carries reports of two polls, one by ComRes (formerly the pollster known as Communicate Research) puts The Conservatives and Labour on 36% each whilst it has the Liberal Democrats on 15% (unbelievably low). Presumably this poll is or was to appear in the Independent but alas it is not there yet.

Also it carries news that GMTV commissioned a YouGov poll giving Labour on 38%, the Conservatives on 35% with the Liberal Democrats on 15% again (with the same caveat).

I always thought the brown bounce would disappear. That is just the way politics works. What has irritated me though is the number of people panicking. Shame on them.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Everyone wants a Referendum except Gordon Brown!

It seems that on the question of the EU Constitution or treaty if you prefer everyone wants a referendum. Pro Europeans want one, even the leader in today's Observer wants one running the headline:

This cowardly refusal to make the political case for Europe

The problem is this however. There is no case or desire for the Europe that Europe's political elites want to build. All over Europe people want an European union, but they don't want one that interferes quite so much and they certainly do not one with an overarching identity.

Want they do want is free-ish trade and co operation between governments where possible.

Someone needs to make the case for not driving headlong into a European super state, and in part that is what David Cameron is doing by leaving the EPP (European Peoples Party) grouping in the European parliament and forming a new group of right of center parties less keen on massive integration.

Gerry McCann close to breakdown due to press pressure, Express reports

It is hard to make this sort of story up, but according to the Sunday Express Gerry McCann is close to a nervous breakdown because of all the media speculation. So what do they do?

Speculate some more!

To be fair to the Daily and Sunday Diana though, the report does say that Gerry is close to breaking point over what is being reported in the Portuguese media.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Jackson's scathing criticism of the USA in Iraq

The Telegraph carries an article today about the forthcoming auto biography of General Sir Mike Jackson, called "Soldier" after 45 years in the army.

The article carries some of the criticisms in his book. Specific areas of complaint are:

  • The pentagon was put in charge of post war Iraq.
  • That there was no effective plan for post war Iraq, as Donald Rumsfeld had thrown the State departments one in the bin.
  • There were not enough troops to bring order. General Jackson estimates we should have had 400,000 yet even in the surge it is proving difficult to reach half that number.
  • Disbanding the Iraqi army was a bad idea.
It has to be said I agree with all those criticisms. It was clear that some things were mistakes as they happened and you did not need hind sight to do so. The problem is Donald Rumsfeld did not listen at the time and generals in the Pentagon who disagreed ended up retiring early.

I have my own take on the mess in Iraq which covers more areas, here.

You can read more about Iraq here.