Monday, July 27, 2009

Senate Bill Creates Website to Monitor Government Spending

July 27th, 2009

The U.S. Senate is deliberating on a bill to create a searchable Google style website which would list details about government transactions and entities that receive funding, so the public can closely monitor government spending. S.2590, known as the “Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act”, was introduced jointly by Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK), and Barack Obama (D-IL). The bill has 29 cosponsors from both sides of the aisle, including Senate Majority Leader William Frist (R-TN) and touted presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY).

Speaking before the Subcommittee On Federal Financial Management, Senator Obama noted that even Senators have difficulty getting financial information from Government agencies, and said, “All of us should be able to figure out easily how tax money is spent. We have a right to know how the Federal government is managing its fiscal resources. We have a right to insist upon answers to reasonable questions about where and how our tax dollars are used.”

If the bill passes, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) will create a database of government spending, and federal agencies would be required to post information within 30 days of receiving funds from Congress. Citizens could browse the data base by typing such topics topics such as “New Orleans”, “anthropology”, or “HIV Research”, and get a list of relevant hyperlinks.

Sponsors of the Transparency Act say it is necessary because there is no fast or consistent way for citizens to access information about government appropriations. Private citizens and government employees have complained that the current Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS) is slow, archaic, and often inaccurate.

Senator Coburn, on July 18, responded to arguments that his bill is unnecessary because the government already operates fiscal databases such as FPD Read the rest of this entry »

Red Judge, Blue Judge - Science and Sonia Sotomayor - Research Reveals Judicial Bias to Be Common

July 25th, 2009

According to last count on Google News, over 23,000 news stories have recently been written about a certain “wise Latina woman” named Sotomayor. Despite this voluminous coverage, however, something crucial has been missing from the debate surrounding the nomination of Justice Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court.�

As with previous Supreme Court nominations, the media has reminded us that American conservatives are opposed to judges who are “judicial activists,” while liberals tend to support President Obama’s criterion of judicial “empathy.” Despite this conflict, both sides do agree on one key, common principle: the best kind of judge — the right kind of judge — is an impartial judge who applies the law in a precise, dispassionate and��unbiased�fashion.�

Unfortunately, this is just bi-partisan hypocrisy. The harsh truth, which our society must finally began to admit, is that such judges don’t exist. Modern psychology has taught us that humans are extraordinarily subject to personal bias. Logic and experience tell us that judges are approximately as human as everyone else (true, some of them may seem waxy and lifeless as Madame Tussaud figures, but if you poke a sleepy one you’ll see that their judicial reflexes are as lively and automatic as everyone else’s). It follows that our judicial population will be just as politically-biased as the general population, ranging in ideological hue from fiery conservative red to liberal cobalt blue.�

By convention we refer to law and justice as unified, monolithic concepts. However, in reality law is a motley creation of a highly-diverse group of human beings. Since human beings are normally distributed along a left-to-right ideological spectrum, the same duality inevitably reproduces itself in our law. Our judiciary is composed of red judges and blue judges (and in-between purp Read the rest of this entry »

Dark Secret About Healthcare Reform

July 24th, 2009

Health care has reached the crisis point in our country. Rising insurance costs are placing untenable burdens on workers and employers alike. Millions of Americans can’t afford any health insurance. Poor Americans receive Medicaid, but too many experience inferior medical care. Also, lots of health care providers and doctors don’t want to accept Medicaid payments, which attempts to place limits on medical charges.

Retired Americans depend upon Medicare to meet medical needs, but there are serious gaps and limitations in the coverage. Middle class retired citizens can’t afford to pay for the care available in NursingHomes or Long Term Care Facilities.

Many of our hospitals are poorly run, have high mortality and infection rates, and are in fact terrible places in which to die. The quality of our health care in this nation seems to be totally dependent on one’s ability to pay. But prescription costs, doctor visits, mental health services, and surgical care are starting to place a huge financial burden on all of us.

The rich are well cared for, the middle class experiences inconsistent care, and the poor have mostly inadequate care-based upon what they get in our emergency rooms.

Unfortunately, too many doctors and hospitals have become so busy that human emotions, compassion, and sensitivity have become lost in the shuffle. Too often, pills, computers, and specialized machines have become substitutes for the health care professional’s time and attitude of tender loving care. It is time that we do something positive to reform are whole health care system.

Now that we have been honest and open about the problem, let’s go to the next steps on The Emotional Recovery Card. (EMC is my unique life coaching approach to personal and social change.)

Stop and Think:

Let’s stop approaching health care from the point of vi Read the rest of this entry »


Pictured above is a wounded British soldier in Afghanistan. In a shameful move, the UK government will this week launch an attempt to deny soldiers maimed or crippled in battle full compensation for injuries sustained there or in Iraq. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) will go to the Court of Appeal on Tuesday to try to slash the compensation awarded to 2 injured soldiers by up to 70%. If the government wins, it will fuel the mounting disquiet over the relatively paltry payments some soldiers are receiving for lifelong injuries. The legal action comes as British troops are suffering their heaviest casualties since the beginning of the conflict in Afghanistan in 2001. In the landmark legal case this week Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth, an inadequate craven hypocrite who lied only last week when he said he would “bust a gut” for British troops, is appealing against a previous court ruling that 2 soldiers should have their compensation increased.

Obviously our brave soldiers are in the wrong place at the wrong time. If they were Iraqi civilians bleating for compensation after they got involved in crossfire for harbouring terrorists – or Afghan drug lords screaming “racism” every time our troops advance across their poppy fields in Helmand – or Islamic fundamentalist fanatics spouting hatred whose financial claims cost the country millions in legal aid and social benefits – and of course if they had the benefit of the taxpayer funded services of trendy human rights lawyers who will represent any scrounger, wastrel, illegal immigrant or dopehead, they’d be much better off. But it seems to this cowardly New Labour government, ever ready to appease Islamic nutters as it denies our own soldiers proper equipment and now proper financial support after terrible injuries, to be more important to spend public money bribing inner city Muslim voters than supporting the troops. And even less important to appreciate the ongoing obscenity of politicians fiddling their expenses while injured soldiers suffer.


In the UK a woman has been awarded compensation after cosmetic surgeons left her face a “complete mess” after a series of botched procedures. Beverley Binks (pictured above) underwent an eye and jaw lift to “bolster her self-esteem” but instead claims she was “butchered” by 2 cosmetic surgeons. Mrs Binks has now been awarded an undisclosed sum in compensation after taking legal action against the surgeons. After a series of botched procedures she was left with her face appearing “too tight” and too much fat had been removed from underneath her left eye, meaning the skin would not properly connect with the eyeball. Mrs Binks, a former wine bar and nightclub owner from Hetton, County Durham, says she has lost her livelihood because of what happened to her and tried to take her life because of the stress. She said: ‘The cosmetic surgery has ruined my life and has left me looking a complete mess. I used to be such a sociable person and outgoing but now I’m like a recluse and hardly ever go out.” Now I’ve no problem with Mrs Binks getting compensation – but what really upsets me is that I bet the “undisclosed sum” she got is a damn sight more than what our injured soldiers get.


The Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling (pictured above) is to question bank chiefs over the continuing squeeze on credit and how much banks are charging companies and individuals for loans, saying he is “extremely concerned” that their rates and arrangement fees are too high. In a rare moment of lucidity for a member of the current government, Mr Darling said the cost of loans seemed to have risen, despite the UK’s record low base interest rate of 0.5%. He said that banks had a duty to restore lending levels, saying the government and taxpayer did not rescue the banking sector “out of some charitable act”. He has called a meeting with bank executives in Downing St today in order that they can explain themselves. ”The public will not understand it if the banks don’t seem to be doing their part in the current recession, ” he said. “I want them to rebuild their balance sheets – but at the same time, because of the particular circumstances we’re in now, because of the fact we’ve got this recession, we also need them to lend money,” said Mr Darling. “That’s why we re-capitalised them to do that, and that means they’ve got to live up to the promises that they made.” Quite right too, Chancellor. In fact I would only take issue with you on one point. The public DOES understand why the banks don’t seem to be doing their part – it’s because the banks are piss-taking, greedy, profiteering bastards who don’t give a toss about the economy or their struggling customers.


Beleagured, bedraggled and exhausted UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown (pictured above) appealed yesterday for discipline within his New Labour Party amid fresh criticism of his leadership following the government’s humiliating by-election defeat in Norwich North last Thursday. The PM used a newspaper interview to insist there was work to be done over the summer as members of parliament and ministers headed off for their summer break . He didn’t however elaborate on HOW work was going to be done with politicians taking an unprecedented 82 days off ! Lucky for some during the recession.

Brown went on : “We’ve got to show that we are a disciplined party getting on with the work of government. I think people are very clear that we’ve got a task ahead. We’ve got work to do to prepare for the autumn.” The PM said he was determined to spend plenty of time with his children during his break from Westminster. That should I suppose stand him in good stead when he has to deal again with his juvenile Cabinet. He also stressed that during his holiday he would remain focused on the country, currently facing the challenges of swine flu and recession. ”My attention is focused on what I can do for the country. I will not be diverted,” he said. Shit – we’re doomed then.


The British government is facing fresh calls to open contacts with the militant Palestinian Hamas movement (above) in bid to “inject new momentum into the Middle East peace process”. The House of Commons foreign affairs committee says the current policy of non-engagement with Hamas – which controls the Gaza Strip – appeared to be “achieving little”. The committee repeated its call of 2 years ago for the government to “urgently” consider ways of engaging politically with “moderate elements” within the group. Currently, the government refuses to talk to Hamas until it accepts the principles of the international Quartet – the UN, the US, the EU and Russia – of non-violence and acceptance of the existence of the state of Israel. I’ve got 2 questions for this committee : (a) What “moderate elements” are there in Hamas ? - and (b) What the bloody hell is the British government doing getting involved in Gaza with Hamas anyway - or indeed Israel for that matter ? Leave them to it – we’ve got enough problems of our own.


Some Muslims living in Britain are refusing to use alcohol-based hand gels (above) to combat the spread of swine flu because they claim it is “against their religion”. Some of those employed by St Albans Local Authority in Hertfordshire have complained about the antibacterial lotion, which is considered a key strategy in containing the virus. Officials were concerned because the Koran bans Muslims from consuming alcohol, so local authority chiefs issued them with non-alcohol hand gels, which studies have shown to be less effective in killing bugs. But the Muslim Council of Britain has criticised the local authority’s decision to change the gel, pointing out that Islamic teachings allow Muslims to use alcohol for medicinal purposes. The Muslim Council said: “We would advise people to follow the medical advice so we would, of course, encourage people to use alcohol-based hand gel. People need to find ways to accommodate their beliefs.” Credit where it’s due – some common sense instead of ignorant doctrinal bullshit.


A British government minister inflamed the row over logistical support for UK troops in Afghanistan (pictured above) yesterday by insisting they did NOT have enough helicopters. Foreign Office minister Lord Malloch-Brown – who is standing down at the end of this week – said: “We definitely don’t have enough helicopters,” adding that mobility was crucial for the dangerous operations being undertaken. He also further angered 10 Downing Street by stating that Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s political future looked “incredibly bleak”. And all this was on the same day that the Prime Minister insisted that the troops DID have enough helicopters. Just as well the noble Lord Malloch-Brown is standing down – telling the truth never sat easy with working for the Foreign Office – or with working for Gordon Brown.


America would arm its allies and extend its “defence umbrella” across the Middle East if Iran succeeded in producing nuclear weapons, the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (pictured above) said yesterday. Mrs Clinton’s statement at the ASEAN meeting of foreign ministers in Thailand swiftly provoked an anxious reaction from Israel. Israel’s minister for intelligence and atomic energy, Dan Meridor, was angered at the implication that Iran’s nuclear status might be regarded as a strategic reality. “I was not thrilled to hear the American statement that they will protect their allies with a nuclear umbrella, as if they have already come to terms with a nuclear Iran,” he told Israeli army radio. “I think that’s a mistake.” Not to worry Dan – if the Israeli Air Force has anything to do with it, I’m sure it will never happen.


A party of British schoolchildren (example above) suffering from swine flu were treated like “dangerous criminals” before being kicked out of France, it emerged yesterday. The astonishing example of Gallic racism saw the 14-year-olds and their teachers being forced to wear surgical masks and shoes while being treated by medics in anti-contamination suits. ”It was if we were dangerous criminals,” said a member of the party from Lea Manor High School, in Luton, Bedfordshire, who said that official complaints were being prepared through diplomatic channels. The source, who asked not to be named, said: “We were treated appallingly. The French wanted us back across the Channel as quickly as possible. It was a horrendous ordeal. When people saw us in our masks we were sworn at and told to go home to our disease-ridden country.” A bit rich indeed coming from bloody arrogant malodorous frogs.


Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has said he would consider toppling Zimbabwean “President” Robert Mugabe (pictured above) if he was still in power at No.10 Downing Street. “If you can do it then you should do it,” he says in an article in a German magazine that hits news-stands today. “I think whoever has the possibility should topple Mugabe – the man has destroyed his country, many people have died unnecessarily because of him,” said Blair. It’s a pity that Mr Blair didn’t operate using the same criteria when he was cosying up to George W Bush.


Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (pictured above) yesterday attempted to provide a simple explanation for his recent behaviour as the debate continued to rage over the release of sensational audio tapes that purportedly prove his encounters with a Bari prostitute last year. “’There are a lot of pretty girls about. I am no saint but you know that,” said Mr Berlusconi. A politician telling the truth. How refreshing.


It was announced yesterday that Google Wave (above), a new service enabling users to exchange messages, images, songs and videos in real time, will be released to 100,000 hand-picked Google enthusiasts in September. Technology correspondents are gearing up for months of speculation at the impact of yet another bold announcement from the Californian company. In this era of Twitter and Facebook, with hundreds of millions of internet users hooked on letting the world know what they’re up to, it’s Google’s belief that there’s room in the market for yet another service. I wish I understood how to use any of them !



Once again in the UK we have the spectre of Islamic “honour” killings. A married Muslim woman has been warned by police that she could be murdered after her lover was attacked with sulphuric acid. The 24-year-old Muslim man had the acid poured down his throat and was stabbed and beaten with bricks by 4 men. He is not expected to live after suffering 90% burns in the London attack, which blinded him and left his tongue destroyed. The victim, who is of Asian origin, is said to have “insulted” his lover’s strictly religious relatives. A teenager and a 25-year-old are due to appear in court charged with trying to kill him by pouring acid down his throat.

Community leader Imtiaz Qadir said: “Honour crime happens a lot in our community, especially the Pakistani community, but we do try to educate the people. It’s a cultural thing from back home.” Bollocks. This kind of crime is being perpetrated by the same people who would force their daughters to accept a life of no education and arranged marriages. It runs counter to UK law and must be stopped. There’s nothing cultural or honorable about premeditated maiming, mutilation and murder. And in any case, judging by the ages of the accused, if they are found guilty of the alleged offences, they will in all likelihood have been born and raised in the UK, not immersed in the “cultural things from back home”. It’s high time that the authorities and our liberal-elite appeasers of radical Islam, like Cherie Blair, who for a human rights lawyer is somewhat conspicuously – and fashionably - very quiet on issues like this, to put a stop to this barbaric, ignorant medieval murderous nonsense dressed up as “honour killing” once and for all.


Increasingly beleagured, bedraggled and inept UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown (pictured above) has admitted that he has endured a “difficult year” – but insists that he can still defy the odds and lead New Labour to victory at the general election. The PM said : “It has been a difficult year because we have had to make tough decisions and tough choices. We have been tested by events such as the financial crisis and the MPs’ expenses scandal.” He argued that no previous British government had ever had to cope with two such huge problems at the same time – presumably because no previous British government has ever been stupid enough to get itself in such a predicament. ”We will stick by our course and we will be judged by the results of our policies,” he said. In other words, he’s going to hang on until the bitter end and have to be booted out next year. Why doesn’t he just put everyone, including himself, out of their misery and go NOW ?


In the state of Texas the ersatz-nazi Christian right (represented above) is making an effort to force religion further into the school curriculum with the state’s education board about to consider recommendations that children should be taught that there would be no United States of America if it had not been for God. Members of a panel of experts appointed by the board to revise the state’s history curriculum, who include a Christian fundamentalist preacher who says he is fighting a war for America’s moral soul, want lessons to emphasise the part played by Christianity in the founding of the US and that religion is a civic virtue. Opponents have decried the move as an attempt to insert religious teachings in to the classroom by stealth, similar to the Christian right’s partially successful attempt to limit the teaching of evolution in biology lessons in Texas. I wonder if these same members of the Christian right would be so enthusiastic in promulgating the notion that all men are equal in the eyes of their God, even if some of these men weren’t white ? Now religious nutcases always reek of hypocrisy, but these guys take the biscuit, acting just like fanatical Islamic fundamentalists they would be the first to condemn.


Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (above left) has been told by the country’s supreme leader to ditch his controversial choice of a top deputy. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has reportedly ordered that Esfandiar Rahim Mashai (above right) be removed immediately from his job as first vice-president. The move is a rare split among Iran’s top conservatives and is a humiliating setback for Ahmadinejad, who appointed Mashai, his son’s father-in-law, less than a week ago. But Mashai angered many of the country’s hardliners after declaring that Iranians were “friends of all people in the world – even Israelis”. It’s clear that Ahmadinejad needs to be more careful, considerate, democratic and thoughtful in foisting unelected nonentities on the Iranian people. Come to think of it ………..


There have been an estimated 100,000 new cases of swine flu (above) reported in England since last week and 840 patients are in hospital with the virus, 63 of them in intensive care, the Department of Health said yesterday. This means the number of people consulting their doctor because they think they have swine flu has almost doubled in one week, up from 55,000. Which just goes to show how effective a load of alarmist bullshit spread by the government, eager to be seen to be “doing something” – or at least seen to be talking about doing something, can be.


Well done to Canadian singer Dave Carroll (pictured above), who composed “United Breaks Guitars” after his Taylor acoustic was damaged at Chicago’s O’Hare airport. His song has become a YouTube hit with nearly 4 million views in 10 days. I’m sure Dave speaks for many of us who’ve had horrendous experiences with airline luggage. You can see him here :



In the US President Barack Obama (pictured above) is forecasting the biggest American deficit since World War 2. An incredible, massive $1.75 trillion deficit for the 2009 fiscal year is projected in Obama’s first budget, according to US officials who briefed reporters on the numbers. That is equal to 12.3% of US gross domestic product (GDP) - the largest share since 1945 when the country ran a shortfall of 21.5% of GDP. ”There are times when you can afford to redecorate your house,” Mr Obama said, “and there are times when you have to focus on rebuilding its foundations.”‘ So things are still better over in the US than in the UK then - because we’re not thinking about redecoration - we’re just trying to stave off repossession.


And President Obama has presented the legendary musician Stevie Wonder (both above) with a prestigious award, he joked that he might not even have got married without the legendary musician. The new President gave the singer-songwriter America’s highest award for popular music, the Library of Congress’ Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. President Obama, who called Wonder the “soundtrack of his youth”, praised his decades-long career. “I think it’s fair to say that had I not been a Stevie Wonder fan, Michelle might not have dated me, we might not have married,” he said and went on : ”Stevie was part of the essence of our courtship”. I wonder if over in the UK Stevie’s ”My Cherie Amour” similarly inspired the Blair’s romance ? Or was it because Tony was blind as well ?


An off-duty police chief opened fire in a supermarket in southern Moscow yesterday morning, killing at least 3 people and wounding another 7. “During the night Denis Yevsyukov had a fight with his wife and had a nervous breakdown,” a city police spokeswoman said. She said he then went on a shooting spree in the shop (pictured above), randomly spraying bullets at passers-by after first returning home to change into his police uniform. Russian television broadcast CCTV footage from inside the supermarket showing Mr Yevsyukov calmly reloading his weapon as he walked down one of the food aisles. A prime example why it’s probably preferable for officers to not normally have access to firearms. And just as well especially that the UK police aren’t normally armed, because if the’d behaved like they did at the G20 with guns in their hands nobody would have left the recent London demonstrations alive.


In the UK several local authority child protection agencies (above) missed chances to stop child abuse and passed up key opportunities to intervene in the case of a 16-month-old girl physically abused and finally murdered by her violent father, an inquiry report said yesterday. It said social workers, schools and health visitors failed to follow basic safeguarding procedures in the case of Amy Howson, from Doncaster, South Yorkshire, who died when her spine was snapped by her father. She had been punched and slapped on numerous occasions and left with fractures to her arms, legs and ribs. A separate serious case review was also published today into the death of another Doncaster youngster, 3-month-old Alfie Goddard, who died after being shaken and thrown to the floor by his father. It concludes that agencies failed to recognise important signs that Alfie was at risk, or co-ordinate effective involvement with his family.

Now there have been a number of well publicised examples of this kind of sickening child cruelty across the UK recently. And for certain, there are some protection agencies who are so understaffed, or so incompetent, or so hidebound with political correctness that they fail regularly and with tragic consequences. They seem to be more concerned to ensure that parents are non-smokers and support gay rights rather than checking to see whether they’re beating up their kids. But to put the blame for this rash of child abuse on them solely would be very wrong. The fact is, there wouldn’t be child abuse if the abusers didn’t do it. There are too many family break-ups, too many rootless single males, too many young single women with kids by multiple fathers, too much ignorance, too much drug taking, too much irresponsibility and too much indulgence of violent layabouts and their “rights”. As the proportion of these worthless sink-estate unemployables increases within the population as a whole, we as a nation will eventually have to ask ourselves whether such oxygen-wasting creeps with a propensity to hurt, maim and even kill defenceless children can continue to be allowed to breed, not least because each of their succeeding generations will produce more problems, more dysfunctional family units, more violence, more misery. And that’s not fascism, or selective breeding, or social engineering, or any of the other accusations that left-wing, hand-wringing apologists for these cruel, neandrathal abusers hurl when their clients “rights” are challenged. It’s common sense.


Increasingly desperate and beleaguered UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown (pictured above) last night brushed aside any suggestions that he might “walk away” before the next general election. The PM delivered a strong rebuff to his critics, saying that his “mission” is to get the country through the recession and return it to strong growth thereafter. “I have got a job to do,” he said. “One that every day I address with new enthusiasm.” The way things are going under his economic stewardship, pretty soon he may be the only one with a job. He went on : ”I am fighting for growth and jobs, better public services, a strong economy and society. I have got that work to do and it is ongoing.” So Gordon’s still prattling on about his “mission” and very enthusiastic. They do say that candles burn brightest just before they go out – however, they don’t usually spout delusional nonsense at the same time.


The alleged “President” of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (pictured above) has responded to US President Barack Obama’s recent remarks that he was “appalled and outraged” by post-election violence. Ahmadinejad ranted : “Mr Obama made a mistake to say those things - our question is why he fell into this trap and said things that previously George Bush used to say ?” Yes well, Mahmoud, we might ask you why you’ve fallen into the trap and are now doing things that the Shah used to do. Ahmadinejad, who “won the election by a landslide” (yeah, sure) according to official results, told an audience in the port town of Assaluyeh: “Do you, Obama, want to speak to Iran with this tone? If that is your stance then what is left to talk about? I hope you avoid interfering in Iran’s affairs and express your regret in a way that the Iranian nation is informed of it.” It really is high time somebody put this tiresome little delusional ersatz-Nazi runt in his place. I suppose if the West doesn’t do it, presumably sooner or later the Israeli Air Force will.


And more cheering news on the foreign front. Yesterday the North Korean military (pictured above) threatened to retaliate with a nuclear “fire shower” if it is attacked by the US and warned it would expand its nuclear arsenal, a month after it carried out a controlled nuclear explosion in defiance of the UN security council. The regime used the 59th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean war to step up its threats against the US, whose navy is tracking a North Korean vessel off the Chinese coast that is suspected of carrying weapons. Earlier this month the UN banned all weapons exports from North Korea in response to the May 25 nuclear test, its second in three years. This latest belicose warning came as speculation mounted that Pyongyang is preparing to test launch short and medium range missiles. What’s the strike range of the Israeli Air Force ?


The Mayor of London, Mr Boris Johnson (pictured above) is well known for his cycling trips around the capital – but he’s at the centre of a budget row over more than £4,500 of public money spent on taxis. One bill alone was £237, in figures released yesterday to the London Assembly. The costs were revealed just a day after it emerged that Boris had signed off some of the expenses of deputy mayor Ian Clement, who resigned after paying off personal bills on a corporate credit card. The total taxi bill was £4,698, which included 13 receipts for fares over £100. The mayor’s total personal expenses were £8,169. The £237 bill was for a 7.5 mile journey from his former home in Islington to Edmonton – which works out at a rate of £31 per mile. Another claim of £99.50 for a return journey from City Hall to Elephant and Castle, less than 1.5 miles away – at £33 a mile. City Hall sources have said most of the higher bills stemmed from waiting time costs. Never. Which all goes to show that politicians, whatever their party, are on a different planet from the rest of us.


And to prove the point, that epitiome of banal incompetence, even by the inept standards of New Labour, former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith (pictured above) acknowledged yesterday that she felt humiliated by her husband’s public apology for charging 2 pay-per-view adult films (can you blame him ?) to the taxpayer via her expenses claims. The former ineffective cabinet minister said it was “horrible” and blamed the subsequent pressure on her family as among her reasons for quitting the Government earlier this month. In an interview she also complained that women in power were treated differently to men. Bollocks. She went because not only was she useless at her job – she was caught red-handed fiddling and had to go. The only pity is that more of her cabinet colleagues haven’t yet followed her out of the door, to assist the Fraud Squad with their enquiries - but they will.


Finally, American pop music performer Michael Jackson (pictured above) reportedly died of a heart attack in a Los Angeles hospital yesterday, just weeks before he hoped to revive his 4-decade long career with a series of sold-out shows in London. Jackson was taken to the University of California at Los Angeles medical centre, and paramedics administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation in the ambulance. He arrived at the hospital in a coma and was reported dead about 3 hours later. Uri Gellar, a close friend of the star, told reporters: “I’m devastated – it’s very, very sad. I’m still trying to hold on to the glimmer that it’s not true.” Naff statement for a friend Uri – the Big D is a damn sight more serious than bending forks.



And we need serious people, not prats like Miliband, to deal with these Iranian mullahs. A hardline cleric close to the Iranian regime has demanded the execution of leading demonstrators opposed to “President” Ahmadinejad. In a televised sermon in Tehran, Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami (pictured above) called on the judiciary to “punish leading rioters firmly and without showing any mercy to teach everyone a lesson”. He claimed that protestors were backed by the UK, US and Israel. They should be treated as “mohareb” — people who wage war against God — and deserved execution. In a clear warning to all dissenters, he declared: “Anybody who fights against the Islamic system or the leader of Islamic society, fight him until complete destruction.” And this delusional clerical cretin claimed that Neda Soltan,the young Iranian woman murdered by his government’s bully-boys last week, had been killed by fellow protesters because “Iranian government forces do not shoot at a lady standing in a side street”. Really it’s high time some of these religious nutcases smelt what they’re stepping in. And the UK should warn this regime comprised of doctrinal medieval tossers that they’ve kidnapped our personnel once too often. But then again, with a wimp like Miliband, I won’t hold my breath. He’ll probably send them a craven apology.


The Queen (pictured above) is reportedly seeking the first increase in the annual civil list – the money she gets from UK taxpayers – for nearly 20 years to plug an emerging £5 million annual funding gap for the royal household. Palace officials have told the Treasury they need the dramatic rise to the £7.9 million grant because they are exhausting their cash reserves and cannot make further cuts in spending. The demand is likely to pitch the palace into political controversy. Ministers have rejected earlier appeals for extra funds towards the upkeep of the royal palaces. What is going on here ? At a time when the average person is struggling to keep their job, home and sanity, the Royals want ANOTHER £5 million of our hard-earned. Maybe they should consider cutting back on expenditure and firing all the hangers-on and retainers instead of taking the piss.


Some people have a strange sense of timing and propriety. The above picture shows the Rev Jesse Jackson, a close friend of the Jacksons, together with the late Michael Jackson’s father Joe outside the family home in Los Angeles during the weekend after the death. The photo probably won’t do much to dampen growing criticism of the Jackson family and their alleged failure to help the singer as his health deteriorated. But at least the family today demanded an independent post mortem to find out exactly why he died. Judging by the good natured humour on display in the immediate aftermath of the death, that’s about as concerned as it looks like they’re going to get – until the will is read, of course.


A defiant North Korea (army parade above) yesterday launched 2 more two short range missiles off its east coast yesterday, according to news reports, hours after the UN Security Council condemned the apparently successful test of a nuclear weapon as powerful as the one that destroyed the Japanese city of Hiroshima in 1945. The 15-member UN Security Council began behind-the-scenes negotiations designed to strengthen sanctions against Pyongyang, after an emergency meeting. Diplomats scrambled to forge a united front against a test seen as a provocative and dangerous step towards North Korea gaining a full nuclear capability. Tensions on the Korean peninsula rose further as Pyongyang accused the US of “hostile intent” and the South Korean news agency YONHAP said the North had fired 2 missiles. Disgraceful developments – but secretly I bet all our Western politicians are delighted – nothing like an imaginary foreign crisis to deflect attention from economic disaster and political corruption at home, is there ?


But there’s lots of ways of handling rogue states with nukes. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flies to the US for talks with President Obama (pictured above, looking suitably Messianic as usual) next week, having already been warned not to “surprise” Washington with an Israeli military operation against Iran. On the eve of talks which are seen as crucial to defining the future of the Middle East peace process, the US President was reported to have dispatched an unnamed envoy to warn the Israeli leader of US concern in case Israel should act unilaterally against Iran. I hope that doesn’t signify a certain naivety over foreign affairs on the part of President Obama – after all, nobody will be surprised if, or rather when, Israel takes out Iran’s nuclear capability.


It’s hard to believe, but it’s exactly 40 (FORTY !) years since John Lennon and Yoko Ono staged their “Bed-ins for Peace” (above) in Amsterdam and Montreal. Doesn’t time fly as you hurtle through middle-age ? Even more ironic is the harrowing thought that despite all the hype and publicity at the time, which I remember well, violence and war don’t appear to have reduced one bit, even to the extent that Lennon himself fell victim to it. As work compiling this current affairs blog constantly reminds me, idealism seems to get you nowhere except penniless and eventually even arrested - and it seems that if you stick out your neck too far, idealism gets you dead.



A chance for radical Islam to show its mettle. The 3 sons of the radical Muslim cleric Abu Hamza (pictured above) were jailed in the UK yesterday for their part in the theft of more than £1 million worth of luxury cars that were then sold all over Europe. The cleric’s sons, Hamza Kamel, 22 and Mohamed Mostafa, 27, along with his stepson Mohssin Ghailam, 28, helped run the 2-year fraud with 4 other men. The gang targeted BMWs, Range Rovers and Mercedes that had been left for weeks in long-stay car parks. They exploited a loophole in the vehicle licensing system to divert registration details from the real owners to front addresses. Using false documentation they received log books and keys. Other cars were stolen during domestic burglaries. I wonder if our old friend Abu, currently being held in custody as he fights deportation to the US at UK taxpayer’s expense, would advocate amputations as punishment for his thieving relatives ? Or in Abu’s perverted alternative universe does Sharia Law only apply to law-abiding infidels, not criminal Muslims ?


North Korea’s increasingly strident sabre rattling (pictured above) continues, with the threat of a second all-out war on the Korean peninsula in little more than half a century reportedly increasing. An effective response by the UN Security Council (what a novelty THAT would be) has become an even more urgent requirement after Pyongyang threatened to launch an attack on South Korea, after Seoul announced that it would join an international effort to stop and search vessels leaving North Korean ports, which are suspected of carrying nuclear technology or materials. “Now that the South Korean puppets were so ridiculous as to join in the said racket and dare declare a war against their compatriots, the North felt compelled to take a decisive measure”, the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said in a statement carried by the state media in North Korea. This Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea also seems to think that threatening nuclear war will assist the peaceful reunification process, so clearly the UN shouldn’t assume there’s much rationality or logic on offer during any forthcoming negotiations.


And more conflict in the Far East. It’s been reported in a UK newspaper that it could soon be a crime for Malaysian men to call their wives ugly. The Malaysian Women’s Development Department, which is a branch of the government, plans to ask the Malaysian Parliament to ban “emotional violence” (example above) against women. Physical violence is already illegal. Campaigners say offenders who “demonstrate a pattern of causing mental and psychological damage” should face counseling, fines and jail terms. Ms (inevitably) Noorul Ainu, head of the Women’s Development Department, said: “It could be a case where her husband tells his wife she is ugly or humiliates her until she feels emotionally pressured.” There were no immediate details about when the Malaysian Parliament would discuss the plan. Similarly, there was no information as to whether the proposed protection would be extended to mothers-in-law. All this emphasis on women’s rights – where are the Islamic fundamentalists when we need them ?


In the UK tourism bosses in the seaside town of Bournemouth (pictured above) have accused the Meteorological (Met) Office of costing the resort millions of pounds in lost revenue after forecasters predicted thundery conditions on the bank holiday last Monday – which turned out to be the hottest day of the year. Officials, seemingly not content with the crowds attracted by sunny, and correctly predicted, conditions on Saturday and Sunday, said thousands stayed away on Monday because of the “cautious and negative” forecast. I must admit to being surprised at the public reaction. If the Met Office predictions had been true to form, people would have stayed away on Saturday and Sunday and flocked to Bournemouth on Monday !



North Korea (its smug army personnel pictured above) has threatened a ”‘military response” after South Korea joined a US – led programme to intercept and search its ships for weapons of mass destruction. The country, which shocked the world with the explosion of a nuclear device the size of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs on Monday, said the South signing up to the proliferation security initiative was “tantamount to a declaration of war.” It has also declared that it no longer considers itself bound by the truce that halted the Korean War in 1953. Technically, the armistice has meant the war between the two countries never ended. North Korea’s nutcase leader Kim Jong-il launched the high stakes poker game of nuclear diplomacy with the explosion of the nuclear bomb on Monday. US President Barack Obama now has to consider a suitable response. It’s a pity Israel’s so far away from North Korea, isn’t it Barack ?


In Pakistan yesterday gunmen attacked a police headquarters in the city of Lahore (pictured above), setting off a car-bomb that killed at least 22 people in what the government said was revenge for its current military offensive against the Taliban. There was no claim of responsibility for the attack which wounded nearly 300 people and caused extensive damage, but it came after warnings of strikes in response to the Pakistani Army’s attack on Islamic militants in the Swat region in the north-west of the country. So in all probability, yet another triumph for the “Religion of Peace”. The bomb, which officials said was a suicide attack, brought down a government ambulance service building and damaged a nearby office of the military’s main intelligence agency. Now many people will now say Pakistan is reaping what it sowed by attacking the militants. But in reality it is paying a harsh and painful price for recklessly conceding Sharia Law in the Swat region in the first place. Appeasement never works and ordinary Pakistanis are suffering for their leaders’ failure to read history.


Iran has started tests on its first nuclear reactor, increasing fears about its ambitions to become an atomic power. The trial run was carried out with non-nuclear material at the country’s Russian-built Bushehr plant (pictured above), on the Gulf coast. Moscow’s involvement in the project has also provoked strong criticism from Western governments. Although Tehran insists that its nuclear programme is peaceful, many believe that the country is actually intent on producing a bomb. Iranian official Mr Mohsen Shirazi said the testing process involved dummy rods made from lead which will imitate the enriched uranium needed to power the plant. The site is due to be fully operational by the end of the year although its launch has been frequently delayed. I suspect it’s launch may soon be further, if not permanently, delayed by a visit from the Israeli Air Force.


A compensation scheme that would have seen payments of £12,000 to the families of dead terrorists in Norther Ireland has been rejected, the Government said yesterday. The controversial proposal would have given the same amount to the families of all those killed in the Northern Ireland troubles – including republican (above) and unionist paramilitaries. Yesterday Secretary of State Shaun Woodward said he had ruled out the “recognition payment”, the idea of which had provoked angry protests from families of those killed by terrorists when it was suggested last month. What’s this – the Government getting some common sense ? Or is it that the idea was so stupid, unpopular and lunatic, even by the craven terrorist-appeasing standards of New Labour, that our arrogant out-of-touch cabinet ministers came to the doubtless hand-wringing and reluctant conclusion that they were on a loser ?



And just to illustrate the point, a failed asylum seeker who left a young girl dying under the wheels of his car after a horrific hit and run accident was freed yesterday by a Judge in a court in Blackburn, Lancashire. The defendant, Aso Mohammed Ibrahim (pictured above), was due to be deported after his applications for asylum and citizenship were kicked out. But the 31-year-old Iraqi has been released from custody while he makes yet another bid to stay in the UK. The family of 12-year old Amy Houston who was mowed down by Ibrahim’s car as she went to the shops have spoken of their outrage. Her father, Paul Houston, said : ‘The politicians talk big but I see no action. He’s used up so many resources trying to stay in the UK at taxpayer’s expense. How many more appeals does he get ?”

Just weeks before killing Amy, Ibrahim had been banned for 9 months for driving while disqualified, without insurance and without a licence. Schoolgirl Amy, was outside her home in November 2003 when she was knocked down after running into the path of Ibrahim’s car. She was trapped beneath the car but Ibrahim got out of the car and ran off. The Iraqi, who has never held a driving licence, was jailed for 4 months for driving while disqualified and failing to stop after an accident. This piece of scum, who’s hiding behind human rights legislation by claiming it would be “too dangerous” for him to return to Iraq (I thought Iraq was safe now, at least according to the politicians ?), shouldn’t be getting any favours – he should be done for murder. Or are Muslim votes in Blackburn, Lancashire more important to New Labour than natural justice ? As if we didn’t know the answer to that one. And in answer to poor Mr Houston’s question about how many appeals does this piece of trash get – that’s easy – an unlimited number until some wooly headed politically correct moron gives him indefinite leave to stay and leech off the country, that’s how many.


The recession could tip Britain towards riots and civil disorder (example above) unless voluntary organisations are handed extra resources, the UK Communities Secretary Hazel Blears warned yesterday. Ms Blears, a puerile incompetent idiot even by the banal standards of New Labour, went on to promise to come up with sustainable sources of funds by the summer, Ms Blears said the economic downturn could either drive communities apart or bring them closer together. “Economic recession has the power to do one of two things to a society,” she told Community Service Volunteers (CSV) in the Edith Kahn Lecture. So that’s the answer is it Hazel ? Stop riots by giving taxpayer’s cash to your Party’s pet voluntary schemes like Gay Rights, Lesbian creche facilities, Islamic drop-in centres and Human Rights seminars for illegal immigrants ? What a load of bollocks – and typical of the drivel talked by this stupid, talentless, useless woman.



The deadly swine flu virus could infect up to 40% of the UK population in the next 6 months if the outbreak becomes a pandemic, world health officials said yesterday. Professor Neil Ferguson, a member of the World Health Organisation (WHO) task force which decided to raise its alert over the virus to level 4, said 4 in 10 people could be infected if the country is hit by a pandemic. But we masked, panicking, potential pandemic victims (examples above) can relax – an unlikely superhero is on the case and ready to save the planet for the 2nd time in as many months. Thankfully Prime Minister Gordon Brown, speaking yesterday in the Polish capital Warsaw whilst on yet another futile and costly foreign trip, stated that the UK was “well prepared” to deal with a major flu outbreak and pledged that the Government would “take all the urgent action that is necessary” to halt the spread of the pandemic. “Take all the urgent action that is necessary” – if I remember correctly that’s what Brown said about the economy and it’s been disaster ever since - so this swine flu means we ARE in big trouble.


US President Barack Obama was said to be “furious” yesterday after an American government exercise (pictured above) in which a passenger plane was chased by fighter jets over Manhattan sparked panic in New York. The White House was forced to apologise today after the stunt – part of a federal government photo opportunity – was performed over the same part of town where 2 hijacked passenger jets crashed into the World Trade Centre on September 11, 2001. For New Yorkers still recovering from that tragedy, the sound of a low-flying passenger jet is enough to spark unease and panic. What idiot thought that little “government exercise” up ? I really must congratulate the Americans, because we Brits thought that only our incompetent out-of-touch government officials were stupid enough to organise something as crass and purile as a stunt like that – but we were obviously wrong !


The hyped-up media inspired hysteria over the swine-flu outbreak, causing people to panic (above) continues. A 12-year-old girl who is one of England’s first 3 cases of swine flu was on the same flight from Mexico as the Scottish newlyweds who have fallen ill with the virus. Prime Minister Gordon Brown told the House of Commons yesterday that the girl’s school in Torbay, Devon, had been closed and all 2,300 pupils offered anti-viral drugs (always assuming the Health Service HAS them, of course). England’s first cases of the virus emerged as it was revealed that a 2-year-old American child had become the first person outside Mexico to die from the virus. The first non-Mexican death has reportedly dramatically raised fears of a global pandemic and according to the media experts have warned that it is likely that many more people will now die from the virus. Interesting that in Western eyes a non-Mexican death raises the situation to a crisis. And the relief in the UK media when the poor kid that died turned out to be a 3rd world Mexican rather than an American or Brit was as palpable as it was disgraceful. But whilst any death is tragic, it has to be said that the UK media are blowing all this way out of proportion big time. The 24 hour news stations helped to talk the country into recession, speculating constantly about house price falls, unemployment and the credit crunch until these things became self-fulfilling prophecies – now these irresponsible media doom-mongers are trying to do the same thing with swine flu. It might be better for everyone concerned if they all shut up.


And the World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General Margaret Chan (pictured above) last night raised its global epidemic threat level to phase 5 – the second highest – as a result of the increasing number of people being confirmed as infected with swine flu across the world. Phase 5 indicates that the disease is able to spread easily between humans. It can lead to governments bringing in measures to prevent its spread, including travel restrictions and trade limitations. Excuse me but isn’t that the situation we’ve had since the start of this thing ? The next phase, 6, is a full-blown pandemic, characterised by outbreaks in at least two regions of the world. Fine – the sooner we reach phase 6, the better – then perhaps all these WHO officials, who presumably are medically qualified, can stop holding expensive photo opportunities and panic-spreading press conferences stating the bloody obvious and instead get on with finding a cure. And as for the British government’s response, well typically they plan to “deliver a leaflet” to every household. They’d be better serving the country by delivering supplies of Tamiflu tablets.


And some authorities are reacting irrationally. In Egypt leaders have ordered the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of pigs to help protect against swine flu, prompting angry protests from the poor Christian farmers (pictured above) who feed their animals with the country’s food scraps. The decision was also criticised as a “real mistake” by a senior UN food expert, who stated that the pigs had nothing to do with the current pandemic. The Arab world’s most populous nation has been been badly hit by the H5N1 bird flu virus in recent years and the move to cull up to 400,000 pigs – seen by Muslims as unclean animals – is designed to calm fears of an impending pandemic. But the decision has caused Egypt’s large Coptic Christian minority to be up in arms, especially the slum-dwelling “Zebaleen” rubbish collectors who rely on the pigs for their livelihood. Scores of them blocked the streets and stoned the vehicles of Health Ministry workers as they arrived to carry out the government’s order at pig farms on the outskirts of Cairo yesterday afternoon. “Our pigs are healthy. They are our capital and they have no diseases,” said Adel Ishak, who feeds his pigs from the rubbish he collects in Manshiet Nasser, northeast of Cairo. Sorry, Adel – but I suspect the decision has nothing to do with health and everything to do with religious intolerance.