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Julian Bray provides: Opinion, comment, forward thinking speculation on Travel, Cruise & Aviation: conflict zones, terrorist impact, drone (UAV) issues, safety (black boxes, emergencies), airline operations, aviation finance, political implications, and all forms of incident risk. Worked at board level with several airline and aviation groups, including Alitalia, British Island Airways, British Airways, Galileo, British Aerospace, Skyways, former CEO City firm Leadenhall Assoc. Founder CNS City News Service. Director NTN Television News (joint co. with ITV Wales TWW) Debretts People 2017 and in premier edition of PRWeek Black Book.
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Friday, 31 July 2009
Dedicated to Sir Bobby Robson,the former England football manager who died today aged 76
11. Offside. The offside rule is designed to stop players hanging around the goal of their opponents, waiting for a long ball to come to them. A player is given offside if the ball is passed to him while he is nearer to the goal than the ball and the second-last defender. Note that players are allowed to sit on the goal line if they want, but the ball cannot come to them without offside being called by the referee. An ‘offside trap’ is when defenders deliberately move up the field to leave a forward player In a position where he cannot take the ball without being called offside. It is not an offside offence if the bail comes to a player from a throw-in, a goal kick or a corner kick.
Thousands of Ipswich Town fans paid tribute to Sir Bobby Robson at the ground where he nurtured their team into cup winners. Crowds gathered at the statue of the legendary manager, which stands opposite one of the stands, before the pre-season friendly against Spanish team Real Valladolid, when a a minute's silence was observed.
They then chanted the name of Sir Bobby, who went on to take England to the World Cup semi-finals, following his death from cancer, aged 76.
The England side's second most successful manager had been in failing health since being diagnosed with cancer for a fifth time two years ago.
Wednesday, 29 July 2009
@GMTV Congratulations to Kate Garraway - she's given birth to a bouncing baby boy. William Garraway Draper The bad boy of politics is now a Dad!
It can only be hoped that Draper Junior has a fine set of lungs and only sleeps for 2 hours out of 24. My eldest son (now a neuro surgeon no less) Dominic Bray screamed his head of for the first six months of his life, so why should Dolly get away with anything less ?!
Mother seemingly doing well and back on the GMTV couch in November. The Dad not so well, probably the same mixed up train wreck...we presume
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Pub closures rise to record 52 a week
Pub closures up to 52 a week – more than seven a day
24,000 jobs lost in the last year
2,377 pubs close in last 12 months
Government loses over £254 million in tax in last 12 months due to pubs closing
A record 52 pubs a week are now closing in Britain, leading to the loss of 24,000 jobs in the last year, according to new figures released to today by the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA).
The first six months of 2009 shows an increased rate of pub closures by a third, up from 39 to a record 52 pubs a week.. Over the last 12 months, 2,377 pubs closed, with the loss of some 24,000 jobs. In the last 3 years a total of 5,134 pubs have closed. There are now 53,466 pubs in Britain, down from 58,600 in the year before the new Licensing Act came into force.
Julian Bray comments: "As a former Justices On Licence Holder, I simply cannot understand how stupid this labour government has been and continues to be. Binge Drinking: Publicans UNDER LAW may not serve drinks to ANYONE who appears to be DRUNK; APPEARS to be underage and so on. If fact as a licence holder, I can withold service of alcohol and legally demand that a policeman attends and escorts a person, any person from licenced premises. That is the key phrase - Licensed premises. Any nonsense and the premises lose their licence, but the Police will also lose their overtime...so that won't happen". Give me six months and a National mandate and I'll clean the whole mess up".
"Leases and rents. Few Breweries in the UK own their own estates, most are now Pubco's (ie money-grabbing property companies with little or no interest in beer, wines, spirits, community and so on. They off so called 'cheap rents' to tenants who then find the so called cheapness goes out the window with onerous beer ties and wholsaleprices to the tenanats at twice the price of retail spermarkets" Julian Bray added.
"The pub business is also facing a double whammy on beer tax over the next few months - with the planned VAT increase in January and a further predatory 2 per cent above inflation rise in duty in March under the Government's beer tax escalator.
The BBPA figures show pub closure is reducing Government tax revenues. The industry’s total tax bill now stands at £6.1 billion a year. Every pub contributes £107,000 in tax a year – 30 per cent of turnover. Pub closures over the last year have therefore cost the Government more than £254 million in lost taxes – a loss that is increasing by more than £5.5 million a week. Sector job losses are also costing the Government an additional £1.53 million a week in job seekers allowance.
“Closing pubs are not only a loss to communities, but a loss to the Treasury,” said Dr Long BBDA. “Government should look at valuing and rewarding pubs as community assets. Not only would this have social policy benefits by supporting a hub of community cohesion, but financial policy benefits in terms of tax revenues, particularly at a time when the public purse is stretched.”
The BBPA also highlights the scale of job losses in the sector, which it says is often overlooked and compares it with the furore generated by the job losses at the Mini car plant earlier this year.
“Every week, a further 461 jobs are lost in our sector. That’s more than two Mini car plants a month.” comments the BBPA. “Government now needs to listen to the pub sector in the same way it listens to other sectors suffering this level of job losses. Not special treatment, just equitable treatment. As a first step, Government should commit to not increasing the cost and complexity of running a pub, by stepping back from any more tax or red-tape increases.”
Community pubs are proving the most vulnerable in the current economic downturn. Closing at the rate of 40 a week and nine traditional town circuit bars are shutting a week – five pubs a week are closing in other categories. Food seems key to some sustainability. Pubs that focus mostly on selling drink are shutting up shop at the rate of 51 a week, while those that focus more on food are closing at one a week.
Tuesday, 28 July 2009
At the request of several people ( OK 6!) this is a walk through. The Royal Promenade features: Cafes, Pub, Coffee Bars, Barber Shop,DutyFree,Tours Office, Chemist,Fashion,Jewellers, Ice Cream Booth, Wine Bar (new Morgan sports car anchored outside!) & Champagne Bar. Internal staterooms overlook the RoyalPromenade Deck.
Monday, 27 July 2009
Chancellor Alistair Darling in futile bid to urge banks to offer more competitive rates on loans
In a meeting at the UK Treasury today, the Chancellor told a posse of bank chairmen, (many of the banks, the very ones bailed out by the British taxpayer) to reduce excessive interest rates and to stop further increasing them along with associated charges such as arrrangment fees.
Julian Bray comments: "Many Small to Medium Enterprises [SME's] make up the majority of registered businesses in the UK and few have access to alternative forms of overdraft and loan finance. They simply have no option but to rely on High Street banks and at the whim of a spotty junior bank executive working from an pre-recession inflexible computer driven credit lending evaluation process, could see overdrafts cancelled overnight and the business goes bust.
"The Chancellor saddled with Browns Treasury legacy and a pile of ineffective political policies; has only just woken up to the fact that having chided the banks for excessive lending and not keeping a financial cushion in their reserves (cleared capital) is now wondering why the banks are falling over themselves to build up capital with cheap money."
"Many of the banks due to the bail out process are ironically owned by the taxpayer who is effectively also the major shareholder, but still unable to benefit in any material way from the low Bank of England set bank rate. in effect banks have openly have used the bail out money to kick start the process of capital fund building, rather than use the bail out funds to create new lending for business.
"Freeing up credit was the original intention by government but someone with a set of badger shaped dyed eyebrows forgot to make it a prime binding condition of bailing the banks out. No worries its just put everyone in the UK on a thirty year austerity regime and seen pension plans evaporate as the rapidly ageing population face widescale penury"
Lib Dem Shadow Chancellor Vince Cable who has relentlessly flagged op the flaws in the said: “It is amazing that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has only just woken up to the fact that this is a problem. We have been warning about the lending crisis, including in Government-owned banks, for months.
“The problem isn’t just about the cost of borrowing, but the difficulties which many companies who are solvent, with a good credit history, have in obtaining bank credit without unreasonable demands for personal security and charges.
“It’s time the Government stopped being a passive investor in the nationalised and semi-nationalised banks and ensured that they maintain lending to good British companies for the wider interest of the national economy.”
Saturday, 25 July 2009
Obama a Citizen? USA National Health Service?
In the USA, some people are saying that as Obama is not a Natural Born Citizen he should not by law be President. His Dad was Kenyan and at the time a British Citizen, so according to the US Constitution does not qualify as Presidential material! There are many websites devoted to this. So here is my response to Vickie on the Activity Pit website (supports the FOXTV 'Redeye' satirical TV programme, was shown on Sky in the UK, but recently taken off the International schedule. Must have upset someone high up at FOX! That website limits you to a few lines and I wanted to dig a little deeper! VegasVickie is on twitter and would also welcome your comments!
Dear Vickie, I had a look at the anti Obama websites and all the pros and cons surrounding Obama and his citizenship. The concept of natural born citizen is an interesting one, that we don't have in the Uk so must have been invented at the time of the US Consitution being enacted. I am a British Citizen by Birth but born in Scotland. My Father English and my Mother a Scot. So technically a Scotsman, although I moved to London at 18 MONTHS old so don't have a Scots accent, unless I've had way too many beers.
1. He communicates and can string more than five words together.
2. Has a very well clued up wife and family.
3. Not afraid to try out new ideas or speak his mind and says to hell with his approval rating! (we like that)
4. Not afraid to present seemingly unpopular policies
5. Seems to be taking vested interests head on
6. Seems willing to put his own position on the line.
it would eventually be fixed. I also get emergency health cover (Form E111 card) throughout Europe by producing my NHS special card. In the USA ?????? Who knows...
Thursday, 23 July 2009
Swan Song for Vestas. Edward Miliband takes to Blowing in the Wind
This is from the Guardianeco excellent website http://bit.ly/3yhzvy and at their invitation I've added a few DUCKHOUSE comments. Really can't believe Ed Miliband believes his own hype, but obviously does!
I won't be invited to the Lablist Garden Party that's for certain ....
Ed Miliband, Secretary of State for Climate Change & Energy writes:
Seumas Milne draws attention to the issue of the Vestas wind turbine plant on the Isle of Wight. But he misses the reality of the problems faced by Vestas and hence the real solutions.
The factory makes onshore wind turbine blades, not for Britain and Europe but a different-sized turbine designed for the United States. Currently, its turbines are shipped to the US, and it has now opened a US facility to serve that market.
DUCKHOUSE BLOGS: Due to the dire state of sterling against the US$, no wonder production has been moved by this US company, using US moulds and US expertise to the States where unemployment is around 11 percent, a skilled and eager workforcecan be rapidly assembled from former car workers and factory overheads generally are a fraction of the cost of operating in the overtaxed UK. The Secretary of State will have to do much better than this. I am happy to debate this with him publicly, so far not very impressed, does not appear to be in command of his brief.
For some months, we have worked with the company to understand what would be required for them to convert their factory to making onshore blades for the UK market. The issue for them [Vestas] was not subsidies from government but how they could get sufficient volumes of orders for the future.
DUCKHOUSE BLOGS: It would take an experienced interim management consultant no more than two weeks [10 working days] to deliver a fully fleshed out and highly detailed report on the future of this operation. This concept of working with the company sounds good but is patent political hogwash. Means nothing in commercial terms. Miliband and co. might have had some meetings and shuffled a few papers around but this turkey with US stockholders in the background, was never going to fly solo without a bouyant market for its end product. Political uncertainty in the UK may mean Windpowerm takes a back seat when the new government is elected next year.
Despite a 67% increase in offshore wind generation last year and 29% increase in onshore wind, they do not yet have sufficient orders. We need to grow the market further to help, and central to that, as Vestas have said, is planning.
DUCKHOUSE BLOGS: When will politicians learn that percentages mean nothing, wind power will never be a major contributor and in any case logically needs a constant stream of wind. From my front door in Cambridgeshire, England [see picture above] I can see beyond a river and fenland fields; four such windmills, servicing a factory about three miles away. The factory makes McCains potato chips for McDonalds, no less.. I estimate 3 days out of seven the blades are turning. A forth wind turbine had to be closed down last winter during the great freeze as great sheets of pack ice were flying off the rotating blades and theatening to decapitate the unsuspecting residents of Whittlesea as they shopped! The owners said this was impossible and initially refused to believe this could happen until one resident produced a large sheet of ice which landed yards in front of him and he with fellow workers put the 'evidence' into his commercial cold room!
Ditlev Engel, chief executive of Vestas, described Britain as "probably one of the most difficult places in the world to get permission". That is why the planning rules are being changed by the government from April next year. As we all know, the rules matter, but so does public opposition or support.
DUCKHOUSE BLOGS: Engel is only just finding that out now? This lacklustre government has had ten years and in its terminal days is now finally changing the planning rules? Not that it matters because Miliband and co will be out of office so no one is losing any sleep over this.
We are unlikely to be a centre for onshore wind production, if up and down the country, and indeed on the Isle of Wight, onshore wind applications are consistently turned down. So we have to win a political argument that environmentally and industrially, onshore wind is part of the solution.
DUCKHOUSE BLOGS: You could say the message is finally getting through, the public recognise a duck, it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and it is a duck. Not a Swan as Vestas would have you believe. Still if miliband had bee on top of his brief, he would have put more positive ammunition into his statement. It is not backed up by any facts as to how much in money terms the whole wind farm industry is really worth; as it stands it'll cost more per unit to produce wind originated energy as conventional or nuclear plants will have to cut in every time the wind drops ....no way to run a country! Let the factory close, no good can come of it in the present situation.
In the meantime, there must be a strategy for the Isle of Wight to do all we can to help and there is. Not just support for the workers who are losing their jobs, but a strategy to work with Vestas. They are keeping a prototype facility at the factory and we are currently considering an application from them for government help to test and develop offshore wind blades in a facility which would employ 150 people on the Isle of Wight initially and potentially more later.
DUCKHOUSE BLOGS: Its a shame when politicans are so not interested in the mundane day to day job of government but thinking of their long summer break (not back until October!) not even bothered to take out the Americanism "a facility" and current events show that the existing redundant workforce are not that fond of the management. Sit ins and way over the top policing, Now I hear that fences are being errected with the workers inside 'being starved out' and taken to court. Certianly a new variation on the G20 'Kettling' operation and hopefully the police will play no part in preventing a peaceful demonstration by supporters. It seems that the workforce had no union representation but at the eleventh hour RMT has waded in and will represent the former workers now occupiers in Court.
Alongside this, we will invest £120m in offshore wind manufacturing and £60m in the marine industry. This is an active industrial strategy designed to create low carbon jobs throughout the country.
DUCKHOUSE BLOGS: I always love the concept of 'We', you would think it is coming out of Milibands very own pocket, rather than the taxpayers. This is little more than petty cash and much of the money has been announced and allocated already, this is not new money. Better to properly invest and put a tidal barrier across The Wash, with its constant 24 hour motion, electricity generation is ensured. The rest sadly is just a load of hot air... mainly from Ed (should this not be Ted?) Miliband who always seems to be uncomfortable in this role. You feel he should be handling the Arts portfolio or holding down a desk in the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.
• Ed Miliband is currently Secretary of State for Climate Change & Energy
Wednesday, 22 July 2009
Tuesday, 21 July 2009
38% of UK management teams do not have the right skills to lead their firms through recession, says an Alium Partners Survey.
38% of UK management teams do not have the right skills to lead their firms through recession, says an Alium Partners Survey. Growing demand for strategic change capabilities from senior level interim managers.
Research from Alium Partners, a leading UK independent interim management provider, indicates that many UK organisations do not have the right management skills in place to steer them through the recession. This was the view of 38% of senior interim executives about the management of the last organisation they worked in, according to Alium Partners’ annual survey of more than 1,000 top level interims operating in the UK. Senior interim managers are highly experienced executives that organisations hire for rapid change management projects.
The key areas that interims said management need to improve are strategy development, strength of leadership, people management and communication.
Many top level interims report that the recession has led to an increased demand for their capabilities in delivering high impact organisational change. 22% of the interims surveyed said that they did up to 10% more work in 2008 than in 2007, and 9% reported an up to 25% increase in workload.
Nick Robeson, CEO of Alium Partners, said: “High level interim executives have a great deal to offer in the current environment. Many senior managers have not had experience of directing organistions through recession and are struggling with their decision making process at the moment. The best interims are seasoned in leadership through downturns and have the experience and judgement to be able to make the tough, yet measured decisions that are needed to build resilience to survive the recession. Our expectation is that the demand for senior interims will continue to grow throughout the year.”
To help combat the recession, organisations have appointed senior interim executives for a range of strategic change initiatives. The core reasons for hiring interims were internal change management programmes (39% of interims), major new projects (27%), and enhancing operational performance (17%). Over half of interims (57%) said that their most recent appointment was for a turnaround situation.
60% of interims anticipate that the recession will end in 2010, with a third believing that the economy will turn in the second half of next year. However, 22% of interims believe that the recession will not end until 2011.
Interims report that the top five negative impacts of the recession on their clients are: the need to tighten expenses (67% of interims), job cuts (64%), decline in sales (62%), recruitment freeze (50%) and declining staff morale (43%).
However 7% of interims said that the recession is providing strategic opportunities for their clients, with the key opportunities being cost base reductions (57%), business transformation (56%), acquisitions (30%), and service expansion (27%).
GENEVA (Reuters) - The H1N1 virus has killed more than 700 people worldwide since emerging in April, and countries could consider closing schools to slow its spread, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday.
The WHO, whose previous death toll was 429 two weeks ago, also said it was up to national health authorities to decide what measures they impose to slow the spread of the new strain.
British researchers writing in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases said on Monday that governments needed to draft plans for when and how to close schools if the swine flu pandemic worsens.
"School closure is one of the mitigation measures that could be considered by countries," WHO spokeswoman Alphaluck Bhatiasevi told a news briefing.
"As WHO has been saying, different countries would be facing the pandemic at different levels at different times. So it is really up to countries to consider what mitigation measures suit them in regard to the situation in individual countries."
The U.N. agency, which declared an H1N1 influenza pandemic on June 11, said last week it was the fastest-moving pandemic ever and now pointless to count every case.
It told countries to stop reporting individual cases and concentrate on mitigation measures and detecting any unusual patterns of disease or spike in rates of absenteeism.
Some 125,000 laboratory-confirmed cases have been reported worldwide as of Tuesday, Bhatiasevi told Reuters.
A network of independent experts is doing mathematical modeling studies to project what kind of cost-effective and beneficial mitigation measures countries can implement, according to the spokeswoman.
The WHO is coordinating the group, composed of mathematicians, epidemiologists and virologists, she said.
The new flu strain can be treated by antivirals such as Roche Holding's Tamiflu or GlaxoSmithKline's Relenza, but many patients recover without medical treatment.
Flu experts say at least 1 million people are infected in the United States alone.
(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay)
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Death of UK high streets is accelerating and will only be saved by urgent coordinated national and local action, the British Retail Consortium warns.
Three times more town centre shops are now empty across Britain compared to last autumn, amounting to 12% of the total, the British Retail Consortium [BRC] report reveals today (21 July).
The report, “21st Century High Streets: A new vision for our town centres”, sets out a 20 point rescue plan to secure a long-term future for high-street retailers. In reality Duckhouse thinks the report is little more than a wishlist and in terms of Government priority is unlikely to find the finance or support required. Retailers are already moving to internet delivered services and the refusal of High street landlords to move away from upward only rentals on commercial shop property is only going to hasten the demise of the high street. Town halls don'tm help matter either actively discouraging shoppers who use motor cars and even in places like Peterborough in Cambridgeshire, disabled blue badge holders are seeing their parking spaces either removed or charges being applied.
The reportrecommendations include economic health monitoring of high streets, improved town centre design, crime reduction, reduction of costs such as business rates and improved parking access.
BRC director general Stephen Robertson says: “High streets are a crucial part of our national retail mix but many of them are in trouble, facing difficulties that began well before the current recession. Some will flourish again as the economy recovers; others have to shape a different future as customers’ needs change,” he says.
“But that cannot be left to chance. These processes have to be actively managed by local authorities with their retailers, other businesses and residents.”
Meanwhile, high street clothing brand Next says it does not expect consumer retail spend to revive this year as it reported a slump in profits by 1.9% for the first six months compared to the same period last year.
Monday, 20 July 2009
Closing down for Summer, what a way to run a Country...
I always used to think that schoolteachers had far too much in the way of holidays and time off but as they also took home a modest amount of cash that was alright, unlike our celebrated parliamentarians!
Leaving the duckhouse expenses scandal aside, there has to be something wrong with the whole over stuffed parliamentary shooting match closing down from now until the end of September.
The Country will however be relieved to hear that the grandly named but obscurantist Civic Contingency Committee will meet weekly throughout the Summer recess to hear how the various Wars are going. I can tell them now, not very good at the moment.
Possibly a classic understatement.
The committee will also get the heads up on the latest bankster scandals or how many thousand more members of the Public have either died or survived Swine Flu.Either way swine flu is going to change many things and the changes will be quite sudden. We just seem to be walking blindfolded in to the abyss.
This Summer is going to be one we will all remember for a very long time and for all the wrong reasons.Frankly I don't think our politicians have a clue about what to do about the Swine Flu pandemic.
Alarmingly the latest news is the bouncers (security staff) are being recruited for the Tamiflu remote distribution points. Public libraries in the main. Many of our politicos still think it is all about birds not pigs (or hogs if you like.
The jabs are nowhere near ready and in any case fast tracking whatever the final jab might include might not even work. The Drug companies have won absolution if anything goes wrong.So we will all become a mass drug experiment! Expect a few holiday firms to go to the wall and groups of UK residents to be confined to foreign hotels, denied boarding and then realising that saving on travel insurance premiums was not a very bright idea.
Over a third of British travellers do NOT have insurance. Brave or foolhardy is the Minister who tried to enforce a no public gathering clause. Running the Olympics and other major sporting events behind closed doors without a paying audience has to be one of the most bizarre outcomes of this whole swine flu pandemic.
The Olympics scenario is not just a scare, the pandemic will last for a couple of years or more. In the immediate future, it might even take out the final matches of the Ashes and after we gave Australia a real good thrashing too! Perhaps Andrew Flintoff knows more than he is letting on as the time of his retiral could be a very smart move.
QE2 WILL sail for Cape Town, Nakheel confirms
“After months of feasibility studies, it is clear that Cape Town, with ready-made berthing facilities, provides the best opportunity for us to open QE2 to visitors as quickly as possible,” Manfred Ursprunger, chief executive officer of QE2 Enterprises at Nakheel Hotels, said in a statement.
The Queen Elizabeth 2 has been linked with a temporary berth in Cape Town harbour for weeks after Nakheel, part of state-owned conglomerate Dubai World, said it was considering berthing the iconic cruise liner outside Dubai.
South African media reported Nakheel had approached tourism authorities to berth the QE2 at Cape Town's V&A Waterfront, also owned by Dubai World.
Nakheel said it will provide details about the ship’s sailing to Cape Town after it has finalised the plan with the concerned authorities in South Africa.
“Cape Town will provide an exciting environment to experience the legendary QE2 over the next 18 months alongside the rich culture of South Africa and the incredible array of activities, entertainments and excursions available there,” Ursprunger said.
Nakheel said the forthcoming 2010 FIFA World Cup “makes a sensible business case” for moving the ship there.
Any deal still needs the approval of South Africa’s National Ports Authority and Transnet, the country’s major ports company.
Source Courtesy: Maktoob Business
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FAMILY PACKAGE AIR & CRUISE HOLIDAYS IMPOSE DENIED BOARDING FOR SUSPECTED SWINE FLU CARRIERS
Dirty Swines Wreck UK Holiday Flights & Cruises
Passengers with swine flu symptoms AND ALL MEMBERS OF THEIR PARTY EVEN ALTHOUGH NOT SHOWING ANY SIGNS OF SWINE FLU will be stopped from boarding flights and boarding cruise ships, airlines British Airways,Virgin Atlantic and Royal Caribbean, confirmed today.
The UK Department of Health in an amazing display of ignorance as to how the package holiday industry works, warned tourists who contract the illness abroad to delay and not to travel home until their symptoms have gone.
This of course is impossible as holidaymakers, usually in family groups, will all travel out on a fixed day/date and return with the same plane or shipload of people at a pre-determined time and date say 7 or 14 days later.
There is no option on package holidays or cruise schedules to stagger return dates in case of swine flu infection. In fact, cruise lines will put ashore at the next Port of Call anyone (along with their family or party) displaying signs or showing symptoms of swine flu.
In extreme cases, as our picture shows, they will be helicoptered off ships whilst still at sea, such as carried out on the Independence of the Seas which is catering exclusively for the British market with round trips, throughout the year, out of Southampton.
"The British on holiday are known for their low levels of personal hygiene,and when Norovirus breaks out is it usually because some one already contaminated has concealed the symptoms in order not to lose their paid for holiday. I have not reason to believe some swine flu infected passengers will do the same." commented a cruise ship crew member.
The airlines confirmed they had provided check-in staff and cabin crew with guidance on how to act if they believe a passenger is unwell. Medical advice would be taken to assess the condition of passengers exhibiting symptoms, including having a headache, sore throat, runny nose, and aching muscles.
Virgin Atlantic said those suffering from the condition would be prevented from flying until they could provide a fit-to-fly certificate from their doctor or a hospital.
The new measures come at the height of the summer tourist season, with thousands of families either already on holiday or about to go.
So far, though, BA said there had only been a "very small number of cases" where passengers displaying symptoms of H1N1 had been advised not to travel, and all had complied. The airline said it has a "wide range of contingency plans in place which we can use depending on how the situation may evolve".
Passengers who catch swine flu abroad, are also being advised not to travel home until they have recovered.
The travel association, ABTA, said the precautions were "sensible" and stressed the cost of flight cancellations due to the virus should be covered by travel insurance. But in reality this has not been tested and insurance companies are likely to resist any such claims.
The home secretary, Alan Johnson, stressed the government was "well prepared" and had placed the danger of pandemics even above terrorism as a main threat. He also said suggestions would-be mothers should delay pregnancy were "an over-reaction".
Paul Charles, the director of communications for Virgin Atlantic, said: "If there are signs of something being wrong, be it excessive sneezing or coughing, not looking well, or high temperature, then the airport staff can call in a medical team for extra advice.
"If the medical team believe there are reasons not to fly, the passenger will be asked to produce a fit-to-fly certificate from their doctor or a hospital.
The strong advice being that all intending holidaymakers should ask thie local GP for a "fit to fly" and "fit to cruise" certificate which has to be paid for and is not part of the NHS offer. GP's will charge around £60 per certificate adding £240 to the cost of a family holiday for four.
Sunday, 19 July 2009
NO USA SIKORSKY CHOPPERS - WE'VE EVEN BLOCKED DEALS TO KEEP SWEETHEART DEALS WITH BRITISH FIRMS!
The UK MoD has now confirmed it had twice in the past three years been offered deals to purchase US-made Sikorsky helicopters for the armed forces, but decided to press ahead instead with plans involving British firms.
This only goes to prove, that in the UK life is cheap and sadly disposable, whilst big business - and defence procurement is very big business - is still fat catting procurement with the Treasury and its ineffective junior department the Ministry of Defence.
It gets even better, the amateur 'Le Mans' driver and team owner Lord Drayson took a few weeks off to prep his old clapped out ie 'classic' Aston Martin. Curiously like the current Labour Government, it ran out out of steam a few yards from the end and had to be parked on the track.
But if Lord Drayson is the procurement minister and we are fighting TWO major wars, procurement should be a full time seven-day-a-week-business. WE HAVE SOME WARS ON AND THEY DON'T CLOSE DOWN FOR WEEKENDS OR SUMMER RECESSES!
So why was the good Lord SEEN quaffing champagnE on Eurostar and ligging at Le Mans? Ok, he owns the car, but frankly there are several works drivers available and he could have just gone over for a few days race included; but he chose to blank his Whitehall post for two whole weeks and clearly spent months before the big race, Aston Martin hugging (tree hugging didn't seem right).
Just imagine if the soldiers at home and in theatre decided to take a few weeks off to race a stately old crock around Le Mans? Now if he had done the procurement job properly and stood up to the bawbie counting, nail biting, former Scottish Televsion producer, son o'the manse soon to be gone prime minister and properly specified the choppers - to save lives in Affers (as the front line troops call it) and fast tracked them into service then his hobby could be accepted.
Here is my advice to MoD procurement. Go round the world and buy up all the available Chinooks military and private. When you have say, 60 or so, fly them back and start refurbing them, working at several locations and round the clock.
Hire in experienced aircrew from the private sector pay them a premium to get them in. Complete training of regular pilots alongside the hired in hands. Get the whole issue moving, at the moment its like stomping through treacle. And now M.P.'s are on Holiday.
If we are not prepared to pull out all the stops the clue is right there: PULL OUT the Americans are big enough to understand and they did take a couple of years before they joined us in World War II. We only finished paying off that war a couple of years ago!
ex-Defence Minister Hutton Exposes Affers Troops Row
Former defence secretary John Hutton said:"UK troops opinion on the need for more manpower and helicopters in Afghanistan is "unequivocal"
In the Sunday Telegraph, John Hutton has nailed the lid on any chance of Labour winnging the next General election and hinted that he almost had a stand up fight with gordon brown on the issue. "A review of troop levels was needed and could not wait for an autumn review",wrote Mr Hutton.
This new bombshell comes just two days after Chief of Defence Staff Sir Jock Stirrup met Gordon Brown and presented him with a "shopping list" of equipment urgbently needed for Afghanistan. British Army Chief, Gen Sir Richard Dannatt, had already called for better equipment to protect troops from roadside bombs. labours response was to set up; a smear campaign, briefing against the military, once this becmae public knowledge the order went out to stop all such briefings. Simply,the military men had used basic military strategy to 'out' the dissident labour factions.
Dannant had also previously demanded more British, American or Afghan "boots on the ground".
On the question of more helicopters,Mr Hutton who quit the cabinet last month, writing in The Sunday Telegraph claimed he supported the government's strategy of stabilising Afghanistan but without international security presence it would "probably already be back under Taleban and al-Qaeda control".
Mr Hutton also called for more support from the UK's European allies in Nato, such as in training Afghan police and soldiers.
"The best way to speed up our exit is to train effective Afghan security forces who can take over," he said. "This will require more trainers on the ground as well as more money.
"If countries cannot commit people for this training mission they should be asked to commit money instead."
Failure in Afghanistan was "simply not an option", Mr Hutton warned.
"The Taliban know they cannot beat us on the battlefield. Their only tactic is to outlast us; to hope that we give up and walk away," he said.
"If we do that then the risk they pose to our national security will not go away. It would inevitably increase. We must not allow that to happen."
In an earlier interview on the BBC, Mr Hutton argued ministers had a duty of care to British troops and must always grant requests for more resources.
"When they say they want something, when they say they need something, then they get it. That is a fundamental part of the responsibility of government," he said.
Some 185 UK service personnel have now died in Afghanistan since 2001. The numbers of troops injured and isabled have never been released but is thought to be extremely high due to the nature of the roadside bomb threat and the poor level of protection afforded to troopps by their existing road vehilces and the lack of helicopter transport resulting in increased foot and road patrols.
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Friday, 17 July 2009
292,500 Swine and Regular flu deaths in the U.S this winter.
The US based National Review Online just ran this item:
Don’t Forget About H1N1 [Tevi Troy]
The Daily Telegraph just ran a scary story saying that Sir Liam Donaldson, England’s chief medical officer and one of the top officials of their National Health Service, told the NHS to prepare for up to 65,000 swine-flu deaths this winter.
In a normal year, the flu kills 6,000 to 10,000 people in the U.K. If we average that range and assume 8,000 annual deaths, then take the same multiplier and apply it to the average annual U.S. flu deaths of 36,000, we are looking at approximately 292,500 deaths in the U.S this winter.
Sir Liam’s low-range estimate was 19,000 deaths, which would still translate into 85,500 U.S. deaths. These are, of course, very rough estimates, done on my desktop calculator, but the folks in the White House can do basic math as well, and it is probably no coincidence that President Obama just designated $1.825 billion in emergency funding for pandemic preparedness.
Julian Bray adds: Meanwhile back in the UK, we now hear swine flu jabs are due to be delivered late and when I popped into my local doctor this morning, to collect a prescription, large A3 notices telling flu stricken people to stay well away and phone, the notices are all over the place. At 9:30 am this morning, the waiting room was packed tight!
I don't think the UK Department of Health is being that honest. Sir Liam has done us all a public service and possibly let the cat out of the bag and no doubt will be slapped down by Gordon Browns limp wristed storm in a teacup troopers.
Thursday, 16 July 2009
Gordon Brown today marked a new all time televised low in his Premiership as he appeared before House of Commons Select Committees and still refused to answer with a simple 'yes' or 'no' the questions relating to the number of soldier/ troop recruitment requests by the military  and the numbers they actually got [<700].
But what we got loud and clear was a clear message that money ie the Treasury is regulating the two wars we are hopelessly engaged in and that the squaddie or general in theatre can forget about any practical help or back up in the near future.
Come back in six years lads and we'll have the aircrew fully trained and plied with booze. The choppers might not be ready though as we chose a cheaper spec. than the Americansd so ours had to be made on a later production batch.
Even simple questions like how many operational Chinooks do we have in Affers [8-10] as the soldiers call it. The answer less than a tenth of the operational Chinooks, the Americans have to service and lift the same number of troops.
So lads when you next walk to your objective in the mind bending searing heat just think of Gordon Brown - on holiday now - trousers rolled up, by the Seaside with his family - simply Gordon does not understand the military, has no idea where the money goes or what it goes on.
The serial nail-chewing cyclops can't even drive a car for fu*ks sake! Never did learn to drive and as a junior producer at Scottish Televsion in his native Glasgow (just up the road from Gorbals Mick...) really didn't need too. Counting in Scotsport and hod carrier for the tarten encrusted Jock McSporran Show. Or in briowns case the White Feather Club, just full of gay dances, sorry dUnces, and broken promises.
But where do we go from here? Gordon has this devine right of sticking his head and genitalia in buckets of sand. Our Boys (as The Sun would have it) also have the devine right of sand, billions of tons of it, only it gets in everywhere.
Imagine the soldiers joy to be given large packs of unlubricated rubbers (Durex etc)but we are a bit short in the body armour locker.. but you have the Durex right? Army Orders 34598765-c might read @Take out an unlubricated rubber roll between thumb and first finger, place over the upright and fully reamed.... then the lights went out. No stop messing around, seriously the durex or rubbers are used to keep sand out of the AK47 barrel and they've been using them this way for years now....sigh.
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Wednesday, 15 July 2009
This is a comment from www. order-order.com, it speaks volumes.
The eight Chinook Mk3 special forces helicopters purchased in 1996 will potentially cost £363 Million when (if) they become operational.
The Prime Minister, Secretary of State for Defence and the PUS for Defence Procurement stated that some of these helicopters will be available at the end of the year. ZH*** has just entered the beginning of flight trials. Aircraft 2-8 are in various states of reversion and aircraft 8 has been cannibalised to such an extent that it is very unlikely that it will ever become operational.
The likelihood of any of these aircraft being ready and available for operations this year is very slim. The aircrews have to be trained and flight certified, the ground crews have to be trained and certified.
The aircraft has to be released as fit to fly and has to be retrofitted with the required DAS equipment that is still in trial at ********* ****to get it to theatre entry standard.
Sunday, 12 July 2009
Saturday, 11 July 2009
Starting on 13 July, the Bank of England Charlie Bean Show, the spinners at the Bank say (with a very straight face): "will continue the Bank’s programme of explaining the MPC’s policy of injecting money directly into the economy alongside its decisions on interest rates".
In just seven days, the deputy governor, on his whirlwind tour will visit 14 towns and cities across different parts of England, Scotland and Wales, as well as meeting business groups and organisations.
Personally I'd like to know how Charlie Bean (no relation to Willie Wonka) intends to fit this all in unless he's taking a helicopter everywhere and starting the meetings at 4 am. Not only is the programme unrealistic but it also calls into question just how stupid the BoE thinks the rest of us are. There can be no excuse for the wholesale printing of money (or issuing bonds), perhaps Charlie Bean could have just sent an e-mail around or taken Gordon Browns route of spreading the news on You-tube?
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Friday, 10 July 2009
Gordon Brown should be in the UK paying respect to our fallen heroes not prancing around on the worthless G8 stage...
It gets worse, no back up helicopters and an inept defence minister who sounds and looks on television totally disinterested in their welfare and the welfare of the families and children left behind. He'll go home at night - to his flipped second house no doubt - have dinner or take in a Theatre show, reception, and not give it another thought, our heroes deserve better than this.
Military accommodation is way below sub-standard and I doubt if the most deserving cause for social housing on a sink estate, would accept any of the woefully sub-standard miltary properties offered. Whilst ten bodies are returned to the UK this week, a local town near to RAF Brise Norton, the entire population drops everything and turns out to pay silent dignified respect to the fallen, carried in a line of hearses. It's now becoming a daily event. Since writing more grim news early this morning Saturday 11th July the total killed now stands at 184 with eight killed in one single day.
To top it all our worthless nail-biting Prime Minister, is swanning around an Italian earthquake site attempting to re-create, what he ALONE considers to be his finest moment on the International stage ,yet another G-8 conference, where photographs are taken of World leaders glad handing each other, making resolutions which will will not be honoured and in cases offering the same money and resources previously pledged at the last London G-8.
Gordon Brown should by all accounts be physically here in the UK standing shoulder to shoulder with the grieving relatives of our fallen heroes. How dare he tell the World from the G-8 podium that many more soliders, Mothers sons, will give up their lives this Summer, because his deadbeat Government instead of properly funding the military can still shovel shedloads of taxpayers money- future to be earned money that is..(say the next thirty years should pay for most of it) into worthless banks and the backpockets of potbellied, over compensated disgraced and equally worthless bankers. They should all be very ashamed, I know that I am.
P.M's Sarah Brown twittered this picture of her seemingly asking the Pontiff in Rome for devine help with her increasingly strange husband.
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What makes UK red top Editors and contributors think they can make an immediate transition from hack journalism to being the supreme master of the black arts and doyen of spin doctors?
Well David Cameron for one thinks so as did Tony Blair when hiring Alastair Campbell, who also came with extra medical baggage - depression - known to Blair at the time and later outed by Campbell himself.
As part of the Stewart clan I am historically and genetically allowed to hate and detest Campbells en masse, even if the chap underneath is OK.
I must declare an interest, being a legendary master of the black arts and spin doctor supreme; I just cannot understand why Cameron didn't beat a path directly to my door...
The newspapers are full of the alleged wholesale bugging, tapping and general interception of mobile and other telephones by investigators said to be working for or funded by the News of the World.
My problem with all this is that Andrew (or Andy as in Pandy to his friends) Coulson was clearly in charge of the paper for part of the time and if I know my editors he would have kept a very tight reign on expenses and known in deatils all thwe dark deeds being carried out by his cohorts.
After all if the newspaper is not profitable, spends excessively then cuts have to be made.
Hiring a Private Eye isn't cheap as any divorce lawyer will tell you; most of them are pisspoor anyway. A nod to the FBI - Finlay Bureau of Investigation (ha GOTCHA!) who took down my orginal divorce confession, many many moons ago... ho ho..
It is access to the technical equipment and the computer software savvy, newspapers are really paying for. And some of the targets Vanessa Feltz for example. What were they thinking!!! Vanessa can smell a microphone a mile off and will do five hours off-the-cuff nonstop; no need to bug at all.
Not only is her life a very open book but in countless paperbacks and several languages (including Yiddish) too, (Remainder shop £1:50 next to "Gazza: a life in Vodka" claim 50p on the empties). To prove my point Vanessa has appeared as I write on The Daily Politics, machine gun delivery at the ready. M'lud I rest my case.
Andy Coulson must by Fleet Street/Wapping standards have know that something was going on and given the OK to annex large sums from his firms' budget, after all News International is a public company has shareholders and publishes account within the meaning of the Companies Act and so on.
Simply Andy Coulson or various tabloid spooks flashing the cash or throwing money at any form of investigation or fishing expedition has to be accounted for somewhere along the line. Every Fake Shiek exclusive was known to have cost hundreds of thousands in some cases.
So the question remains why has the NoW allegedly been settling out of court for up to £1m, if there has been no wrong doing?
Andy Coulson maintains he was not there the whole time this was going on, but the very implication of this is that he was there for some of the time. If he did not know what was going on, why not? What happened to the hacks under Coulson’s watch who were indeed caught out – did Coulson sack them? To be Continued......
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Wednesday, 8 July 2009
Chancellor Alistair Darling has revealed that he plans to sell off Government owned Banks to the private sector, he says to promote competition. I say to deep line a few more pockets and ease an ex-Chancellors way into the City!
On the release of the pisspoor Banking White Paper earlier today Chancellor 'eyebrows' Darling said: "We intend to return our stakes in the banks to the private sector and we will use the proceeds to reduce consumer debt." In reality it won't be that much so the taxpayer will be out of pocket.
Darling also suggested that the woefully inept FSA will report every year on how financial Institutions (moneypits)are complying with the new Remuneration Code of Practice.
As the FSA staffed by second- jobber graduate numpties, is up against mega-earning career bankers, you can see how level this particular playing field is.....
To add to the ever growing list of Quangos how about : The Council for Financial Stability, to be formed further draining taxpayer resources essentially a club which will throw together the Bank of England, the FSA and the Treasury. A recipe to do nothing.
Commenting on the size of banks, Eyebrows Darling said restrictions would be too "simplistic".
"Small banks too can threaten stability", he commented.
Tuesday, 7 July 2009
One Hundred and Thirty four UNELECTED BODIES control our lives and no wonder Dave Cameron and his increasingly merry band wants to cull them (I'd even do the job for FREE! Well perhaps not quite for free but you get the idea!) but at the end of the day if he's looking to save money, he won't be returning that much to the Treasury. Simply someone somewhere will have to take over the duties of the disbanded Quango.
The trouble is that as they are run as non-profit organisations there is no urgency or concept of value for money - taxpayers money, not government money, which is after all taxpayers money..
Consider that disgraced MP Elliott Morley, currently being courted by Inspector Knacker, was the Environment head honcho and consider how the Environment Agency spends our money..all very good at telling us we are being flooded, and they have loads of boffins on tap, to tell us why, but amazingly slow and seemingly totally disinterested in putting physical projects into place.
In some cases senior EA staff are dangerously close to the Water Companies and polluters they are supposed to be legally keeping an eye on. By the way the Environment Agency actually OWNS A PUB! Bet Dave Cameron didn't know that!
I spent some time on a contract within the Environment Agency lauching the flood campaign back in the year 2000. Despite having an internal England wide army of promotion, exhibition and PR people they paid hundreds of thousands of taxpayers pounds to an external agency called appropriately enough Circus to carry out the publicity and PR campaign.
Imagine my amazement when a few weeks later boxes of brightly printed blank press release paper and a list of local newspaper Advertising Departments and a request that we research, create, write, produce and print the news releases for them...
Clearly money is being wasted hand over fist, but the people within the quangoes are experts at hubris. It needs another unelected external body to dig into the other unelected external bodies ....you can see where this is going!
My remedy? Lop or top slice 25% per annum off all budgets, personnel, senior boards for the next three years ending up with a baseline budget of 25% and get each quango to bid for extra funding by providing clearly set out targets and equally clearly defined goals. Some will fall be the wayside and frankly if they do then we don't need them.
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Our Picture shows: A London Doubledecker Bus, part of the London massacre just four years ago and an earlier London Doubledecker Bus bombed out during World War II....
Four years ago today the cowardly London Bombers struck, hoping to join 97 virgins but bottled it and dumped their bags of death without waiting to experience the effects at first hand.
The picture of the iconic London double decker bus ripped apart was flashed round the world. Amazingly although there were many fatalities and cruel injuries that day at the other bomb locations, some of the bus passengers actually walked away from the ripped apart top deck with little more than superficial wounds and damaged hearing.
It is easy to forget that in an earlier era, The London Blitz, Londoners would hardly bat an eyelid as nightly Hitler did his best to flatten London. It still amazes me that we actually won the War (and the British population is not now speaking German) as the USA took a couple of years before finally getting involved. Hollywood would have you believe otherwise.
This is a very small way over populated Island (currently with a deadbeat serially useless Government) but I suppose for many centuries we have always punched above our weight and long may it continue!
I'd also like to record a personal tribute to all the ambulance personnel, security and medical staff who pitched in to help the wounded that day. They would say its all part of the job but having been involved with the media arrangements for the Paddington Train Crash some years earlier. The dedication and professionalism is clear to see. So thank you.
Our picture shows: Third Class Cabin on RMS Titanic, note en-suite loo...
Julian Bray comments: The news this morning [7 July 2009] that a 74 year old man from Norwich, Norfolk has died on board the cruise ship Marco Polo (locked down in Invergordon,Inverness, Scotland) and another 100 or so have been infected with the Norovirus, is yet another chapter in the chequered health history of this elderly ship, and must hasten the time when it is finally taken out of service. The cruise line are however now saying the Norfolk man did not die from the Norovirus although 100 passengers are affected by the bug.
By contrast one of the passengers on board the much newer Queen Victoria when the Norvirus recently struck and put some 6,000 people at risk unwittingly supplies the answer “ No Hygiene Rules were implemented until after the outbreak” . In reality, this means the passenger quoted - and the majority of those on board - are being very casual with their own existing day-to-day poor levels of personal hygiene or simply continuing the minimal level of thorough hand washing they employ in every day life, which alarmingly is little or none. The cruise lines, to stay in business, always have a high level of hygiene protocols in place but these are not so visible or intrusive as those extra measures introduced when a Norovirus outbreak is detected.
The most effective way of preventing the spread of Norovirus is the frequent and thorough washing of hands with soap several times a day and always after using the toilet or bathroom and if at anytime you have touched a handrail or object previously handled by someone else.
The Norovirus is nearly always brought on board by a passenger who may have had a slight bout of sickness or diarrhoea days before embarking on the cruise. A few tablets of Immodium and the intending holidaymaker feels much better but still remains an efficient and ruthless conduit for the Norovirus.
Not wishing to waste the money already paid, and unlikely to be refunded, they cover this fact up and then rapidly infect all those they come in contact with and those who unwitting pick up the germs by touching handrails.
Crews are well aware of the consequences of the Norovirus and accordingly they act as unofficial policemen ensuring that new crew members always observe high levels of personal hygiene, it is simply a matter of survival. So it very rarely the case that the Norovirus is taken on board by a crew member.
Once detected the passenger is isolated, usually confined to his/her cabin for four days, but again selfish passengers not wishing to dilute the cruise experience will frequently break the isolation, leave their cabin, walk freely around populated areas of the ship, touching handrails and the whole cycle starts again.
The Queen Victoria completed its cruise to the Canaries and return to Southampton, what the new intake of passengers might not have realised is that the advanced or extreme hygiene measures put in place during the previous cruise will also be applied to the following cruise, unless this new ship is taken out of service for four days for a deep clean, which is unlikely.
So in all 6,000 passengers and crew will have had their lives temporarily blighted by a few who need to raise their every day standard of basic simple personal hygiene. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water – it is as simple as that.
Monday, 6 July 2009
Well it seemed like a good idea. David Cameron had opened the candidates list and urgently wants more cannon fodder to act as prospective parliamentary candidates contesting every deadbeat constituency in the land.
True, I could also stand as an Independent. Buy the white suit - even borrow one from Martin Bell! You mean, he only has one white suit?
Hmmmm no good, so down to Harrys in soho, and get a really good stage suit made up....Oh small matter, back to the form - electronic of course, filled like a job application but with added naughty bits..Detail anything that might upset the party if it became public ... moats? No Duck houses? No Flipping homes? No ex-wife got that, and the one before that so no problem.
Now they want THREE referees and in writing. First of all do I really want my left leaning friends (mainly hacks and broadcasters) knowing that I'm up for Daves party? ...Hmm what would Guido Fawkes think?
Well its gone, the deed is done,hard copy first class post....
A week has gone by, all that hard work. Daves team tells me they have been inundated with applications and might not get back to me for somewhile to see if I will go to the next stage. An all day grilling at Tory central by party heavies...
Perhaps the urgency is not really there after all. I might as well run as an independent! Pick my own seat, stump up the deposit and just do it?
Only time will tell, watch this space...it might just happen.
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