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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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Monday, 31 August 2009
Chicken Kevans and Dunkin' Dannatts. Oh wot a not so lovely War..
You would think that Gordon Brown (err remember him? Allegedly our Prime Minister, but has gone to ground for the last four weeks or so...) Anyway in the real world many stories doing the rounds (as the media silly season comes to an end) that Defence Minister Kevan Jones had been involved or serially hatching several new smear campaigns against General Sir Richard Dannatt. Head of the UK Military.
General Dannatt, is coming to the end of his distinguished military career, during that time has repeatedly spoken out on pay, poor working conditions, equipment issues and pressing matters concerning the safety of his troops and support units in theatres of war.
Probably due to frustration and the politicians unique ability to face both ways at the same time with fingers in both ears (try it!) Dear Ol' Dunkin' might just have gone too far. He would say not far enough. But consider the ministerial material he is dealing with. Kevan Jones. Lacking in military experience and not that highly regarded by Gordon Brown who in turn does not care for military matters and prefers to delegate down the food chainunless there is a photo opportunity in the offing.
The reality is that British troops get 'stuck in' whereas the US troops will hold back not get directly involved, call up fighters,helicopters and bombers and gain the air and land advantage by bombing.
We simply do not have the resources so send poorly resourced troops in to do the dirty hand to hand close fighting. So the body bags and coffins return to the UK on a daily basis.
Matters might now change as the US General in charge of the whole 'shooting match' has tabled a new document which recognises what the UK military has known for years - its not going very well and we will have to talk to the Taliban... Now would be a very good time to pull out our forces, forget about the training missions - they don't work anyway and re-group inside our own National Boundary.
The terrorist threat is already inside the UK so troops on the ground - our ground would be a very good idea and hopefully the incoming Government will rapidly take the hint. The terrorist threat level will rise as conditions become increasingly financially harder inside the UK - prices in the shops rise due to VAT up 2.5% end of this month. Increases and jobs become really hard to hold down - Brown knows this is his swan song and frankly has given up. He's more worried about not looking good and is busy polishing his so far elusive world statesman role as a feather bedding for retirement to the upper House. His literary works not being too good ansd quickly remaindered by the discounters and book trade .
If the son o'the manse thought about it and rapidly pulled the troops back home, he would be rewarded with a dramatic rise in his share of the pollsters voting intention matrix. Luckily for Cameron, Brown is however too plodding and set in his ways to recognise this.
His road to oblivion actually starts tonight when petrol prices in the UK go up 2p a litre which when passed on will mean an average of 168p (US $1.20c) per litre with an astonishing 68 percent of that going back to the Government by way of tax. Petrol/fuel tax rises directly impact on all walks of life in this island nation. Watch as an unexpected outcome is the continuing drop in immigration as our highly skilled and productive Polish workers realise the game is all but up in the UK and a much better life awaits back in their homeland.
Trouble is they might well be joined by an increasing exodus of Brits. who have now sadly come to the same conclusion. Anyione in the Uk earning over £150,000 now facing the 50p in the pound Income Tax... In fact, Alastair darling has all but done for Brown! Brown Ales all round, because it will be Brown trousers before long...
Tuesday, 18 August 2009
Time is up for our troops in Afghanistan
I sat down to write a script for a presentation on leadership but it rapidly became a polemic, so abandoned the idea. Why you might ask? Simply I am staring at pictures of 204 British lads many of them in their 20’s, all willingly signed up for the British Army and all killed in action in Afghanistan.
The full page of postage stamp size pictures on the front of the London Daily Telegraph is simply chilling and something you cannot simply put down and move on. It totally upset my day and made me increasingly angry, a day on, a good nights sleep and I am still fuming. Almost 1,000 British service personnel have been killed or wounded in Afganistan.
The truth is that we should not be there and it really does not help that the political man in charge Defence Secretary call me “Bob” Ainsworth, who with his florid complexion, mumbled verbal delivery, a stubble type moustache, dirty glasses, short back and sides haircut and uniformly dyed hair would be more at home on a Donald McGill saucy seaside postcard than directing traffic from the safety of the granite citadel known as the Ministry of Defence (MOD).
Ainsworth freely admits that he is not a military man, this unfortunately shows in his lacklustre TV and radio interviews, holding onto the threadbare government line that if we did withdraw then the Taliban effect would be replicated on our shores. Rubbish. Our Troops are now battle weary, under provisioned and under resourced.
The Whitehall Manderins have repeated fudged the procurement budget wasted taxpayer millions on wrongly specified war machines and in the main ignored the generals and air chiefs of staff. Many soldiers have been known to spend their own money upgrading their kit. Just how bad is that?
Pulling out is something I fail to see as a problem, as so far the threat has been from our very own home grown terrorists. Parents and grandparents, one time in real danger sought political or economic refuge and/or protection within our small crowded island. We welcomed then with open arms. The ungrateful offspring obsessively surfing the Internet and in effect being indoctrinated by overseas influences and convinced the time is right for Jihad in the UK.
To illustrate the point, if I were in charge of Cambridgeshire Constabulary, I would take a very keen interest in the subsidised internet computer services offered by Peterborough City Council, every one of the 30 or so public computer workstation monitors, in the imposing central library when I lasted visited (to return a book!) were displaying Arabic writing of some kind and young men many bearded (very few women) scanning the pages. It happens day after day right under the noses of the authorities, and paid for by the council taxpayer.
Although you cannot censor what people read, it does make you wonder why the workstations are being monopolised in this way and all on public view. Perhaps libraries should go back to being a depositary for …err Books?
The point being the threat rather than being from Afghanistan, which is the lacklustre Ainsworth position, is in fact already here and living within the United Kingdom. TV images of British soldiers, out in all weathers and working around the clock eating cold combat rations does little or nothing to inspire confidence (German troops work a 9 to 5 regime – so they are all safely tucked up in bed).
But what about all the financial aid that has been poured into Afghanistan?
Simply NONE of it has filtered down to the general population. They still live in abject poverty even to the extent of deciding who lives and who dies, parents routinely harbour meagre resources with the effect that weaker children are often left to die. Life expectancy is just 43. The UK spends £127 million annually on Aid and school projects. However 90% of the world heroin production comes from Afghanistan and no significant reduction in output can be shown. Corruption is endemic and freely admitted to be part of the system, but still we blindly pump in the money. Why?
So if the UK did pull out what are the next steps? Return all the troops to the UK and taking advantage of our island status deploy them around our coast and in airports and ports effectively improving homeland security and at a stroke effectively controlling all immigration and any percieved Taliban threat.
The upside is that our troops for the first time would be safe and that Afghanistan mainly under the control of warlords and feudal rulers would then have to think about running their own country, rather than rely on handouts and stuffing money into discreet Swiss bank accounts. We could also buy up the entire Afghanistan heroin production, refining some for medical use and the balance destroyed. At a stroke closing down difficult and costly illegal supply routes.
Something has to happen, before long as the conflict escalates, we can expect more troops to needlessly die and for families trying to make sense of it all, condemned to a lifetime of visiting graves and fondly remembering the few brief years their sons (and daughters) enjoyed before the Afghanistan adventure ended his/her life and those of some 200 other brave souls.
They all deserve better than this, but are the politicians listening? Sated with duckhouses, moats and eye watering expenses claims, our MP’s don’t really care and our soon to depart Prime Minister to my mind cares even less. Can this really be the 21st Century?
I doubt it but then what do I know?
Wednesday, 12 August 2009
On Twitter as @julianbray: Join the conversation...or leave a comment below:
Clearly then saintly Kiwi Prue Leith spends very little or no time time in what is known as community pubs, as she manages to stuff taxpayer pounds down her ample cleavage as head of various Government quangos, one even tasked with weaning the next generation off rubbish school meals, chippies and junk food in general. Contrary to popular opinion few if any of the UK's fast vanishing ( at the rate of 50 PER WEEK thanks to non beer drinker Gordon Brown) village pubs maintain a kitchen brigade and even fewer are able to serve anything more than 'ping' microwave type meals.
True transferring the school kitchen contract to the local pub at lunchtime is an interesting idea but then most away from the coast community pubs especially in North Norfolk would immediately be closed down if the local environmental health service did their job properly rather than turning repeated blind eyes to the state of the kitchen, toilet and general hygiene of the pub/bar environment (well Nelson did come from Norfolk) which they would have to do if school children and the local authority became involved. Few village pubs are able to do a proper kitchen deep clean before the morning session having managedto get to bed at 1am. better still get Prue Leith to work in a village pub for a couple of weeks. That will stop some of the nonsense.
To see how sillythis all is here is ther orginal Daily Mail article. It says more for the Prue Leith self-promotion maxchine than a sensible contribution to the schoolfood debate: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1205831/Open-pubs-children-school-dinners-says-food-writer-Prue-Leith.html#ixzz0NzMNq0VW
Sunday, 9 August 2009
The most alarming news this week is that Gordon Brown exists by microwaving meals for one late at night! So it begs the question where is Mrs B. and also explains why Cyclops is a serial nail biter, he’s collecting the ripped off nail and adding them to the microwaved meals for a bit of protein.
What I cannot understand is why Labour who by all accounts will be in the wilderness after the next General Election (unless of course Mandy invokes the Civil contingencies act and cancels the GE next year) is letting matters slide over the Summer and no one seems to give a damn. Something is happening that we are not being told about. Perhaps the GE is being cancelled????
This is my silly season take on matters, perm any three:
Mandy dumps peerage fast tracked into Commons.
Brown formally appoints Mandy deputy
Harmon pushed up to Lords
Lord Sugar drops talk of legal action against Letts as Mail wades in
Mrs Brown discreetly files for divorce (see increasingly strange tweets on twitter)
Cameron will slap on 25% VAT as soon as elected but revised list of exempt products and services will be increased
Non-Dom loopholes will be tightened up by tories on election
Foreign Exchange Controls to be re-introduced
NHS to bid for part of new US Health Service and effectively export NHS model (no one saw that one coming)
Police will extend Duckhouse expenses enquiry as current investigations uncover astronomical levels of political corruption
Outsider takes over as CEO of ITVplc immediately reverts The Bill to previous format, time slots and sig. tune!
STV leaves Channel 3 syndicate
English Cricket team and coach sacked
David Lammy runs for Mayor of London, election halted pending expenses investigation
Railway between London and Norwich ripped up and turned into guided busway (Gorn they seem t’ work when the trains orn strike, so we’ll ‘ave em al the time)
Final chain of gastropubs close They were the last remaining pubs in the UK.
Imported Real Ale from Poland £4 a pint. UK real ale breweries all closed months ago due to Gordon Browns Escalator tax regime
Friday, 7 August 2009
Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS)reports pre-tax loss -44m in the first three months of this year, compared to 479m profit during the same period last year
The bank, bailed out by governmkent and now 70% taxpayer owned, watched bad debt writeoff rise to £2.9bn, from £656m a year ago.
Chief executive Stephen Hester in a cheeky upbeat video webcast claimed that while the outlook remains challenging, he remains confident that it will be able to rebuild shareholder value through the strength of its franchises. In reality small businesses in the UK continue to go out of business, as banks like RBS refuse to lend to small to medium enterprises or when they do the high rate of interest and arrangement fees charged to customers make recovery a far off goal.
In February, the bank revealed a staggering loss of £24.1bn in 2008, the biggest in UK corporate history.
“We remain cautious and continue to plan and manage our businesses in the full expectation that both 2009 and 2010 will be very tough years for RBS,” he says.
RBS intends to axe a further 9,000 jobs around the world in addition to the 2,700 job losses planned in the UK this year. Further redundancies have not been ruled out.
Elsewhere Lloyds Banking Group said yesterday (May 7) that bad debts on corporate loans were continuing to rise and that it expected to make a loss in 2009.
Barclays reported a first-quarter pre-tax profit rise of 15% to £1.37bn, but similarly predicted a sharp rise in bad-debt charges.
Tuesday, 4 August 2009
Can someone please tell me why the current Labour Government is banging on about policy which is not due to impact for a couple of years hence? Are they not aware that a General Election is due to be held next year or is Mandleson (Gordon having ‘retired’ and taken Holy Orders or working in a mens outfitters… ) poised to envoke the Civil Contingencies Act, cancel the General Election due to the collapse of the Pound (Northern Rock is the first indicator) a collapse caused by failure of quantative easing and the astronomical mortality rate this Autumn caused by swine flu and the realisation that Tamiflu doesn’t work for everyone and that as SKY have I understand published all the answers to the telephone test for Tamiflu on their website. Canny Europeans (mainly Dutch) have also realised that we get tamiflu free and they have to pay for it so loads of them have been ringing the helpline collecting the goodies and putting the drugs up for sale on e-bay……
PETERBOROUGH BEER FESTIVAL ROCKS..
Orgnisers are praying for fine weather BUT IN ANY EVENT are expecting record numbers in excess of 30 thousand to attend this year's Peterborough Beer Festival (taking place from Tuesday, August 25, until Saturday, August 29) they will enjoy the largest collection of real ales, bottled beers. perries and wines outside of London which is just 50 minutes away by rail, from Londons King Cross station. All fully protected by and impressive array of exhibition clear span exhibition tentage. There may be stormy weather outside but snug and dry inside!
The 32nd annual Peterborough CAMRA [Campaign for Real Ale] Beer Festival will be fully weather protected take inside three huge marquees on the Embankment for five fun packs days of activities and some of the finest cabaret and rock band talent.
more than 350 draught real ales, a vast array of European bottled beers, around 100 varieties of cider and perry, and a wine bar.
However, the event – which regularly attracts around 30,000 people each year – is not simply the longest run of bar in the UK, as there will also be five days of live music from premier bands and tribute acts
Madness tribute band, One Step Behind, will be taking the stage for the prized Saturday headline spot, while the Grantham-based band, The League of Mentalmen, are performing on Friday.
The ever-popular pub games will also be making a return to the festival, which this year takes place from Tuesday, August 25, through to Saturday, August 29.
Factfile: Peterborough Beer Festival
More than 105,000 pints of beer have been ordered so far and a couple of thousand are still to be ordered.
About 350 different draught beers from 119 different breweries will be on sale.
There will also be 11,872 bottles of European and American beer ordered from11 different countries, 10,240 pints of traditional cider and perrywith 51 different ciders and 18 different perries.
About 15,000 glasses are being made in five different styles, from the traditional jug to a small pint glass.
More than 1,281 casks of beer will arrive on the Saturday before the festival opens.
More than 300 volunteers will man he bars and do the 101 other jobs needed to build, run and dismantle the festival.
Two pallets of toilet paper will be used during the five day festival.
1,500 metres of fencing will be erected by the volunteers to surround the site.
Chairman for the Peterborough branch of CAMRA, David Murray, who helps to organise the event, said: "The last few years have seen about 35,000 people turn up.
"But this year we are hoping to increase that, because we are due a week of better weather. The record we got some years ago, before we got drenched, was around 44,000, so we're hoping to top that.
"Obviously there's the credit crunch too, so we just can't tell what the attendance will be.
"But I have been to other festivals around the country and they have all increased in attendance, so we think the main thing people are thinking is saving their cash in favour of quality, rather than quantity."
Secretary of the Peterborough branch of CAMRA, Harry Morten said: "We started organising it back in January time, so it takes quite a bit to get it done and there's a committee of 12 of us who do it.
"Everyone has their different responsibilities, like bottled beers, food vendors and the staff as that is very important too.
"We are definitely looking forward to it. I think the two most significant events are when we open the gates for the first time because we know that's it and it's open, and the other is when we shut them again for the last time on the last day."
The event, which is managed and staffed solely by volunteers, will once again be raising vital funds for the Royal National Lifeboat Institute.
In the past, visitors' spare change has bought the service two D-class inshore lifeboats and an Atlantic class boat.
"This year we are hoping to raise money for a D-class boat going to Skegness," added Mr Murray.
For more details, visit www.beerfest.org.uk or visit Peterborough branch of CAMRA website www.real-ale.org.uk.
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