Monthly Archives: June 2008

RSPCA Mistake

Following my post on Friday about the chickens I discovered some very interesting information.

All is not as it seems with the RSPCA’s Freedom Farm standard. It turns out that there are too few Inspectors qualified to inspect the farms that are invloved, around 11 coutrywide. Therefore some farms are in possession an accreditation that they are not entitled to hold.

here have been several bad stories regarding the RSPCA and their press releases in recent months. Several well publicised trials have also not lived up to the RSPCA’s pre-trial statements, this includes the trial involving the 21 horses that the RSPCA claimed were mistreated but actually the judge found that they weren’t.

The RSPCA have be warned about their policy of briefing witnesses prior to trials and changing the content of statements provided to the authorities between intial complaint and trial.

Now I like the RSPCA and what they should stand for, The problem appears to be that they need the big publicity to draw in funds. As with all charitable organisations there are too many chasing too little. They also seem to push initiatives that they are unable to fund properly so that they do not actually achieve what they set out too.

History Today:

1905 : Einstein publishes ‘On The Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies’, known to us lay people as his special Theory of Relativity. Many copies were sold throughout East Anglia and the US Midwest – however readers were most upset to find out that it was a science theorum and nothing to do with breeding habits.

1908 : Tunkguska, Siberia is hit by a comet. It seems that Carlsberg may have been involved as it is described as “probably the largest collision of its kind”.

1940 : Britain is invaded by the Nazis; well the Channel Islands anyway. 5 years of oppression and shortages followed. People forget just how much they suffered.

Battery Chef

The YV Chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is today asking Tesco’s shareholders to insist that all chickens supplied to the supermarket chain are raised in accordance with the RSPCA’s Freedom Farm standard and not farmed intensively.

Tesco are famous for bringing us the £1.99 chicken and are able to do this by allowing suppliers to rear chickens in cramped “battery” farmed conditions. However, Tesco insist that this is a silly campaigbn as their suppliers already produce in line with the highest possible standards in modern farming. Therefore they have no need to change.

In the next breath their spokesman said that if the proposal is forced through then they would face higher costs that could lead too an additional £1.00 on the price of a chicken.

Do you notice something wrong here?

In one breath they already comply with the highest standards in modern farming but in the next compliance would cost an addition £1.00 per chicken. How can this be if they are already compying with the standard? The campaign propably won’t succeed because you need 75% shareholder sgreement to force this through – many big institutions would not want to see prospective profits fall, and the shareprice drop as a result.

Anyway it does show how duplicitous Tesco are in the way they deal with the public. They insist they are whiter than white but then complain that meeting the standard would increase their costs. I don’t think that Tesco are doing anything positive to correct their public image of being a bullying profiteer.

History Today:

1743 : George II defeats the French at the Battle of Dettingen, becoming the last British monarch to lead his army in battle. Now we just bring our royalty home when the press find out where they are.

1905 : The crew of the Potemkin mutiny in Odessa. They inspire a wider revolution and many set pieces in Brian de Palma films – The Untouchables and Carlitto’s Way being 2 of them.

1957 : A British Medical Research Council report suggests a direct link between smoking and lung cancer.

Howling Banshees

Last night the charity FW works for held a fundraising evening at a local Workingmen’s Hall. These, and the hapels, used to be a great centre for life in the Welsh vallies. The halls were built from subscriptions paid by the miners and almost every town or village with a colliery had them.

They were a combination of library and entertainment complex. You could go there to read books, newspapers, to see films, concerts and plays. They were also used for political meetings. In fact, they were very important in raising literacy levels among the working class families.

Like the miners that founded them many have no falling into disuse or been taken over by local councils and are no longer the focal point of local life. Many have lost their libraries and cinemas and no longer exist for their purpose.

The one in Blaenavon still has its cinema and, surprisingly, has been well looked after by the local council. It even has a bar for use by those their for entertainment or those who come in off the street. I really have to congratulate the council for doing something right in Blaenavon – after closing down the town’s swimming pool last year without consultation.

The concert was very good with Contorian Cyfartha – a female choir, 2 school girls – one of whom has a very good voice for a 10 year old and David Johnson – a user of the charity’s services – a good blues singer. I must admit that I had a very enjoyable evening, even if I did miss the football.

History Today:

1483 : Richard “Quasimodo” of York becomes king after declaring his nephews, Edward and Richard, illegitimate. They later died in mysterious circumstances in the Tower of London – not even CSI Vegas could solve this.

1857 : Queen Victoria awards the first Victoria Cross to 62 servicemen in Hyde Park. The medals are made from the bronze cannons siezed after the Charge of the Light Brigade.

1898 : Willy Meserschmitt is born. Altogether now… ACHTUNG SPITFIRE!!

1934 : Hitler purges his rivals, and his followers settle some old scores, during the ‘Night of the Long Knives’. However mistakes were made as innocentpeople were murdered just because they had the same name as those on the list.

1945 : The charter of the United Nations is signed in San Francisco. About the only time they agreed on anything.

1977 : Elvis performs his last concert in Indianapolis – 2 months later he dies.

Very Busy

History Today :

1948 : The “Berlin Airlift” begins. The Western Allies decide that they will supply West Berlin via the air to obstruct Soviet attempts to take control of the entire city. All food stuffs, coal and other supplies for flown in by air everday. Thankfully this totally defeated the Soviet’s attempts at removing us from the city. However this failure did lead to the building of the Berlin Wall in 1960.

1950 : North Korea invades South Korea by crossing the 38th Parallel, this starting the Korean War. This led to a stalemate as my Dad successfully fought back the Asian hordes. However, from subsequent films and TV programmes you’d never know that us Brits were there – it seems that this was another war won by American “arms”.

1991 : Croatia and Slovenia declare independence from Yougoslavia, this helps spar 8 years of war in the Balkans.

Did you see a link in the above???

Zimbabwe Again

With the terrible events being played out in Zimbabwe, today’s newspaper headlines are clammering for a military intervention. This shows how desparate we are to find a solution.

Love him or hate him, Mugabe has managed to negate the opposition in Zimbabwe. Since he lost the last election, and forced a fake run off, he has managed to tighten hold on power. This has been with the help of his military commanders who fear for their future in a Mugabeless Zimbabwe.

The oppostion has been brutally suppressed and out manouvered at every turn. The decision by Morgan Tsvangirai to seek refuge in the Dutch embassy has only given more ammunition to Mugabe’s propaganda machine. “Why did he choose the Dutch and not an African embassy? Because he is in the pay of the white colonialist powers.” is what is being said.

So who would supply the troops for a military effort to depose him? His African neighbours? The UN? THe Brits or US?

The answer is none of them.

The UN are powerless because the Chinese, and probably the Russians, will veto any such move in the Security Council. South Africa, it’s biggest and most powerful neighbour, has too many internal difficulties of its own. IN addition the ANC is divided over their response. President Mbeki has done, and saidm, nothing. Zuma. the ANC leader, is saying that Zimbabwe should be pressured into changing but he has no real power, as yet.

The US and UK are incapable of mounting such action as they are over committed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The French and other European nations are not interested.

At the end of the day Zimbabwe has nothing. Mugabe and his cohorts have bled the country dry. The infrastructure. once the envy of Africa, is in ruins; agriculture has been destroyed by droughts but more importantly by the action of Zanu PF’s “War Veterans” in siezing white farms; the minerals that they have are being left unmined because they can’t sell them and the equipment for extraction is in need of essential repair.

Zimbabwe was once the “bread basket” of Southern Africa. Now it will be years before it can get back to that level of production. It’s not the soil that’s the problem – that’s still very fertile – it’s the fact that there are few people left with the skills, or equipment, to use it properly.

A Zimbabwean man and woman were on Five Live yesterday, speaking from Bulawayo and Harare respectively. They said that they’d welcome any military intervention if it guaranteed to make things better. That is how desparate things are there. They don’t want further sanctions, or the power to be cut off, they want their neighbours to help free them of this tyranny.

The problem is that Mugabe knows that no one will.

History Today :

1314 : Robert The Bruce leads a Scottish army in victory over the English at Bannockburn. “and sent them homeward to think again”.

1717 : The Grand Lodge of English Freemasons was formed. Nudge, nudge, secret handshake….

1812 : Napoleon begins his invasion of Russia with 614,000 men. Thankfully they were defeated by the Moscow Symphony Orchestra playing the 1812 Overture at Borodin a few months later.

1850 : Horatio Kitchener is born – Your Country Needs YOOOOOOOUUUUUU!!!!

1948 : Soviet forces begin the land blockade of West Berlin to drive the Western powers out. They hadn’t reckoned with our enginuity in airlifting West Berlin away from trouble.

Weekend

We had a very good but tiring weekend this week.

Saturday saw us having an easy start seeing us go to Blaenavon for lunch and then to a fete at the Welsh primary school at which FW is a governor. I needed to escape fairly quickly as the place was rather crowded and hot.

Then we went to get Sad Sister and the Troublesome Trucks. After a month we were finally off to see Indiana Jones & The Half Baked Storyline. I must say that I did find the film “pleasant” but did not really fulfil my hoped for desire.

It ticked all the right boxes but never really seemed to reach any peaks. The story seemed to be more intent on moving from expected event to expected event. It never really did anything new but didn’t do the other things as well as Episodes 1 & 3. It was on a par with Temple of Doom realy.

Yesterday we went to chapel and then back to Blaenavon for the Model Railway show they had. It was only 5 layouts, in differing states of completion, but it was well worth the visit. The layout of a working coal mine was very good, complete with wagon tipper.

Then, after the weekly shop, we went to get Best Man, who is back from Belgium for a few weeks.

History Today:

1757 : Robert Clive defeats Suraja Dowla at the Battle of Plassey, gaining control of North East India for the British.

1894 : The International Olympic Committee is founded by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, a French aristocat. Bribery and corruption soon followed as elements of the modern Olympic spirit.

1972 : Britain dismantles the “Sterling Zone” of 45 nations that linked their currency to the pound. Claims that is was made of Meccano were soon dismissed.

Sporting Excuse & Dutch Confusion

With Euro 2008 at the half way point we are already seeing excuses fro teams that have been knocked out.

French coach Raymond Domenech knows exactly why his side failed so miserably at Euro 2008. It was the team’s hotel. “The layout of the hotel was all wrong,” he said. “It was in a kind of cul-de-sac with only one route in and out. Plus, there were no proper directives from the Swiss about gatherings of people watching us eat.” (Daily Express)

However my favourite story is this one:

Switzerland’s railway staff will now wear yellow vests instead of orange ones after Dutch fans followed a worker onto the tracks as they thought he was a football fan. (Daily Telegraph)

History Today:

1389 : Ottoman sultan Murad I defeats the Serbs at the Battle of Kosovo, a key event in Serbian history and the reason that they don’t want modern Kosovo to be independent.

1756 : Nawab of Bengal – Siraj Ud Daulah – omprisons 146 Europeans in the “Black Hole of Calcutta. Only 23 survive.

1837 : Princess Victoria becomes queen, following the death of her uncle King William IV – the “Sailor King”.

1984 : O levels are replaced by GCSE exams in a major shake up of the education system.

Blah Blah Blah

Have you noticed how politicians change their minds as often as we change pants?

For the last few years the issue of GM foods has faded from the headlines. Now we hear that our Supreme Leader has decided that GM foods are the best way to tackle the problems with world agriculture. He doesn’t seem to acknowledge that we don’t want them but wants to force them on us. Much like parents do with cabbage and brocolli – “eat it, it’s good for you”.

There is no recognition that part of our present problems with rising grains prices is down to our politicians encouraging the growing of crops to be used in the production of biofuels. Of course, by doing so we will help to save the environment – yet consign many to death through starvation.

Biofuels are not as environmentally friendly as people will have us believe. There is still doubt that the carbon offsets promised will actually be achieved. It’s another case, like GM crops, where science is promising things that are not yet completely proven.

In addition Rev G W Bush, of the Church of The Latterday Morons, and his follower Mr Oven Chip, want to allow oil companies be restart offshore drilling. This has been banned for many years due to the environmental impact but it seems that cheap oil is now very important to the US and other countries.

Why have they never shown the same desire to explore and develop other alternatives? We had the first real electric car 10-15 years ago but this was recalled by GM shortly after release. Not because the customers didn’t like them but because of pressure from Big Oil.

Everyone agrees that there is something wrong with our environment and that something needs to be done. The problem is that no one seems to want care enough to do something about it. It’s no good taxing people’s travel habits – we all have to travel for work and leisure – if nothing is done to resolve the situation.

We need affordable alternatives within the next 5-10 years at the most. Those of us who will never be able to afford a new car need to be provided with an affordable option instead. Yet that would be self-defeating as governments would lose the tax revenues that they now depend upon to fund themselves.

No wonder no one wants to do anything quickly.

The government today anounced a plan to create cycle towns. Bristol is the first, with Cambridge, Stoke and others to follow. Yet the provision ios for 60- bicycles to be provided for rental in Bristol. What use is that and is this something that will really encurage people?

I want an alternative to driving everyday but an 80 mile round trip, more as I won’t be able to use the M4, by bicycle is out of the question. My attempt at using public transport failed as it took an hour each way longer and there were no bus connections from Bridgend station to my office 3 miles away.

I really hope that people will start to look at what is happening and find alternatives to those provided by our politicians. We need leaders who are actually going to work for our best interests, not the self serving prats the main parties seem to want elected.

Let’s find soemone with the “balls” to make the hard decisions that are needed.

Bimble,

If I wrote the consequences to every historical event I’d end up with one entry a month. As much as I like history, I do need to earn a living and talk to the wife – sorry, have her natter onto me.

History Today :

1215 : King John – BOOO!!! – and his barons seal teh Magna Carta at Runnymede. 2008 our government decide to “run a truck” through our liberties.

1829 : The Metropolitan Police Act is given Royal Assent and a paid, uniformed police force is establishjed in London. Nicknamed “Peelers” after Robert Peel who introduced the Act.

1953 : Julius and Ethel Rosenburg are executed in New York for passing US atomic secrets to the Soviets.

They’re Not Real – They’re Australian!

This was something that I said to FW during a conversation on the weekend.

Following our enjoyment of The Boss’ concert on the weekend we have decided to spead our wings a little more. As such we are going to attend a concert a Caldicott Castle – a grand title for a small place. As a celebration of our 3rd Anniversary we will be attending a concert performed by Pink Floyd.

Many people may not be aware that Floyd are playing this venue, there has been little publicity about it. Maybe that is because you need to add the A word from the band’s title first. Several people I know have been to see them and Dave Gilmour himself has only had positive things to say about them; his Bentley was seen outside a recent gig they did in Brixton.

I’m sure I’m right in thinking that the 3rd Anniversary is Floyd…..

History Today:

1429 : Joan of Arc defeats the English at Patay.

1812 : The War of 1812 begins as the US declares war on Britain for interfereing with their trade with France, with whom we were at war as well. Is this what they mean by the “Special Relationship” we have with the Yanks. Remember in Gulf War II, “The Bush Strikes Back”, it was us who were stupid enough to help out, not those frog eating surrender monkies.

1815 : Wellington kicks Napoleon’s butt at Waterloo – not the station in London but the place in Belgium – you know Belgium, the most boring country in the world.

1900 : Empress Dowager Cixi orders the killing of all foreigners in China, in support of the “Boxer” rebellion. 108 years later we return for the Olympics – hope we don’t get a repeat performance.

Saint’s Day :

St Elizabeth the patron(ess?) saint of those fighting temptation.

Democratic Manipulation

Bimble, I think that the worse thing that could ever happen is that we will be forced to listen to “Cheesey” pop songs and shout exclamations in effeminate voices. There are worse things…. Being forced to watch Graham Norton or Paul o’Grady are others.

The other thing that seems to be causing unrest is the Lisbon Treaty. This is the EU’s attempt to force through a new governance system following the rejection of the Nice Treaty. In no way is this the same thing reconstituted under a new name – so they tell us.

By rejecting it last week the Irish put an end to it becoming law. Unfortunately our proud leaders haven’t taken this on board. The EU are saying that all other countries must ratify the Treaty without delay. How this will help they do not say as rejection by one country has supposedly killed the treaty off.

It is odd that our political leaders seem hell bent on ignoring the wishes of the people. This is not like them at all, after all Europe is a democracy not some Third World state that rigs elections or ignores the will of the people. How can we tell Zimbabwe that they are led by an evil dictator when our own, unelected, leaders are doing the same?

Do you think that many of our leaders are so scared that they’ll lose any vote on European integration that that is why they won’t allow us to have a referendum on this? What would happen to them if 3 or 4 countries refused to ratify thev treaty? Why they’d just carry on forcing new versions of the same treaty onto us until either we said yes or they were completely defeated and their dream died with them.

Maybe the EU is all about do as I say, not as I do.

History Today:

1239 : The future King Edward I is born – bad news for the Welsh and Scots.

1703 : John Wesley was born. Great joy for Methodists every where.

1775 : British troops win the Battle of Bunker Hill, the first major battle of the American War of Independence. Proof that one victory does not win a war.

1940 : 3000 troops and refugees die after the RMS Lancastria is sunk by German bombers. This is Britain’s worst maritime disaster. You may not have heard about it before, after all very few rich and famous people were
invloved.

1972 : Burglars break into the Democratic Party offices in Washington D.C. We know this better as “Watergate”, the hotel their office was based in. Not to be confused with Contragate, Nannygate etc – these were mere child’s play in comparison.