Chummy referees

A few days ago Tony Moybray, the West Brom manager, suggested what many fans have suspected for some time when he made clear that some referees are too chummy with certain top players.

I remember well when Norwich were in the Premiership that tackles were not met with even punishment when playing top teams. Referees would stand having long chats with Rooney, Henry, Lampard and others whilst being happy to waive a yellow card the first time a "star" player was tackled.

Tony Moybray did not say that referees were biased, for to do so would incur an FA charge, but I do not blame him at all for thinking that is is the case, even if he is forbidden to say it.

Another example of this "big team", "star player" bias has just been seen on Sky TV with a Stoke player being sent off for no more than a hard but not dangerous tackle on England international Shaun Wright-Phillips, whilst Shaun Wright-Phillips two footed lunge ( a straight red car) followed by a retaliation kick out at the Stoke player (again another straight read card) was ignored and he received no punishment.

Fans from most premiership club suspect that refs show bias towards the big teams and stats tend to show this to be true with The Real Result website showing the Sky 4 (Liverpool, Man Utd, Arsenal and Chelsea) to be 6 points better of than they should be.

It's about time referees stopped showing institutional bias and stopped referring to "Frank" or "Wayne" and instead referred to everyone in the same way, be they a Stoke reserve player who is not a household name or an England international whose wife appears on ITV 2.

Update : Today (Sunday 1st Feb), just a day after Rory Delap was sent of for Stoke, Steven Gerrard (England International) committed the exact same offence in a match and ... was simply told off by the referee with no card being produced. Another example of stunning double standards.


Time to re-educate judges ?

A few days ago two men guilty of raping a woman with learning disabilities then throwing caustic soda at her were given ludicrously low sentences for their sickening crimes. The attorney general has now called for a review of their sentences.

Today those responsible for protecting the killer of Rhys Jones, those responsible for giving him the gun and those who provided a false alibi were given sentences ranging from probation up to seven years. The person given seven years will be out of prison in just three years. They were reported to have cheered the sentences they were given, winking to people in court and were heard laughing as they were led away. Quite clearly they could not believe the ludicrously light sentences they were given. Clearly the judge that gave out this sentences lives on a different planet from everyone else.

The question is though, what faith do people have in our justice system when judges apply such appalling sentences on people who have committed such awful crimes ? What message does this sent to criminals ? Isn't it time for some judges to be retired or retrained ?

Anecdotes and Alcohol

Sir Liam Donaldson, the Chief Medical Officer, tried to explain his decision to advise that alcohol for for under 15s should be prohibited by parents, by using some of the most bizarre reasoning I have heard in recent years.

Firstly he tried to debunk the arguments that many people give that a little bit of alcohol for teenagers can make teens more responsible with alcohol later on by arguing that some people, some children, some adults, cannot differentiate between right and wrong so this blurs things, then he went on to state that some people do not know what a small amount is or they don't actually seek to control or limit children's alcohol intake. In effect he was saying that because a few, the ignorant and those who don't care, fail to control their children or have children that cannot be controlled, all parents should exercise prohibition of alcohol to children. A worrying argument in itself.

Then Sir Liam tried to make the medical point about alcohol. When pressed by Nicky Campbell as to what damage a small glass of alcohol for a 14 year old would cause, Sir Liam had no real answer other than to repeat his previous argument that those who drink to excess would damage their brains. So in effect small amounts do NOT cause damage, but as with anything, large amounts might. Again, this argument was weak and does not add up.

So Nicky Campbell made the point about millions of responsible parents who give their children small amounts of alcohol and have children who do not turn out to be binge drinkers. Sir Liam's response was that anecdotal evidence about "middle class parents" was not something that a real judgment could be made on, and instead he returned to his argument about people who don't apply rules or standards for their children.

Okay, anecdotes are no way to make policy, but I think we all know someone brought up around careful alcohol use who turned out not to be an alcoholic, but Sir Liam does not care for this.

So what did Sir Liam do next to justify himself ? He used a personal anecdote about his visit to France and having a meal with a French family to make a general assumption about British children compared to French ones because of one conversation.

For goodness sake Sir Liam, don't lecture us on anecdotes being no basis on which to make policy then use an anecdote to prove your arguments are correct.

I have to say Sir Liam's whole argument was full of holes and was basically all about stopping the majority doing something responsibly because a few do not follow good advice.

Green PPC opens his mouth and shows his ignorance

The local news this evening featured a Green PPC spouting on about how unfair it is that councillors do not have the right to overrule a planning inspector.

Let's be clear about this, the planning inspector applies the law of the land and like it or not, this should be the basis on which planning applications are made.

Does this dim Green want a return to the bad old days when applications could be turned down on a whim with no way of redress ?

Sadly it was just blatant populism from the Green and showed exactly why he is a Green and not in a party capable of winning a parliamentary seat.


Why are banks offering such expensive loans

I got a letter today from my bank offering me a car loan.

Now you would imagine that with interest rates at an all time low a need for banks to restart lending in order to kick start the economy, that bank loans ought to be cheaper than they were in the past. However the rate highlighted as the typically APR was 0.6% higher than the rate I could have got last year.

Is it any wonder that consumer spending is stalled and nobody wants to buy a new car when car loans are so much more expensive.

Putting the "Great" back in to "Great" Britain

If there is one thing that really gets my back up it is people who say that something "puts the Great back in to Great Britain", seemingly totally unaware that the name "Great Britain" refers to the island we live on, not actually the name of our country.

Watching the news tonight I saw some bloke making this statement when talking about HMS Daring, the new Royal Navy destroyer.

Perhaps it is a sad reflection on our country at the moment that this chap actually believed what he was saying.


The Russel Brand good news the Daily Mail won't want to print

On BBC Look East this evening they reported on a charity that helps to rehabilitate people addicted to drugs who are having their government funding cut by 30%, despite a 40% increase in the number of people seeking treatment. Faced with closure, the Bury St Edmunds Charity "Focus 12" has been saved by comedian Russell Brand who has given them £30,000 and has pledged to raise £60,000 per year every year from now on for the charity.

Possibly the sort of good news the Daily Scum won' t be interest in.

Impartiality is hard won but easily lost - Why the BBC is right

I am heartily sick of the campaign against the BBC from the usual suspects, but also people who should know better after the BBC put its impartiality in front of taking sides in the Gaza conflict.

Now before anyone jumps in to attack me they ought to check my record on the Gaza conflict. I was and remain deeply critical of Israel, believe they were wrong to attack, I believe they have committed war crimes and I think those who supported without reservation Israel should be ashamed of themselves.

Those pro Gaza groups and politicians now protesting forget that the BBC was the only news organisation in the world getting regular news reports from its own journalists based in Gaza during the conflict. Compare the BBC's coverage of the conflict compared to the US networks and you will see why the BBC was regarded internationally as the TV station that gave the whole news as opposed to the Israeli news. Were it not for the BBC's ability to get to places where other news organisations couldn't go, the real story of Gaza may not have been told and Israel would have been able to hide evidence of its war crimes. This is the real message which has been lost by those berating the BBC over the weekend.

Eighteen months ago the BBC trust said the BBC was too willing to hand over its channels to the DEC when it ran an appeal for Darfur whilst the channel was also found to be lacking impartiality when episodes of the Vicar of Dibley ignored the idea of a plot and instead became adverts for Make Poverty History. If the BBC can be found to be wrong for supporting Make Poverty History it shows just what a fine line the BBC would have been treading if it had run the DEC disaster appeal.

I am, perhaps, most disappointed by the number of Lib Dem MPs who have joined the bandwagon against the BBC, but who ever it is signing motions or printing stories, remember that Sky News too shared the BBCs concerns whilst ITV, Channel 4 and Five had much to gain by making the BBC seem alone in its decision. If you were watching ITV News you would imagine that Sky News did not exist as the BBC are painted as the "only" channel not running the appeal.

If the BBC had run the appeal, what would have happened next time a major world event occurred where the BBC might have had the ability to expose the truth but were denied the opportunity because they were not trusted ? We'd have blamed the BBC for ruining its reputation.


An odd sort of spectacle

A few months ago Wells-Next-The-Sea in North Norfolk woke up one cold spring morning to find a sheep had been kicked to death by a number of teenagers. The police got involved, arrest were made, and the people of Wells felt sickened that such people exist in our society.

After reading THIS, it makes you wonder whether these youths might be labelled as talented in some countries ?

What is it with civil libertarians and Twitter ?

I love the whole argument that so many people have (and I share) that ID cards, CCTV cameras and many other things the government want to use to track us are infringing our rights, yet then so many of these people then get Twitter, which seems to be a system to allow people to snoop in to your life and let everyone know where you are, what you are doing, what you had for tea, and is the very antithesis of the privacy argument.

I know that people can volunteer what information they put on to Twitter and I know that it does not do any harm, and I also know I will get people shouting me down for saying this, but it just seems to be at odds with the whole privacy argument.

Will Labour out-sleaze the Tories by the time the next election happens ?

Anyone old than 30 years of age will remember how in the period from 1993-1997 the word "sleaze" became almost permanently attached to the word "Tory" as the Tory party lurched from one self inflicted wound to another. When I read some young Conservative blogs I just wonder how keen they would be to be Conservative if they could actually remember what a Tory government was like. However, Labour seem to be in some sort of competition with the Tories to "out-sleaze" them before they are, hopefully, kicked out of office some time next year.

The latest from Mr Brown's sleaze merchants is that some Labour Lords are being accused of offering to put for amendments to government bills for a fee.

Truly appalling and another reason why the Tories can still rely on a comfortable lead in the polls this year as it seems that governments in crisis cannot help but shoot themselves in the foot.


How low will the Roman Catholic church go ?

The Pope has brought shame on the Roman Catholic Church, it is reported, by letting back in to the Catholic church a Bishop who denies the existence of gas chambers and believes only 200,000 to 300,000 Jews actually perished at the hands of Nazi Germany.

In other words, the Pope is giving his blessing to a holocaust denier.

On the back of comments he made just a few weeks ago which most would describe as homophobic, you have to wonder what damage his words are doing to the Roman Catholic church as a whole.

What a skewed list of priorities the Pope has.

What purpose does David Pleat serve ?

ITV have something of a love affair with David Pleat, a former football manager who is best known for his conviction for kerb crawling more than him winning trophies. It seems that someone at ITV thinks that David Pleat is the ideal sidekick to a commentator. I disagree.

Surely a co-commentator should be able to pronounce foreign players names ? Surely the ability to pronounce English players names correctly ought to be a prerequisite for any so called football expert ? Obviously not for ITV though.

What is the point of ITV running a first class broadcast if their co commentator cannot say the name Luka Modric without calling him "Mod -Rick".

What do the israel apologists and BBC haters do now ?

Since Israel started its campaign and war crimes in Gaza, there have been numerous Israel apologists and BBC haters on various blogs choosing to use the BBC's news coverage as evidence that the BBC is biased against Israel and that the BBC is evil.

Now, with the BBC refusing to broadcast an appeal for aid to be sent to Gaza, where are the BBC haters and Israel apologists now ?

The big problem for the BBC haters is that they always hold up Sky as an example to compare the BBC against. However, Sky have also refused to broadcast the appeal, thus removing this angle of attack.

The most succinct explanation of the recession

I overheard two financial advisers chatting in the changing rooms at the gym yesterday and one of them gave the most succinct explanation of the recession that I have heard.

"The difference between this recession and the one in 1990 was in 1990 I had lots of mortgages to sell, but no clients. This time I have loads of people wanting mortgages, but none to offer them"


Two adverts that are a waste of time

Two adverts strike me as being the most annoying on TV at the moment, but for very different reasons.

The first is NatWest advertising that they have "advisers in over 1000 branches who give free money saving advice". This is the same NatWest who are owned by RBS, who in turn are now 70% owned by the taxpayer because they were so shoddy at making investments in the first place. It's a bit like taking advice on childcare from the mother of Shannon Matthews !

The second advert that annoys me is the one urging people to become teachers. As a teacher I welcome anything that promotes the profession. However, they were reporting on the radio the other day that there had been a marked jump in applications for teaching courses and there seems to be little need for an advertising campaign when there are no shortages of applications. More than that, its a total waste of taxpayers money.

Celebrity Big Brother - Ulrika wins !!!! What the F*ck ?

I cannot believe that Ulrika Jonsson has won Celebrity Big Brother.

A number of work colleagues watch the show and I don't know one that wanted her to win, and listening to the audience outside the Big Brother house, nobody in the crowd wanted her to win.

I guess it could proves one thing.

That if you don't vote your opinions don't count.


Tired of media trained spokesmen ?

I am sick to death of media trained PR spokesmen for trade bodies giving pre-prepared evasive answers to questions in defence of the indefensible.

A classic example was today on BBC breakfast news when a spokesman for the trade body representing supermarkets ignored every question he was asked in relation to the Dispatches Channel 4 documentary about "value" own brand products.

The constant repetition of the line "Our customers like out products" and "sales of our value range products is rising", ignored questions asking why own brand products contained so little nutritional value.

Media training by companies has proved to be the death of actual answers to real questions. Sadly, like our politicians, they tell us nothing.


Warning - Celebrity Big Brother Comment

A quick comment.

Why was La Toya Jackson so obsessed with watching the inauguration of Barack Obama when she made the point early on in the series that she was a Jehovah's Witness ? Surely JW's don't vote ?

Stockwell on ITV

ITV showed a well made docu-drama this evening showing the shocking way in which the police cocked up at almost every level well killing Jean Charles de Menezes on Stockwell tube.

What ITV did gloss over was the fact that the court now accepts that those police officers lied when they said

1) That Jean Charles de Menezes jumped barriers at the station.

2) They shouted clear warnings to him.

3) They said he walked towards them in a threatening manner.

The question remains why the police can effectively assassinate someone on the London underground, why officers can tell lies to court yet the rule of law does not apply to them.

EXCLUSIVE - CPS send letter about sex offences conviction to wrong person - EXCLUSIVE

A regular reader of my blog contacted me this afternoon very concerned about a letter he received from the Crown Prosecution Service.

The letter he received was regarding a minor traffic offence, but inside his letter was another letter giving detailed information about someone else's criminal conviction for sexual offences.

The CPS ought to take this matter extremely seriously and I have advised the source of this information to contact the press regarding this matter.

It seems clear from the letter that

1) The CPS made a mistake in the first instant by giving incorrect information (which is made clear in the final paragraph)

2) They have compounded this by then sending this letter to the wrong person.

I have friends who have dreadful tales to tell about the incompetence of the CPS when they have been witnesses or victims of crime, and this case cannot make anyone confident that they actually do a decent job.

Note - Obviously we do not want to offend any of the victims in this case and have even blurred the name of the caseworker in this case, but we do have the full unmarked letter as evidence of the CPS's failings.


Inflation - A well know fact that the government ignored

Why did it take the government so long to understand that their failure to act promptly a few months ago has actually made the recession worse.

Last April I predicted that the failure to cut interest rates was tying people in to long term fixed rate mortgages (and 80% of people are on fixed rate mortgages) so the government's sudden recent drops in interest rates are only benefiting 20% of mortgage holders, and is therefore having very little impact in providing a fiscal stimulus.

I repeated the point again in July, but still the government were oblivious.

Now we are in a situation where 80% of people are locked in to high mortgage rates for the next 3-5 years, thus making what might have been a short recession in to a long term depression.

And all these problems have been caused in the name of fighting inflation, which everyone knew would soon drop once the recession started. You only have to look at the precedent of the mini credit crunch Japan suffered a few years ago for a real example when inflation turned to deflation, yet our government was blind to this.

Whilst I cannot for one moment follow the Tory line that this worldwide recession is the fault of Gordon Brown, I am of the opinion that all the government action now is necessary in order to make up for their lack of action as the recession started.

Schoolboy moment during Obama inauguration

Please tell me I wasn't the only one who thought it funny when Aretha Franklin paused during a line in the song 'my Country Tis of Thee' halfway through the word 'country' ?

I have to admit I never expected Aretha Frankling to call Barack Obama "my Count................ry" (and it rhymed with runt).


The wonder of Norfolk County Council highways department

A road near me has been closed for some weeks whilst Norfolk County Highways made road improvements in order to improve safety and the road conditions.

So imagine my delight when driving over the new speed bump this evening that they have put in to find that the puddle on the other side was not a puddle but was, instead, a deep hole which immediately punctured my tyre !

It seems astonishing that they could do such a poor job of a road improvement.

I shall be out photographing the road and the hole and will be sending my bill for the new tyre to Norfolk County Council.

East Anglian Boy

Check out this remixed and reworked version of Estelle's American Boy, specially altered to be about East Anglian Boy.

Yes, it is self parody and no we are not all like that.


Norfolk BNP meeting cancelled by pub

The BNP attempt to use a false name to book a meeting at a pub but has been thwarted after the landlord got news of what was planned and cancelled the booking.

The BNP, so proud of their name, used a false name in order to trick the landlord in to allow the booking. Well done to the landlord. Anyone booking something under false pretences has got to be suspicious.

In defence of the City of Norwich

I really could not have mounted a better defence of the city of Norwich than Malcolm Redfellow does HERE.

Well worth a read.

Tony Hart dies

I was really sad to read that children's TV presenter Tony Hart died.

Anyone of my generation will remember Vision On, Take Hart, and all sorts of other things that he was involved with ranging from Morph to "The Gallery". I was never a good artist, but he gave people like me the confidence to take on things at art and have a go.

Gaza ceasefire from Israel shows up their war aims as a lie

Israel started bombing Gaza at Christmas with two avowed war aims. Firstly, to neuter Hamas and turn the people of Gaza against them, and the second was to stop the missile attacks on Israel and end the means by which these missiles can get in to Hamas in the first place. Clearly with the announcement that Israel has announced a unilateral ceasefire these war aims have been shown to be lies.

Why do I say they are lies ? Because Hamas are as strong as ever in terms of their support in Gaza. There is no greater way of making an unpopular government popular than by having them stand shoulder to shoulder with the civilian population during a war. Israel has helped Hamas be seen, like Hezbollah in Lebanon, as the only people standing up for the ordinary people.

As for Israel's second aim, all the experts make clear that the tunnels from Egypt have been disrupted, but not closed whilst missile attacks continue on Israel, showing this object has also not been met.

Israels real aims seem to be clearer when we take in to account that Barack Obama takes charge in the US in two days. Israels real war aims were to lash out and cause as much damage as possible before Obama took charge, nothing more or less complicated than that. After all, if Israel calls a ceasefire without achieving any of their war aims, what other possible reason could there be for their attacks ?

UPDATE - This story must make Israeli apologists very proud.


The hypocrisy of our Foreign Secretary

The Indian government has taken great umbrage at David Miliband linking terrorism in Mumbai with India's continued problems in Indian controlled Kashmir.

It does seem odd that India cannot see that what happens in Kashmir is a continual recruitment banner for any Islamist who wants to radicalise younger Muslims or who wants to hang their hatred of India on to something tangible. Anyone who cannot see this is blind to the problem and will never solve it.

The odd thing though is that Miliband is part of the same government who cannot see a linkage between growing radicalisation of Muslim youths in Britain and the invasion of Iraq ? Utter hypocrisy from Labour and Mr Miliband yet again.

We cannot go around lecturing others on problems and solutions whilst we choose to ignore the lessons we are giving others. It seems that wee are too keen to act like an old colonial power who knows best rather than a modern country that has learned from its own mistakes.


People who really should stop preaching

Was I the only person who felt rather annoyed to see Oscar winning actress Emma Thompson lecturing us all on the need for less flights in the light of the go ahead for a third runway at Heathrow ?

I am assuming that Emma Thompson, when working on each film she has done in America, has not chosen to cross the Atlantic by cruise ship and I doubt very much that I will clock up as many air miles as her if I lived for one thousand years, so in the same way as the Green Party in Norwich have some of the most travelled councillors you would ever meet who like to lecture us in these parts on air travel, I get rather narked when receiving lectures from people who say do as I do, not as I say.

Israel deliberately target non military targets - Time for the Israel apologists to stop

Let's make one thing clear, I have no inner hatred of Israel and have no time or sympathy for Hamas. However, what Israel has perpetrated today in Gaza is a deliberate war crime.

One might have sympathy if they were attacking Hamas linked or controlled media because they may feel that these "state" organs are guilty of propaganda. But deliberately targeting independent media , as the Israelis have done today is appalling.

Then there is the bombing of a hospital. Israel have all the GPS information on hospital locations, they know exactly where they are, so this has to be a deliberate act.

Finally, and perhaps worst, deliberately firing two phosphorous artillery shells at the main UN compound, is beneath contempt. Phosphorous shells are deliberately used in order to start fires. You would not use phosphorous for surgical strikes, as Israel claim. In fact the only reason for their use on the UN compound must be in order to burn the food stored there.

Please don't respond with "but Hamas are firing missiles in to Israel". I know this, but there is responsibility on states to act in a better and controlled way than terrorists, if not they only legitimise the terrorists, which is exactly what Israel are achieving at the moment.


They are not green shoots

So one Labour peer seems to think she has seen signs of green shoots in the economy. I think we would all disagree. They are not green shoot, they are a dead plant.

By the way, what a fabulous name Baroness Vadera is, it sounds like the female other half of Lord (Darth) Vader.

You could just imagine them being announced at a function "Lord Vader and Baroness Vadera".



I would love to have the nerve to do what Chris Evans did to the Police !

Well done to him.

Time for The News At Ten to bring back the jobs map ?

Anyone who remembers the years of job losses under Thatcher and the Tories during much of the 1980s will surely remember the News At Ten's regular roundup on every Friday evening bringing figures of all the redundancies announced during the previous seven days, and all those new jobs announced.

It used to be a rather bleak thing, with you being able to see a snapshot of the misery the country was suffering, but given all the news of job redundancies that we hear every day, you have to wonder if we are not in need of the job map in order to keep track of all the bad news, and hopefully to make us aware of any good news too.


Has the election happened already ?

On "The One Show", on BBC a few minutes ago

"On tomorrow's show, possibly the new Prime Minister, David Cameron !"

Odd, I didn't know the election had taken place.

You'd expect a TV presenter to know the difference between "next" and "new".


Wipe the slate clean - What a load of empty rhetoric

I am sorry to go on about David Cameron. As you well know if you are a regular reader, I am no fan of "Dave", who for me makes lots of noise but little sense, and this is best exemplified today by Cameron's comments that he would "wipe the slate clean". What does this mean ?

Wiping the slate clean in real life means clearing all debts, starting completely afresh. Is he really saying all debts would be written off or is he trying to use this language merely to imply this to people ? The truth is that of course he will not be wiping any slates clean. He simply wants to use empty words in order to gets more headlines.

So what did he announce today ? Basically he talked of cuts in services and spending money he had already announced had been allocated elsewhere. So what ?


How does trashing Starbucks help the people of Gaza ?

I see that the march in support of the people of Gaza in London has ended up with things being thrown at the police and a branch of Starbucks being attacked.

As the BBC reports,

"But as darkness fell a small number of people, several hundred, have begun confronting police and missiles have been thrown," he said.

"Although these are ugly and unwelcome scenes, they do not represent what has happened for most of the afternoon."
It's a sad fact that there are a number of Trots who join any demonstration in order to attack the police or shops and care little about any cause other than causing mayhem.

Total Wipeout on the BBC - Total rubbish on my TV

Nobody should assume that I am some sort of TV snob. I like The X-Factor, I like Eastenders, indeed I even enjoyed the BBCs recent Saturday night show "Hole In The Wall". However, the new series "Total Wipeout" really does the BBC no favours at all.

Why, for starters do they have the show presented from London by Richard Hammond, with a his commentary put on several weeks after the show was actually recorded, with the action back projected behind him ? This seems really rather cheap and nasty and reminiscent of Takeshi's Castle, which if you don't know already, is a rather pointless and banal Japanese forerunner of "Total Wipeout", which is shown on obscure satellite channels by SKY with a dubbed British commentary.

But worse is the fact that people are given £10,000 if they win this competition on top of the fact that all 20 competitors are already flown to Buenos Aires (where the show is filmed) along with, so it appears, several members of their family. Despite the fact that the show's production values appear cheap, clearly this is not a cheap show to put together.

For me the problem this programme faces is that in a household like mine with two adults and one 18 month old child in it, the only person actually enjoying the show was the 18 month child, my wife started to read and I decided that the internet was a better option. Surely that says it all ?

I'm not going to knock the BBC though. They do need to try and appeal to different audiences and engage with every type of viewer. They also have to try to make shows that draw in viewers as many of those who so loathe the BBC want the BBC to become a niche broadcaster with a small number of viewers so that they can justify scrapping the license. I just hope though that the BBC does not give these people more ammunition and that if the viewing figures are poor for this show they will make sure that it is the first and last series of Total Wipeout.

You can tell a lot about a country from its government website

It is clear to everyone that Zimbabwe is literally starving to death with a population malnourished, lacking the energy to revolt, living in fear of the repression of the government. The fact that Zimbabwe now produces virtually no goods, has nothing to sell abroad is made strikingly clear from the official website of the Zimbabwe government.

Clicking on this site you expect to see news, press releases, announcements, but no, not in Zimbabwe. Literally nothing is happening, and still the world looks on doing nothing.

Strange parallels

When watching the final moving episode of the Diary of Anne Frank on BBC One last night I wondered if it ought to become prescribed viewing for all those involved in conflict around the world.

The strange parallels between the Frank family being taken from their homes by German forces and the news that Israeli forces in Gaza moved scores of people deliberately to one location before shelling the house with artillery just seems crazy. Sadly though the Israeli state seems to have learnt nothing from the holocaust.

Take the Sabra and Shatila camps where the Israeli forces let in militia men to massacre people i the 1980s, take the consistent policy of independent journalists being targeted and even murdered by Israeli snipers, take the bombing of schools.

Whilst I wouldn't question that Israeli faces a clear and present danger from Hamas, but the Israeli government seem to think that the Holocaust is an excuse for any Israeli behaviour that goes beyond that expected within the Geneva Convention.

I boy in my class, aged just 7, said yesterday when looking at a globe in my classroom, "Oh, Israel, I've found Israel. I saw on the telly that they bomb schools".


Nice people those Tories

Nasty man. Well done to the Tory party for swiftly kicking him out. Perhaps not quite such a nasty party, just some nasty individuals.


Probably the last person the tories wanted to hear today

What a pleasant surprise it was to hear Lord (Norman) Lamont on the radio bemoaning the lack of a consistent policy from the government in the midst of the current economic crisis. It was pleasant simply because it reminded us all that it is not just the Labour party who are capable of massive mismanagement of the economy and the treasury.

To hear Norman Lamont go on about the government lacking a thought through policy and failing to give policies a chance to work was almost hilarious given the fact that Norman Lamont (ably assisted by David Cameron as one of his key advisor) managed to squander billions of pounds of tax payers money on one single day (Black Monday) in the early 1990s and famously changed interest three times in one day.

Yes, when it comes to economic advice, the last person we should be hearing from is Norman Lamont.

You could almost imagine the shock on the faces of people in CCHQ when they heard that the man who reminds everyone of Tory mismanagement of the economy was spouting off. Surely the last person they wanted to hear from.


Cameron on Tax said more about Cameron on Osborne

What an odd sight to see David Cameron making an announcement yesterday on tax which was based on what the Tories would do if they were in power now, not noticing that they are not actually in power now.

But more odd was the the shadow chancellor, Gideon Osborne sat on meekly watching as David Cameron made an announcement on taxation.

It spoke volumes about what the Tories think of Osborne.


At least it proves that someone's spelling is worse than mine

It looks to me as if the Eastern Daily Press' website needs a sub editor.

The death of local radio stations - Radio Broadland becomes Heart FM

Tomorrow a swathe of well liked and well listened to local radio stations will be abolished to become part of the Heart FM group. This move, which will see much local content gone, with only the breakfast shows retaining any real local link are part of Heart FM's attempt to pretend to be a national network (whilst not paying for a national radio license), but essentially is about saving money.

The question for me is will they retain listeners ? Our local station, Radio Broadland, has been going for 25 years and has a good listener base, but this is based firmly on the fact that they are local, the people who phone in are local, the DJs make reference to local events and people like this familiarity. My guess is that listeners will abandon Radio Broadland/Heart for other local stations which retain the local link. This is good news for Radio Norwich and North Norfolk Radio, who sound very much like Radio Broadland used to 10 years ago, but it really is bad news for local radio across the country.

There have been ongoing attempts by numerous radio stations to merge across the country for a number of years and become parts of national radio chains. The sad thing is that this removes from the listeners the very reason local radio stations exist. The whole point is that Radio Local, what ever its name in your area, is meant to be "a local radio station" for "local people". It's a bit like taking a packet of crisps and turning it in to a packet of nuts. They might both serve the same purpose, but they are totally different things.

Lucy Pinder - The most irritating voice in Britain ?

I know Tories are getting excited about Celebrity Big Brother contestant Lucy Pinder claiming to be a "Tory girl", but I can't get over what an irritating voice she has. I guess with breasts like hers, you can see why she is photographed and not listened to !

99p pints never did me any harm

When pubs are closing at the rate of nearly 5 a week in response to the low prices being charged by supermarkets for alcohol coupled with the recession, it seems rather ludicrous for health groups to moan about one pub chain offering a pint for 99p.

As I recall this was the price charged in my old student union from 1994-97 and I have to say it never did me any harm.

The problem with a lot of health campaigners is that they fail to understand that it is the rise of the supermarkets and the lack of control they have over who buys alcohol and the amount they consume that actually affects alcoholism much more than pubs, who an at least refuse service to someone who is incapable and they can, in theory face sanctions if they continue to allow people who are intoxicated to continue.

Indeed only last week there was a report of a pub landlord who reported two drunk parents to the police who turned up at his pub drunk with a child in a pram. Can you imagine Tesco doing that ?

When I heard Thatcher was to be hung in Downing Street I got all excited

But my enthusiasm was dampened when I read it is only a painting.

As Irfan Ahmed makes clear, this is a shocking waste of £100,000 of taxpayers money.


Political correctness gone mad in Sheffield

As a teacher, can I make plain that I think the headteacher in this case is daft !
I guess local road signs will also need to be changed to "Place of Learning" too ?

Reporter in peril ? Julian Mannion of ITV news

You have to laugh at the reporting on ITV news this evening. I don't doubt that Julian Mannion is actually in Israel reporting on the invasion of Gaza, but his constant repeating of the line "you can probably hear the explosions in the background", didn't alter the fact that you could hear no explosions, see no explosions, and to all intents and purposes it looked as if he was stood in a field just off the M25.

Lib Dems in coalition ... oh it's from the Daily Scum ... it must be a lie

Does anyone seriously believe anything that is printed in the Daily Mail ?

We all know that most of what they print comes straight from tory press releases and very little get printed about the Lib Dems unless it is an attempt to discredit the party.

I'm more likely to believe Russia Today, the Russian government's propaganda channel than I would the Daily Scum.

The death of the Playstation 3

People have for some time been saying that there was one thing that would save the Playstation 3 from failure, and that thing was its blu-ray disk player. However, it seems that instead of Blu-Ray being its saviour, it may well be the thing that kills the PS3.

With the collapse of HD-DVD, the only rival format for high definition DVDs a few months ago, it seemed Sony had a clear run and was therefore the only console that could offer both a high def DVD and a games system, and with Blu-Ray players themselves being so expensive at the time, the PS3 started to see sales pick up because the PS3 was, in effect, the cheapest blu-ray player on the market.

So this Christmas promised much for the PS3. It looked as if Sony might actually start to make money from its games division whilst the PS3 finally had the stand out title that was unique to the PS3 and would make people want a PS3 in order to buy the game. The game in question, Little Big Planet, is indeed a great game. But it has not been the outstanding seller that Sony had hoped for. Indeed figures show that in the US the biggest selling PS3 title last month was a multi format game that still only sold half the number that were sold for the XBox 360. Figures like this will make game developers wonder about whether supporting the PS3 is financially viable.

Perhaps most worrying though for Sony is the fact that PS3 sales were down last month. As the online version of the Wall Street Journal makes clear

"But early results from this holiday season aren't promising. U.S. sales of the PS3 fell 19% last month from a year earlier, while sales doubled for the Wii console and rose 8% for the Xbox 360, according to research firm NPD. Analysts say they expect PS3 sales for this month to be flat or lower than last year, while sales for its rivals are likely to rise"

So what accounts for this decline for PS3 whilst Wii and XBox 360 sales continue to rise, even in a recession ? The answer is Blu-Ray.

The fact is that you can now buy an excellent Panasonic (or even Sony) Blu-Ray DVD player for about £100 less than a Playstation 3. So people are no longer buying a PS3 for Blu-Ray.

So the PS3 with few unique games has lost its unique selling point. As is pointed out by many tech sites now, Sony are really on to a loser which will cost them dear.

So whilst the console wars might not be over, this might be the beginning of the end of Sony's claims to be able to win the war. What is absolutely clear is that Nintendo are the winners.


The immigrant myth

The story today about a survey of just 43 people who mistakenly believe that immigrants are given better benefits, access to housing and basically an easy time compared to white British people.

Of course these are myths, but more must be done to dispel the fact that benefits are not piled up high in to wheelbarrows for every immigrant who visits the DSS, but likewise, people ought to know better than to believe every rumour they hear.

I remember when I was a councillor in Fakenham (North Norfolk) that a new social housing scheme was the subject of some criticism from a few local people who went around town telling everyone that the local council was filling the houses with Portuguese immigrant workers.

The fact that this scheme was actually filled with British people off the council housing list, and I was unaware of a single Portuguese family living in town (being a local teacher also meant I knew there were no Portuguese kids at our school), but it did not stop a small number of people spreading utterly false rumours.

The fact is that if people are told the truth, they don't want to know anyway, and I cannot see why that would be any different in the case reported today.

Disgraceful threats from Woolworths administrators to Woolworths staff

Every day that the news media broadcast information about the ongoing Woolworths closures, we are told that Woolworths staff have been threatened by the administrators that if they talk to the press they will receive less redundancy pay.

What a shame that this sort of blackmail can be allowed.

Common Sense from a Tory ? We should have him stuffed and mounted

Dominic Grieve has called for a return to the sensible premise that adults should be able to confront teenagers who might be damaging their property without fear of the police arresting the adult, as seems to be the police obsession in the current "target" driven police culture.

Common sense, I think you will agree.


Tesco's complete lack of respect

Another example HERE of Tesco and the way they manipulate (but stay within) the planning system to avoid scrutiny by the public.

In Stalham, a small North Norfolk town which hase effectively been closed by Tesco driving local businesses out of business (for example, bread was sold at lower prices in Stalham than would normally be the case until the local baker closed down, and then the prices in Tesco rose), they want to further expand their store, but submitted the application very carefully in order to avoid local parish and town councils holding meetings and knowing that much of the period for objections would be over the holiday period when people had other things on their mind.

Tesco constantly talk about working with local communities and showing respect for them, but on every occassion they simply take the piss out of the democratic process and seek to use loopholes, lies and innuendo in order to coerce the planning system.

I was able to see this at first hand when the applied to build a store in Fakenham when at a planning meeting and a town meeting their spokesman sought to rubbish statistics that failed to make Tesco's case, indeed they questions the validity of the surveys and the reports, but at the same time took some elements of the reports (but didn't credit them) in order to justify their store.

As a Tesco opponent I was advised by an anti Tesco group from Suffolk to shred any post I receive and take extra precautions about who might be calling me pretending to be a constituent as anti Tesco groups in other parts of the country had had people going through their bins and letters and phone calls from Tesco "front" groups claiming to represent local residents.

As I said at the planning meeting back in 2004 to the all those councillors at the meeting, "we might all like to think that our political opponents play fast and loose with the truth and we may question their methods, but just be jolly grateful that Tesco are not a political party for they are they use the very lowest methods and truth is really not a word they understand".

Why Zavvi were deliberately ripping off their customers in the run up to administration

It seems pretty clear now that Zavvi, the music and video game retailer that went in to administration in Christmas Eve knew for some time that they were about to go in to administration, but what seems incredible is that they were in the run up to this actively ripping off their customers in a very premeditated way.

Shockingly by deliberately going in to administration in Christmas Eve, many thousands of people who received gift cards for Christmas were never going to be able to use their gift cards, and with the administrators also refusing to issue refunds or exchange good (even faulty goods so I have been told) then they also duped on customers again knowing that people were bound to return goods in the days after Christmas.

This deliberate action by Zavvi shows that the people who ran this company really cared little for their customers. It might have been the collapse of Woolworths that led to Zavvi's collapse, but the management of Zavvi ensured through their actions than many thousands of people had their Christmas ruined. What utter scum.

Remorse from banks ? My arse !

The head of Citicorp bank says that banks feel "remorse" for the crisis they have helped create. What a load of old bollocks.

Any idiot could have seen that a bank with £1bn in reserves being able to loan out 30 times this amount and calling itself an "investment bank" was playing fast and loose with the financial system. Why banks are sorry is that their bonuses have been cut.

Happy New Day

I am a real misery this time of year over peoples' obsession with celebrating New Year.

To me it is simply another day, not a special day, just another day, like 23rd June becoming 24th June. In many ways too, welcoming in a new year which according to experts, is likely to be the very worst for the economy, crime, unemployment and generally will be an all round rotten year.

So forgive me if I don't get all excited about the date changing.