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Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Only 30 more days

to use your ID Card.  The Indentity Card Bill was given Royal assent yesterday, and in 30 days time your card, if you have one, will be good for nothing more than scraping the ice of your windscreen. No refunds

The main purpose of this Bill is to abolish identity cards and the National Identity Register; it repeals the Identity Cards Act 2006. There are no provisions for refunding existing cardholders.A small number of provisions in the 2006 Act – unrelated to ID cards – reappear in the Bill. These cover offences relating to the possession and manufacture of false identity documents such as passports and driving licences. The Bill also re-enacts data-sharing provisions in the 2006 Act designed to verify information provided in connection with passport applications. Identification cards for non-EEA nationals are not affected by the provisions. 

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Stupid people can hurt

An armed man stole at least $1.5m (£950,000) in casino chips from a craps table at the Bellagio resort in Las Vegas before escaping on a motorcycle, police have said.  The suspect entered the casino at 0350 local time wearing a motorcycle helmet and walked directly to the table. The incident at the Bellagio was the 10th casino robbery in Las Vegas this year.

Except, hold on.  The chips are not real currency and at a cost of less than $1.5m the casino can replace them so assuming there aren't too many punters carrying the old chps around in their pockets, the replacement shouldn't cause any great disruption.

So essentially somebody has walked into a casino with a bigweapon and walked out with a sack of worthless plastic.  Presumably if he hadn't been given the dud tokens he might have used the weapon. A smarter thief would have gone for the cash in the casino, except that there are probably very stromg measures to protect the cash, but not the chips.  It is not too hard to figure out why.

Well, maybe not for all of us.

Lest it should pass unremarked

 I would just like to point out that Ed Miliband's new press secretary is notorious for his cocaine habit, not that you will hear this on the BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-11994759

Disney should make a film about RBS and the FSA

We could call it The Beast and the Beast.

I can't remember whether I posted before about the FSA giving the directors of a clean bill of health, but if I didn't I should have done.  Which was quite remarkable considering one of the biggest banks in the world may not have quite smashed into a brick wall, but it certainly scraped along the wall for half a mile and pulled off most of the body work even if it hasn't come to a complete halt.

So what possible reason could the FSA have had for not publishing?  After all the directors of RBS under investigation have all gone, so the new directors have nothing to gain by asking for anythingt to be kept confidential.  Except of course it was the FSA that was responsible for supervising RBS, and for all we know the reports may have shown us how useless the FSA was in that role.

So unsurprisingly there has been a lot of government pressure on the FSA to publish more, but the FSA hve said that they are asking RBS' permission to do so.  Which sounds like an evasive move on the part of the FSA, because go figure.  The government wants the report published, the government controls the FSA, the government owns a majority stake in RBS, so the Treasury can tell the directors of RBS what to do, and yet the FSA tries to delay publication by asking the government controlled bank's permission to publish a report that the government wants published.

Apart from being once more disgusted at the wastefulness of the process, it is obvious that the box-tickers at the FSA are overing up their own incompetence once again.

Friday, 10 December 2010

How to deal with student rioters

Well they should be arrested and charged first of all (that goes without saying) and prosecuted and then fined when found guilty.

Upto £9,000 per conviction.  Of course most students will be unable to pay the but Government fine loans would be provided in full to meet the cost of the fines so there would be no upfront costs. Graduates would start repaying their fine loans once their salary reached £21,000. Once they reach this level, repayments would be set at nine per cent of income over £21,000. Loans would accrue interest at the rate of inflation while graduates earn less than the threshold, but after that the rate would be set at a rate over inflation.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Can you hear me Mark Webber?

Can you hear me, Gough Whitlam, Rolf Harris, Dame Edna, Mark Webber, Shane Warne?  can you hear me Shane Warne, Your boys took one hell of a beating!

One innings and 71 runs (and 5 wickets to be exact).

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Nice one Boris

The Dorchester 

Boris Johnson has withdrawn the offer of a free stay in London's exclusive Dorchester hotel for Fifa executives during the 2012 Olympics.

The Mayor of London had offered the free accommodation for Fifa president Sepp Blatter and his team.
But after Fifa's decision on Thursday's 2018 World Cup vote - which saw the England bid get just two votes out of a possible 22 - the offer was rescinded.

Free hotel rooms for VIP guests are handed out by Locog, the Olympic organising committee.
Mr Johnson is understood to have discussed the issue with Locog chairman Sebastian Coe.

Godd thing too. The rooms will be needed for the delegates of Football Associations who will sign up for the alternative World Cup to be run in the UK.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Damascene conversions

Writers in the Guardian are up in arms about tax avoidance. They would do well to save their breath to cool their porridge and look a little closer to home, in particu;ar the 2008 accounts of Guardian Media Group which show a tax payment of -£0.8 million on profits of £307.3 million.

Show us the money, Mr Blatter

If you ever needed proof that FIFA is corrupt, you only need to llok as far as their decision to award the 2022 World Cup to that great footballing nation Qatar. Now I have nothing against the Qataris, but the simple fact is that they only have a single 50,000 seater stadium at present:

Doha Khalifa Int'l Stadium 50 000 2005
Al-Gharafa Al-Gharafa Stadium 25 000 2003
Umm-Affai Ahmed Bin Ali Stadium 25 000 2003
Doha Al-Ahli Stadium 20 000 -
Al-Wakrah Al-Wakrah Stadium 20 000
Al-Khawr Al-Khawr Stadium 20 000
Qatar SC Suhaim Bin Hamad Stadium 19 000
Al-Arabi Grand Hamad Stadium 18 000
Al-Sadd Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium 17 000 2004

Ok, so they can build some meore and take capacity up to say 50,000 each for 12 stadiums, two more 75,00 seater stadiums and a 100,000 seater stadium for the final, which would be 700,000 seating capacity. For a country with a population of 840,000. So it ain't gonna happen, because which country needs stadia with a seating capcity equal to 85% of its population.

Likewise hotel capacity. Perhaps they FIFA and the Qatari planners have figured that most supporters will be happy to kip in the desert, but are there 100,000 hotel beds in and around the international holiday destination that is Doha? Obviously not. Past World Cups have received over 400,000 vistors, but with worldwide economic growth expect that to grow every time. With national teams and FIFA officials taking out more than 32 of the biggest hotel resorts/ training camps, where are the fans going to go?

The clear lesson is that all of the expensive fact finding missions and assessments was just an exercise in international bullshit. Money talks, preferably in used notes.

But for the real bullshit let us look at the Russian bid. Why did Putin stay at home? Because he knew the result. He had paid for it after all. How did he know his bribes would be effective? Because while it is easy to lie to a prince or a Prime Minister about voting intentions, nobody takes Russian money and double crosses Putin.

So what does the typical fan have to look forward to in 2018. Well since the collapse of the Soviet Empire the residual state of Russia has become a fully paid up member of the international crime brotherhood, where nothing is though of dropping radiactive materials in the tea of those people that the state chooses not to like.

But the really bad news for fans who will have to travel round Russia on the internal air network are headlines like 'Two dead' as engine failure airliner lands in Moscow

At least two people have been killed and many others injured when a passenger plane rolled off the runway after making an emergency landing at a Moscow airport, Russian officials say.

According to media reports, all three of the plane's engines had failed by the time it landed at Domodedovo.

Yup, the TU-154, one of those Soviet planes that look like something out of Thunderbirds (actually there are quite a few) is still the plane of preference for Russian airlines, mostly because they are cheap, elf & safety is non-existent, and dead passengers can't complain.

By the end of 2018, most footy fans would have preferred that the World Cup had been held in Germany again.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Posh and Posh and Becks

An international figure on first name terms with world leaders, a member of our first family and one of the country's most successful sportsmen in recent years pictured today at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich.

Also shown are HRH Prince William (l) and David Cameron, Prime Minister (c).

Mind the gap

Much coverage today on the BBC of Lord Hutton's suggestion that the highest earner in public bodies should earn no more than 20 times the pay of the lowest in the same organisation. 20 times? Just shows that Hutton is no more than a champagne socialist these days.  I remember wehn the French socialists had a similar policy for all companies, but with a multiple of 7.  The French communists went further, and had 5.  Try telling that to some of our union leaders.

Strangely, or perhaps not, the BBC were very quiet about their own organisation, for much as they profess its independence it is a public corporation owned by the government.  It is after all funded by a tax. The BBC may be responsible for the collection of the license fee, a task it subcontracts,. mostly to Capita, but the receipts are paid into the Consolidated Fund.  DCMS takes a cut of the money for itself (not a lot of people know that) and then pay the remainder over to the BBC together with the money for licenses the over-75's which is funded out of general taxation.

Although, in the spirit of pay equality, perhaps the BBC does pay its cleaners £41,700 a year.