In or Out ? EU or not EU?

In_Or_Out_2

To be honest, initially I started off as an “in” but that was purely based upon “it’s what I know”.  I then realised I had better do some research since whilst it may not affect me so much, it will affect my children and definitely my grandchildren (I’m not ancient, and only just on the right side of 50!).   The more I looked into things, the more I kept landing on the “out” side of the line. Continue reading “In or Out ? EU or not EU?”

Letter to Home Office – November 10th 2010

Dear Sirs,
I would very much like to show my concern over the current extradition laws, especially with respect to the current state of affairs with the US. Current legislation appears to give a very lopsided difference between the requirements of the UK versus the US in the conditions that are required in
order for extradition to take place. Whilst I realise that this is due to differences between UK and US laws, I would still expect UK citizens to be protected by UK laws at all times.

In abolishing the need for evidence when extraditing to most countries in the world, this has removed the safety net once afforded to UK citizens in that they will always obtain a ‘fair trial’. How is it that the US because of it’s Constitution has a provision that any country requesting the extradition of a persons or people must have evidence of the crime committed by the person being extradited?  All other European and Commonwealth countries signed up to a similar treaty did so on the understanding that we all played by the same rule book. 

For the UK to extradite someone from the US they only need establish ‘probable cause’ of which the US constitution’s fourth amendment has defined as “information sufficient to warrant a prudent person’s belief that the wanted individual had committed a crime”  

  • Whilst it may be impossible for us to create a law that is compliant with both UK law and the US Constitution, all I ask is that they UK Government should introduce the forum bar with respect to extradition.
  • The Home secretary should be given the powers to halt extradition to the US if they feel that their is a lack of evidence. Reasonable cause is not justification enough for people or persons to be extradited to the US.
  • The same should be applied to the European Arrest Warrant.  The UK Government should protect it’s citizens by ensuring that the trial they receive in any Foreign country is at least of equivalent standard to that of which they would expect within the UK.
  • UK citizens have a right to be protected by their UK Government at all times.
  • When a crime is mainly committed in the UK, that person should be tried here.  It is my personal belief that this provides a simple solution to the problem where the victims of
    the crime or the scenes of crime are spread around one or more countries.  If the crime was committed upon UK soil, it should be tried upon UK soil under UK laws. 
  • The US-UK treaty is most definitely unbalanced for the reasons I have previously mentioned above.
  • Requesting countries must provide sufficient evidence in order to prove an allegation. If such allegations are terrorism related for example, the UK already has systems in place to help protect UK citizens and those should be afforded to foreign countries by applying UK law.

Many thanks for allowing me the opportunity to express my views on this matter and I look forward to following the outcome of this review.

Lastly, I would like to add that Home Secretary needs to clearly state that Gary McKinnon will not be extradited to the USA until this “Review” has been completed any changes passed in to Law by the UK Government.

The family of Gary McKinnon are being subjected to pressures and events tantamount to torture in not knowing the fate that is to be bestowed upon Gary.

This must be addressed immediately!

National Television Control / National TV Control – Scam

I just received a weird telephone call from someone claiming to be from the National Television Control centre.He stated by saying “Good day, I’m calling from the National Television Control Centre and we have had reports of bad reception in your area. Can you confirm if your reception is working?”.

National Television Control Centre Scam I just received a weird telephone call from someone claiming to be from the National Television Control centre. The caller ID had been blocked so I couldn’t verify the number from which the call originated, but from his accent, I would guess they could be based in India.
He stated by saying “Good day, I’m calling from the National Television Control Centre and we have had reports of bad reception in your area. Can you confirm if your reception is working?”.
When I challenged him he became defensive and would not reveal any other details and eventually hung up.
(When I asked for details about the National Television Control Centre, i.e. who owned it, who run it, where it was based, he just became flustered and didn’t answer).

I have heard of a similar scam to do with Sky customers, but the caller never mentioned Sky, merely if my reception was fine.
Sky have put some information about a similar ‘scam’ on their own website (Sky Protect)

National TV Centre ScamIn my case, it appears that they are cold calling UK numbers rather than targeting Sky customers with the aim of finding any customers who are currently experiencing problems.
The scammers then apparently try to “help you resolve” the problem by offering to contact Sky support on your behalf. At no time however do they mention that you will be billed by them for this support.

Just be warned that there is no such organisation as the National Television Control Centre, at least not in the UK. If you receive such a call, do not reveal any personal information.
If they do claim to be from Sky, or working on behalf of Sky, ask them for your contact number, account number, or the type of receiver you have been supplied. I can assure you that they won’t be able to answer and will give you some waffle as to why they can’t supply that information. 

Lancaster Bomber over Bramley

I forgot to post these a few weeks back, but despite the delay and the fact the event is no longer relevant, I think a few of the images are still worthy of a post all on their own.

Trust me, the hairs were standing up on the back of my neck as this marvel of British Engineering flew over the house, and I mean right over the house.  

I can’t even remember which of the two nearby air shows it was, but it must have done 3 laps of the air field during a display and each time it’s turning point on it’s approach back was directly over my back yard.  The first time it came over I watched and listened in awe to the unmistakable sound of those engines, and then ran indoors to grab the first camera I could find in case it came back (for which I was rewarded).

Lancaster Bomber Lancaster Bomber
Lancaster Bomber Lancaster Bomber
Lancaster Bomber Lancaster Bomber

The last image is a final shot of the plane as it headed away from the air show back North, North-West.

I know it’s taken at long range on maximum zoom (both mechanical and digital), but what struck me about this picture was the exact angle away from me that the plane flew.  It was almost perfectly in a line with me. Every propeller and all of the tail is perfectly aligned.  Boy did I wish I had a high definition camera with me that day.

Anyway, like a said, just a short post because it was worth it. It doesn’t need many words to support it, the pictures are the post.

Where was everybody ? Abroad or in front of the Xbox?

{{fr|Schéma annoté d'un mors simple à anneaux.

Image via Wikipedia

It must have been the third week of the summer school holidays in most places around the UK.  My wife was still working and wasn’t due her vacation for a few more days, so I had to keep the kids entertained until we could all do something together.
As is always the case this time of the year, the subject of "what to do and where to go" was all over the national and local news.

But I am confused?

Two adults, two children, 9-10 hours of watching top class motor racing at one of Europe’s best racing courses (and I really do mean one of the top circuits in Europe!). Total cost? £24 (£20 if you had booked your tickets online). 

But the most confusing part, was that the place was virtually empty, and I mean really empty.  There were more family members of the drivers than actual visitors. I would even go as far as saying there were probably more circuit marshals than their were spectators.

Admittedly, the weather forecast for the day wasn’t too good, but it wasn’t that bad either. Yet again, perhaps people know just how crap the weather forecasts are in the UK because actually, the weather was horrendous. It was cold, windy and the rain came down like stair rods which played havoc with my back, but made for better racing rather than having just the one or two cars speeding off into the distance (as happens in F1).
We got to see drivers driving which sounds quite daft until you think about it.
There was also the small matter of the Olympics starting today, but I can’t believe for one minute that people would have preferred to have watch that on television in preference to a day out.

So where was this all happening?

Continue reading “Where was everybody ? Abroad or in front of the Xbox?”

Happy St. Georges Day

The Flag of St GeorgeIt’s a sad fact that more people in England celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and even Bonfire Night than they do St Georges Day. 

I would also bet, most people don’t even know who St. George was and when speaking to someone the other day, they didn’t even know what a St. George Flag looked like.

So head on over to the St. Georges Day website and take part in their campaign!

So have a happy St. Georges Day…

God knows what we do to celebrate it though…
So I’m off for a cup of tea, some toasted crumpet and to watch a bit of Morris dancing.
Then I guess it’ll be Guinness and a curry tonight (or should it be a kebab).

Sad Money Grabbing Airline Company

An airline has apologised for wrongly telling a father a member of his family had died during a long-distance trip.

From: BBC News

Updated: 15th April 2008
This is a heavily edited version of the original post I made on the 6th April.
Usually, I don’t completely edit a post, but then usually I don’t write a post which completely slams someone when I’ve based the facts on something I read from one single source (in this case the BBC).

To be fair to the BBC, it was probably my interpretation of the article that was skewed in addition to the BBC not giving the ‘complete’ story.

Normally, this is just a personal blog full of "nothing" that no-one actually reads, it’s just somewhere I can "let go", where I don’t have to concentrate on as much as my commercial/business blogs.
Somehow I let my guard slip too far. I created this post in a few minutes and published it without due regard for the persons concerned.  The person mentioned below has since contacted me and given me the full story.  Now I know some of your will say, it’s still only his side of the story, but the fact is, I made a rash post without the full facts, and that was entirely wrong for that reason alone.
I will publish his full story (with his approval) and I’ll think you’ll agree that (1) I was entirely wrong in judging him the way I did and (2) the story as presented by the British media did not give the full picture.

So first and foremost, before I make the edits, I offer my sincere apologies to Chris Miller and for any further problems this may have caused.

Continue reading “Sad Money Grabbing Airline Company”

Am I in Bramley or Texas? | Hail Storm

The sky darkened and suddenly I was reminded of our 3 years in Texas.  I looked at my wife and said, "I think there’s a storm a coming".  One of our friends was visiting and as we all looked out of the window, the first few hail stones began to drop.

Nothing ominous at first. In the last few weeks we’ve had a few hail/sleet showers, but looking at the sky you could tell this was going to be something a bit more substantial.

Hail Storm | Bramley | April 2008Sure enough, there was a crack of thunder immediately following by an increase in the size of the hail.  Now it was starting to remind us of Texas.  (Although I will add here, the hail today never approached the golf ball sized hail we once had in Fort Worth).

(Clicking on the images in this post opens up a larger version in the same window. Use your browser back button to return to the post)

 

Continue reading “Am I in Bramley or Texas? | Hail Storm”

NIMBY’s vs. 36 Grays Lane

A soldiers Story (fictional)

250px-Basra_locationYou’re on your last patrol before your unit returns home after a 9month stint in Iraq.  You’re on point covering for your squad as they return to the Warrior after inspecting a suspected arms dump on the outskirts of Basra.

Spirits are high because tonight’s scran in the mess tent will be the last meal before you get home to your mum’s Sunday roast.  In 8 hours, you’ll be on the plane home in to the arms of the family you’ve been away from for so long. 

warrior

Your squad mates begin shouting, they are pointing towards 3 youths running out of a nearby building.  You are almost at the Warrior when there is an almighty ‘whoosh’, followed by a loud explosion.

 

When you open your eyes, you find yourself 20ft away from the Warrior.  You can’t focus on anything, you can’t hear anything. The dust is settling and you begin to see your surroundings. You try to clear the dust from your eyes, but there is something wrong. You look down towards your hand and there’s nothing there. In a panic, you try to stand, but you fall over.  The bottom of your left leg is missing. In pain you slump down to the ground as the rest of your unit reaches you.

The next time you wake, you find yourself in the Military Hospital in Basra.  The medics have had to amputate your right arm from below the elbow, you’ve lost the left leg below the knee, and you are blind in your right eye.
After a week or so, you are transferred to the facility at Headley Court.

The above could have happened to any number of our serving personnel in Basra or in fact any of the current overseas theatre of operations.  But in this case, it’s a fictional story. But there have been many of our service personnel over the years who have and are still going through similar experiences.

But the hardship doesn’t end there. Once the injured personnel come back to the UK, there is yet more pain to endure, but this time by the families of the victims themselves. 
Often families have to travel hundreds of miles to visit their loved ones.  Living in a hotel or bed and breakfast is fine for a brief business trip or a short holiday, but when the family themselves are having to deal with the emotions involved with supporting an injured loved one, it creates unwanted stress.

the fisher house In the US an organization known as “The Fisher House” exists which quotes the following on their web site.

Supporting America’s military in their time of need, we provide “a home away from home” that enables family members to be close to a loved one at the most stressful time — during hospitalization for an illness, disease or injury

Headley Court and the SSAFA

RAF Headley Court near Epsom in Headley, Surrey, England deals with with UK Military Forces personnel with physical disabilities obtained during service, and also deals with patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

With a dedicated staff of around 200, the care it provides is essential to the recovery of the personnel.  In 2005, Major David Bradley of the Princess of Wales‘s Royal Regiment was given a five per cent chance of survival as a result of injuries received whilst on duty in Iraq during 2004. Headley Court played a vital part in ensuring he had the best chance of recovery.

Having family around you during recovery is an important factor (and I know this from personal experience). Not only do families have to deal with looking at the some times horrific injuries to their loved ones, many patients will often reject the attention of their families, pushing them away as a result of their injuries, which causes further stress. 

The Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA) exists in the UK to help out where ever it can.

ssafa The Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA) Forces Help is the leading national charity committed to helping and supporting those who serve in our Armed Forces, those who used to serve, and the families of both.  We provide a reliable, caring and trusted service to more than 50,000 people each year.

36 Grays Lane

 The SSAFA were hoping to provide a home away from home for the family members visiting loved ones being treated at Headley Court, but met with some unexpected resistance from local residents.

It appears that a bunch of NIMBY’s have been coming up with all sorts of reasons why 36 Grays Lane should not be used by SSAFA.  To see some of their reasons, visit the 36grayslane web site.

36grayslane has been set up to highlight the actions of the Management Company representing the local residents and to gain support for the SSAFA campaign.
If ever there was a perfect example of the phrase NIMBY, they are it.

It as if they don’t want their neighborhood spoiled by having “the lower class” families of our service personal living in their area.
None of their concerns expressed (detailed at this page at 36grayslane have any merit what so ever.

Every single resident who has signed up in protest to the SSAFA proposal should be given a guided tour of Headley Court and spend time with the visiting families.

Each of the residents who signed up, should be ashamed of their selfishness and total disrespect for the families of our service men and women who have given more than most to protect our beliefs and interests.

The people at 36grayslane have a guestbook that you can sign to show your support.

There is also a petition set up on the 10 Downing Street E-Petition site.

The rest of the UK needs to show those residents of Grays Lane who are objecting just how pathetic their actions are.

I wouldn’t mind if they founded their objections on anything reasonable, but they are not. Laughable at best.
If it were a travelers camp, nightclub, sex shop or something similar to those, I could see their argument. But the truth of the matter is that the house run by SSAFA would hardly be noticeable. Their argument shows snobbery and contempt beyond belief.