Good morning happy readers and welcome to another week’s diary entries from your cat reporter. It was a strange day yesterday, first it rained hard, then it was sunny for a couple of hours, and finally it poured with rain again. This morning the sun is out and it’s warm in Whitehall, but I hear more rain is forecast for later. I had to chuckle at the confirmatory news this weekend that the Abbotpotamus is a racist and an anti-Semite, something Puffins have known forever. Well, I am surprised she was capable of writing to The Guardian, she is such an idiot. The MP for the rock-solid Labour seat of Stoke Newington has had the Labour whip removed which means she can’t stand as a Labour candidate at a general election. So will Sir Beer parachute in a new candidate or let her back into the party? If she is allowed to return, he will look weak, and if he doesn’t, she will almost certainly stand as an independent and split the Labour vote. In the meantime, she can sit on the backbenches with her old lover, the Tramp.
On Sunday morning, word started to emerge that the Yanks had flown their special forces into Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, to rescue US diplomats and their families. I heard an interview on the BBC where a minister was being given a hard time about why we had not done something similar and were we going to? The minister basically said he couldn’t say for security reasons but the BBC interviewer was like a dog with a bone, wanting to know why we had abandoned our diplomats. Then word comes out that at the very time the minister was being interviewed the SAS was on the ground in Khartoum, carrying out a rescue mission. It seems they flew in with the American special forces and took some all-terrain vehicles with them in the Chinooks that landed at the airport in the middle of Khartoum. American diplomats were loaded into the space the British had vacated and the Yanks flew off. Meanwhile the SAS rounded up our people, plus Belgium’s, French and Dutch and drove them in a convoy north towards a military airfield as the central Khartoum airport that was deemed unsafe for RAF planes. Instead, the RAF flew a C130 and an A400M into the airfield containing more soldiers and vehicles from the Air Assault Brigade. They raced south and met the SAS halfway and all returned to the airfield, drove straight into the aircraft and took off for Cyprus. Well done our armed forces and I hope that BBC interviewer feels a right idiot.
While talking about Cyprus, I hear there is a bit of a row going on about them not fully implementing the EU sanctions on Russia and Russians fully. Their banks and financial fixers seem to have been helping Roman Abramovich and Alisher Usmanov avoid sanctions. Consequently, the West has slapped sanctions on 13 Cypriots and institutions. Almost instantly the Cyprus government has reacted, and the state-owned Bank of Cyprus has shut down 10,000 accounts of 4,000 Russians on the island who are not also Cypriot passport holders. It seems that Cyprus has realised that its financial reputation is at stake, and it had to decide either to take the Russian money or remain part of the Western banking system. As the Russian money represents only about 0.5% of Bank of Cyprus funds it must have been an easy decision to make.
Turkish President Erdogan has made a statement in which he claimed that Turkey was working with the U.K. on propulsion systems and production of Turkish submarines. Today I hear that this has been flatly refuted, firstly by the Royal Navy and then by just about everybody involved in British submarine design including Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems, the UK’s Submarine Delivery Agency, and the Defence Nuclear Organisation. I know Erdogan is a bit of a maverick but to make such outlandish statements seems rather odd.
I have reported recently on Royal Caribbean overbooking cruise ships. Today I learn that it has happened yet again and for the fourth time in a couple of months. What is interesting is that on three of these occasions, including the latest occurrence, it has been the same ship, the Wonder of the Seas. The ship, which can carry nearly 7,000 passengers when at maximum occupancy, operates on seven-day Caribbean cruises out of Port Canaveral (Orlando, Florida). Overbooking a ship once is a mistake, but to overbook the same ship three times is a disaster. If I had been considering going on Wonder of the Seas, I definitely wouldn’t be booking it now, and I bet that I am not the only one. I wonder how much this fiasco is costing Royal Caribbean, not just in compensation, but also in lost bookings and reputation?
I read a report this morning that Ukraine Forces have crossed the Dnipro River southwest of Kherson. Media reports say they have film and photos that they have geolocated to the claimed area. The Russians say, yes, a raiding party crossed over the river, took some selfies, and were then eliminated by Russian artillery. Now I am not saying I believe one side or another, but I questioned how the Ukrainian forces managed to land on what was an area that is said by the Russians to be crisscrossed with defences. Someone is not giving us all the facts.
Yesterday’s ‘emergency’ phone alert test was said to be a huge success. But was it really? I understand that 10 million people didn’t get the alert, some got it early, some got it up to twenty minutes late and some got it twice. Most of those who didn’t get the alert were subscribers to the ‘3’ network and there is going to be a major enquiry as to what went wrong there. I suppose that the test was a success because it found out what didn’t work, and what went wrong, so in the event of a real alert it could be made to work properly. What’s the use of a ten-minute warning of a nuclear strike that comes ten minutes after the bombs have gone off!
It was a little chilly first thing morning, but at least it was dry and sunny for my wander down the garden. I was in the office last night and I saw a bit of that Penis Morgan’s TV programme where he interviewed a lefty about the Abbotpotamus and her letter to The Guardian. Now I don’t like Morgan very much, but it was lovely the way he really ripped into the lefty ex-Labour MP who was defending the Abbotpotamus and being an anti-Semite. The man was another one of the Tramp’s supporters, they really are a despicable crew.
If you live in London or the Home Counties and your delivery order for pizza, chicken or similar hasn’t turned up it could just be that the person on the moped has been arrested. The Home Office has been cracking down on delivery people committing immigration offences in some parts of the capital and have arrested 60 riders in the past week delivering for Uber Eats, Deliveroo and Just Eat. Fourty-four have been detained pending their deportation and the other 16 have been released on immigration bail. With such success I wonder if the Home Office will be moving on to other parts of London and other British towns and cities? I hope so.
News from the front line between the Ukraine and Russian forces in the Zaporizhzhia area has been very scarce recently. This is very much like when Ukraine made their push around Kharkiv last year. The Ukrainians seem to have shut down all news coming out of the area, with the YouTubers and Instagrammers postings drying up so as to whether the long talked about offensive has started or is about to start no one knows. Of course, you would not expect the Russians to report on events if they were under attack until they could say the offensive was a failure. What we do know is that the censors on both sides have clamped down on news coming out of the Zaporizhzhia front.
I hear that the Arsenal Women’s football team had a nasty shock on Sunday night. After getting a 2-2 draw in the away leg their Women’s Champions League semi-final match with Wolfsburg they were due to fly home to England that evening. However, as their plane taxied out to the runway an engine ingested a bird and caught fire. Fortunately, the fire suppression system kicked in and extinguished the blaze but the plane was obviously unserviceable. The team stayed over in Wolfsburg and flew home safely yesterday. The home leg of the match is to be played on Monday evening at the Emirate Stadium and 46,000 tickets have already been sold.
I must say the French really know how to put on a good protest, they make Extinction Rebellion look like a load of amateurs. Today in the South of France they built a breeze block wall across a motorway to protest about the destruction of nature the road was causing. It wasn’t a makeshift wall either, the protesters built it properly with cement between the blocks and even spirit levels to ensure it was level. I hope XR don’t get ideas.
The sales of electric cars are going down according to reports. Last month’s EV sales were only 65% of January 2022 when sales were still Covid affected. So, what is causing sales to drop? Apparently, it is a number of things like the length you have to wait to get one, the enormous cost, the lack of public charging points, and the cost of VAT on electricity from public ports. But according to a survey of potential buyers, the main thing that stops people buying is the initial cost. In the last year the small number of EVs available under £30,000 has actually fallen. Do you remember being told that EVs were going to get cheaper as more and more models became available? It looks like that was a lie.
It looks like the 72-hour truce in the Sudan is holding and the military is about to start evacuating British citizens out of the area today. No one seems to know how many Britons are in the Sudan, the Foreign Office say 2,000 people have registered with them, but others say there could be up to 4,000. The idea is that the RAF will fly them out on transport aircraft so it will not be like flying in Business Class. People are being told right now who is going first with the elderly, families with children and the infirm at the head of the queue. Mind you, people must get to the airfield being used and if they all come in their car it could be chaos. I expect the army will be in there organising transport from Khartoum. I expect I will have more to say tomorrow or the day after when the evacuation becomes clearer.
A bit grey this morning but at least it’s dry. I headed off down the garden at a pace this morning as it was a little chilly. Over my breakfast I heard that we have landed over 450 Brits at Cyprus with many more to come as the number of flights ramps up during the day. I see the media is having a go because the Frogs and Krauts have already got their people out. But they have far fewer people to get out than the estimated 4,000 we are trying to recover.
The SIS is lifting its ban on agents having tattoos. The fact is that as a cat who is covered just about everywhere, but the pads of my paws and the tip of nose, in fur, I have never considered having a tattoo, so I could have been a spy like James Bond. Can you imagine Bond taking his shirt off and having “Property of Miss Moneypenny” written across his back, it would be a bit of a giveaway. I know in real life spies are nondescript people who normally do nothing to draw attention to themselves. Which is exactly the opposite of people with tattoos, they are effectively shouting, “Look at me.” Now I suppose a discreet anchor or butterfly, that is only visible when you take your pants off might be ok, but if you have a full sleeve or a spider’s web around your neck doesn’t it make identifying you a bit too easy?
Our relations with the EU since Brexit have been a bit frosty to say the least but do I detect a little thaw setting in? Last year the EU nations around the North Sea had a big meeting without inviting us, about turning the North Sea into a giant wind farm supplying much of the EU’s electricity. It’s not as if we don’t have a huge interest in the North Sea, our zone of economic influence means vast swaths of it are ours to exploit and we are building a vast wind farm on the Dogger Bank. We reached an accord with the EU’s North Seas Energy Cooperation (NSEC) last December on a basis of sovereign parity. This week British ministers are taking part in the North Sea Summit in Ostend as full equals. It seems that the war in Ukraine has made the EU realise that they are short of energy, and we might just be able to help them out. If I were in that meeting in Ostend, I would be playing hardball and demanding all sorts of things like on Northern Ireland and illegal immigrants in return for our electricity.
Another interesting snippet of news about the SNP mess-up in Scottishland emerged yesterday. In an interview, the ex-party treasurer, Colin Beattie, said that he had not been party to the purchase of the infamous ‘motor home’/‘battle bus.’ In fact, he said the first he knew of it was when its ownership was included in the 2021 accounts. Now that begs the question, if the treasurer didn’t authorise its purchase who did? It also leaves another interesting question, why was it parked on Wee Krankie’s mother-in-law’s drive? I wonder how many miles are on its clock?
I hear that in recent months the amount of cocaine being smuggled into Europe has leapt by a third. In fact, only this week we have recovered a tonne of the drug found floating in the English Channel. This is one of the ways drugs are brought here, thrown off big ships coming from South America, then picked up and brought ashore by small boats. But I see in Spain they have intercepted a submarine that had crossed the Atlantic carrying three tonnes of cocaine with a street value of £100 million. They have also raised another abandoned sub from the sea floor, but this was empty. I wonder how much a submarine capable of carrying three tonnes of drugs across the Atlantic costs to build and where it is built, I assume, in secret.
It was announced this morning that the government has met and surpassed a 2019 manifesto promise of 20,000 additional police. It’s nice to see one manifesto promise being kept. Mind you it will not be good enough for the Lefties, they are bound to moan about it not being enough despite it returning the numbers to where they were before austerity cuts. But then nothing is ever enough for the left. They always want to spend more money. This is their answer to everything, spend more on doctors’ wages, nurses’ wages, the NHS, teachers’ wages, school building, the railways, put up the minimum wage, put up pensions, put up the dole, yet more police, all I seem to hear is spend, spend, spend. And where is the money coming from, a tax on non-doms, a tax on billionaires, and a tax on oil companies. If we have a Labour government, I bet you those taxes raise next to nothing as all it will do is cause people and companies to leave the country.
So, the Abbotpotamus is not only accused of being a racist and anti-Semite, she is now being accused of being a liar. She told people that the letter to the Observer, that kicked off the whole affair, was a first draft and should never have been sent. It now seems it was sent to the Observer who went back to her because it didn’t have an address on it and they wanted to gain assurance that it was really from her and not an imitator. She then sent the same letter a second time with only her House of Commons address added. This was five days before publication, plenty of time to replace a draft with a final version. But it does raise another interesting point, how come the Observer just published the letter without editorial comment and it was other media that picked up on the letter? Was it because it reflected the Observer’s own views and they saw nothing odd about the letter?
Well, today is very much like yesterday, grey and dry. Over breakfast I heard that now that the Snivel Serpents have successfully got rid of the Rabbit, they have turned their sights on another minister. This time it is Health Secretary Steve Barclay and the complaint is he is a ‘micromanager’ and ‘some people find him quite challenging’. Is that bullying? Well, it sounds a bit thin to me, it makes it sound like Snivel Serpents think they have got rid of one minister so they will have a go at another. By the way, why haven’t those who leaked lies about the Rabbit, that The Guardian leapt at publishing, been found and disciplined?
Looking for a new job? EasyJet has announced they are looking to hire 200 cadet pilots. EasyJet currently have 200 cadets undergoing their two-year training programme and are looking to take on 1,000 cadets in total at 200 a year. The cadets will do their initial years training on the ground but will then transfer to the States for flying training. Of course, in this day and age EasyJet have said that they particularly want applications from women and ethnic minorities. Oh, they also say that they could hire even more cadets if the airline industry recovers more quickly than expected.
The latest electric car from the world’s biggest EV maker BYD, the ‘Seagull’ has just gone on sale in China and its price has surprised people as it is over 6% less than was originally announced. It is only a smallish hatchback town car, but not tiny. For a while it will only be available in China for 73,800 Yuan, which converts to $10,658 or €10,350. Which means under £10,000, which is unheard of for an EV in the U.K. Mind you, there is no guarantee that it would go on sale at that price in the U.K. once shipping from China is added. BYD is already sitting on 10,000 advance orders.
I had to laugh when I read that a minister said that many people “only” have to pay £2,500 to get an air source heat pump installed. I must say I fail to understand how this number is arrived at when the cost of installing an air source heat pump is put at up to £13,000 before getting a £5,000 voucher from the government. The aim is to install 600,000 heat pumps a year, but at the moment the number is running at around a pathetic 840 a month or about 10,000 a year.
I recently told you about the body of an old man who had died of a heart attack on a cruise ship, that was left to decompose on a pallet in a wine store. I speculated that it would result in a court case. It now seems that the man’s widow is suing the cruise line for $1,000,000 claiming they failed in their duty of care both to her and her dead husband’s body. On the face of it she would appear to have a good case, but I am only going on what has been reported and nothing of the cruise line’s defence has been reported. One thing I note is that everyone in the US seems to sue for $1,000,000.
I have been reading about the cruise industry and how they are recovering from Covid. Apparently, most of them are not yet quite back to the pre-Covid levels of business but they are getting there, partly because they have got rid of many of the oldest ships and brought in newer, bigger, more efficient ships. Carnival, the biggest cruise company, has taken the opportunity to retire 26 old ships and brought in 12 new ships which actually increased their passenger capacity. Their occupancy rate has recently hit 91% and following a record booking season looks to be heading higher and follows a return to profit in the first quarter of the year. Profit is expected to more than double to between $700 and $900 million in the second quarter. I guess cruise lines will soon be paying down the debt piles they built up during Covid.
Almost a year ago the Chinese Mars rover stopped communicating. The Chinese, who up until then had been proudly boasting of the wonderful achievements of the glorious achievements of the Chinese space programme, went as silent as the rover. Yesterday they finally admitted they had a problem and said that the rover ‘had gone to sleep’, probably because it had been buried in dust and sand in a Martian storm. It made me wonder what Mars explorers will think in 100s of years’ time when they rediscover a ‘sleeping’ Mars rover.
Gosh didn’t it rain last night; it was torrential at times. At least it had stopped this morning, but it is still not very nice outside. Mind you, I hear Sunday is going to be warm in London, as it’s my day off I’ll take that. The Italian PM, Giorgia Meloni, is in London for two days and popped into Downing Street to meet with me yesterday afternoon. She was quite pleasant for someone The Guardian calls extreme right wing. Anyway, I didn’t hold her up for long as the Rich Boy wanted to talk to her.
I have been reading an article where the author suggests he is going to have a bet on the Tories winning the next general election. Well, I must admit I chuckled a bit and then read on. First, he pointed out that the opinion polls have been moving in their direction for some months, not a lot at a time, but where Labour were 25% in the lead it is now down to 11% or 12% and creeping down all the time. Then he talks about GDP, pointing out that all the predictions were that it was going to fall 4% in the first quarter of the year, when it has actually been positive. Next, he says that inflation is about to start falling and quickly. Oil and gas prices have been falling for months and are still to be reflected in electricity and gas bills. Food price increases have topped out and started to fall, and the producer’s index has turned positive. He goes on to say that if the economy is this strong it will mean unemployment stays low and tax take goes up allowing tax cuts to be made. He then points out that when an economy is strong people are reluctant to vote for the opposite in case they mess it up, especially an opposition whose only current policy is to moan and carp. If I had money, I might have a bet.
Mario Balotelli, the ex-Manchester City and Liverpool striker says he has lost his passion for expensive cars and is going to sell off many of his stable. When he was in the Premier League he was always known as a hot head and had numerous car accidents including one crash where he just walked off and abandoned the car. I understand he is selling two Maseratis, two Lamborghinis, a Ferrari and two Bentleys, one of which has camouflage paint. Maybe that camouflaged Bentley would go down well in the Ukraine.
I don’t think I will ever understand how the stock market works. Boeing’s first quarter report shows that they lost $425 million, and the share price goes up 4%. I know they also announced that they were online to increase 737Max production by the end of the year but the share price going up just doesn’t make sense to me. I guess I wouldn’t make my fortune on the stock market if I were an investor.
The Russian Kommersant newspaper reports that Colonel Alexander Denisov is accused of stealing seven V-92S2 engines. These engines power the T90 tank and the seven are said to be worth around $250,000. I wonder who the buyer for the stolen tank engines is? I hear that Denisov’s colleagues have nicknamed him Thomas after ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’.
It’s the Azerbaijan F1 this weekend and it should be interesting for two reasons. First, Mercedes will be introducing a number of upgrades to their cars. In the last race the Mercedes looked a lot more competitive so it will be interesting to see how it gets on this time out. Secondly, this will be the first sprint race of the season and the rules have been changed for this year. There are to be separate qualifying sessions for both the main and sprint races and the qualifying sprint will work like the main qualifying with the lowest-placed cars dropping out after each of the first two sessions. All cars will use the same grade of new tyre for the three sprint races, starting on new mediums for qualifying 1 & 2 and Soft for qualifying 3.
Today is Ed Balls Day. On this day 12 years ago Ed Balls tweeted his own name and has never lived it down. In those early internet days, many people were new to it and struggled to do things. The then shadow chancellor had intended to Google his own name but typed it into Twitter instead and tweeted ‘Ed Balls’ to the world. However, my favourite mis-tweet was Ed Millipede who on the death of Bob Holness posted on how much he had enjoyed watching him on ‘Blackbusters’.
It is slowly getting a little warmer and it’s even sunny this morning. Mind you, I am delighted it is not as hot as in Spain, that is just too much for this old cat. Apparently, we could be in for another period of vegetable and salad stuff shortages, not because it was too wet and cold as earlier this year, but because it is too hot. Did you hear the Rich Boy’s little joke yesterday? He said that Wee Krankie was learning to drive so she could use the SNP’s motor home.
Barcelona F.C. are currently refurbishing their Camp Nou Stadium and have been able to continue playing there up to now with only minor disruption. However, a roof and 6,000 additional seats are about to be added so next season they are going to move to a borrowed stadium which can only hold just about half the capacity of the Camp Nou (55,000 opposed to 99,000). One of the biggest problems is that Barcelona FC already have 47,000 season ticket holders so add that to tickets for visiting fans and there is little or no capacity for anyone else. I understand that Barcelona have decided that season ticket holders who have attended at least 85% of matches this season will get priority to next year’s season tickets, the remainder will get a chance to buy the worst tickets some of which have an obstruction of between 80% and 100%. What is the point of a ticket where you cannot see the match and for which you will have to pay nearly double what your Camp Nou season ticket cost?
Still on the subject of Barcelona, I hear they will definitely be allowed to play in next year’s Champions League despite being investigated for bribing referees. They are accused of giving the head of Spanish referees over £6 million over a number of years. OK, they haven’t yet been found guilty, but things are not looking good for them. If they are found guilty of bribery it could be a bit embarrassing for EUFA with Barcelona playing in the Champions League, will they be thrown out? Would they be replaced or would there be in a group of three which would be unfair to all the other groups?
I see that a cargo ship has sailed into a North Sea wind turbine in the Gode Wind 1 field in the German section of the North Sea. The ship was loaded with 1,500 tonnes of grain when it hit the foundations of a 6Mw wind turbine. It seems the turbine suffered little damage but has been taken out of service for a closer inspection. The ship seems to have come off worse as it had a six-metre by five-metre hole ripped in its side and was taking on water and limped into a German port where the ship was, unsurprisingly, found to be unseaworthy. Actually, I am quite surprised that with the large number of offshore wind turbines that more aren’t sailed into.
I seem to always be writing about the Polish military purchasing some new equipment, be it Type 31 frigates or artillery rockets, they certainly seem to re-equipping their forces with up-to-date armaments. Today I can report they have just signed up to buy the UK-made Common Anti-Air Modular Missiles (CAMMs) and launchers. The missiles are made by MBDA U.K. and are used by our forces for air defence on Royal Navy ships and the Army. We will be supplying Missiles to equip 22 Polish air defence battalions and the contract is valued at £1.9 billion. The missile is said to be able to hit an object the size of a tennis ball travelling at the speed of sound 25 miles away.
In another military deal, the US has approved the sale to us of the APKWS-II All Up Round. The deal is for 768 Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System-II, everything needed to make it work like manuals, spares, even technicians from manufacturers and is said to be worth $31.2 million. What is APKWS-II I hear you ask, apparently it is an add-on precision laser guidance system that makes the unguided 70mm Hydra ground attack rockets, that are used on the British Apache attack helicopters, highly accurate. In US use it has also been approved for use on several other types of helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft such as the A-10 and F-16. The Hydra is a family of cheap rockets that can have a number of different warheads from high explosives, to flechettes, to smoke and infrared flares with a range of up to 5,000 metres. The limit to range is the rocket motor and a new, more powerful one is under development to take advantage of the APKWS-II’s ability to see the laser over eight miles away. The odd thing here is that the APKWS-II is made by BAE Systems at their plant in Nashua, New Hampshire, so it is actually a British design in the first place.
The NHS strike is rather odd in that it involves 14 different unions, and so far, some have voted against the deal, some have voted in favour of the deal, and some have still to announce the result of their votes. The RCN and Unite voted to reject the deal, while today the GMB voted to accept it, joining the Midwives Union, the Physiotherapists Unions and the biggest NHS Union, Unison. On Tuesday there is a meeting of the NHS Staff Council at which the 14 unions will have a vote on whether to accept the deal or not. At the moment it looks like the majority of the 14 will vote to accept the deal. This will allow the health secretary to pay the deal, meaning the money would go into the account of all staff including those who do not agree to the deal. We could soon have a position where the RCN is on strike but are taking the increased money, what a very strange situation.
I’m done for another week and yippie the sun is out. It’s pleasantly warm so the windowsill beckons. Unlike last week I won’t have to curl up in the corner, out of the wind and in the sun, so I am looking forward to my catnap until dinner time. I should be back with you all again next week.
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