Good morning everyone, it’s rather nice this morning, warm and sunny. For once the forecasters have got it right. The idiot on the radio annoyed me this morning going on about the government’s ‘ban’ on onshore wind farms. There is no ban, it’s just what the Liebore lot would have you believe. You can build as many as you like but you must get local planning permission and local authorities are nearly all NIMBYs. On top of that there are no subsidies for onshore wind turbines, so the builders must be sure they will be profitable. Without a subsidy they can’t make money so none are getting built. So much for the cheapest form of energy.
I was amazed to see that over the weekend Tesla reduced the price of the Model X and Model S and not by a trivial amount. They have both had a price cut of between 15% and 19% depending on the exact version. The cost of all paint finishes has also been included in the base price, so no more $500 more for metallic red instead of being stuck with base white. But the price is still horrendous, starting at $74,990 for the basic Model S. What does all this say about Tesla costs as this is the 2nd price reduction this year? Any company that can afford to reduce its prices by 15% must be charging too much, however this company has cut the price twice this year. Profiteering?
A very strange story reaches me from Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium. It seems that after a match it is reported that an assault took place on obnoxious Sky TV pundit Roy Keane and is being investigated by the Metropolitan Police. But what is odd about this incident is that a clip on the internet seems to show the two people involved were Keane and fellow pundit Micah Richards, who played for teams from the opposite side of Manchester. Reports say Keane was head-butted and Richards helped him. The police say statements have been taken from two people and investigations continue.
Today I have news of the Glasgow Low Emissions Zone. Unlike other zones around the United Kingdom, if your car doesn’t comply with the level of emissions set, you can’t pay to enter the zone. I suppose this makes more sense than charging you £12.50 to pollute. But it seems that the Glasgow scheme has been a total failure where the air pollution has doubled over the same period as last year! But better than that the Glasgow Council bin lorries and the trucks that remove the illegally parked all fail to meet the standards the council has set and they have had to hire-in replacements.
I read that today is the busiest day of the year for divorce lawyers and marriage therapists. Why? I hear you ask. Apparently, people whose marriages are on the rocks often go on family holidays over the summer to try to sort things. Having failed they wait until the children go back to school before consulting a solicitor or counsellor and in many areas today is back to school day.
The news from the BBC is that since taking over the flagship Sunday morning Politics Show Laura Kuenssberg has lost one-third of its viewers. It is hardly surprising when you watch the show. It has become a lefty love fest where Tories are constantly interrupted and Liebore can say whatever they want uninterrupted. The only good bit on yesterday’s show was a row between Piers Morgan and Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall over wind turbines. Lefty-Green Whittingstall was preaching that wind turbines would save the world and Morgan as good as told him he was an idiot. I enjoyed that segment before Kuenssberg cut them off.
Interesting numbers out this morning. In the cities of Glasgow, Liverpool and Manchester one in five are on the long-time dole. That’s 11,000 vacancies in Glasgow, 9,000 in Liverpool and 22,000 in Manchester, all this while there are nearly 1,000,000 job vacancies in the U.K. Gosh I wish I was in charge of the DHSS for a while. I don’t mind people being on the dole short term between jobs, or if you are very close to pensionable age and no one wants to hire you. But if you are mid-thirties and have been on the dole for years, I would simply cut them off without a penny.
It’s another lovely morning even better than yesterday, I have every intention of getting my diary and patrolling done early so that I can get out and snooze in the sun. So yesterday Sir Beer Korma had a reshuffle of his shadow cabinet. I had to laugh that after moving to Shadow Levelling up Secretary Crayons had to put out a statement reminding people, she is still deputy party leader. She has moved to Lisa Nandy’s old post and Nandy has been demoted to International Development. So far it looks like if you are a Korma loyalist you are on the up, but people who were against him in the leadership election are suffering.
Reports today tell me that the Indian Moon rover has been put into ‘sleep’ mode for the next three weeks. The rover is powered by a battery that is recharged by solar panels and as the area is in solar night for the next three weeks it becomes impossible to charge the batteries. Consequently, the Indians have fully charged the batteries and shut down all the non-essential equipment ready to sit it out until sunrise. The craft will then have two weeks of continuous daylight to carry out more missions before the Moon day turns to nighttime again. I suppose that is the problem when you land on the Moon’s South Pole.
News today that Five Guys posh burger chain plans to double the number of outlets in the U.K. They currently have 150 branches and want to make that 300 in the next couple of years. They say they want to open branches at stations and at airports. They also say their first ‘drive-through’ in Teesside has been a huge success so they will be looking at more ‘drive-throughs’. Mind you I suspect that many of the new branches will have to be in affluent areas as a Five Guys cheeseburger, chips and milkshake costs £21, much more than McDonald’s or Burger King.
Some very strange photos on the internet today showing car tyres on the top of the wings of Russian TU-95 bombers. The satellite photos clearly show a layer of old tyres on the old nuclear-capable bombers. The ‘experts’ think that it is an attempt to protect the bombers from Ukrainian drones. The TU-95 is a prime target for Ukraine, as the bombers are being used to hit targets in the Ukraine. It seems that the new generation of Ukrainian drones have much longer ranges and Russian Air Force bases that were previously thought to be safe are now being attacked. The other thing appears to be that the new cardboard drones are invisible to radar.
The EU is reviewing the conservation status of wolves within its borders. The numbers of wolves in the EU have leapt recently and the number of attacks on livestock have correspondingly increased. Ursula Von der Leyen had said that the growing number of wolf packs also threatens the human population as well as livestock. Von der Leyen had her own pony, ‘Dolly,’ attacked and killed by a wolf and says many EU farmers have called for the right to shoot marauding wolves. It does worry me that some people want to release wolves into the wilds of Scottishland, perhaps they should look at what is happening in the EU before doing any such thing.
In India, this summer has brought an unusual drought during the annual monsoon period. This has caused an electricity shortage as the hydroelectric generators have had to be shut down. The consequence has seen a huge increase in coal-fired power production and mining of coal. Coal-fired production has hit a six-year peak of 66.7% while hydro has fallen to 14% down from 18% last year. The long-term weather forecast for September is back to the normal amount of rain so perhaps the conservationists will be appeased.
In a short while Apple will be releasing its latest iPhones and iPads and it is expected that Apple will obey the new EU rule and swap its charging cable over from its patent Lightening connector to its mandatory USB-C connector. The question is will Apple make two versions of its new products with the USB connector on the EU version and stick with the Lightening connector for the rest of the world or will the the cost of dual production mean that they go with USB on everything? But at the moment all Apple iPhones also have wireless charging, so will this give Apple a way out when the new products are launched on 12th September?
It’s another lovely sunny morning, it’s even better than yesterday and it was a Felix Chicken morning. The sun really is shining on me today. This morning I learn that the Wagner Group are to become a proscribed organisation here in the U.K. But isn’t it a bit late and pointless? Wagner are past their peak and in what appears to be terminal decline. I could have understood it this time last year when they were Russia’s cutting-edge armed force in Ukraine. Now the Group has fallen out with the Russian Government and is leaderless, the Russians are probably very happy that they have been proscribed.
For my first story today, I relate the tale of French footballer Odsonne Edouard who was prosecuted and found guilty by a magistrate in a case he knew nothing about. The Crystal Palace player was stopped by police last May for suspected speeding, although he was not charged or fined for this. The police however asked him for his driving licence and insurance documents. Apparently, he showed them a picture of his French licence on his phone but that wasn’t good enough and the policeman cautioned him, noting that he spoke limited English and answered, “I do not understand.” The next Edouard knew was when it was reported in the press that he had been fined £660 with £364 costs and fees and five points on his licence in a secret court case. The case was held in a closed court in front of a magistrate and supposedly Edouard had been notified of the case by post, by writing to an address in East London. Lawyers appealed the case, showing that there were no grounds for the original prosecution as Edouard had a current French license and valid insurance. The guilty verdict was set aside. What worries me is that people are being prosecuted in secret courts and are found guilty in their absence without being told of the prosecution.
I read that ‘experts’ have been investigating why cats prefer Tuna to other fish. It seems it is all to do with the taste receptors in a cat’s tongue. Being that basically cats are carnivores and need a meat diet to survive, their taste receptors have become modified over the years to prefer the flavours of meat and reject vegetables. Incidentally, we have also lost our sweet receptors so are indifferent about sugar as we just don’t need it in our diet. Have you ever seen a cat pounce on a carrot or a boiled sweet? So why do many cats like tuna, well apparently it is unique among fish in having flavours that mimic meat to a cat’s taste receptors. But it is not meat, and you can’t replace meat in a cat’s diet with tuna, if you do your cat will suffer malnutrition. I don’t like the fishy versions of Felix very much, once in a blue moon I get given a pouch and it’s a case of eat it or starve. I am definitely a carnivore.
Car sales in August were up again for the 13th month running. Last month 85,657 cars were sold, only an iota less than 2020, the last year before numbers were hit by Covid. I was interested to see that people are hedging their bets on electric cars and going for plug-in hybrids, sales of which were up over 70% year on year. More good news was that, despite the weather in August, retail sales for the month were up 4% on the previous month. Of course, you won’t read that in The Guardian.
I was looking at the list of banks that Barclays are closing before Christmas and on that list is Warren Street which the headlines say has only ten customers a day. When my scribe started work, this was the branch the company he worked for used. When the company moved from weekly to monthly pay, this was the branch he was sent to for an account. He then was moved to Great Dover Street in Southwark and the nearest Barclays was in Tower Bridge Road and that is also on the list. When he moved to Worthing, he used the Durrington Branch and that is now a hospice shop. I think it is him, wherever he goes they shut the bank!
Yesterday Birmingham Council effectively declared itself bankrupt and issued a section 114 notice which means they will only be spending money on essential things. The Labour-run council, the largest in the country, are blaming the cost of implementing a new IT system, having to pay out £760 million to settle equal pay claims and a drop in Business Rate income due to Covid. Of course, it has nothing to do with Labour financial mismanagement. The council decided to modernise its computer system by installing an Oracle ERP system but instead of implementing the system as supplied and modifying its own systems, it decided to keep its own systems and modify Oracle. Unfortunately, this is costing them an extra £100 million with about half of it needing to be spent this year and this is said to be the straw that broke the camel’s back.
I read today that Ukraine troops have pierced the second of the three Russian defensive lines south of the village of Robotyne and are attacking the third and final line. I have no idea if this is true or not as the Ukrainian military have not confirmed it, and the Russians have not denied it, so I just don’t know what to believe. If it is true, the Ukrainians has got through the second defensive line remarkably quickly, far faster than anyone expected, as it was only a few days ago the Ukraine was said to have breached the first line. I suppose that we will all know if it’s true or a pack of lines in the fullness of time.
Yet another beautiful morning, how long is it going to last? If anything, it is even warmer today, I think it’s because there is no breeze. So, an American professor has admitted that he amended a paper on California wildfires because it blamed most of the problem on poor forest management and arson. To get his paper published he had to put the blame solely on climate change which was what the journal it was published in said was the settled science. So, to get a paper published he had to lie, I bet that happens all the time.
My scribe tells me of a story about a bus route on the Hertfordshire, Greater London border. Nearly two years ago the 84-bus route ran from St Albans to Potters Bar and then over the London boundary into the London Borough of Barnet where it ran through Barnet High Street, past the Tube station before terminating at New Barnet station. The route had run, with various minor alterations for 110 years before the operator Metrobus decided it was no longer viable and cut it. Hertfordshire County Council picked up and subsidised the route between St Albans and Potters Bar, but this meant there was no bus service at all for the four miles between Potters Bar and Barnet. That is until this week when Hertsmere council stepped in and subsidised a route between Potter Bar and Barnet as the 84a. But a Hertsmere councillor has insisted that the bus serves both High Barnet Tube station and Barnet General Hospital that are in opposite ends of Barnet. Better than that, she says the bus must drop people off at the station going south down Barnet Hill and pick them up going north up the hill. On top of that the bus must travel directly between the Tube station and Potters Bar but must also serve the hospital. This has resulted in the bus from Potters Bar going along Barnet High Street past Barnet Church and down Barnet Hill stopping at the tube station and carrying on down the hill before heading around a loop of back streets to turn around. Then it goes back up the hill to Barnet church where it forks left and heads to the hospital. The return journey again goes past the church and down the hill round the loop and back up the hill stopping by the Tube but this time forks right at the church and heads directly to Potters Bar. What absolute lunacy and all because of a councillor’s whims.
Today I hear a new possible reason the Russians have placed car tyres on the wings of some bombers. Ukraine has modified its Neptune anti-ship missiles to attack land targets and its terminal guidance uses a thermal image to pick out its target. I am told that placing tyres on the wings changes the thermal image of a bomber and could disguise it. The only problem is that if a bomber is hit the tyres will burn fiercely.
Have you seen the new ‘Standard’ map released by China prior to the G20 meeting in India? As usual it claims most of the South China Sea and islands that belong to Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia and Brunei and they have as usual complained and pointed out that international court cases have dismissed Chinas claims. But this version of the map has unsurprisingly included Taiwan which they have claimed for many years. The map also includes two Indian States and parts of Nepal and Russia. China is really pushing things.
Not a good past few days for Manchester United. First off came the Mason Greenwood problem where he was accused of assaulting a girlfriend, but despite a video on the internet he was not prosecuted and has now been released by the club. Over the weekend the club’s media was in full power defending the management and saying how hurt they were at being attacked on the internet. Then they lost 3-1 to Arsenal on Sunday. On Monday player Jadon Sancho washed his dirty linen in public exposing his differences with the manager and the club. Next were the rumours that the owners have pulled out of selling the club and its shares crashed yesterday. Now I hear that Brazilian Manure player Anthony has been reported to São Paulo police for four alleged incidents of violence, injury and threat to his girlfriend. What is going on at the club?
It has emerged that Saudi Arabia is looking to enter a bid to host the 2034 Football World Cup. Until now it was thought that they would be involved in a joint bid with Egypt and Greece for the 2030 event, but word has it that they have withdrawn from that grouping in favour of a solo bid in 2034. The Saudi government has been pumping money into the new Saudi League and over the summer clubs have been bidding ridiculous sums of money for well-known players coming near the end of their playing careers in European leagues. It is said by 2034 Saudi Arabia should have been able to develop some of its own players and not make too much of a hash of having a team in the finals as hosts. That’s all OK if people can ignore their appalling human rights record.
All summer long Arsenal have been trying to clear what some would describe as deadwood off their payroll. These are nearly all players who are past their prime and can no longer hold down a berth in the first-team squad but would certainly not disgrace a lower-league side or some European leagues. In general, Arsenal have been successful at moving players off the wage bill with them moving on or going out on loan. One notable exception has been their previous record signing, at £72 million, Nicholas Pepe who is said to be earning £140,000 a week. Arsenal had him out on loan at French team Nice last year, so the wages were not a problem. But since returning in June, he has only attracted a single bid from Turkish club, Besiktas. It was only for a nominal amount, said to be a few million, but Arsenal where willing to cut their losses and let him go. However, Pepe turned down the move, apparently because he would have to take a wage cut. With the European transfer window now shut it has been reported Arsenal were about to cancel Pepe’s contract and write off any more expenditure on him. Today I hear Pepe has had a change of heart and has passed a medical to join Besiktas at a reduced wage. This is possibly because the Turkish transfer window is still open along with other Middle Eastern leagues. It looks like Pepe is going to accept the reduced wage as being better than no wage!
It’s another warm day, but there’s not much sun about this morning. It’s nice and quiet here today, the Rich Boy and his very rich wife have gone to the G20 in India. The office has been pretty empty all week, it always is when the sun is out. People say they are working from home, but I wonder if that includes sunbathing in the garden.
I have just read an article whose headline said that the Midlands mayor has ordered 860 tonnes of UK-made steel for the rails of an extended metro system. What the article actually says if you go on and read it, and not just what the headline says, is that the mayor has actually signed a commitment to buy the UK-made steel if and when the metro tram system is expanded. OK, they say they have the intention to expand the metro, but they need to find the money first.
A couple of days ago I reported that Ukraine troops were reported to have reached the third and final Russian defensive line and questioned if it was a true report or propaganda. Today I heard an interesting tale that could explain the speed at which the second defensive line has supposedly been breached. In the early days of the Ukrainian counter-offensive, they initially moved quickly but were then slowed by the minefields. They were slowed much they became targets for Russian Artillery. The Russians were quick to learn lessons and observed that the “exploding lines” used to clear lanes through the minefields were 100 metres long, so they increased the depth of the minefields and doubled their density. But because each Russian division is issued a fixed number of mines, both anti-tank and anti-personnel, if you double the density of one field and increase its depth you don’t have the same numbers of mines left to use in the other minefields. The story I hear is that 60% of mines were used in the first line and only 20% in both the 2nd and 3rd lines making them easier to breach. Again, I only report what I hear, I do not know if it is true.
Today’s silly story is that scientists in the United States have discovered that the Moon is moving away from the Earth at a rate of 3.82cm per year. This in turn leads to a fractional slowdown in the rotational speed of the earth. The scientists say that this means that in 200 million years the Earth will have a 25-hour day! I am not too worried about this, as I doubt I or any of my readers will be around then to benefit or otherwise from it. Just think, if we still have an eight-hour working day we can all sleep for that extra hour, now I do like that.
I hear that our Royal Marine Commandos are getting several major equipment upgrades. Perhaps the biggest is they are getting a new rifle the Knight’s Stoner 1 (KS-1) rifle (designated L403A1). It will come with new thermal and telescopic sights and a suppressor (silencer). In addition, the Commandos are to get new helmets, night vision goggles, communications equipment, Lewis Machine and Tool L129A2 rifles for sharpshooter rifles and vehicles. Wouldn’t it be nice if all our troops were similarly upgraded but I guess that is down to money.
I understand that for the next Formula One race in Singapore there is going to be a rule change. Strangely it is not really a rule change, but rather stricter enforcement of an existing rule. The current rules ban flexible wings and that applies to both rear wings and front wings. If a wing is allowed to flex it is estimated that it can add about half a second a lap to a car’s speed. At the moment some teams have rigid wings that don’t flex at all and others move a bit under the load test but not enough to fail the test. It has long been suggested that the Red Bull and Ferrari wings pass the current test where weights are hung on them while stationary and the flex generated is within limits but under racing loads, they still flex enough to affect the car’s speed. Well from the Singapore race, wings will not be allowed to flex at all. Don’t ask me how they are going to check that but I for one think it is about time the rule was enforced.
Speaking of F1 I hear that the FIA is about to approve the application of Mario Andretti’s Cadillac team to join the Grand Prix circus for 2025. But this doesn’t mean a new team on the F1 circuits. Andretti Autosport already have teams racing in IndyCar, Formula E and Extreme E but they also need the acceptance of the existing F1 teams. That looks most unlikely as the current teams think that there are already enough teams on the grid and an additional 11th team would only reduce the prize money available. Although the process of getting F1 approval is secret it is understood that five teams applied and paid the £130,000 fee to be assessed. The word is Andretti will be approved and Hitech could be approved but the other three teams won’t be. But they will be top of the list if any of the existing 10 drop out.
Good morning people, it’s another lovely morning. I could get used to this, but the weatherman says it’s nearly over. I don’t really understand all the fuss about this Daniel Khalife bloke. If he is so important and a security risk, why was he in a Category B prison and working in the prison kitchen? He was awaiting trial on spying and terrorist charges, so I ask again, why was he not in a Cat A prison? Then the story of the escape sounds very strange, either he had inside help or the security was very lax. And now there is a massive manhunt and big cash reward for finding him. When have you ever heard of a big reward for an escaped prisoner?
An interesting opinion poll in the paper today. In the London mayoral election Sad Dick has had his lead slip from 8% to 1% over the Tories. This makes the result too close to call at this time. But it could be a lot worse for Labour. The Old Tramp (Corbyn) who Labour chucked out, is threatening to stand as an independent. If this were to happen, he would be taking his supporters from the pool of Liebore and Limp Dump voters and not from the Tories. If he does stand the poll gives the Tories a 5% lead.
Do you remember ages ago when NASA crashed a missile into an asteroid called Dimorphos which was orbiting a bigger asteroid called Didymos? The idea was to prove their ability to redirect away an asteroid that would otherwise hit Earth. At the time it was declared to have been a complete success. Now a school group in California has reported that Dimorphos is behaving strangely and its obit has slowed right down. If NASA ever has to hit an asteroid for real, they will now have to think more deeply about the results.
I read that Sad Dicks ULEZ camera vans must be parked up to communicate with the ULEZ network and don’t work while the vehicle is moving. This has led the London Brough of Bromley, who opposed the scheme, to say that their parking enforcement officers have been instructed to give the camera vans no leeway. Any van parked on a pavement, grass verge or anywhere else against regulations like a double yellow line will be ticketed. I also read that a number of cameras in Bromley have been painted bright red to warm people where they are.
I read that a male flight attendant has been removed from an American Airlines flight after a camera was found in a First-Class toilet. The teenage girl who spotted the camera told her mother who discussed the find with a fellow passenger. When the plane landed at Boston the state police boarded the plane and the girl and her family were rushed off to make statements. Apparently, the girl was about to enter the toilet when she was stopped by the flight attendant who was arrested and told to wait a moment while he went in to remove rubbish, it was after that the camera was found.
I hear that there could be another rescue operation on the cards for many of the Wilko stores. This time the rescuer could be Aldi who have said that they intend to open 500 more shops in the coming years. The Aldi chief executive is reported as saying opening 500 new stores is ambitious and picking up already functioning stores would clearly make sense. But Aldi would only want to take on ex-Wilko outlets where they are not close to an existing Aldi. I guess someone is going to have to sit down with a load of maps and work out which stores might be of use to them.
I see that the police arrested the escaped prisoner, Daniel Khalife, this morning. Apparently, he was only six miles from Wandsworth Prison where he escaped early on Wednesday morning. I hear he had managed to get a change of clothes; those red and white checked trousers were a bit of a giveaway. I hear he was riding a bike along a canal towpath when spotted and pushed off the bike. But being found so close to the prison seems to indicate he didn’t have help from outside the prison. If he had been spirited away to the Iranian Embassy he would never have been found. So, what was his plan? He was on remand and could have been found not guilty. Now even if found not guilty on the spying and terrorism charges he is guilty of escaping for prison for which he will definitely get a prison sentence. Perhaps he is just a bit thick.
That’s me done for this week, and the weather in London is wonderful today with a clear blue sky. I’m off to laze on my favourite windowsill. I’ll be back with you all again next week.
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