Friday, 30 September 2011

Amanda Knox Appeal

The appeal of Amanda Knox's murder conviction is expected to reach its conclusion on Monday and the general feeling is that the conviction for killing her fellow student, Meredith Kercher, in Italy in 2007 will be quashed. Her friends and family seem very optimistic having hired a private to fly her back home from Italy to America straight after the ruling.
The two key pieces of evidence against Knox was DNA tests and that have been shown to be shaky at best.
The bra clasp of Meredith's said, to have been cut away during a struggle, was not found until six weeks after the murder and the murder weapon had Knoxs handle and Kercher's DNA on the blade. Italian forensic experts now tell the appeal court they could not be certain that the DNA traces found the knife were those of Kercher.
Against her are the bloody footprints of Knox found near the murder and in Knox's bedroom, the badly staged burglary in Meredith's flat and the changing alibi of where she was on the night of the murder.
Originally she confessed to being in the flat and blocking her ears to shut out the sound of Kercher's screams. She later denied being in the flat and had spent the evening at her boyfriends house all night. Her boyfriend, the co-accused Mr Sollecito's, claimed that he had been working on his computer at home while Miss Kercher was being murdered but police say tests on his PC state his computer had not been access that evening.
Knox initially accused a Congolese bar-owner, Diya Lumumba, of the murder and he was held for two weeks before being released without charge.
If the other evidence is the main factor, then i expect her to complete the 26 year sentence that was passed down in 2009. If the decision of her guilt comes down to the DNA evidence, i expect her to be freed.

Hassle Free Tax Refund

Have you seen those adverts on television and in the newspapers for companies that will get you a tax rebate? Companies like 1st Contact, TaxBack.com, Taxrebateservices.com, Refunds Direct and many more who offer a no win, no fee basis and promise to get you back overpaid tax for a fee. A fee that could be as much as 40%.

After a conversation with a tax officer today, it turns out these people are taking a large wedge of your tax rebate for 30 seconds work and doing what you can do yourself for a price of a stamp and half a minute with a calculator and a pen.
How it works is these companies request your P60s and P45s and after working out how much of a rebate you are due, and their share, they just post your forms off to the Inland Revenue requesting they assess the necessary years and wait until the cheque comes back, take their share and send you the remainder. If you are due £1,000, you are happy because you get £600, they are happy because they earned £400 for a minimum amount of work but how much happier would you be if you got the full £1000?

They will tell you it is hassle free and even that they can get any refund quicker but the only hassle you have is rounding up your P60s/P45s and writing a letter requesting the Inland Revenue check to see if you have overpaid Tax for the last few years and request they repay it if you have.
That's it and you either get a repayment six weeks later or a letter advising that you paid the correct amount of tax.
The refund companies have no special line to HMRC that gets it dealt with any quicker no matter what they claim, all post is dealt with in date order so regardless if you or the refund company send it in, it will dealt with at the same time. If an Agent is seen trying to jump the queue, they face a lengthy investigation process and security checks which hold up any repayment even further.
These companies don't do anything that you can't do yourself, the only difference is whether you get the full rebate you are due or you pay someone 40% to do it.

To work out if you are due a rebate, and this is the 30 seconds the refund companies make you pay so dear for, is a simple formulae if you earn less than £35,000 a year.
On your P60, find your earnings for the year (eg 20,000), find your tax code (eg 747L), add a 5 on the end (eg 7475) and take that away from your annual wages (20,000 - 7475) and that leaves you the amount you are taxed on (eg 12,525).

Minus 80% (the current lower tax rate is 20%) from the amount (eg 12,525 - 80%) and that is the amount of tax you should have paid (eg 2,505). Look at your P60 and if you paid more than that then grab a pen and write to HMRC and request they assess that years tax paid and make a repayment if necessary. If you are not sure, send in your P60 with the letter anyway and they work it out for you.
It really is that simple and exactly what the refund companies do and charge you an extortionate 40% for.

As the advert says, tax doesn't need to be taxing and as i say, don't be a mug and give away money when you don't need to. Hell, leave your pay, tax and tax code details in the comment box and i will work it out for you and all i will charge is a voluntary donation towards the price of my daily caffè latte.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

What's Behind The 80mph Increase?

For the first time in 16 months the UK Government has done something that at first glance could be described as sensible, and then they go and ruin it all by trying to put a spin on it.
The motorway speed limit will increase from 70mph to 80mph and as the owner of a lead foot on the accelerator, i'm fine with that but they went too far by trying to dress up the reason they are doing it is because it has 'significant economic benefits, worth hundreds of millions of pounds per year'.
The inner cynic says yeah, but economic benefits for who exactly? Tax revenue from fuel sales has been reducing because people are filling up less due to the high cost of petrol so by allowing us to drive faster, which burns more petrol, drivers need to buy even more fuel. Kerching go the Government coffers!
The Department of Environment claim that for every 5 mph you drive over 65 mph, it provides a 7% decrease in fuel economy so driving at 80 mph increases petrol consumption by 21% and with the limit + 10% rule, the unofficial limit of 88mph will mean your petrol tank will be running dry almost a third quicker. Suddenly what seems a good idea becomes yet another Government ploy to make us cough up even more.
Although the move may be welcomed by the majority of drivers, the RAC is not convinced stating: 'Drivers travelling that 10mph quicker might reach their destination sooner, but there is likely to be a slight increase in road casualties'.
The RAC are backed up by the Parliamentary Advisory Council on Transport Safety who say raising the limit to 80mph would increase motorway casualties by between 5 and 10 per cent, pushing up the average of 150 deaths annually on British motorways by 10-15 people.
So the plan becomes a thinly disguised ploy to make us buy more fuel by allowing us to drive faster in order to raise revenue despite the increased danger. Sneaky these Tories, you have to watch them all the time.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Shocking Mental Health Figures

The Scottish Government have announced that 11% of Scots aged over 15 are taking anti-depressant drugs, the highest level since records began.
That is a staggering amount of people but according to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1 in every 4 people globally are treated for one or more mental disorder at some stage in their life and mental health problems represent 50% of all disabilities worldwide.
An even more worrying figure from the WHO report is the 3,000 people who commit suicide every day in the world and for every person that succeeds in taking their own life, there are at least 20 more who thankfully survive.
The global suicide rate is up 60% over the last 50 years and in 90% of cases, mental illness is the attributing cause.
So what is it over the past 50 years that has led to such a dramatic increase in mental health problems that a quarter of the planet are having to take drugs to cope with just living?
One theory suggested is that as psychiatry has evolved from the days when anyone showing mental illness were given electric shock treatment and institutionalised, a more efficient diagnosis is available and we are finally recognising the true figures of mental illness in society.
Another theory is the increasing availability of alcohol and illegal drugs which have become more readily accessible in this day and age and contributing to mental and emotional imbalance.
Perhaps the criteria for being labelled 'mentally ill' has changed and more people are finding themselves meeting the criteria with doctors becoming rather prescription happy when it comes to dishing out the anti-depressants.
There are certainly more additives, chemicals, colourings, sweeteners and heaven knows what being added to our food nowadays and research has shown that these can have an effect on peoples behaviour or maybe it is down to today's fast paced lifestyle and pressures.
I don't know what the reason is that so many of us are not coping with modern life, i would suggest a combination of all of the above but it seems the World we have created is not good for our health and I can't see things getting any better as the population rises and our personal space grows ever smaller.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Which Republican To Replace Obama

Barack Obama has not been the President we have hoped for and after his craven and spineless betrayal of the Palestinians in order to appeal to the American Christian voters and gain a second term as President, i am hoping against hope that he is turfed out of the White House next year but as it is highly unlikely anyone will challenge him from the Democrat Party, we should look at which of the Republicans would be an acceptable replacement to the left for the disappointing dud.

The BBC website lists the nominations as Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Jon Huntsman, Rick Santorum, Herman Cain, Gary Johnson, Thaddeus McCotter and Fred Karge. Sarah Palin and Rudy Giuliani are pencilled in but have yet to declare whether they will run but what of the men and woman who are in the game already on key left issues of the Environment, Foreign policy & Israel.

Current favourite is Mitt Romney who scores quite high on environmental issues, favouring fining businesses who exceed emission limits but loses out with views that include increasing the size of Guantanamo Bay, doubling the level of US military spending and being a strong supporter of the dividing wall between Israel and the West Bank. Left rating: 1 out of 3

Next up is Rick Perry who scores nil for environmental issues, calling climate change a 'contrived phony mess' and another zero for his policy on Israel which he supports for religious reasons, stating: "I'm a big believer that this country was given to the people of Israel a long time ago, by God". His foreign policy is not widely known but he has been quoted stating that North Korea and Iran present an imminent threat and leftists in Latin America are threatening democracy and all of them require attention. He also advocates sending the US military into Mexico to control drug violence. Left rating: 0 out of 3

Michele Bachmann is no environmentalist, describing Global Warming as a hoax and stating strong opposition to the Environmental Protection Agency and supporting increased domestic drilling of oil and natural gas, as well as being a strong proponent of nuclear power. Bachmann says in dealing with Iran, 'diplomacy is an option, but that other options, include a nuclear strike, are on the table'. She has also said that she is a long time supporter of Israel and America should defend it regardless. Left rating 0 out of 3

Newt Gingrich thinks that Israel has every right to maintain a blockade of Gaza, maintaining that there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza but merely a political effort to undermine the safety of Israel. His foreign policy is one that is clear about the evil America faces as 'we are still the last, best hope of mankind on Earth' which doesn't sound very welcoming although he advocates a more robust approach to climate change. Left rating: 1 out of 3

Ron Paul has a long held foreign policy of nonintervention and opposed the Iraq War, is against any potential war with Iran and criticised U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. He called Israel 'our close friend but it should not be the place of the United States to dictate how Israel runs her affairs'. A promising start is tripped up by his views on climate change which he regards as 'not a major problem threatening civilisation.' Lefty rating 1.5 out of 3

That is the five main runners at the moment and quite a sorry bunch they are and we can't garner much hope from the remainder of the field which include Rick Santorum who is seeking to promote the teaching of intelligent design and questioning evolution.

Not good so maybe we should look outside of the main parties next.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

REM & Nirvana Still Linked

Kurt Cobain once said that REM were the greatest band ever and for a brief time in the early 90's you could have made a strong argument for the case but a couple of decent years out of the 31 REM were around with a total of 3 or 4 songs that could be described as classic songs is not a brilliant return for anyone with ambitions of being the greatest.
It is a quirk of the rock circle of life that REM have decided to pack away the instruments for the last time to much glorification of their career at the same time as we are unable to open a newspaper without pictures of Kurt Cobain grinning back at us and columnists showering Nirvana with toe curling platitudes in the midst of the 20th anniversary celebration of Nirvana's Nevermind album.
Michael Stipe of REM is the godfather of Cobain and wife Courtney Love's only child, Frances Bean, and after years of a public mutual-admiration society between them, an REM/Nirvana hook-up was in the planning when Cobain took his own life but was either band worthy of such admiration?
Nirvana's Nevermind album was majestic and the singles from it almost perfect but the follow up 'In Utero' was disappointing, the first album 'Bleach' re-released in the aftermath of Nirvana's success was weak and the MTV unplugged album a huge mistake.
Just like REM, Nirvana just had enough decent material to ride the wave of greatness for a short time and then just ran out of steam and never got close to those dizzy heights again.
Nevermind was a classic album and Cobain, Grohl and Novoselic all deserve praise for it, especially the song Smells Like Teen Spirit, but both Nirvana and REM fall way short of being 'the greatest'.
Neither were trailblazers in the way of The Sex Pistols or The Beatles or were consistently churning out chart hits year after year like Queen or ABBA.
Both were creators of a few albums that should rightly be celebrated on the anniversary of their releases but i'm left wondering if Nirvana & REM were both punching seriously above their weight for a brief, brilliant period of time or were genius's who just lost their musical way after their success. I would strongly suspect the former.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Einstein Wrong

Particle physicists have detect neutrinos traveling faster than light, a feat forbidden by Einstein's theory of special relativity. Pffft, Einstein, what did he know.
According to the more scientific amongst us this is a big deal, a Copernicus moment that raises the possibility of time travel and with no DeLorean or a flux capacitor in sight.
What i don't really understand is why does going faster than the speed of light mean going back in time? I wish I had paid more attention in Science lessons at school but it all seemed very boring at the time.
Prof Mark Lancaster of the University College London Physics and Astrology department explains.

Imagine the neutrinos which are travelling faster than light are a clock and we tell the time by photons light being emitted by this neutrino.
So the neutrino ticks and emits a photon at say 12:00 which takes some time to get to us travelling at the speed of light and it hits your eye and you go OK it's 12:00. The neutrino/clock though is itself moving quicker than the photon in emitted and so will overtake it on the way to you - let's say it overtakes the 12:00 photon and ticks again and emits the 12:01 photon - the 12:01 photon will then reach you BEFORE the 12:00 photon so you are seeing time tick backwards ie you see the clock going 12:01, 12:00, 11:59

Still boring then but like Jennifer Anniston on the L'Oreal adverts, you don't need to understand the science bit to have shiny, beautiful hair or in this case, to go back in time with the weekends European lottery numbers or persuade Simon Cowells grandfather to wear extra tight underpants or even find the man who gave Celine Dion a recording contract and flail him alive before he she gets to sign on the dotted line.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Proof That Nicholas Cage is One Of The Undead

Nicholas Cage is reported to be the owner of the most haunted house in America where hundreds of slaves were tortured and murdered in the 19th Century and a head carrying vision roams the corridor. Scary indeed but not as frightening as some of the stinkers that Cage has appeared in during his career but he has plenty of time to make some decent films seeing as he is one of the undead. Allow me to explain.
Notice the black and white photograph of the unidentified man above? This photo was taken around the time of the American Civil War, 145 years ago, and notice any resemblance to a certain Hollywood star last seen being arrested for assaulting his wife?
Antique image dealer, Jack Mord, believes the photo is proof that Nicholas Cage is a member of the walking undead.
'Personally, I believe it’s him and that he is some sort of walking undead/vampire who reinvents himself once every 75 years or so' he explained, '150 years from now, he might be a politician, the leader of a cult, or a talk show host.'
He found the photo at the back of an album of Civil War-era portraits, but his suspicion was aroused when he noticed that this was the only picture in the book that did not have a name beside it.
Conclusive proof then that Nicholas Cage, as he is calling himself these days, is one of the walking dead.
Now if only we can find proof that Jean-Claude Van Damme ISN'T one of the walking dead.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Cheering The UBS Rogue Trader

I'm not really sure what trader Kweku Adoboli got up to at the Swiss bank UBS to run up debts of $2.3bn but whatever he was doing, he wasn't very good at it.
As we learnt to our cost a few years ago, traders receive a bonus that reflects the amount of profit they made for the bank during the course of the year, and this creates an incentive to take reckless bets with other peoples money.
Of course when it all goes wrong, the banks yelp and we come running with suitcases full of taxpayers cash to bail them out and we sack 500,000 public servants to pay for it.
Funny just how Socialist the Capitalist system can be when it is in trouble but anyway, UBS are $2.6 bn in the hole and we are left asking 'Who's gonna pay that then?'
In the 2008 case of Jerome Kerviel who massaged the books and cost his Bank Société Générale $7bn, a French court ordered him to repay the amount but he pleaded poverty and it was the banks shareholders that had to pay up through foregone profits and dividends.
Some of the losses were also borne by Kerviels colleagues, through reduced bonuses and the taxpayer money was left untouched.
Experts are predicting the same scenario for UBS but as they made a $6.4bn profit last year and have accrued a $4bn bonus pool for its employees, it shouldn't be a problem.
The brilliantly funny bottom line is that one of the banks got seriously burnt by one of it's own and it is the shareholders and Adoboli's colleagues that are going to have to take a hit to their obscene pay pocket to repay it. It doesn't cost us anything so every ones a winner except the bank and who gives a hoot about them now anyway.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Look Out Below

Take a good look at the photograph of the satellite over there on the left just so you recognise the hulking great lump of metal that could be smashing its way through your roof next Friday.
NASA's six and half tonne Upper Atmospheric Research Satellite (UARS) is returning home the quick way and they are predicting that it could land anywhere south of the Arctic and north of the Antarctic which doesn't really narrow it down any but the boffins at NASA are not overly concerned, 'Look at how much of Earth is covered with water' one said, 'There's a really good chance it's going to go straight into the ocean.'
NASA are keeping a close watch on the falling satellite, but will only be able to pinpoint its actual crash zone to within about 6,000 miles about two hours before re-entry and put the chances of one of us humans being brained by the orbitally challenged object as 1-in-3,200 which makes it more likely that on the 23rd you will be killed in a car accident (1 in 100) or die in a fire (1-in-1,116).
If by a twist of fate you do wake up to find a smouldering piece of space junk in your kitchen, you are not allowed to keep it or sell it on eBay, as it remains the property of the US government which is also the place to send your roofing bill to.
For the latest information on which country needs to issue warning to its citizens to don hard hats, the NASA website are posting updates on where and when but i have my fingers crossed for 10 Downing Street.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Vote Looms For Palestinian State

It has been a rough time lately for Israel. A UN report found Israel’s effort last year to stop a flotilla of ships from reaching the Gaza Strip 'excessive and unreasonable' while Turkey has downgraded its relationship with Israel and the Arab spring has replaced some of Israel’s friends with potential enemies, most notably in Egypt where the Israeli embassy has been the target of demonstrations.
Things could get significantly worse for the Israeli Government after September 21st as the Palestinians seek full membership state representation at the United Nations.
The Palestinians have long sought to establish an independent, sovereign state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem - occupied by Israel since the 1967 Six Day War. However, decades of on-and-off peace talks have failed to produce a deal with the latest round of negotiations breaking down a year ago when Israel refused to stop building settlements on occupied Palestinian land.
The U.S. has pledged to veto any bid in the 15-member United Nations Security Council, however, they cannot veto the second vote in the 193-member General Assembly that would make Palestine a non-voting observer state at the world body. Not full membership but it would afford the Palestinian state entry to join many United Nations agencies and groups, most importantly the International Criminal Court, where it could take up the legal case against Israel for war crimes and challenge the settlement building in the occupied territories.
The Israeli and Americans claim that recognizing a Palestinian state would complicate the prospects of resuming peace talks is a piece of misdirection aimed to muddy the political waters as no peace process worth talking about exists to be revived.
The U.S. and Israel are continuing last-minute diplomacy to dissuade the Palestinians from seeking any form of action, even threatening to withdraw aid, while urging other countries not to support the measures but support for the Palestinians is very strong.
The Council needs nine votes out of 15 and no veto from any of its permanent members to pass a decision. However, the US has made clear it would wield its veto power so the vote would then go to the General Assembly where the Palestinians would require 129 votes from the 193 members. To date, 122 countries are said to be willing to vote in the Palestinians favour but the Palestinians are expected to easily pass the 129 figure on voting day.
The very real possibility that Palestine will be admitted to the UN, if only with observer status, puts America in a very difficult position.
If the U.S. does use its veto and appear to side with Israel over supporting the Palestinians chance of their own state, it will face major protests in a region where it is already treated with suspicion.
Saudi Arabia, a major American ally, has said the kingdom would ‘no longer be able to cooperate with America in the same way it historically has if it vetoes the bid for statehood. A veto could cause the U.S. to lose a key strategic ally. The special relationship between Saudi Arabia and the United States would increasingly be seen as toxic'.
Israel have flaunted, ignored and defied many UN resolutions over the decades and have taken every opportunity to drag their feet over negotiations while they continue the land grab so Israeli arguments that 'Peace can only be achieved around the negotiating table' is yet another attempt at stalling any Palestinian state so Israel can maintain the status quo which suits them fine.
If there is any justice then the Palestinians will gain there UN Status and have the full weight of the International Courts in their corner in any future dealings with Israel who have shamefully been left alone for far too long to continue their outrageous treatment of the Palestinians and if America does side with Israel and use its Veto, then it’s already tattered reputation in an area where anti-American sentiment is never far below the surface, will deservedly sink to a new low.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

A Week In September 1991

The last thing i want to come across as is one of those clapped out old 40-somethings venting her fury on the bands of today not being as worthy as the bands of yesterday. The real shame is that the bands of today are NOT as worthy as the bands of yesterday so us 40 somethings have no choice but to vent our fury on the subject. It's your fault kids of today, not ours.
We should have put away our ripped, faded jeans and converse trainers a long time ago but since the early 90s there has been a void in music, a couple of decades of insipid pap offered up and Kurt Cobain predicted it, stating: 'It's sad to think what the state of rock'n'roll will be in 20 years from now'. Well here we are 20 years on Kurt and the state of Rock n roll is depressingly in the hands of Simon Cowell.
As evidence that our oldies music rule and your kids music suck, I offer two of the best albums ever to be shoplifted from HMV and both were released 20 years ago this month within a week of each other, the pinnacle of music coming down to a week in mid-September 1991.
First up was Nirvana's Nevermind on the 17th followed by Use your Illusions 1 & 2 by Guns N Roses on the 24th.
You would have to wait a long time to find another album that came close to Nevermind and songs like Smells like teen-spirit, Lithium, In bloom and Come as you are or, as it turned out, you had to wait a week because Use your Illusions 1 & 2 was released at midnight the following weekend.
Who have the kids today got who can compare to Kurt Cobain, Axel Rose and Slash? Olly Murs? Lady Gaga? The last winner of X Factor?
Of course you can't really blame the kids, they can only buy what is served up to them and we are in a depressing cycle of reality show contestants polluting the charts with bland, plastic pop but with music being so fragmented into so many genres, i can't really see another grunge or punk movement happening which is a shame because it gives people like me the opportunity to say 'your music sucks' to the kids which is exactly what my parents said to me and i hate the way today's uninteresting music and musicians has turned me into my parents.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

And Now For The Weather With Lucy

My local Radio station's weather forecast usually consists of 'clear spells with a chance of rain and average temperatures' which pretty much covers everything but to be fair, predicting the weather isn't easy.
By looking at the wind direction and the present weather out in the Atlantic or over the continent, forecasters can only predict with any real accuracy two days in advance. After that, using traditional methods, it becomes a best guess but there has been a rise of long term weather prediction recently where solar activity is used as a clue of what the upcoming seasons will bring.
I'm not sure of the past success rate of this type of prediction, when astrophysicist Piers Corbyn began his business WeatherAction over a decade ago where he based twelve months weather on particle and magnetic effects from the Sun, it was treated with the same seriousness as the people who predict the weather using fir cones and how much their bunions are hurting but more people are beginning to take note.
Being a business, WeatherAction charge £15 for a 30 day and £25 for a 45 day prediction but there are other solar prediction services that provide free forecasts such as Exacta Weather and they are predicting bad things for this Autumn and Winter.
Due to low solar activity, the UK can expect a notable increase in usual wind strengths for this time of year that will result in frequent and potentially damaging gale force winds. After a largely wet and very windy Autumn, it will turn progressively colder with an early start to Winter. Moderate to heavy snowfalls as early as October or November in certain parts of the UK with prolonged periods of extreme cold and snow in December, January and February across the length and breadth of the country.
Predicting it being very cold and snowy in the UK during Winter is hardly earth shattering but it might be handy to know that the thermals may need to come out earlier this winter but worse things are predicted for the Northeastern and Midwestern parts of the US with record breaking extreme cold temperatures.
I can hear the global warming deniers screeching the 'Where's your global warming gone then' speeches already. Wrap up warm people.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Association With Tyrants

French fashion label, Lacoste, has asked Norwegian authorities to prevent Anders Behring Breivik from wearing it's clothing as the mass murderer wearing their gear may damage their brand. Nobody likes being associated with a mass murderer after-all.
Of course it is unfortunate for the company concerned if a maniac decides he likes what you produce, but even worse is if a company chooses to do business with a mass murder and during the 2nd World War many companies decided that the Nazi's money was as good as anyone elses.
Companies like IBM who built the Third Reich custom-made machines and punch cards so they could keep track of who was filling up their concentration concentration camps making the Nazi's much more efficient in their mass slaughter.
Another friend of the Nazi's was Coca-Cola who played both sides during World War Two, supported the American troops but also making sure the Nazi's never got thirsty either. After the Coca-Cola factories ran out of syrup in Germany due to wartime restrictions, they invented a new drink just for the Nazis and called it Fanta. Thirsty work killing all those millions so nice of Coca-Cola to keep the Germans spirits up.
Kodak did business with the Nazis, buying chemicals and camera parts from the Nazis as did Ford who provided the raw materials for Nazi vehicles. Nestle fought for, and won, the contract to supply the entire Nazi army with chocolate.
Siemens not only funded the Nazi party but constructed the gas chambers but the prize must go to Hugo Boss who got its start in the fashion business by designing and making the uniforms for the Nazi's.
Lacoste may be worried about there brand becoming associated with Anders Breivik but a bit of association with murders never harmed some of the other big names and anyway, being caught pumping deadly chemicals in the Chinese Yangtze and Pearl Rivers as Lacoste were this year should worry it far more.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Bye Bye Super Rich

Some of the richest people in France recently asked to pay more tax as President Sarkozy said he wanted to cut the French public deficit.
L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, the head of Air France and the boss of oil giant Total are among those who have signed a petition calling for a 'special contribution' from the wealthy saying 'When the public finance deficit and the prospects of a worsening state debt threaten the future of France, it seems necessary for us to contribute.
Compare that approach with the whinging coming from the top 1% of UK earners who are stamping their tiny feet at the 50% tax rate they are forced to pay on earnings over £150,000. Twenty of them have written a stern letter to the media highlighting the injustice of very wealthy people paying more tax than not very wealthy people and insisting that the 50p tax rate is unpopular amongst people who pay the 50p tax rate.
Conservative minister, Eric Pickles, was quick to support the super rich stating that: 'I think there is a strong and reasonable case to say, 'Come on, this is not actually contributing very much'. Not sure what World Eric Pickles lives in if he considers £2.7bn a year not very much but the chancellor of the exchequer has agreed that the top rate will stay for now, mainly because he would face a backlash if he is seen giving money to the rich while the rest of us continue to get shafted at every turn.
I expect we will hear the usual bleating about the most well off wanting to leave the country because of the amount of tqax they pay so if someone wants to pass a hat around to charter a few dozen planes to escort them off our green and pleasant lands, i would be happy to contribute a few quid. As long as it's tax deductible that is, the belt seems to have become a bit tight lately for some reason.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Hiya Max Keiser

Over the years the political left have had some very good representatives such as Michael Moore, George Clooney and the Green Day boys while the political right has Sarah Palin, Phil Collins and that guy who played Chachi in Happy Days.
Now along has come another left winger, rising to the challenge of putting the right wing back in its place. That place being sat mumbling to themselves in a corner somewhere.
Step forward Mr Max Keiser, economist, green activist and scourge of the big global corporations like Coca-Cola by once setting up a scheme for making money by short selling their stock and distributing the proceeds to victims of Coke's business model in places like India and Cambodia.
Apparently the idea was a bit of a flop and Coca-Cola is still going strong but attempts to knock the big boys are always gratefully received.
Max has his own show on the RT Network, BBC Radio 5 and has began popping up whenever a lefty slant is needed to equalise the usual right wing 'don't hit the rich' mantra.
The devil may have all the best tunes as the saying goes but the left has all the cool people so what will Fonz's cousin have to say about that?

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Another Conspiracy Theory Busted

It is a well known fact beyond any shadow of doubt that Princess Diana was murdered by the Royal Family, that Global Warming is a fraud, John F. Kennedy was assassinated by either the CIA or the Mafia and that 9/11 was planned by the US Government.
The secret of a good conspiracy theory is that it has to be so absurd that it just has to be true and probably the biggest is that the Apollo Moon Landing was faked by NASA.
As long as i can remember there have been very boring people pointing to the angle of shadows of rocks or how the astronauts could not have survived the galactic ambient radiation. Yawn.
I always wondered why the Americans didn't get one of their unmanned crafts to take a snap of the landing area on its way elsewhere to shut up all the conspiracy theorists once and for all so that's exactly what they have done.
A NASA lunar reconnaissance orbiter circling the moon has snapped photographs of the tracks and debris left by Apollo astronauts and clearly shows the spacemen's path when they walked on the moon. The photos also show ruts left by a roving vehicle and even ditched backpacks.
Hopefully, this is another nail in the coffin that the US moon landings were staged on a movie set by Americans eager to outstrip the Russians in the space race.
Now Roswell, that's another story. You really expect us to swallow that weather balloon baloney?

Friday, 2 September 2011

Hugo Is Back

Silly season turned out to be not quite so silly this year as the summer months bought us the London riots, war in Libya, Rupert Murdoch's downfall, the Norwegian massacre, slaughter in Syria, NASA closing it's doors, Greek meltdowns and the death of Amy Winehouse.
Thank you to Hanz for keeping the blog ticking over during the summer, a rich seam of stories and even the odd one where he had obviously been sniffing the high factor sun lotion like 'Why women should not run the World'.
One story that wasn't covered and gained very little coverage in the media due to the News of The World closing at the same time was the Hugo Chavez illness.
Now Mr Chavez is the kind of man that the right wing would have nothing good to say about even if he sacrificed his own life to save a drowning bag of kittens after single-handedly ending world hunger but i like him and what is so great about this story is that it bought together the two arch-enemies of those who treat Fox News as a proper, grown up news provider.
Fidel Castro has driven America nuts for decades and it was towards the bearded one that Chavez turned when he had an operation to remove a cancerous growth from his pelvis.
I am happy to report that, although visibly thinner, the treatment did not affect Chavez's ability to hold forth speeches for several hours on end and he is now back spreading his evil message of sharing, helping the poorest in society and generally giving America a kick in the swingers at every opportunity.
Big business must have been rubbing their hands at the thought of him stepping down due to health reasons but one of his first actions when coming out of hospital was to nationalise Venezuela's gold mining industry.
Welcome back Hugo and we all wish you a full recovery.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Transfer Deadline Night

Andre Santos, Per Mertesacker, Chu Young Park, Mikel Arteta and Yossi Benayoun with the added bonus of Nicklas Bendtner and Armand Traore out the door.
Arsenal are back in the game although you had us doubting you for a while there AW!!
I do love transfer deadline night with the brinkmanship, the late dash for players and hearing Manchester City fell for the 'look-how-fit-i-am' video of Owen Hargreaves and signing the permanently injured midfielder. Owen meet the physio. Physio, meet Owen. I'm sure you will be seeing a lot of each other.