To be honest I'm not sure what to write about this week. Has anything interesting happened? I haven't really been concentrating but I did make some rather lovely cakes.
It was my parent’s ruby (40th) wedding anniversary last weekend and this weekend they had a tea party and so we made some cakes. My brother made a very nice orange and lemon drizzle cake and I made a lavender pound cake and a very nice chilli and chocolate torte with a cinnamon cream topping. As you can imagine it was a very healthy cake, 550 calories per slice. This is cake that could kill you but it was very tasty indeed. Did run 6 miles though this morning to try and get rid of some of the damage.
It's Sunday afternoon as I write/type this and England are in a very strong position in the Cricket. Australia are 151-5 and are aiming to bat out 2 days for a draw or score 522 to win. Oh yes! This is fair more satisfying than last weeks, frankly, embarrassing draw following some unoriginal time wasting by England. The physio came on to the pitch a couple of times, the 12th man was on and off like a thing that goes on and off a lot. Couldn't think of anything there, sorry.
If you are going to try and waste time, at least do it in an interesting way.
There was a little news this week.
A public enquiry started this week into the death of an Iraqi national whilst being detained by British troops in 2003. Baha Mousa was a 26 year old hotel receptionist who was arrested and taken to a British army base. He was then found dead 2 days later with at least 93 separate injuries.
So far only one man has been convicted of any offence. He was jailed for 1 year and was discharged from the Army. At the trail the judge complained about the Army closing ranks and falling silent.
On the first day of the enquiry several videos of British Soldiers using detention techniques that had been banned in the 70's such as hooding of the prisoner and the use of stress positioning.
Now I am not a member of the British Army or from an Army family but I'm pretty sure of this. There is a chain of command. Someone tells the lower ranks to do something and they do it. The likelihood of soldiers all doing the same illegal things and coming to this decision independently is really rather small and that is what this enquiry is all about. Let us hope that they are allowed to reach well informed conclusions in order to help maintain the standing of the British Army. We need to win hearts and minds and the only way to do this is to behave impeccably all the time, as, of course, a very large percentage of them do but there are, clearly, some that don’t and they must be found out and removed from our Army.
Some good financial news this week. Well it's good if your name is Rick Wagoner and you are the former director of General Motors.
Despite helping to destroy his company and send it into administration with debts of $172 billion, he has got himself a nice little pension. It is reported to be worth $8.6 million, which is rather a lot of money to take from a company has taken quite so much from the American Government but there don't seem to be any rules about this sort of thing.
It was also a good week for the investment bank Goldman Sachs. Only a short while ago they took $10 billion to stop them sinking into a giant hole of seem induced bad investment but now they have started to make money again.
They have paid back the small amount that they borrowed and now they have made $3.43 billion for April to June. 3 months! They made that in 3 months. They also seem to have set aside $6.65 billion for bonuses.
Proof, if it was ever needed, that if super large companies make a loss then it is all of our problem but the profits are private.
UKFI, the body set up by the UK Government to manage our massive investment in RBS and Lloyds, has announced that they sitting on paper losses of £10 billion. There has been great criticism of UKFI because they are not taking on active enough role in the running of the banks that they have invested £3000 for ever person in Britain in but let's give them some time.
The share prices of these banks will rise and we will reap these rewards, hopefully, so be nice.
Our currant Labour Government can't really get a break at the moment. This week they have announced a pretty good new set of environment policies that have been welcomed by most “green” groups and the National Trust (if you have them you have Middle England). They have legally binding targets on carbon emissions and proposed planning changes in order to make it easier to build wind turbines. 30% of our power will be from renewables by 2020.
Now this is a bit of an ambitious target but the Government will take back of control of the National Grid so that renewable electricity generators will get priority onto the grind.
There does seem to be a bit of an obsession with wind turbines in this country but in a country surrounded by sea and that light falls upon, let us not forget tidal/wave power and solar energy. We do need a range of ways of generating.
When you mention solar power in Britain many people will point out that it isn't very sunny here but these are stupid people who really don't understand how it works. “Can you see? Yes? Well then, light photons are making it to the planets surface.” “Are those plants photosynthesising? Yes? Well then, light photons are making it to the planets surface.” If there is any form of light a photovoltaic cell will generate electricity. Cover everyone's roof with solar panels, insulate everything that can be insulated and replace all the bulbs with low energy ones and ignore the Mail and Express. This will help so much.
There are those who don't believe in global climate change and don't think that carbon emissions are a problem, I'm looking at you Jeremy Clarkson, but you can't argue with these people but you can reason with them.
Oil will run out, it is finite, so we need to preserve our oil supplies. Petrol for you big cars is made from oil. If we use it all up you will have no more petrol. If we save oil by not using it for producing power or making plastic bottles and bags (usage down by 49% by the way) we will have petrol for longer.
There were also some excellent crime figures but you would never believe it if you read our lovely papers. Yes, burglary was up by 1%, which is a shame but we are in a recession and property crime usually rises during them and the predictions were for a 5% rise so that is actually quite good, but violent crime was down again.
In 1995 the risk of being a victim of any form of crime was 40%, it is now 23%. The murder rate has fallen by 17%, making it the lowest in 20 years. Yet the fear of crime grows.
But where were the Labour MP's and ministers correcting the awful reporting of these figures that only focused on the negatives? They were nowhere to be seen. Is there no fight left in Labour? I do hope not because there are many things that they are doing OK on.
As I mentioned the fear of crime is still rising and you only have to look at our press to understand why. Every paper, every day is filled with stories of crime and general fear-mongering. The effect is that people are scared and they don't know why.
If, however you ask them about their own experiences of crime you get a different reading of the situation and many people have not experienced crime (75% in fact) and aren't too concerned about walking their streets. There, are of course, exceptions because crime is high in some places but “broken Britain” as David Cameron would like us to believe is all around us, simply isn't. He is, again, fear-mongering. It is lowest common denominator politics. Although Labour isn't free from the tag of fear-mongers. Since they have come to power we have some 3000 new laws, many of which invented new crimes and they doubled the prison population.
The same phenomenon exists with the NHS. In surveys people say that the NHS is rubbish but if you ask them about their own experiences of the survey and most people have had a good experience. Again, there are exceptions but one person’s bad experience does not mean that the whole Health Service is no good.
Let’s do some awards because it's all been a little serious and boring this week, so thank you if you are still reading,
The Award For Blatant Steal of the Week,
It's not the first time that an advert has stolen/been inspired by a music video but the new Mazda 2 advert,
is a direct lift from the White Stripes' Seven Nation Army video,
Blatant I think you will agree.
The Award for Worst Mortgage Offer of the Week,
At the height of the easy credit boom that helped to precipitate the current financial crisis several building societies and banks were offering 125% mortgages and they were roundly criticised but now the Nationwide Building Society has brought them back. There are 1 or 2 boxes that you need to tick though. This offer is for people who are in negative equity and want to move house. Which, I believe that most financial advisers would agree with me here, is the prefect time to move, when your existing loan is larger than the value of your house. Brilliant. You will need a 5% deposit though and than they will lend you 95% of the value of your new home and up to 25% again to cover the negative equity of the old loan. Clear your debts by getting deeper into debt. I think we have discovered why our banks crashed.
I have a solution to negative equity if you are unfortunate enough to be suffering from it, live in the house. The price will go up again and then you won't have a problem. If you have to move for some reason than I am sorry but you are going to loose money, it's a risk you take when buying a house. But the rest of you should stop reading the papers and stop worrying about a problem that only exists on paper.
Hope you all have a nice week; I'm off to try and encourage England to take those last 5 wickets that they seem to be having trouble with. Bye.