"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen."

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Just For The Record

A collection of news articles that I bookmarked recently but haven't had time to write up so here they are, for the record and so we don't forget:

MPs' expenses: key files missing. Auditors fail to pass House of Commons annual accounts.
"...accountants cannot verify that they provide a “true, complete and fair” picture of the use of taxpayers’ money. Commons officials are concerned over the public fallout from their failure to properly account for millions of pounds of public money at a time of government cutbacks."
Another 8 MPs in expenses 'storm'
Former Europe minister Denis MacShane is reported to have claimed for eight laptop computers in three years and paid £8,000 of taxpayers’ money to a company controlled by his brother. Government whip Bill Wiggin ordered to apologise to MPs and repay more than £4,000, former defence minister Ivor Caplin owes £17,865, Labour peer Baroness Adams owes £4,110, and ex-MPs Diana Organ and Lorna Fitzsimons owe £12,803 and £500 respectively. Former MPs John Lyons and Helen Clark owe a further £10,894 and £2,808 respectively but have agreed repayment plans.
Merkel & Sarkozy: We need a new EU treaty  Merkel now has Sarkozy on-side. The current treaty doesn't allow EU states to bail out each other so in effect the bail-out of Greece was illegal according to EU rules. Retrospective changes have to be made to Lisbon. Cameron is running scared; how will he wriggle out of this one?
Britain has fought hard since March this year to block changes to the Lisbon Treaty by warning Germany and France that it would open the EU as a divisive political issue across Europe and that it could trigger a British referendum, almost certainly leading to a No vote.
A good write-up about Britain's predicament from Bruno Waterfield
EC warned: "hands off British rebate"  Good! Perhaps the published plans for direct taxation will finally hammer the message home to voters.
An 'options paper' to be unveiled by the Commission sets out alternatives for a direct tax on EU citizens for the first time to help fund the £108billion-a-year cost of running euro policies. It includes diverting a share of national taxes such as carbon or aviation tax or VAT directly to Brussels - an idea hatched by the commission months ago to top up EU coffers.
Ken Livingstone faces calls for expulsion from Labour Party
"Livingstone... caused consternation yesterday when he joined the campaign trail with Lutfur Rahman, an independent standing against Labour's Helal Abbas in the election to become executive mayor of Tower Hamlets council...Flanked by Rahman and his supporters, Livingstone said on Monday that the party had made "a big mistake" in removing him as its candidate."
Theresa May urged to sack top adviser in row over ban on Muslim cleric
May banned Dr Naik from entering the UK for a lecture tour in June, saying his presence “would not be conducive to the public good”. However, hours after the ban was announced [Charles] Farr, director of the Office of Security and Counter Terrorism, told one of Dr Naik’s supporters in an email that he would try to help Dr Naik's case to enter the UK, according to emails seen by The Daily Telegraph.
Francis Maude & Julia Middleton
"True Conservatives will be shocked to learn that Maude and Cameron’s Cabinet Office are engaged in a secretive dialogue with Middleton to achieve a “Culture Change’ in the Top 200 civil servants using the “Common Purpose model.” An email obtained by the UK Column shows Common Purpose attempting to use her personal contact with Maude in the Cabinet Office to secure ‘training’ contracts. Dated 18 May 2010 the email states:
“Dear Francis, I think we - and quite a few Common Purpose alumni from the civil service - could help with the culture change you need to bring about. Could I and David Bell (Chair of Common Purpose trustees) come and see you for five minutes? Love Julia”
The CSR: £83bn or £49bn?
New Channel Tunnel route: Frankfurt, Brussels, London
Record 2.4m Eastern European workers return to Britain
France urges expats to leave Yemen
Four 'Islamists' convicted of plot to blow up New York synagogues
Obama "will not visit Golden Temple over Muslim photo fears"

From today's press:
Defence cuts leave Britain reliant on others. The cuts "provoked fury among senior Royal Navy and RAF figures". The SDSR all but ruled out the possibility of Britain ever mounting a major independent operation again, saying that future wars will be fought alongside allies like the US and France.
Government resurrects Labour's plan to log all our communications.  "Hugely controversial ‘Big Brother’ plans to store details of every internet click, email and telephone call that we make are being revived by the Coalition, it emerged last night.  Police, security services and other public bodies would be able to find out which websites a person had visited, and when, where and to whom a text or call was made."
Riots engulf France: clashes in 300 towns and cities "[Sarkozy] and his wife Carla Bruni spent £660 a day on fresh flowers last year – paid by the taxpayer. They also used public money to settle a £3,000 fine for late payment of electricity and gas bills.  Although Mr Sarkozy recently claimed he would pay back around £5,000 worth of living costs, including bills for toothpaste and dry cleaning, this economy was followed by news that he and his wife had bought a £140million Airbus A340 jet for official presidential business...David Cameron, meanwhile – preparing for the announcement of swingeing cuts today – must be hoping this outpouring of violent protest does not spread across the Channel.

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