FOREIGN drivers can no longer escape having to pay fines for speeding and other motoring offences in France – which could mean a €15million bonus for the state’s coffers.
Senators have backed a move to bring France in line with an EU decree and it now goes for final parliamentary approval before coming into force for the start of summer.
Across France foreign drivers are to blame for one in four speeding offences – and half of all speeding offences in border zones.
The situation gets worse in summer where foreign-registered vehicles are responsible for 50% of offences across the whole country.
That is despite foreign vehicles making up just 4% of the traffic on French roads.
Now, European states have agreed to share information on vehicle registrations to get rid of an anomaly in the community’s open-borders policy.
However, drivers from the UK, Ireland and Denmark will escape the fines as these countries have not signed up to the EU decree.
Now each participating country will set up a central data exchange point to ensure information is exchanged fairly, with drivers facing penalties for seven types of offences such as speeding, drink-driving, ignoring red lights or using a mobile telephone while driving.
As at present, drivers caught and stopped in speed controls will still pay on-the-spot fines – with no exceptions for Britons.
French, Belgian, Swiss and Luxembourg drivers have been forced to pay motoring fines in each country since last July.
A rule banning British expats from voting at home has been labelled as a “punishment” by the European Commission, which is pushing to change the rules.
European commissioner Viviane Reding is pushing to win back the vote for expats
British expats fighting for their voting rights to be restored have been given a lifeline by the European Commission
The commission will seek to enable Britons abroad to keep their right to vote in the UK – a right they currently lose after 15 years of living overseas.
There have been a number of high-profile court cases recently of British expats fighting to keep their votes, all of which have ended in defeat.
Earlier this month, 91-year-old British war veteran Harry Shindler, a long-term resident of Italy, lost his European Court battle to win back his vote.
However, in a press conference last week to present the 2013 EU Citizenship Report, commission vice-president Viviane Reding said: “We will work on ways to enable EU citizens to keep their right to vote in national elections in their country of origin.
“The practice in some member states of depriving their citizens of their right to vote once they move to another EU country is effectively tantamount to punishing citizens for having exercised their right to free movement.”
The EU has no legal power to force the UK to change its rules, but the commission is highlighting the issue to put political pressure on countries that disenfranchise citizens such as the UK, Ireland and Denmark.
Giles Goodall, chair of Brussels and Europe Liberal Democrats, said: “The main argument for the 15-year rule – that people’s links with the UK diminish over time – is simply no longer valid in today’s world. These days it’s as easy to stay in touch and engaged in politics whether you live on the Costa del Sol or in the Cotswolds.”
There are about 1.7 million Brits living in other EU countries who could see their voting rights restored. It is hoped any U-turn by the Government would apply to all Britons living overseas, not just those in the EU.
While the commission has merely made a proposal, with no formal procedure announced, it is still positive news for millions of Britons across the globe shut out of national politics.
Mr Goodall noted: “The key thing is that the commission has taken this up and is making it a European issue now – this in itself is progress and will put pressure on the UK to reconsider the policy.”
One solution used elsewhere in the EU is the Austrian model, where they have an “opt-in” system for overseas citizens to regularly renew their registration on the electoral roll. Those who are no longer interested in voting at home just drop off the list.
Brian Cave, a France-based expat who has campaigned for many years for the right to vote, said: “A British person abroad in Europe is an ambassador of Britain. It is logical that he or she has a right to have an opinion in both camps just a Pole or German living in Britain should enjoy the right to express an opinion in both countries.”
Some Britons abroad are allowed to keep their voting rights such as those serving in the armed forces. However, those living in British Territories such as Bermuda and the Cayman Islands are treated as residing overseas.
A French soldier patrolling a business area of western Paris was stabbed in the neck on Saturday by a man who quickly fled the scene and was still being sought, a police source said.
Police officers stand near the cordoned off spot where a French soldier was stabbed in the throat in the busy commercial district of La Defense, outside Paris.
The attack was being treated as a “terrorist incident”, said a source at the Paris prosecutors office.
“The anti-terrorist branch of the prosecutors office is dealing with the matter,” the source added.
Coming just four days after the murder of British soldier Lee Rigby in London, the stabbing was immediately seen as a possible copycat attack.
The 25-year-old, patrolling as part of France’s Vigipirate anti-terrorist surveillance plan, was injured in the stabbing around 6pm but would survive, the source said. He was reported to be from France’s Fourth Cavalry regiment, based in Gap in the southern Alps.
Colonel Thierry Burkhard, military spokesman, said: “He has been wounded but his life is not in danger.”
He was attacked in the Parisian business district of La Defense, inside the train station.
French daily Le Parisien cited police sources as saying the suspected attacker was a bearded man of North African origin about 30 years old, and was wearing an Arab-style garment under his jacket.
He ran away following the attack and has not yet been detained.
Pierre-Andre Peyvel, police prefect for the Hauts-de-Seine area, said the soldier had lost a considerable amount of blood but would survive, and was being treated in a nearby military hospital.
“The wound appears to be quite serious, but it’s not life-threatening,” he told iTele news television.
Francois Hollande, the French president, said that “at the moment” no link was being made between the murder of Drummer Rigby but that “we must look at all the hypotheses”.
Speaking from Ethiopia, where he was attending the African Union summit, he said: “We still do not know the exact circumstances of this attack, nor who the attacker was.
“But we must explore all the possibilities and we will not rule anything out.”
Herve Morin, a former defence minister, said on Twitter that “any attack on soldiers protecting us is absolutely unforgivable”.
France is on high alert for attacks by Islamist militants following its military intervention in Mali in January, which prompted threats against French interests from AQIM, the North African wing of al Qaeda.
On Friday a jihadist group based in West Africa claimed responsability for attacks on a French uranium mine in Niger, which it said was in response to France’s military action in the region.
The original tribute was written in decent English but the website had a “Listen” button for sight-impaired users … and that used a robot-like woman’s voice that produced worse than franglais with no attempt to follow English pronunciation rules.
Saying she was a “great figure who made a deep impression on her country’s history” the Ecouter button produced a voice straight off the railway station Tannoy that turned the phrase into “Grate figure ouo made a dipe impression one i countriz istori”.
Worse was the phrase “The relationship she maintained with France” which mutated into “Ze relation zipé sacheu main ténède ouide François”.
It ends by with President Hollande expressing “his solidarity with the British people” or “express heez solidareeti weez ze Breetish payopl”.
It took 10 days for someone to notice that there was a problem. Although it was fixed quickly after that, it left Hollande’s staff with egg on their faces and did nothing France’s reputation for speaking English.
Here is what the Elysée said in its tribute:
‘Margaret Thatcher’s death marks the disappearance of a great figure who made a deep impression on her country’s history during her 11 years as British Prime Minister.
Throughout her public life, holding true to her firm conservative beliefs, she cared about the United Kingdom’s influence and the defence of her country’s interests.
The relationship she maintained with France was always frank and loyal. She forged a constructive, fruitful dialogue with François Mitterrand. Together, they committed themselves to strengthening ties between our two countries. And it was at this time when Mrs Thatcher gave decisive impetus to the construction of the Channel Tunnel.
President Hollande extends his deepest and very sincere condolences to Margaret Thatcher’s family and close friends and expresses his solidarity with the British people.’
Mr Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield) (Lab/Co-op) …… [end of his speech]
We are again overdue a radical change in how we regard our parliamentary democracy. We need a voice in this Chamber—I do not know which party it will come from—that says that there are some deep inequities in our society. There are serious problems, different from those that Mrs Thatcher faced in 1979 and in the years of her prime ministership, but very deep.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Birkenhead (Mr Field) touched on some of them. There is the tragic decline of our great cities, many of them in the north and the midlands. That has happened all over the developed world—in the United States, we should look at what is happening in Detroit and Pittsburgh. There is something deeply wrong with how our societies are developing, and that is to do with a complex change in international capitalism, as Labour Members would call it, and the international structure of economics.
Something fundamental is happening that we have become a bit complacent about in all parts of this House. We will need somebody with the originality of Thatcher to get us to wake up to what is going on. If we are honest—I make this a constant theme in my speeches; I am sorry—most of us will admit that tiny numbers of people in our constituencies are actively involved in politics. We are in a democracy where only 65% voted at the last election and 6 million people did not even register to vote. The state of our parliamentary democracy is deplorable. We will need someone with a vision, perhaps based on a very different political view, who will say, “If we value this democracy we have got to shake it up.”
I have spoken today because I got to admire and quite like Mrs Thatcher, who, as some of my colleagues have said, could be very pleasant indeed. She would give someone a real roasting from the Dispatch Box if they made a comment, but out there in the corridor she would be very kind. That is the truth of the woman. She was phenomenal. She did things that I deplored; she did things I thought were wonderful. There is a balance, and over time we will judge how good it was. We are facing a challenge to our democracy, and we need a Thatcher-like—not the same as Thatcher—radical change that will again wake us up to the fact that our country faces challenges to which, at present, we have no answers.
France has finally dropped plans to fine motorists who do not have a breath test kit in their vehicles – but has left in place the law obliging them to carry the kits.
Under the law introduced by the Sarkozy government last year, drivers and motorcyclists faced an €11 fine for not carrying a breath test kit. The law was due to come into full force on July 1, 2012 but the imposition of fines was delayed until November due to the shortage of kits.
This November date was then further extended to March 1 and French manufacturer, Contralco, said it had taken on 160 extra staff to try to meet demand.
However, new Interior Minister Manuel Valls had indicated he was sceptical of the value of the kits and asked the Conseil National de la Sécurité Routière to have another look at the plan.
The CNSR said on February 13 that it recommended the carrying of a breath test in vehicles but in a decree published on Friday in the Journal Officiel the government annulled the sanction of the €11 fine.
Having read the Sunday papers today and finding them full of the usual rant against Europe and Brits abroad I did intend to have a rant but instead I decided to post this excellent Flanders & Swann song in response to this governments view on such subjects:-
There, I feel better for that…
If you wish to see the nonsense written click these links and make up your own mind:-
Frank Lecerf finally came to a stop in a ditch in Belgium when his Renault Laguna ran out of petrol after 200km trip
Frank Lecerf managed to call emergency services while uncontrollably speeding through the fast lane on the motorway.
When Frank Lecerf drove off to do his weekly supermarket shop in northern France, he was not expecting to embark on a high-speed car chase that would force him over the Belgian border and on to the national news bulletins.
Lecerf has filed a legal complaint after his Renault Laguna, which is adapted for disabled drivers, jammed at 200km/h (125mph) and the brakes failed, forcing him to continue careering along a vast stretch of French motorway and into Belgium. Police gave chase until he ran out of petrol and crashed into a ditch.
The 36 year old was on a dual carriageway on his way to a hypermarket when the car’s speed first jammed at 60mph. Each time he tried to brake, the car accelerated, eventually reaching 125mph and sticking there.
Map of Frank Lecerf’s route
While uncontrollably speeding through the fast lane as other cars swerved out of his way, he managed to call emergency services who immediately dispatched a platoon of police cars.
Realising Lecerf had no choice but to keep racing along until his petrol ran out, they escorted him at high speed across almost 125 miles of French motorway, past Calais and Dunkirk, and over the Belgian border.
Puzzled motorists gave way as the high-speed convoy approached. Three toll stations were warned to raise their barriers as Lecerf ploughed through. After about an hour, his petrol tank spluttered empty and he managed to swerve into a ditch in Alveringem in Belgium, about 125 miles from his home, in Pont-de-Metz, near the northern French city of Amiens.
“My life flashed before me,” he told Le Courrier picard. “I just wanted it to stop.” He was unhurt but had two epileptic seizures.
A Renault technician had been on the phone with police throughout the chase trying to help but couldn’t come up with a solution.
Lecerf said that it wasn’t the first time his speed dial had jammed but that Renault had looked at the car and assured him that it was fine.
His lawyer said he would file a legal complaint over “endangerment of a person’s life”.
Renault told France 2 TV that it would await the results of an investigation.
452 women and children killed in Oradour-sur-Glane massacre
Hitler’s SS Panzer Division committed the atrocity on June 10, 1944
It was to avenge death of German officer at hands of French Resistance
Nazi commander told his 200 troops: ‘Today the blood must flow’
Village left untouched since fateful day to serve as reminder of Nazi evil
German authorities believe six Nazis in their late 80s are still at large
Only one man, Heinz Barth, has ever been prosecuted for the attack
He called for the shooting of 20 male villagers and received a life sentence
Case was re-opened after discovery of documents implicating six suspects
Germany has re-opened an investigation into the massacre of 642 French villagers by Nazi soldiers in one of the darkest chapters of World war Two.
Almost the entire population of Oradour-sur-Glane, including 400 women and children, was gunned down or burned alive in a single day by SS troops on June 10, 1944.
More than 68 years later, a German prosecutor and senior police officers have visited the abandoned village in central France, which Hitlers troops burned to the ground before they fled.
German authorities believe there may still be six men still at large, all now in their late 80s, who were members of SS Panzer Division that committed the atrocity.
Germany’s investigators walk in front of the ruins of Oradour-sur-Glane, central France, yesterday. An investigation for crimes of war is led by German and French authorities 68 years after the 1944 massacre
The team of investigators from Berlin (pictured) want to speak to the only two living survivors of the bloodbath, carried out in revenge for the capture of a German officer by French resistance fighters in a nearby village
The village has been left untouched since the massacre to serve both as a shrine to those who died and as a constant reminder of the unremitting evil of the Nazis.
The team of investigators from Berlin want to speak to the only two living survivors of the bloodbath, carried out in revenge for the capture of a German officer by French resistance fighters in a nearby village.
Although several probes have previously been opened into the massacre, they had to be shut down due to a lack of evidence.
But when a historian in 2010 discovered documents implicating all six suspects, still alive and now aged between 85 and 86, the case had enough evidence to be re-opened.
The documents were found in files kept by the Stasi, former East Germany’s feared and hated secret police.
The German authorities are under constant pressure from Jewish and human rights pressure groups to round up Nazi war criminals before they die.
The latest probe into the Oradour massacre comes after detectives from Berlin re-opened an investigation three years ago into another mass murder of 124 people in the French village of Maille in August 1944, but no culprits have yet been brought to justice.
The women and children were herded into the village church where SS troopers had soaked the church pews with petrol and barred all exits.
Fire grenades were tossed among the villagers and those that survived were later burned alive as a reprisal for attacks on German soldiers occupying France by members of the French Resistance movement.
More than 200 men were herded into a barn where machine gunners opened fire, shooting at their legs so they could not move then dousing them with petrol and setting them alight.
The village has purposely been left untouched since the massacre, to serve both as a shrine to those who died and as a constant reminder of the unremitting evil of the Nazis
Dortmund prosecutor Andreas Brendel told French reporters in Oradour: ‘We hope the survivors may be able to help us identify any culprits who are still alive’
Remains of a burnt out vehicles. A new village of Oradour-sur-Glane was built nearby which is now home to more than 2,000 people, while the abandoned village is popular with tourists curious about the war
The remains of the church in which 247 women and 205 children were trapped and killed by the Nazis. The middle window behind the altar is the one through which the only survivor Marguerite Rouffanche escaped
SS lieutenant Heinz Barth was the only man to serve time for the massacre
A new village of Oradour-sur-Glane was built nearby which is now home to more than 2,000 people.
Robert Hebras, 87 – was one of only six villagers who escaped the carnage – said: ‘It is a very strange moment to see German officials here 68 years later
‘But I applaud what they are doing and pray there is still time to bring to justice any of the monsters still alive did this to us.’
Dortmund prosecutor Andreas Brendel told French reporters in Oradour: ‘We hope the survivors may be able to help us identify any culprits who are still alive.’
Three trials of 30 former SS officers have taken place since 1953, but only one man, SS-Obersturmfhrer Heinz Barth, was ever convicted.
In 1953 a French military tribunal sentenced 21 Nazi soldiers to death for the atrocities they committed. They were never executed and their sentences commuted in the name of ‘national reconciliation’ between France and Germany.
The only man convicted was SS-Obersturmfhrer Heinz Barth, who gave the order to shoot 20 male victims.
Barth was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1983 and released in 1997. He died ten years later in August 2007.
Oradour-sur-Glane in a picture taken not long after the troops left and survivors were left to pick up the pieces
Robert Hebras, 87 – was one of only six villagers who escaped the carnage – said: ‘It is a very strange moment to see German officials here 68 years later’
French historian Guy Perlier told Le Figaro newspaper, ‘This illustrates German thinking which insists on shedding light on all acts committed by the German army during this period’
THE HORROR OF JUNE 10 1944: HOW MARGUERITE ROUFFANCHE ESCAPED NAZIS MURDERERS AND LIVED TO TELL THE TALE
Bodies of the victims lined up following the village massacre in 1944
Early on the morning of 10 June 1944, the 2nd SS Panzer Division entered the village of Oradour-sur-Glane to avenge the death of a German officer who had been kidnapped by the French Resistance.
They marched into the town and separated the men from the women and children.
The men were taken to six barns and shed while the women and children were locked in the church while the village was looted.
The men were said to be shot in the legs before being doused in petrol and set alight.
Six men escaped although one was later found nearby and shot dead. In total 190 men perished.
The soldiers proceeded to the church and tried to set it alight. Women and children tried to escape through the doors and windows of the church, but were met with machine-gun fire.
A total of 247 women and 205 children died. Two women and one child survived; one was 47-year-old Marguerite Rouffanche. She hauled herself out of a window behind the altar, followed by a young woman and child. German soldiers shot all three of them, killing the woman and child by wounding Rouffanche who escaped into nearby foliage where she stayed until she was rescued the following day.
The following is part of her testimony read out to the 1953 Bordeaux military tribunal:
‘Firing burst out in the church then straw, faggots and chairs were thrown pele-mele onto bodies lying on the stone slabs. I had escaped from the killing and was without injury so I made use of a smoke cloud to slip behind the altar. In this part of the church there are three windows. I made for the widest one in the middle and with the help of a stool used to light the candles, I tried to reach it. I don’t know how but my strength was multiplied. I heaved myself up to it as best I could and threw myself out of the opening that was offered to me through the already shattered window. I jumped about nine feet down.
‘When I looked up I saw I had been followed in my climb by a woman holding out her baby to me. She fell down next to me but the Germans, alerted by the cries of the baby, machine-gunned us. The woman and the mite were killed and I too was injured as I made it to a neighbouring garden and hid among some rows of peas and waited anxiously for someone to come to help me. That wasn’t until the following day at 5 p.m.’
Several other investigations into the massacre have been started over the past 60 years, but all earlier probes were abandoned due to lack of evidence
Mr Brendel added: ‘This time we aim to make arrests and put those responsible on trial for war crimes.’
Dortmund prosecutor Andreas Brendel said that the aim of the visit, the first by German investigators since World War Two was to identify the exact locations where the SS unit was deployed and interview witnesses to the massacre.
French historian Guy Perlier told Le Figaro newspaper, ‘ This illustrates German thinking which insists on shedding light on all acts committed by the German army during this period’.
Camille Senon, one of the survivors who witnessed the aftermath of the massacre in which her family members died, said: ‘It is considered a positive gesture by the Germans to send investigators for the first time, 68 years after, even though I would have liked to have seen it happen sooner’.
Camille Senon, one of the survivors who witnessed the aftermath of the massacre in which her family members died, said: ‘It is considered a positive gesture by the Germans to send investigators’
The remains of the village bakery destroyed by SS troops
Wide shot of the village showing the complete destruction of every single building
Survivors sift through the remains in the immediate aftermath of the 1944 raid by Hitler’s troops
I have just received a message from my brother-in-law Bill, who is married to my eldest sister Susan. They live on the edge of the Pennines in the North West and it has been snowing for hours already. Bill tells me the snow is already six inches deep and my sister has been staring glumly through the kitchen window since it started. Bill says that if it gets any worse he will have no option but to let her in!
Well it made me laugh!
On a serious note stay safe out there people and take care, if you know of anyone that is elderly or infirm who might need help then in the true spirit of the SPRCA now might be a good time to make sure you can check on them. Denis, do not tell us how nice it is in France
‘Denis, do not tell us how nice it is in France’
If only I could. We have had snow here for about three days. Last night was forecast to be minus 15 although I don’t think it was quite as bad as that but it was certainly minus double digits. It is bitterly cold this morning and we have more snow forecast, (just starting as I write). The post lady has not been able to get up our driveway for three days and we have not tried to get out. At least it proves we do use our winter fuel allowance…
Just to give some idea below are three pictures I have just taken, one from the front of the house, one from the back and one from the side. In the foreground of the one from the side is a very sorry looking swimming pool waiting for the sun like all of us.
The side of the house & pool
From the back of the house
From the front of the house
Echoing Kevin’s comments, stay safe, echoing Cameron’s comments, ‘we are all in this together’, although in this case we really are…
Chancellor George Osborne has backed a new dash for gas - likely to increase fuel bills and bust legal targets for tackling climate change.
The Government will also talk to industry about tax breaks for shale gas- said Osborne in his Autumn Statement. This is despite concerns over the environmental impacts of fracking and experts saying it’s very unlikely shale gas will cut energy costs.
‘The big polluters must think Christmas has come early. But if bad Santa Osborne’s gas-fired energy strategy gets the go-ahead it will leave cash-strapped households and the environment with a thumping hangover for decades.’
Andy Atkins, Executive Director, Friends of the Earth
I am no hairy Green Party or Green Peace activist but the agreement sure scares the hell out of me. It is not the extraction of gas that is scary but the way it is being done currently and as I have posted much about it on this blog I will not repeat myself. If you wish to see more type in ‘fracking’ in the search box in the sidebar or take a look at -
Government’s ‘irrational obsession’ with shale gas
“The Chancellor’s new Office for Unconventional Gas and his proposed tax breaks for shale gas reveals the extent of this government’s irrational obsession with hard-to-reach shale – and with keeping the UK addicted to fossil fuels.
“This is a costly gamble, as former energy minister Charles Hendry has warned: “betting the farm on shale brings serious risks of future price rises.”
“Residents close to drilling sites in Lancashire and Sussex have rightly expressed fears about fracking and the risk of pollution to drinking water, as well as the impact of such a water-intensive process on areas affected by drought.
“While these concerns – and those about the implications of shale exploitation for the climate – remain unanswered, the decision to give a green light to fracking is deeply irresponsible.
“And gifting tax breaks to companies like Cuadrilla to leach every last bit of fossil fuel from the ground when the IEA is warning that we need to keep this stuff in the ground to avoid dangerous climate change makes a mockery of our claim to be taking a lead in international climate negotiations.”
Whilst the focus has been on the tax and pension changes announced in the statement we all ought to be concerned about this risky move by the chancellor.
Here in France Hollande has not shut the door on shale gas but has said that he will not allow fracking to go ahead unless and until a safer method is found to safeguard aquifers. The dangers to drinking water are obvious, read on: -
A FRENCH mountain top thought to house alien spacecraft will be closed to the public on December 21, a date believed by some to be the end of the world.
The Pic de Bugarach, in the Aude, is apparently one of the safe spots to ride out the end of world, as apparently predicted by the end of the Mayan calendar.
The strange shape of the mountain, in the Corbières range, has made it an attention spot for legends, including a belief that it houses aliens living in UFOs, who will be saving those nearby come the end of the world.
Aude prefect Éric Freysselinard has ordered that the 1,230m peak be shut to climbers from December 18 to at least December 22 (should that day arrive).
The mayor of Bugarach, Jean-Pierre Delord, who has campaigned for help with the problem for several years, said the ban would also prevent “all these idiots turning up in sandals walking up a snowy mountain, that we then have to rescue”.
The town authorities have already closed sections of the hillside because climbers were taking stones to sell online, labelled as having special powers.
Stories about the mountain have circulated on the internet, becoming increasingly bizarre, and the authorities have taken steps to avoid any cult-like incidents such as mass suicides.
Five NASA scientists took time out yesterday to assure the public that the world will not end on 21 December.
The astroboffins dismissed claims that a rogue planet called Nibiru will smash into the earth in three weeks time, killing us all. The planetary smash-up just before Christmas 2012 was allegedly predicted by the Mayans.
A wave of letters and emails from worried Americans has prompted NASA to pull together some of its top brass in a Google Hangout and make them answer questions from the public.
Doomsday, one possible scenario for 21 December 2012
“This is just manufactured fantasy,” said David Morrison, an astrobiologist from NASA’s Ames Research Center, “but the truth is that many people are worried about it and many of those people do write to NASA.”
In particular I’m concerned about the young people who write to me and say they are terribly afraid, they say they can’t sleep, they can’t eat. Some of them have said they are contemplating suicide.
So while it’s a joke to many people and a mystery to others, there is a core of people who are truly concerned.
NASA has tried to dampen fears about December 2012 several times over the past few years, in 2009 and in 2011, for example, it quelled suggestions the earth would be destroyed by a mega volcano in the last few weeks of 2012.
The brainiacs answered a range of questions from the public, including “Is NASA predicting a total blackout of the earth from the 21st – 23rd December?”
No, said Mitzi Adams, a solar/archaeoastronomer from NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. She elaborated:
There’s nothing we know of physically that would allow the Sun to switch off for three days and then switch back on.
As for Nibiru – the legendary planet which the Mayans believed had a “3,600-year-long orbit of the Sun” – smashing us to bits in three weeks’ time, David Morrison of the Ames Centre said:
It makes no sense, because if it was there we could see it. We’d have been tracking it for a decade or so. And by now, it would be the brightest object in the sky after the Sun and Moon. You can dispel this rumour yourself, just go out and look at the sky.
More and more headlines in the papers are becoming more and more depressing to read. The Times today reports ‘No Country For Old Men’ - ‘A welcome report that shows a shocking and widespread failure in British care’
‘According to a report by the Care Quality Commission almost a third of care homes are failing on basic standards of care. And, by basic they do mean basic. One in five, for example, is failing to feed people properly. The elderly are not another species, or guests from elsewhere. They are our future, and their neglect is our scandal.’
This is not new news as many papers have reported it over the past year and court cases have highlighted the shocking way in which many people have been treated in old age. As the Times correctly points out ‘the elderly are not another species’. But the situation is not helped by the current government which seems to take great delight in blaming older people for the countries present woes and does not like the fact that many still live in long term family homes where they have fond memories of raising their families. Get out they say, you should downsize and do more for the young. They also say, ‘go back to work as well as downsize’ you should be ‘taxed out of your home if you are over 60’
As somebody approaching his three score years and ten I find it amazing that equal opportunities do not seem to apply to older people. Human rights are oft quoted but let us not forget that those rights do not stop upon reaching the age of 60 years. Articles are enshrined in the act that protect people from Inhuman Treatment, (Article 3), and a Right to Privacy, (Article 8). It also gives the Right to Life, (Article 2), so as we get older we should be worried when we read about the burgeoning NHS use of ‘the death pathway’
This government is not only making older people feel very uncomfortable about breathing but it also stoking up a one sided argument about the UK leaving the EU and in today’s paper we read that Nick Herbert says, ‘Let’s quit the European Court of Human Rights’. Yes, this is the same Nick Herbert who said PCC’s were a good idea and then threw his teddy in the corner when he did not get promoted for introducing them as the ‘Pink News’ reports here.
His reasons for wanting to leave the ECHR was over the right of prisoners to get the vote but as with all things he is using one issue to impose his will, (and that of the government), over all of the people. Let us not forget that, for all its faults, the ECHR is the only place where anybody can take a grievance and get it fairly heard when all else fails. It may result in some bizarre verdicts but I for one would rather that protection than rely solely on an out of control bunch of right wingers who are in the process of dismantling that last bastion of peoples rights in the UK, the police and the court system.
It is a pity then that the UK government is so economical with the truth when it comes to issues in Europe. Whilst I would be the first to say that Europe is not perfect and the UK should continue to fight for a better deal where it can, this should not be to the exclusion of those people who have worked hard for and fought hard for their country of birth. Without any shadow of a doubt, there are many people living in the UK and elsewhere who are grateful to have somewhere they can take a grievance to when all the avenues in the UK have been exhausted. At the moment that place is the ECHR.
So do I trust a Prime Minister who has taken vengeance on the best police service in the world just because he lost the last fight he had with them? NO!
“These are not dramatic changes. The commission and others are telling the Greeks, the Italians and others that they should put the retirement age up to 68. In the UK we have cut [public sector] pensions to a career average salary. They argue that it is very difficult legally to change people’s terms and conditions. Well, we have managed it in the UK.”
Do I trust an MP who continues to privatise important institutions such as care homes for the elderly and then does a ‘Pontius Pilate’ when it goes wrong: NO!
We should be careful what we wish for and we should look at all the evidence available. We should not just listen to the latest rant from an MP but protect ourselves and our nearest and dearest from a free for all and read between the lines when MP’s start to tell us what is in our best interests. If younger people think that they will be treated any differently later in life than older people in the UK are now they are in for a shock. They should be fighting for older people’s rights now, as with any luck, they will be old themselves one day.
On our recent visit to the UK we were struck by the ‘Costa Coffee’ empire that seemed to be everywhere. In the High Streets, in the cinemas, (yes, I was forced into seeing Skydrop or was it Skyfall.. ), in the shopping centres, everywhere seemed to be sponsored by Costa Coffee.
Much is being made of the lack of tax being paid in the UK by such big international firms as Google, Starbucks, Vodafone, etc. etc.
All must be above board so it is down to the UK government to deal with it or not as the case may be. They are big employers and will happily go elsewhere if they are suddenly jumped upon to pay additional UK tax but maybe they should be taking their share of the pain?
Interesting then to see what M. Hollande has done to Amazon in France, (see below), and what Amazon will do in return. Hollande is not going down well here in France as, so far, he has failed to get a grip of the economic situation and his increased taxes and spending on ‘fonctionnaires’ are not going to help.
Amazon has been hit with a $252 million tax bill by French authorities. Officials say the debt comes as a result of back taxes, interest and penalties that have accrued with regards to what they call the allocation of income between foreign jurisdictions.
The online retailer says the French government believes they are owned back pay from 2006 through 2010. Amazon says they disagree with the proposed assessment and intent to vigorously contest it. They are prepared to dispute the claim through the legal system if need-be, according to Reuters.
An Amazon official first spoke of the tax demand during the recent UK parliamentary committee hearing. As of writing, the company has yet to issue any sort of press release or official statement concerning the matter.
The whole issue reportedly stems from the fact that European countries are in the process of cracking down on US companies that take advantage of local tax laws that require them to pay much less. In this specific instance, Amazon reduces their tax bill by selling goods through Luxembourg, a region that gives tax breaks to foreign companies if they build a base of operations there.
Google is reportedly going through a similar process. The French tax authority had audited the search giant over its method of channeling sales through Ireland, presumably to take advantage of lower tax rates. For their part, they’ve denied claims that the French government has sent them a bill for 1 billion euros.
It seems many are seeking the return of Sarkozy if the following is anything to go by.
An Old & Bold health warning is necessary if you wish to view/listen to the video…
A TEENAGER’s song pleading for Nicolas Sarkozy to return to politics in France has passed one million views on YouTube in a month.
Josh Stanley, 16, from Monaco, has recorded a song begging Sarkozy to return and save France from François Hollande.
The lyrics include:
“Nicolas Sarkozy, reviens je t’en prie, viens nous sauver la vie.
M. le Président, les français sont pas contents,
faut changer de gouvernement.
Tout ce que t’as juré, tu n’y arriveras jamais,
il est temps de dégager”
“Nicolas Sarkozy, please come back, come save our lives.
Mr President, the French are not happy,
it’s time to change governments.
All that you promised, you will never deliver,
it’s time to get out”
The song also refers to “taxes that are sinking us”, Peugeot and Renault which have “broken”, and (big business boss Bernard) Arnaud who has “cleared off”.
Josh who was born in Monaco to a British father and German mother, has made previous songs from his bedroom, including one called The Good Life, and won “Idées jeunes 2012” – a competition held by the Monegasque education authorities for people aged 15-25. However his “Sarko” song is his first international success – his song is now being sold on iTunes and played on radio.
He told Nice-Matin he did not know a lot about politics, but had listened to radio news about the French elections and the new government “and I thought it was an opportunity for a song”.
However he may be disappointed – former First Lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy recently told French Elle magazine it was unlikely Sarkozy would return to frontline politics.
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Memoirs of a working life before joining the Surry Constabulary. This site is a mine of information for anybody who has an interest in the railway industry and specifically steam hauled trains. An excellent anecdotal historical railway website.
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Current UK National Debt: Updated In Real Time.
The state has been wasting our money for decades. Weak politicians have bribed voters with endless amounts of borrowed cash. As a result, in 2012 the interest on the national debt will cost £44.8 billion a year. That's more than we spend on defence, and not much less than the entire education budget.
Jon Danzig is an award winning medical journalist and formerly an investigative journalist at the BBC. He has many years experience in the world of writing, broadcasting, magazine editing, photography and film making. (Click on any link to read full article.)
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Blog: Jon Danzig’s World
Can’t vote or don’t vote? - 27/05/2013 A friend told me today that he never votes, as it’s a waste of time. This is my response. Tony Benn once defined democracy very simply: 'The right of the people to get rid of their government.' That’s a right I cherish. Governments rule us; they rule you. Please don’t be fooled into thinking you are above and beyond democracy, or that it doesn’t involve or touch you. Governments have the power to completely control your life, [...]
What Nigel Farage told British expats in Spain - 19/05/2013 Nigel Farage on Talk Radio Europe - click to hear About two million Brits live, work, study or are retired in other EU countries. Over 800,000 of them are estimated to reside in Spain alone; over one million if you include those who sojourn there for just part of each year. The numbers might now be higher, as the latest estimates * were published in 2010. In addition, many tens of thousands of British own second homes right across the European Union [...]
Jon Danzig's New Blog: 'EU ROPE' - 02/05/2013 I have a new blog about Britain's ties with the European Union. It's called 'EU ROPE' and appears on the website of the ‘Academic Association for Contemporary European Studies’ - UACES. My first posting is about Daily Telegraph readers calling me me 'a moron' because I commented in support of the European Union. Click to read: Jon Danzig's new blog: 'EU ROPE'
Lost in Las Vegas - 21/04/2013 Jon Danzig is bewildered by the city of sin Jon Danzig gets lost in Las Vegas I HAVE JUST ARRIVED IN HELL. Well, if it isn't, it's a bloody good imitation. This is the place where everything and everyone screams for your money. Signs shout buy me, try me, tip me, win me, play me, rent me, ride me, f**k me. There isn't another place on the planet that has found more ways to take your money. But in this mob run desert strip, everything is a mirage, from the [...]
The Brotherhood of Europe - 30/03/2013 On October 8th 1938, Britain's 'Children's Newspaper' ran a visionary pre-war editorial extolling the virtues of Europe as 'one Brotherhood' with a 'common interest which binds its people together'. One year later, a vicious world war ripped Europe apart, from which it took over 60 years to recover. If there's a lesson from history about this, it’s surely that ‘The Brotherhood of Europe’ should never be broken again. &nb [...]
Jon Danzig Blog: EU Rope
Questions about the debate about Europe - 06/06/2013 To watch just my question and the answers click here (5 minutes) At a debate in London this week about the future of the European Union, I asked high-level politicians and senior academics: “How are we going to raise the level of debate in this country which is quite frankly appalling? It’s very vitriolic, it’s [...]
HSBC Bank: Is Britain’s future in Europe? - 25/05/2013 At yesterday’s AGM, I asked HSBC what impact the UK leaving the EU would have on the bank’s optimistic plans for the future. Their group chairman, Douglas Flint, replied, “It is important that Europe comes out stronger and Britain remains at the heart.” He added that whilst there’s uncertainty around what the trading relationship might [...]
Brits should recognise the value in being ‘citizens of Europe’ - 21/05/2013 Jon Danzig promotes the virtures of being a citizen of Europe If you are a UK citizen confused about the value of EU membership, due to the ‘untruths’ coming from UKIP and the national press, then just follow the evidence – says former BBC journalist, Jon Danzig, in the journal ‘Public Service Europe’. Click to [...]
Europe: foreign criminals and human rights - 05/05/2013 Today The Telegraph published a story about two foreign criminals, jailed for their part in the English riots, who successfully appealed against deportation because of their ‘right to family life’ under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. In response, I posted this comment: Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights [...]
Telegraph readers call me ‘a moron’ - 01/05/2013 Today I posted pro-EU arguments under a Daily Telegraph article about the number of Romanians and Bulgarians coming to the UK. Clearly, my comments were unwelcome by DT readers. They called me ‘a moron’, an ‘utter idiot’ and told me ‘to get medical help.’ So much for elevated debate. This was my comment: All UK [...]
Afghanistan suspends talks after US-Taliban move - BBC News - 19/06/2013 at 08:25 BBC News Afghanistan suspends talks after US-Taliban move BBC News Afghanistan has suspended talks under way in Kabul on a bilateral security agreement with the US. A spokesman for President Hamid Karzai said the decision was taken in protest over i [...]