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TB-infected beef sold back into UK food chain by DeFRA

30 Jun

cow2JPGAccording to the Sunday Times today, DeFRA – The UK government’s Department for the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs – has been selling diseased cattle meat to caterers who supply hospitals, schools and the armed forces.

They have bought the carcasses of cattle infected with bovine tuberculosis and sold them back into the food chain.

Despite concerns by several agencies, Defra sees no wrong in its actions.

“We are the UK government department responsible for policy and regulations on environmental, food and rural issues. Our priorities are to grow the rural economy, improve the environment and safeguard animal and plant health.”

The above quote is from their website.

DeFRA recently charred its already dirty reputation with most Brits by shrugging off the scandal of horse meat appearing in beef products. When the news broke in Europe, DeFRA’s head of public affairs legged it over to France for an ‘important meeting’ and laid low. As the full extent of corruption in the food chain was revealed over following weeks, DeFRA seemed curiously detached from the situation.

Is it not puzzling that a Ministerial Department responsible for regulating and monitoring the food supply chain in the UK should

*decline to take leadership in a contamination crisis?

*generate approximately $14m revenue by purchasing and selling diseased cattle meat into the human food chain?

*not mention anything in its mission statement (above) about human welfare – any duty to citizens and consumers?

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Perhaps, their point is that their priority is to maintain the wealth and prosperity of those who own the fields and the cows. That they are not concerned with any consequential issues. Not concerned with issues relating to health and the possible spread of disease – however small.

But in a political era where the UK government has fostered exaggerated fears of terrorism, economic uncertainty, financial insecurity and invasion of privacy among its citizens, is it not strange that one of its own departments intentionally sells tens of thousands of tons of meat from diseased cattle into its own country’s food chain?

It does not take a conspiracy theorist to notice that DeFRA have again expressed not one single concern at their wildly indefensible actions while the Press and public are again outraged. Once more, actions that are highly likely to cause distress and concern among the public have come from…a government department. 

Can DeFRA’s actions really have been the result of ignorance and innocence as to the risks being taken with the public’s health and wellbeing?

The Sunday Times quotes DeFRA’s chief scientist Ian Boyd warning that bTB (bovine Tuberculosis) could “spill over” to pets and “potentially to humans”.

M bovis, the bacterium that causes bTB can survive cooking up to 60C. – source: Sunday Times, 30th June 2013

cows4cows5

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Obama avoids admission: George W Bush Library “will contain books”

26 Apr
024Bugeee

At what point in my life am I allowed to just sleep or catch up on Medal of Honor?

US sources have leaked covert film  confirming that President Obama has the ability to survive the worst social gathering in the history of Time and yet still smile and laugh when it is over.

The opening of the ‘George W. Bush Library’ required that he had to be present to make a speech. President Obama was not in a position to decline the invitation.

Despite the oxymoron, it was not possible for Obama to excuse himself from this date with destiny simply because he had to wait at home for the plumber or else be with a friend who was in hospital.

The library has been confirmed as “a building containing books”. How these books came into the possession of George W Bush is unknown. Bush is not famous for his love of non-fiction.

The ceremonial opening was attended yesterday by all the surviving presidents of the United States.

The library was surrounded by the most advanced security available so that its inauguration would meet without problem.

At this time, it is not clear whether the books within the library contain verifiable facts or simply random sentences of worthless information, designed to coerce ordinary citizens into becoming abusive nationalists, convinced that they are being threatened by foreign powers.

In the heavily edited video clip, President Obama is the one who looks like he wants to be somewhere else.

Ex-president Clinton is the one who looks like he wants to go with him.

George W Bush is the one who notices the camera.

Hilary Clinton is the one who just laughs and laughs…and laughs.

Is your new car watching over you?

14 Feb

001newcars

In the 1980’s, if Britain or the United States governments had declared that every citizen must report their personal whereabouts and also to whom they spoke, there would have been an understandable mass revolt and rioting in the streets.

Instead, we citizens were sold the mobile or ‘cell’ phone.

Lured by the promise of entertainment, technology and kudos, we rushed out and bought phones for ourselves and our children.

We bought the phones willingly. The needs of government were met.

It was all about information – being connected and being in communication. Being the first to know, the first to hear.

Twenty years later, we now understand how our cellphones pinpoint our position and our conversations and texts are widely and routinely intercepted and analysed ‘in the interests of National Security’.

Our billing information has been sold and resold a hundred times. British Police forces have sold personal details of car crash victims to ambulance-chasing insurance firms. Apparently, that is okay by us. Absolutely fine.

Since we are anxious to be seen as law-abiding citizens, we trade in our privacy in a way that was utterly unthinkable, even as recently as 1990. We ignore the outrageous  invasion of our privacy by Google, Microsoft and a million life insurance and healthcare agents who now own copies of all our private details.

Some of us actually help out by uploading our private life and photo album details to Facebook.

Next on the agenda of big business and world government: our car.

“…all citizens shall declare their car  journeys, itineraries, speeds attained and addresses visited…”

We are sold ‘infotainment’ and connectivity packages for our new car. We buy them, using our own money.

Intel put it perfectly in their press release:

“…Cars are gradually transitioning from an information isolated island to a mobile information processing platform…”

The statement is almost benign in its apparent casualness.

However, be not fooled. The parking camera package that you bought because you are too stupid to park your own car can now record the license plate of the car behind and in front.

One click of a switch at “Headquarters” and every driving citizen becomes an unmarked Police cruiser, fitted with Automated Number Plate Recognition.

Your three year old car already tells tales on you to its manufacturer. When you send it in to the dealer to have it serviced, you naively believe that the big red box it gets plugged into tells the mechanic what is wrong.

It doesn’t. It uploads data to the manufacturer, who then tells the mechanic what is wrong. The manufacturer now knows if you hit the rev limiter…while in sixth gear. How often the ABS has been activated today.

028rwtrafficYou naughty thing, you! Let us hope that the manufacturer doesn’t tell the Police, or you’d be in deep trouble. Or your insurance company. Or your leasing company. Or your boss, who is considering you for promotion.

Perhaps, having read this far into my post, you are inclined to believe that I am being a little paranoid? Well, it only takes one click and your car uploads its data. The only question that remains is: to whom? 

Your car is already programmed to transmit your speed. Your sat-nav already does so.

Governments around the world are waiting for your opinion. They like opinions. It saves them having to ask.

When will the switch be ‘clicked’?

Well, that really depends on how we citizens feel about it. This is the ‘Big One’. All our other information is already accessed by the State in most Western countries but our car is the last frontier. It has always given us the feeling of freedom.

If we citizens realise that our car is now no longer a source of freedom but instead just expensive transportation, we may decide to take a taxi instead. We may rebel and refuse to buy our next car.

So the trick is to make us want to buy our next car.

It won’t be hard. Governments have progressively increased taxation on older cars and manufacturers have raised the prices of key spares to the point where it becomes uneconomical to keep them working.

As consumers, we take the hint. We buy a new car. Besides, the new one comes with an ‘Infotainment Package’…

Slam dunk.002bankrobber

The bank robber of the future will strip you, tie you up in the trunk of your car, drive to the bank and rob it in your name.

They will walk back to the car and plug in a second-hand ECU under the hood. They will dial a police crime line with your phone, drop it in the gutter and then drive you out to the woods.

There, you will be reunited with your clothes and shoes and given your keys back and told to drive off. As you gratefully sit behind the wheel, the robber will shoot you in the head, put the gun in your hand, close the door and then walk away.

According to the medical records that your doctor sold to your insurance company without your knowledge, you were taking anti-depressants.

According to the Police, always anxious to solve crime, there is an awful lot of even stronger evidence.

CCTV footage shows a person of your height and wearing your clothes and shoes, with a mask. Your phone and your car were tracked across town to the bank. Your phone is found, soaking wet – so no fingerprints there – but its call records are examined. Later that day, you are found behind the wheel of your car by a kid walking his dog.

Why you did it and where you hid the money will remain a mystery. Your life insurance company refuses to pay out to your family.

Isn’t technology wonderful?

North Korean rocket scientist goes home and hugs kids.

12 Dec

All civilians are instructed to continue with their work program.

That is all.

Is somebody gonna come and wake me up when I’m supposed to salute…?

Does your Procter and Gamble washing powder destroy your will to live…?

5 Dec
Okay...its a box of  washing machine powder...but...

Okay…its a box of washing machine powder…but…

Procter & Gamble UK make a huge range of cleaning, grooming and beauty products. Beginning in the United States in 1837, they have always been pretty clever when it comes to selling stuff like washing powder or anything that involves mixing a few chemicals together to spread over yourself or your kitchen.

Trouble is, they can’t write good copy. I mean, they really have a problem with creative writing. A big problem. Scary big.

This is their household favourite, ‘Fairy Non-Bio’ washing powder:

...nothing suspicious here...everything appears to be quite normal...but...

…nothing suspicious here…everything appears to be quite normal…but…

And this is the same pack from another angle:

...there seems to be some kind of important message on the back...

…there seems to be some kind of important message on the back…

And this is what it says on the back:

oh dear...

oh dear…

I think P&G want mother to sing these words under her breath to the tune of:  ‘I’m a Little Teapot’ – that totally bonkers 1930’s hit song – while  smiling lovingly at her baby.

If you happen to be a baby who’s mother is currently smiling at you and singing these words, get out quick. Crawl towards the door and leave. Never look back.

“I’m a little toddler

Short, not stout,”

Okay, this has already gone wrong, hasn’t it? Babies are almost universally stout. Take a look at your own logo at the bottom right of the pack. ‘Stout’ appears to be very much in evidence. You got a problem with ‘stout’?

“Feel my jumper,

Soft, no doubt…”

Wooaaah…right, so this is already getting way out of line. Is this a call from P&G to encourage a a new trend in baby-fondling? Are babies supposed to be admired and assessed for the softness of their jumpers? Is this how we are?

“When I get all dirty,

Hear me shout:”

Ever heard a baby shout? Did that shout include any recognised words? Anything to do with mass-produced cleansing agents?

“Get the box of liquitabs out!”

Oh dear…oh dear…oh dear…

Where does one start?

Close your eyes and imagine a dirty baby shouting that line at you.

Scary Bad.

Imagine if Sesame Street  suddenly did an episode on bestiality. Or, suppose you saw Kermit theFrog with a needle stuck in his arm. See what I mean? The dream is forever shattered…

And as for suggesting that one should clean up a dirty baby by using a sachet of harsh chemicals, designed to be put in a washing machine…

Okay. Now, dear reader, (as fellow WordPress blogger Linda Vernon might say) we imagine that afternoon meeting in the Procter & Gamble marketing department when this copy was actually signed off.

“Well done, team!…Really pushed the ball uphill on this one!…I think we’ve totally cracked the message we want to send to the world!…Fantastic effort all round!…This is really going to hit the target market hard!…So proud…you guys make me so damn proud…!”

“Team, I feel that our job here is done. Now, let’s move straight on to solving World Poverty. Any ideas come to mind…?”

Crazy Bad.

Oh, since you ask, that spoon on the draining board is mine. I got others as well, but that one is particularly damn sexy, ain’t it? My house is fitted with an alarm, by the way…

UK: A part of Europe yet apart.

25 Nov

This is the view of Britain that you can see if you look west from the edge of Europe. It has not changed since the birth of religion. This view remains constant. It is the view one gets from any ship or ferry that is heading to the Port of Dover, England.

To the home-coming Brit, first time visitor or the migrant, this view emerges usually from a cloak of  mist and cloud. The grey finger of land looms ever closer until great cliffs reveal the entrance to the small but restless port.

These last few minutes of the journey let you see yourself and your fellow ferry travelers as you really are. On deck or looking through the huge windows from the passenger lounges, we all stare at this view in silence.

There is nothing to point at, no comment worth making, no detail to arrest one’s thoughts until one is almost there.

I watch as a group of young Eastern European men and women put arms around each other’s shoulders as they gaze. One of them turns and hugs his friend and I see his cheeks are streamed wet with tears, his reddened eyes blinking furiously. His friends crowd round and he breaks his embrace and laughs and hugs them. They all laugh and hug.

By contrast, the well-dressed elderly couple turn away from the railing. He fishes a handkerchief from his sharply ironed trousers and blows his nose. She opens her handbag and suddenly rummages inside it as if attempting to kill a particularly defensive small rodent.

‘Have you got the keys…?’

Her shocked voice barks out to him, echoing across the deck above the hum and whine of the ship’s engines.

‘Yes.’ He replies, returning his handkerchief to its appointed pocket and inspecting with great enthusiasm the grey plastic decking beneath his brown and immaculately polished brogues.

A mother and father spill out through the cabin door onto the deck and repeatedly call for Imogen. Imogen leaves her position by the hand rail near me and becomes tried, found guilty, sentenced and punished in the few seconds it needs for her tired parents to dispense rough justice.

I watch as my brother takes a last photograph from the stern of the closely packed long-distance trucks that litter the open hold below. Sailors are cracking undone the chains that bind their dusty trailers to the deck and the ship’s tannoy is welcoming us to the Port of Dover in English, French and finally, Polish.

‘It sounds better in Polish’ says my brother, slipping his camera back into his jacket. ‘The French version somehow lacks a certain enthusiasm.’

Our great ferry is now shuddering violently as if something large and expensive to replace has broken loose in the engine room. The stern foams as black harbour water is angrily hurled elsewhere to let us turn and line up the bow doors with ramp number fourteen. The ferry over at ramp number nine  begins to depart and we all start to file below, down the stairs to the car deck.

As the 40 tonne trucks are let out of the holds beneath us, people go through the complex nesting procedures that are required to drive an unbroken journey from the dock to home, hundreds of miles inland.

The baby’s bottle needs to be got from underneath the suitcase in the back. The raincoats need to be folded away on the left so that father can see out of the right. The lady in the Audi TT needs her driving shoes on and her stilettos off and stored behind her. Imogen needs to be reminded once more of areas in her behaviour where her mother seeks lasting improvement.

I need to peel the black tape from my headlights so that they can once again shine more brightly to the left. I need to check the oil and water. Doing so fills the drivers behind me in the queue with horror. I am lifting the bonnet. I must have broken down. They are now trapped behind me. They will never be able to leave the ferry. I have ruined their entire holiday. I should not be allowed to drive. I drop the bonnet from shoulder height and stare back at them. Suckers. It works every time.

Our passports were checked earlier by the French Customs officer at the port in France. Then again at the next cabin fifty metres further along in the concrete wasteland by the British Customs officer in France. Then, once parked up in lines and waiting for our ferry, our load space was again checked by a British Customs officer in France.

Now, we leave the ship and join the queue that leads to the British Customs in Britain. Their concrete cave nestles at the foot of the towering cliffs of Dover. We are invited in.

The British Customs in Britain dance and swerve between the two slowly moving queues of heavily laden cars. They wave and point and beckon, let three cars straight through then stop the fourth and lean in to ask a quick question of the driver. The driver must not do two things. He must not sound nervous when asked out of the blue if he has visited Holland and his breath must not smell of alcohol.

Four policemen with loaded machine guns and hands on triggers ensure that we all focus on where we all are and why we are all here. You may look the policemen in the eye but you may not out-stare them. Not unless you wish to be beckoned to steer to the left and to a bay marked out on the wet concrete floor for those who may not understand. Look away. Appear bored and impatient.

The Eastern Europeans in their minibus are waved straight through. Customs are already fully aware who they are. The old couple are stopped. Duty Free alcohol. Where is it? How many bottles? Are there more bottles they have bought in France? Where? In the back? Show me. Fine. Thank you. Move on. The old man’s face is flushed. He was not expecting that. The customs officer knows that and that is precisely why he stopped him. You’d be surprised who tries to break the law.

My brother and I are waved straight through. Our car is sunken on its springs with over a hundred wine bottles that fill the cabin and boot under our coats and jackets. The Customs officers already know that. We are on a day trip. We are bound to be maxed out on wine that costs a quarter of the British price and tastes twice as good. We won’t be smuggling. You don’t get rich smuggling wine using a VW Golf. You use a Mercedes estate with self-levelling suspension, like the old couple did.

I am bringing into Britain what I am entitled to by British Customs. EU law says that the British are allowed to bring as much of whatever they want into Britain as members of a free-trade union of countries called the European Union. That is what free trade is all about.

But that cuts no ice with British Customs officials. They say that I am only allowed to bring in 100 litres of wine and a kilo of tobacco. Every now and then. Not too often.

Britain is different. We are an island. See photo at top of page for further clarification.

Lydia Callis, Interpreter, is deleted. ‘Killing the messenger’, Bloomberg Style…

30 Oct

Last night, as New York state (and also half the world) watched TV news for information on Pretty Damn Big Storm Sandy, a star was born.

As New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg  droned relentlessly onward like a Caterpillar D8 bulldozer (shown below), Lydia Callis translated the true meaning of his words for those listeners who still believed in the power of life and who still had hearts that beat.

By 02:00 hrs GMT, as the storm was thrashing Lower Manhattan, Lydia had a Twitter account that was trending like a rocket. She was gaining followers  in a way that meant only one thing: she had become an overnight sensation in the literal sense.

Her outstanding, intuitive and skilled visual interpretation of Bloomberg’s words was truly electrifying to watch.

It was made more so by the contrast between her vivacious delivery and his life-sucking, soul-crushingly unmemorable droning. 

Lydia spoke to the living and the hard of hearing.

Mike spoke to the telegraph poles and the concrete kerb stones.

By morning, Lydia was receiving the kind of internet media attention that spelled trouble. People loved her. People adored her. People wanted to see more of her rather than Bloomberg.

One just knew what would happen next…

In a simple feat of 1950’s Russian Communist Party subtlety, Lydia has been deleted. Airbrushed out of the history of New York’s worst night.

Camera footage of her at Bloomberg’s side on the night of the storm has been cropped so that she is no longer in view. You can just catch a glimpse of her elbow if you have sharp eyes. Yes, the footage looks slightly grainy now; it has been cropped and enlarged  to counter for the fact that it is zoomed in on Mike.

Her upbeat Twitter account comment which she made last night:   “I’m back…!” has gone.

So have all her other comments and posts.

So has her Twitter account.

All that remains is a hashtag page for ‘SignLanguageLady’ – her own original account address. It leads to nowhere. She is now nobody. She has become a ‘non-person’.

Some might argue that it does not befit a mayor’s interpreter to upstage a mayor.

Others might counter that it does not befit a mayor to make his atrociously poor communication worse by removing his interpreter.

Some might argue that she diverted attention from Bloomberg’s words.

Others might argue that this was an act of supreme charity and kindness since Mike has no talent for communication. Not a shred. Nada.

Lydia mentioned last night that, although she loves working with Mike, when Bloomberg tries to “habla” (speak Spanish) – she stops signing. 

Her comment has now been removed from the internet.

Bloomberg has as much in common with the Hispanic community as a hat stand does with a pork pie. This is not a thing that should be pointed out. If it is, then people might think that he is unelectable in the Hispanic community.

People might be right. 

Bloomberg does not speak for and does not speak with the people. He should not be a mayor.

Callis (or: Callas – the spelling that used to appear) spoke for and to the people and she should be.

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