Politicans and world leaders making news and in the news, and spouting hot air
TORY MP Derek Conway has been upbraided for using taxpayer-funded expenses to pay his teenage son almost £50,000 as a “researcher” – “even though there is no evidence of any work having been done.”
It emerged that Derek Conway had also employed his eldest son, Henry, as a researcher while he attended Cambridge
Mr Conway’s son, Frederick stopped “working” for his father last August after the scandal became public and is now understood to be studying at Sandhurst military academy.
It also emerged yesterday that Mr Conway used to employ his elder son, Henry, as a researcher while he was at Cambridge.
Henry was also paid £10,000 a year between July 2001 and October 2004. It was reported that he earned £32,000 over that period.
Frederick who at the time was a geography student at Newcastle University, was paid up to £11,773 a year, plus bonuses, for almost three years. In total, he received a gross salary of £45,163 plus pension contributions worth another £4,500.
Geography students: Discuss…
YESTERDAY’S news that McDonalds’ is to offer its own qualifications “equal to GCSEs”, occupies the Guardian’s leader writer.
“The fear that education would fall prey to the profiteers emerged yesterday after it was announced that authority to award A-level-style qualifications was being given to three firms: the airline Flybe, Network Rail and, most iconically, McDonald’s. If McQualifications were to displace traditional study, that would surely do for erudition what fast food has done for the diet.”
The Guardian is like that American teacher who gives their failing students an F-grade and an McDonald’s application form. This will inspire them to become more academic, not just give up and get a McJob.
And then this: Gordon Brown yesterday warned of the dire fate that would befall Britain if it failed to close its skills gap…The response is a mixed one, Mr Brown proposes heavy-handed welfare reforms along with welcome expansion in public sector apprenticeships. His plans are far from perfect, but it is to be hoped they will do the trick, because, for all yesterday’s McFlurry of publicity, McQualifications will not be enough.”
So, you can learn from the state – good – but learning from a hugely successful private enterprise is bad? And how do you get the money to fund State-run apprenticeships?
He replaces Richard Caborn in the job, that sports nut who in a 2001 radio spot failed to answer a single one of five quiz sports questions put to him.
Mr Sutcliffe will make a better fist of it. He’s a real sports fan. He’s a football fan. On the subject of ticket prices, he tells us: “But if you look at the example of my own club, Bradford City, who nearly went out of existence, they’re still suffering.
“Bradford City have kept the same ticket prices whereas my other club, Man United, have put up their season tickets by 13% and made people pay for Carling Cup and European games.”
That’s right, Mr Sutcliff has two clubs. He is Gerry ‘Two Clubs’ Sutcliffe.
Of course, some football fans may think one team is enough and anyone with an allegiance to two clubs is an opportunist who understands football about as well as, well, a sports minister…
WILIAM Hague MP.
For Americans looking in, this is how British politics can work:
Her reply: “I am engaged … to Barack Obama. My heart belongs to Barack, and that is who I am currently, finally, engaged to. Yes.”
That’s right – a white woman endorses Obama!
As they say: Barack Obama’s race problem is the white Liberals
“Cam-ikaze,” says the paper.
A pedestrian is angered enough to call the Daily Mirror and tell them all about it.
Cameron’s response to the matter was, apparently to say: “Well, I haven’t collided with anyone have I?”
But it is the pedestrian’s response that stands out. The Mirror hears him yell at the Tory leader: “Doesn’t the Road Traffic Act apply to you?”
These are the words of a pedant. Does anyone know the rules of the Road Traffic Act? Cameron appears wise not to have engaged the pedestrian in a debate on the Act and all its section and clauses.
And this is wise not least of all because if the pedestrian doesn’t get out the way sharpish he may well be run down by Mr Cameron’s car, the one carrying his briefcase…
SAYS Bono, pictured with Al Gore at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland: “The G8 are not making good largely on their commitments. About half, I would say, is where we’ve got – and this is a scandal.”
“We’ve.” Bono is Mr G9, the Pope’s warm-up man. Bono is the man with whom all the leaders of the world’s wealthiest lands consult on matters of global importance.
It is to be hoped that in sitting alongside Paul ‘Bono’ Hewson, Al ‘Pro Bono’ Gore can gain some credibility…
Kerviel is “LE ROGUE TRADER, the Independent’s front-page news.
“The world of high finance, already shaken by the imprudent greed of some of its biggest corporate names, is stunned by the largest ever fraud by an individual ‘rogue’ trader.”
Might this be a good day to bury bad news?
SYLVESTER Stallone says vote for John McCain.
As Ms Althouse notes, Huckabee’s got Chuck Norris. And now, McCain has Stallone.
Somebody needs a Schwarzenegger! Wait! Who’s that on the phone?!
AS noted: Hain Day is also the day Mandelson resigned in 2001. And, oddly enough, when Leon Brittan resigned in 1986, so maybe 2008 will see another ministerial scalp, on the basis of a closing of seven years in the gap between resignations.
And the day Caligula was assassinated.
Before a meeting of United Farm Workers in Salinas, California on Tuesday, Clinton takes to the stage.
UFW members wearing red t-shirts are chanting “Si Se Puede!”
Replies Clinton: “Si se pueda is right! That’s right, yes we can!”
Fans of the TV show will know that Bob’s love interest is Wendy. But Hillary is keen to show she can mach any man, and while Wendy may be dab hand in the office, it is Bob who gets it done.
Note: Spanish speakers will have noticed Clinton’s error. As such, we urge her to divide her time equally between episodes of Bob The Builder and Dora the Explorer..
Or what about a light sponge sandwich with a lemon crud filling..?
FRED THOMPSON: “Today I have withdrawn my candidacy for President of the United States. I hope that my country and my party have benefited from our having made this effort. Jeri and I will always be grateful for the encouragement and friendship of so many wonderful people.”
WILL Hillary Clinton (white woman) beat Barack Obama (black man) to be be the Democrat Party’s official Presidential candidate? Notes the LA Times:
A CNN poll today shows that 72% of whites and 61% of blacks believe the country is ready for a black president. That’s up from 65% and 54%, respectively, two years ago. (Both polls have a margin of error of +/-4.5%.)
But asked if the country is ready for a female president, blacks and whites both are in agreement; they’re less sure — only 63% of both whites and blacks answer yes. That’s up slightly (from 58%) for whites but down among blacks from 67% since December, 2006.
Interestingly, men and women remain in agreement on this issue, too. In 2006, 60% of both genders said yes and this time it’s 65% female and 64% male.
Do Amerians fear women?
GORDON Brown launches the UK Politics channel on YouTube:
Did you see the bobble at the start? Or was it a short-lived bounce..?
The Mail (“Livingstone accused of drinking on duty”) says the London mayor has been “filmed allegedly swigging whisky at official meetings”.
This alleged happening is said to have occurred at 10am while in session with London assembly members. If true, then Ken has broken the Greater London Authority’s code of conduct.
Readers also learn that Ken has been, allegedly, seen drinking “‘an amber liquid’” at a questions and answer session with Ilford voters.
Such is the thrust of political debate that Channel 4’s Dispatches programme claims to have obtained a sample of said liquid and sent it down to forensics. The substance is said to have been 47 per cent alcohol. It forms the pivotal moment of tonight’s TV show.
Was it booze? Or might it be that Ken is recycling his urine? It was he who told Londoners not to flush the toilet. We are faced with the possibility that Ken’s urine is 47 per cent proof, which – and any scientists do let me know – could provide enough venom to power a small car or scooter.
And one final question: if this brew powers Ken, should he paying a congestion charge?
A urine amnesty cannot be far off…
POOR Jade Goody. Had only she not performed so badly in Celebrity Big Brother she would be on hand to help Home Secretary Jacqui Smith through the perils of kebab eating and late-night street walking.
But Celebrity Kebab Shop with Jade Goody remains in the planning stages, and any intentions to have Goody installed as the Government’s Curry Sauce tzar are now deemed too racial even for new Labour.
And so it is that Jacqui Smith, our Home Secretary, is forced to take her life, and meat product sandwich, in her hands and wander into “KATIES kebabs and burgers” in Peckham, South London.
Such a happening gives Smith a useful anecdote with which to thrill the hacks and her fellow MPs. She recalls her visit to the kebab eatery but cannot recall the time. Citizen Smith claims it is “evening”. Ender Ginel, the kebab shop owner, says it was “early evening”.
The Mail siezes on this discrepancy (“Smith stumbles into kebab fiasco”). Having dealt with the differences between “casual” and “smart casual”, it now dives fearlessly into what into the murky world of reservations.
KATIES’ policy is clear: “When we have special customers in here like families we just chuck the troublemakers out,” says Mr Ginel. Adding: “Jacqui Smith didn’t have any problems in here.” At no time was she asked to leave.
Says Mr Ginel: “She just sat there and ate her kebab.”
That Smith then told the world about her adventure with meat on a stick is no matter of public record.
And we look forward to her debating the role of kebabs in the community on Question Time, alongside a contrite Ms Goody…
Some questions for Ms Smith:
Was your kebab hung for 56 days?
Is meat murder?
How do your remove curry sauce from white fabric?
The Hillary Nutcracker
# functional, plastic nutcracker with stainless steel teeth secured inside upper legs to grip and crack nuts in their shell.
# The Hillary Nutcracker will stand upright and has internal stainless steel components and spring.
# Stands Nine Inches Tall
# Feel the Squeeze with Hillary!
THE Barack Obama campaign has released a recording (mp3) it claims came from a Nevada local’s answering machine of an anonymous automated call.
“I’m calling with some important information about Barack Hussein Obama,” comes the voice. “Barack Hussein Obama says he doesn’t take money from Washington lobbyists or special interest groups but the record is clear that he does.”
Hussein. Hussein. Hussein.
“You just can’t take a chance on Barack Hussein Obama.”
Click here to listen to the campaign’s recording of the call.
Asked by the Sundays Times if they would feel safe walking around London late at night, our VIP opined: “Well, no, but I don’t think I ever have done. You know, I would never have done that, at any point in my life.”
Why not: “Well, I just don’t think that’s a thing that people do, is it, really?”
“Well, I wouldn’t walk around at midnight and I’m fortunate that I don’t have to do that?”
The Sunday Times is talking with…
a) Anna Nicole Smith
b) Maggie Smith
c) Victor Lewis Smith
d) Lady May Abel Smith
e) Jacqui Smith
f) Will Smith
Answer after the jump…
EX Lib-Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell is joining the board of SCOTTISH AMERICAN INVESTMENT COMPANY. The company’s nickname is Saints.
You can find the Scottish American Investment Co. plc in the fiance pages under… SCAM.
No panic. No need. Chances are that your details have already been lost or stolen. Although, granted, this will provide data thieves with a second piece of identification.
In November last, HM Revenue and Customs managed to lose two unregistered and unencrypted discs being sent to the National Audit Office. The disc held the details of 25million people.
Incredible. Like you we marvelled at how so much information could be contained on just two discs. Technology moves on. In the 1980s, say, the HMRC would have lost 100-odd discs, the number falling in 1990s to five or six discs, possibly in a single commemorative box set.
Now just two discs. Where we go from here can only be guessed at but there is every chance the names, address and favourite colour of everyone in the world can be printed on a grain of sand. And then lost.
As for the stolen laptop, it contained details of anyone who has expressed an interest in, or joined, the Royal Navy, Royal Marines and the RAF.
“The information held is not the same for every individual,” says the MoD. “In some cases, for casual enquiries, the record is no more than a name. But for those who progressed as far as submitting an application to join the Forces, extensive personal data may be held, including passport details, National Insurance numbers, drivers’ licence details, family details, doctors’ addresses and National Health Service numbers.”
Nick Harvey, Lib Dem defence spokesman, says: “If anybody is entertaining lingering support for the idea… surely this would worry anybody into realising that you cannot trust any system you invent to store this much data in one place.”
Better, perhaps, for each any everyone one of us to commit our personal data to memory and for backup tell Andi Bell, The amazing memory man, or a white elephant…
ALL eyes on Las Vegas.
Barack Obama is warning on the dangers of gambling. He says it carries a “moral and social cost” that could “devastate” poor communities.
On Saturday, Nevada, which holds its presidential nominating caucuses. And odd ting to say of an insuitry that gies so mnay local voters an income.
Obama’s agonist Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton sees the good in the gaming industry.
“There’s a fundamental question here,” said the Rev. Tom Grey, executive director of the National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling to the LA Times. “Until this point, Obama’s statements seemed to suggest that he did not buy into the industry arguments that this is a product like golf or Starbucks that should just go on Main Street. And Hillary, by attacking him, seems to have come down clearly on the side of the industry that this is economic development.”
Casino cold be a vote decider. And in Nevada, Clinton ahs the deep stack.
In an interview Thursday with The LAT, Clinton described the gambling industry as an “economic development tool” and said that “for many places in the country, it seems to be an important part of what they are trying to do to revive and maintain an economic base.”
Of the downside, said she: “Any human activity has social costs, really…Life is filled with trade-offs, and you have to do the best you can to balance the pluses and the minuses.”
And decide for yourself…
Nicholas Sarkozy is not naked, but dressed in the Emperor’s, if not new then washed and ironed clothes of white shirt, black trousers and leather brogues.
Those of us used to seeing Sarkozy in his swimmers will be surprised and perhaps even a little shocked at his unfamiliar get up.
Some may even be angry. Not a day passes without Sarkozy provoking a riot and as he applies his cufflinks, one expects to hear news of a disgruntled Frenchman setting alight to his Renault Megane.
Sarkozy is then pictured peeping out through some net curtains. Does he fear he is being watch, in which instant he may get a fright if he were to turn and set eyes the Hello! snappers. Sarkozy’s look of insouciance creates the illusion that this is nothing special and every day he really does look in the mirror, have someone hand him a hairbrush and sit behind a massive desk.