Friday, 25 March 2011

Up MP’s expenses: Taking the piss in the EU: Electric gonads: MG-42 in the post: Hazardous children: Insurance rip-off: and Artificial clouds.

Bright, sunny and warm-ish at the Castle this morn, the kitchen is filling up with non-computers which are apparently “only asleep”, the garden has gone berserk and things are growing at a rate of knots and the butler is out feeding the excess fat teenagers to the crocs in the moat.

Engineers have managed to rig power cables to all six reactors at the Fukushima complex, and restarted a water pump that will help reverse the overheating that triggered the world's worst nuclear crisis in 25 years.
Better late than never…..

It seems that NATO has agreed to take command of enforcing the no-fly zone over Libya from the US.
But Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen made clear that other aspects of the operation would remain in the hands of the current coalition for now.

Nice to get an agreement on who kills who…..

More MPs will be able to claim extra expenses for children and accommodation under relaxed rules launched today.
Changes to the scheme, introduced last year, follow MPs' complaints that it was too bureaucratic and "anti-family".
An extra 31 "commuter belt" MPs will be able to claim for hotels or rent, and those with children up to 18 will be able to claim extra for travel.
It could add "a few million" to the bill but expenses boss Sir Ian Kennedy said £18m had been saved already.
Sir Ian, chairman of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa), also said the new system had also come in £30m under its projected budget and had "put an end to the expenses scandal that shocked us so much in 2009".
It means an extra 31 MPs, representing seats in Guildford, Milton Keynes, among others, will be able to request the allowance - up to a maximum of £19,900 a year for those claiming London rent.
Currently MPs with children up to the age of five can claim an extra £2,425 per child for accommodation - and could claim for up to 30 journeys they make between London and the constituency.
Under the revised scheme, they will be able to make the same claims for children aged up to 16 - or 18 if they are in full time education - and for journeys by spouses or partners accompanying the child.
MPs' staffing budget will increase from a maximum of £109,548 to £115,000.

Yeah right……hands up all those whose employer pays to take your kids to London…..

A disgraced former Tory MEP faces criminal charges unless he pays back over £345,000 in "misused" staffing expenses paid to a family company in a European Union case that has dwarfed similar Westminster scandals.
Den Dover was the Conservative European whip until a scandal over his use of expenses emerged from an investigation in The Daily Telegraph three years ago.
He was expelled from the Tories in Nov 2008 after the European Parliament attempted to recover money that should have funded staff salaries but instead had been put towards family expenses.
Mr Dover, 72, stepped down as an MEP in May 2009 and remains entitled to two publicly funded pensions worth over £35,000 a year for a decade of service in the EU assembly.
After refusing to pay back the money and a two year legal battle, EU judges on Thursday ruled that the European Parliament was right to act over Mr Dover's "significant and serious misuse" of expenses.
The former North West Conservative MEP now faces an investigation by Olaf, the EU's anti-fraud agency and calls for him to be arrested by British police.

When is the referendum on Blighty and the EU?

According to a new lawsuit filed by an officer in the tiny U.S.-Mexican border town of Nogales, Arizona, on Feb. 8, 2010, Sgt. Sergio Bon allegedly pushed a clipboard at Pedro Molera. When Molera placed the clipboard on Bon's desk, Bon allegedly unholstered his Taser and pointed it at Molera.
According to a report in the Arizona Daily Star, Molera responded "Are you going to use it? Go ahead." At that point, Bon is said to have placed the Taser on Molera's penis, over top of his clothes, and squeezed the trigger for up to two seconds.
Molera said that there was excessive redness following the electric shock and went home in emotional distress.
Bon, an 18-year-veteran, has resigned as a result of the allegations. Molera is seeking unspecified damages from Bon and the police department for a lack of training of superior officers and for failing to take appropriate training and supervision measures.
Jeffrey Kirkham, the town's chief of police, told the Arizona Daily Star that Bon likely would have been fired had he not resigned.

Be careful what you ask for……

Lithuanian customs and postal officials say they have found a fully functional machine gun dating from World War II, complete with ammunition, in a package at Vilnius International Airport.
Officials said Tuesday that the German-made MG-42 machine gun was found after scanning a suspicious 20-kg package posted in Lithuania and bound for Germany. Customs spokeswoman Asta Mikeleviciute says it was the first time that authorities had ever uncovered such a parcel and an investigation has been launched.
No evacuation of the capital's airport was ordered, but authorities were placed on alert. More than 65 years after the war, Lithuania and other East European countries continue to uncover large amounts of weaponry and unexploded ordnance.
And I thought I was a bit of a hoarder.

An Australian town has declared war on sidewalk chalk. At first, the town's council called it a violation of municipal graffiti laws, but then declared the children who use the chalk are safety hazards.
In what some residents are calling a bureaucracy gone mad, children in Whitehorse, Australia, are being told to put down the sidewalk chalk.
"The children burst into tears when we told them," one cafe owner told the Daily Herald newspaper. "A council inspector visited us and said there had been a complaint and we had to stop."
The council says sidewalk chalk is a violation of the state graffiti laws.
The other option, according to local officials, would be to issue a permit that would allow the students to play with sidewalk chalk.
But that's apparently out of the question, too.

"The mayor told us they would like to issue us a permit but can't because it raises health and safety issues, in case somebody fell over a child on the footpath or into the street," the cafe owner said.
Anger in the town is now mounting and more than 200 people have signed a petition to let the children play with sidewalk chalk.

Chalky Elfandsafety Jobsworths.

Teenager Jake Redshaw thought he’d pay a bit over the odds to get his second-hand motor insured fully comp.

But his hopes of getting mobile came to a screeching halt when he was quoted nearly £33,000 to cover his £3,000 pride and joy.

Jake, 17, bought a six-year-old Vauxhall Corsa after passing his test this month and expected to have to pay a couple of thousand pounds.

But he was stunned when the AA quoted him £32,819 on price comparison site

The second most expensive was £21,000, while the cheapest fully-comprehensive quote was almost £6,000 – twice the car’s value. Jake, of Eccles, Greater Manchester, said: “It’s not as if I was trying to insure a high-powered sports car. I was gob smacked. I thought passing my test would be the hardest part about getting my own wheels.

The AA said premiums rose by 33% last year, the biggest leap ever, and by 58% for young drivers.

An AA spokesman apologised and said: “The quote is clearly ridiculous and should not have happened.”
He added: “Some insurers quote very high premiums because they don’t want the business.”

So know we know, they make it up as they go along.

And finally:

Scientists at Qatar University claim to have developed artificial clouds to provide shade for stadia and training grounds at the 2022 World Cup.
The fierce summer heat in the Gulf has led to concerns about conditions for players and fans at the tournament.
Temperatures in June and July can reach up to 50C.
Qatar were announced as hosts in December, and Fifa president Sepp Blatter initially said he expected the 2022 competition to be moved to winter.
But Blatter has since stated that he feels the tournament will go ahead as planned in the summer months.
Qatar plan to air condition their World Cup stadia via solar power and now scientists have designed the 'clouds', which can be produced at a cost of $500,000 (about £310,000) each.
Saud Abdul Ghani, head of the mechanical and industrial engineering department at the university, said the 'clouds' are made from a lightweight carbon structure, and carry a giant envelope of material containing helium gas.

Spiffing idea, cheap at half the price.

And today’s thought: Lead me not into temptation . . . I can find my own way there.


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