John Hemming's Web Log John's Reference Website
Sunday, April 29, 2007
  Elected Mayor (aka Robocop) against Elected Mayors
The link is from a story where Ray Mallon explains he has concerns about the elected mayor system basically because it doesn't have checks and balances and depends too much on the person elected.

"But I am not going to abuse my power. I am not going to abuse my authority or do anything I should not. If you get a mayor who was power-mad, he could bring a town down or a city, so you can see I am not completely sold on the elected mayor idea. It works here because I like to think I am sane - though people who usually say that aren't. It works fine here but it is unique."
 
  Model Engineering and Metrication
Council Directive 80/181/EEC of 20 December 1979 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to units of measurement and on the repeal of Directive 71/354/EEC
is an EU directive that basically phases out most imperial measures apart from Appendix one (of something else) which is:
Imperial Units Of Measurement Available For Primary Use After 1 October 1995
Some imperial units remain available as the primary system of measurement for certain specific uses, either without time limit or no later than 31 December 1999. The units and their uses are as follows:
a. Imperial units of measurement to be used without time limit.
i. pint for sales of draught of beer or cider and for milk sold in returnable containers;
ii. mile, yard, foot and inch for road traffic signs and for related distance and speed measurements;
iii. foot in aircraft heights and other units used in the field of air and sea transport and rail traffic, which have been laid down in international conventions etc (see Article 2 of Directive 80/181);
iv. nautical mile and knot for sea and air traffic;
v. troy ounce for transactions in precious metals;
vi. acre for land registration

What the legislation means is that if you have something that is for example a 1/4 inch bolt. It has to be described as a 63.5mm bolt, but must not even have as a subsidiary description 1/4 inch. Whereas it is reasonable to have equipment designed with metric units, there is a lot of equipment (old steam trains for example) that are designed with imperial units.

This is a situation in which the drive for bureaucratic uniformity is just silly. Why people have to be forced not to describe a 1/4 inch bolt as such or even to have a ruler with inches on it is beyond me.

In practise this will cause problems within the model engineering and heritage engineering sectors. I have, therefore, tabled a motion and written to the DTI suggesting a bit of commonsense is used.
 
  Ali Samsam Bakhtiari and Peak Oil
The people from the industry who are most vocal about Peak Oil generally are retired. That means they know what is going on, but are under no employer pressure to tone down statements.

Ali Samsam Bakhtiari worked for the Iranian Oil Company until 2005. The link is to a useful report on some of his speeches and articles.

He estimates that global oil production peaked in 2006. The big problem with "oil production" is defining the word "oil". Generally Conventional Oil as opposed to deep sea (of which there is much less and it is harder to extract) is likely to have peaked (although we won't know for a few years).

We are trying to establish a Parliamentary Group for the Study of Peak Oil.
 
  Labour caught fiddling the voting system again
The linked story is one to Leeds where I knew there was postal vote fraud going on (but did not have evidence). Now we have evidence of the Labour Group Leader telling people to throw away Lib Dem votes (strictly flush away).

Labour have a history of electoral fraud in many large cities. Historically this involved personation (people pretending to be someone else). The idea of making people sign for their votes is a good idea because it allows the situation to be checked later. Sadly it does not pick up who is personating, but it does pick up the fact that personation occurs.

If people are elected through fraud and/or personation then an election petition can be raised. To lose an election petition is an expensive thing and also means that those people elected are banned from standing in the by-election caused.

This is caused "General Corruption" and it makes the assumption that the candidates and agents have a responsiblity for ensuring that their activists behave in a lawful manner - incidentally that does not mean throwing Lib Dem votes down the toilet - note Labour.

In Birmingham Labour have put Mohammed Afzal up for election again notwithstanding the fact that he was elected through general corruption previously.

The fact that the Court of Appeal decided that he had not had a fair trial on the allegations that he was in a particular warehouse "sorting out" postal votes (ie filling them in) does not mean that he was not responsible for failing to ensure that his fellow candidates and agents behaved lawfully.

He may claim that he had no knowledge that his party were committing electoral fraud on an "industrial scale". However, I would be surprised if people in the Labour Party generally were not aware of this. What the election court judgement said about his evidence was:
It would perhaps be kinder to draw a veil over Mr Afzal's attempts to explain his activities over the period between 10.00 pm on 8th June and 5.00 am on 9th June.

When questioned by Mr Sukul with some interventions from myself, Mr Afzal's evidence became wilder and wilder and less and less credible. Obvious lie followed obvious lie until even Mr Afzal realised that he was doing himself no favours.
481. The brutal fact is that he could not account satisfactorily for his movements on the night nor could he account for the telephone calls that had been disclosed by the records.

This is quoted in the Court of Appeal Judgment as well.

Labour have fiddled elections to some extent in Birmingham for decades. What they have done nationally is to make fraud easier. Oddly enough one of the more useful aspects of the changes to law (making people sign for their ballot papers) was found to be unworkable this time. This, however, needs to be done in the future.

The Labour Party's attitude to electoral fraud however has to be recognised in the fact that they have not expelled the 5 ex-councillors found personally responsible for election fiddling and they have allowed one of the people elected as a result of fraud to restand. That is not a "zero tolerance" approach to vote fraud.

Source Material:
executive_summary_of_judgment_bordesley_green_aston_ward.pdf
full_judgment_bordesley_green_aston_wards_election_10th_june_2004.pdf
Court of Appeal Afzal
 
Thursday, April 26, 2007
  Lynne Wrennall on UK Future TV
Lynne Wrennall has done a long (35 mins) interview covering most of the problems within the UK Child Protection system. If you have the time it is worth watching it.
 
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
  Standards Board and Ken Livingstone
The link is to the case where Ken Livingstone appealed the decision of the Adjudication Panel for England.

The Standards Board and associated Adjudication Panel have done a lot of damage to democracy in the UK. The courts are, however, bringing them into more sanity.

The point about Ken Livingstone's case is that it was high profile and he also could afford to appeal. The Standard Board has a problem in that those subject to its enquiries face substantial costs that they cannot claim back.

This is an issue that needs further work.

In essence the Judge found that what he said brought him into disrepute, but not the office of Mayor. We do need the machinery of the SBE and APE to concentrate on things that matter rather than people being rude to each other.
 
Monday, April 23, 2007
  More children being stolen to satisfy the social engineering industry
The link is to a story from Cornwall. I know more about this story than is in the paper. Hopefully the Court of Appeal will see sense.

The grandparents of two young children are fighting to stop them being put up for adoption by social workers after a court order was granted to take them away from their mother.

The couple, who live in Falmouth but cannot be named for legal reasons, looked after the children for nine months last year while their mother was recovering from post-natal depression.

But last July - out of the blue - Cornwall's social services department took the children from the family home and into foster care and told them that they were going to be put up for adoption.
 
Sunday, April 22, 2007
  Birmingham Vaisakhi Handsworth Park 2007 No 308
I attended the Vaisakhi as usual this year. It is interesting to see this developing. There is a clear movement towards events having people from all communities at them. Going back to 1999 (No 300) it was overwhelmingly Sikh. Today I would think that there were many many people there who were not Sikh.

This is to be welcomed (as was the Sikhs performing as part of the St Patrick's day parade).

It does not undermine the reason for the event - which is the 308th anniversary of the creation of the Khalsa.
 
Saturday, April 21, 2007
  The Gulag of the Family Courts
The book in the headline was written by Jack Frost who is one of the many victims of false allegations in the Family Courts.

The link takes you to more details about this book and how to order it.
 
Friday, April 20, 2007
  Written Parliamentary Question: 20th Aoril 2007
Foster Care: Vetting

Q:To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what Criminal Records Bureau checks take place before someone can qualify as a foster parent; and what criteria are used to determine a person's suitability for fostering following such checks.


A:The approvals process for prospective foster carers is set out in the Fostering Services Regulations 2002. Paragraph 13 of schedule 3 of the regulations requires that, before any person can be approved as a foster parent, an enhanced disclosure check must be obtained. Adult members of the prospective foster carer's household are subject to a standard disclosure check.

In assessing any person whom it considers may be suitable to become a foster carer, the fostering service provider is required to obtain the range of information prescribed in schedule 3 of the regulations as well as any other information it considers appropriate. On the basis of this information, the fostering service provider is required to prepare a written report which is referred to the fostering panel for consideration; the fostering panel then makes its own recommendation about the individual's suitability to foster. The final decision is made, taking into account this recommendation, by the fostering service provider. Subject to paragraph 27(6), a person would automatically be considered unsuitable to become a foster carer if he/she, or any other adult member of the household, had committed a specified offence under the terms of the regulations. If this is not the case, the decision as to whether or not to approve an individual as a foster carer is made by the fostering service provider in line with the process outlined above.
(Parmjit Dhanda, Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Education and Skills)
 
Thursday, April 19, 2007
  Karren Brady
Karren Brady has written a form of manifesto as a "candidate" (see link) for directly elected Mayor of Birmingham. It is difficult to be a candidate for a position that does not exist, but it does add to the debate.

If people decide to concentrate Birmingham's political power in one person then of course she is qualified to stand. I don't think that the Birmingham Conservatives will like the idea of being told who their candidate is by David Cameron, however.

Most of the things Karen Brady complains about are things where the decision is made by the government or people appointed by the government. (New St, The Casino, Midland Metro, the Central Library.) The Quangos such as Advantage West Midlands have boards accountable to the Ministers in London not the Council in Birmingham. Manchester and Liverpool are run by Cabinet and Leader systems not by an elected Mayor.

It is also important what she misses out of her article. Birmingham City Council (unlike the Greater London Authority) runs Housing and Social Services (amongst other additional services). I highlight Housing and Social Services because in 2004 when the current administration took over the situation was so bad in both services that the government were seriously considering taking responsibility off the local authority.

Big prestige projects are important. However, the bread and butter issues are also important and should not be ignored by anyone who wishes to offer themselves for this role.

I have been asked if I would stand. My priority for the moment, however, is to sort out the disaster that is Public Family Law in the UK (and its links to the inappropriate behaviour of some paediatricians). I could not do this whilst also being Mayor of Birmingham because of the amount of time it takes.
 
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
  Privacy for the Child

This photograph of five children appeared on the front of the Sunday Mercury in Birmingham on Sunday.

Those who defend secrecy in the Family Courts claim it is there to protect the identity of the child. Why then are they pictured on the front page of a newspaper.

The same people who say nothing should be mentioned about the proceedings then claim: "The youngsters, including 14-month-old twins, were taken into care because of worries they were being neglected. "

The article is linked.

Why cannot the other side of the story be told. I recently visited a local charity that supports families with children under 5. I was told that possibly 50% of the problems relate to housing conditions. So we have the funds to pay lawyers and experts hundreds of thousands of pounds to split families up, we have the funds to pay private agencies thousands of pounds to look after the children, we have the funds to pay adoption agencies and the adopting family, but we don't have money to keep the family together in the first instance.

There are many many rubbishy cases in the Family Court that don't stand up for a second. However, there is too much money made by splitting up families so the system continues to do that unnecessarily. We may never now the full story about this family in Coventry. What is clear, however, is that the secrecy in the family courts is all about protecting the system and not about protecting the children.
 
Monday, April 16, 2007
  Government is not about press stories it is about running things
The long running kerfuffle about "spin" has really ignored the fact that the government have got worse at governing and have moved more towards worrying about the next headline.

Hence we have the mess over the military selling their stories. We have to operate according to system of rules. Either the military generally can, or the military generally cannot.

Driving a coach and horses through the rules so that actually the military will have some difficulty enforcing the rules was done by the government because the priority of the next media headline was more important than thinking carefully about what the policy should be.

What this also means is that things that do not create media headlines (such as Modernising Medical Careers) have no real attention given to them until it is too late.
 
Saturday, April 14, 2007
  Don't Adopt These Children
The link is to a list of children (with photos) where there is a dispute with the system as to whether or not they should be adopted.

It is important to remember the European Court case of PC and S where it was found that a baby should not have been taken off its parents. However, by the time this had happened the baby had been adopted.

There are many many absurd cases going through the family courts where essentially the court acts as a rubber stamp of the opinion of the Local Authority.

The local authority is simply trying to maximise adoptions and is clearly "conflicted". However, corruption runs through much of the Child Protection system whereby money is more important than children and families.

That means that fundamentally wrong decisions are taken by the courts, but not properly challenged. Many people are trying to change the system, but a lot of money is made and vested interests exist that are different to challenge.

It is much like the Witchfinding of Matthew Hopkins. He made a lot of money. There are modern day witchfinders making a very good living out of damaging the lives of children and families.

In the mean time, however, it is important that any potential adopters check carefully whether the children are on the "do not adopt" list.
 
Friday, April 13, 2007
  Labour's campaign nosedives in Moseley and Kings Heath
With the revelation that Labour's Candidate for Kings Heath has called Kings Heath "Minger City" in The Stirrer, a website run by erstwhile BBC journalist Adrian Goldberg, Labour's campaign has taken a turn for the worse.

From the story:
Bill Lees, who’s standing in Moseley and Kings Heath, was writing on an internet forum about the possibility of a Sainsbury’s opening in Moseley and the Safeway supermarket in nearby Kings Heath closing down.

He said it might be a good idea – “but not if you don’t want all those legions of plug ugly, baseball-capped and ski-panted mingers from Kings Heath coming from Moseley to shop”. He also described Kings Heath as “Minger City”.

One outraged local resident Ian Galloway told The Stirrer: “No doubt Bill would say that these were flippant remarks, but living in Kings Heath, I know it has serious issues, such as transportation and parking.”

Galloway has complained to Birmingham’s Labour leader Sir Albert Bore, but said: “I don’t know how he can defend comments like that. Is Bill Lees trying to use another word and say that Kings Heath is full of chavs?

“We’ve got some serious social issues here, and we’re fed up of being treated as the poor boys of the ward [compared to Moseley] and being left behind.”
 
Thursday, April 12, 2007
  Election Campaign Kicks off - Two Police Investigations
The Election campaign in Birmingham has kicked off with a police investigation into allegations that 8 BNP sets of nomination papers are invalid because of forgery, deception or dishonesty. (see http://www.thestirrer.co.uk/1204072.html) There is also an investigation going on into threats of violence against voters by Respect.

In the mean time Labour have complained about the spelling of one of our candidate's names.

Video Item about Nomination papers


Video Item about Respect intimidation of voters
 
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
  Foreign policy 'undermining UK'
There is a sort of arrogance implicit in neo-colonialism that we know what is best for Johnny Foreigner and they should be grateful for what we do.

The fact is that there are things that are better in the UK and things that are worse than other countries. We do not have all the answers. However, the big mistake is to try to impose our solutions on other people's problems. We should be willing to help on a reasonable basis, but other countries should have the option to refuse our help.

Terrorism is normally a revenge form of response to some form of action that is perceived to be unjust. That is how we have created more terrorism as a result of the unjust actions in Iraq - just as was predicted by the UK Security Services. Even though the UK was not part of the actions in Fallujah etc we still suffer from the association.
 
Monday, April 09, 2007
  Problems with Outlook Express - emails lost dbx corruption
In the light of the enthusiasm shown for my post relating to the OCX control that must not be named (and probably Microsoft's most embarrassing error of recent years) I thought I would write someting about Outlook Express.

Outlook Express is the email client that comes as part of windows. I use it myself, although I have my emails filtered through a spam filter of my own devising written in java. It takes email off a number of servers using POP3 (Post Office Protocol TCP Port 110) and sends it using SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol port 25).

I have recently spent a few hours dealing with the problem that arises when .dbx files get corrupted during compacting.

Outlook Express (OE) stores the emails (and other things) in files with the suffix .dbx. Each folder has its own .dbx file. They are stored in hidden directories. This makes it harder to deal with things when OE goes wrong.

It is very important to back up your stored *.dbx files as otherwise if you have a disk crash/stolen computer/tea poured on computer incident you lose all of your emails.

First find your *.dbx files.
Mine are found in the sub-directory
C:\Documents and Settings\John\Local Settings\Application Data\Identities\{0B53F3EF-CFCE-40F2-934F-131F23CA22FA}\Microsoft\Outlook Express

This can vary from computer to computer (depending upon settings in the registry), but you will normally find that the last bits are \Microsoft\Outlook Express.

Then you find a load of .dbx files and also a folders.dbx file.

Outlook Express is quite kind. If the folders.dbx file is missing it will build it again from the other folders. Reconstructing an OE database can finish off with deleting that file and allowing OE to rebuild it. It does, however, lose the structure of any subfolders and make all folders part of the local folders structure.

Now and again OE tries to compact folders. This is where my trouble arose. I found that OE had managed to fill the data part of some folders with 0x00 (ie Ascii 0). This is almost certainly a weird and wonderful bug that M$ have not yet found. A 25 Mb *.dbx file full of 0x00 is no use to anyone.

This means that the programs you can get to repair OE files (there are a number) by extracting the emails would not work, because there was no information to be recovered.

Luckily, however, OE when compact stops stores *.bak files in the recycler. It is, therefore, possible to restore those (they are simply copies of the *.dbx files). Then to rename the corrupted *.dbx files (you can tell because they don't appear in the folder list) to something else and then to rename the *.bak files.

This is not something to do if you don't really understand what you are doing and check each step of the way as a number of irrevocable things are done. Hence make a back up before starting and keep careful track of what you do. If you don't understand what I am writing about ask someone who does to recover your emails for you (if they are recoverable). This is not something for novices to try.

Ideally you can go to your most recent backup. However, if you don't know where the files are (see above) you probably haven't backed them up.
 
Sunday, April 08, 2007
  USA on Peak Oil
The link is to the US Government Accountability Office report on Peak Oil.

http://www.netcastdaily.com/fsnewshour.htm has interviews with Matthew Simmons one of the peakniks (like myself really).

Peak Oil is an issue the world will have to face up to. Interestingly in the USA it has been possible to create the equivalent of an APPG on Peak Oil. Powerswitch are trying to do this in the UK (with me probably as Chair), but the level of interest does not appear to be high enough.
 
Saturday, April 07, 2007
  The Apple I-Rack from MadTV

Humour is a reasonably good tool for making political points.
 
Friday, April 06, 2007
  Yahoo vs Google
I find it interesting where items appear in the Yahoo search engine vis-a-vis the Google search engine. For some reason Yahoo has me at number 3 for hhctrl.ocx whereas as far as Google is concerned my blog is not in the top 100.

Still back to the printing now.

[later the same day]
The answer is that the Google search updated later. I end up as item 7 on the Google Search. This has driven my hit rate up to even more than when I declared as a temporary candidate for Lib Dem Leader.

It is normally odd bits of (especially public) Family Law that drive up the hit rate. My tracker cannot tell when things kicked off, but lots of people are suffering from the hhctrl.ocx problem which is higher up on google on my blog than the page that solves the problem - which being a helpful Member of Parliament I do link to.
 
Thursday, April 05, 2007
  HHCTRL.OCX error and online windows updates
The link is to a Microsoft support page. One of the key things with an automatic updating system is to ensure that you don't update with bugs. Someone's testing has gone astray and probably millions of computers across the world are going wrong in a slight manner when they are started.

It would be interesting to know how many people are affected by this. I don't think we will find out, however.

I can understand about how Marvin the Paranoid Android felt. There I am trying to drive massive change in UK Public Family Law through the Court of Appeal, but what are people interested in ... how to get rid of the HHCTRL.OCX error.

C'est la vie. BTW the solution does work.
 
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
  A new CAT Scan
I am not sure I agree with the theoretical positioning of this scan. Then again it would only be a serious proposal if made by the government.

I need to ask a few more questions about the government funding of a perpetual motion engine.
 
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
  Paediatricians keep digging
There are clearly some paediatricians who like the idea of not being responsible for their statements in court. After all there are fees of around £3000 a go for writing basic reports.

A group of paediatricians from the UK have supported an article written by an academic lawyer in a US Journal (see link).

To see the detailed article requires a subscription account. However, there is a clear conflict. According to the GMC only 3% of paediatricians have faced complaints about child protection work. At the same time it claimed in this article that 14% have faced complaints.

Review what happened in Oldham. Totally innocent parents were put through the mill. Their baby probably suffered as well. I am sure that the expert witnesses, however, have got their fee.

False Positives are a problem. False negatives are also a problem. Hence it takes a bit more thought than simply saying the expert witnesses need to be immune from complaint.

What we have is a situation in which a number of people (not all of the experts) make a good living out of being witchfinders. They make allegations that are not based in good evidence and analysis, these are then believed by the secret courts and then lots of money is made by all the professionals involved. The children and parents, however, suffer.

Not clever.
 
Monday, April 02, 2007
  Local Election Campaigns Building Up
It is clear that the local election campaigns are building. There are rumours of Labour encouraging independent candidates to split the anti-Labour vote.

It is sad that the new legislation against vote fraud has not yet been fully implemented. The approach of signing for ballot papers gives a facility to pick up personation after the end of the election that has not previously been possible.

We are going to put a bit of additional effort in this year to monitor frauds. Hopefully the police will assist in this.
 

Click Here for access to higher resolution versions of the photos The license for use allows use of the photos by media as long as they are attributed.

better brent chart

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