Saturday, November 16, 2019

UK General Election December 12th 2019

The general election in this country is due to take place on December 12th 2019. Hopefully the outcome will be clearer for the UK than the Spanish general election a few days ago was for Spain.

The main issue currently is considered whether to  Remain in the EU or to leave. Additionally though the Tories have been in power for years and usually in the UK after a decade of rule by the same political party voters seek a change.

If the Labour Party was still led by say David Milliband  I have little doubt but that Labour would sweep to power on December 12th. However Labour is led by Jeremy Corbyn who seems to me at least, to be a hopeless political leader. 

Labour's policy on Remain/Brexit as regards the EU, exemplifies this hopelessness if my understanding about that is correct. On the one hand Labour suggest that they would re-negotiate with the EU and secure a better  Brexit deal, which the EU itself has signified would not be possible. Then Labour would have a referendum on its new deal, pending which Labour would be canvassing for remain, which I understand to mean that  their new Labour deal should be rejected. 

Possibly my understanding  of Labour EU policy is incorrect. If so Labour have a lot of explaining to do before 12th December 2019. 

Even if Labour  win the general election, secure a new referendum in which a simple majority votes to remain, that cannot square with all Labour's talk of nationalising large swathes of British industry, as such would be against EU rules.

Boris Johnson may be Eton educated, prone to making gaffes, having girlfriends not favoured by many UK electors and not seeing the importance to some people of such matters as visiting flood sites immediately after flooding, yet he is still miles ahead of Jeremy Corbyn's Labour as the British public may be awkward but  generally not  that mad.


Saturday, November 09, 2019

A Few Green Issues

As this posts title signifies there are many more green issues than are canvassed below for example, tourism.

The need for action by mankind to reduce the effect of human life on the planet is acute.
The recent reports of the pollution in Delhi India where the atmosphere is almost poisonous being over 50 times the recommended limit, are stark. A reporter in the Times signified that the position there is so poisonous that his children have to be kept indoors until the spring when the pollution begins to abate. They have to be entered meanwhile for schools which have indoor air cleaning for which the fees are expensive.

Much of the problem in India apparently arises from the residue of crops in the field  being burnt after harvesting, though obnoxious fumes from motor traffic plays a huge role in the difficulties as well. 

Old fashioned factories producing huge amounts of fumes are another major part of the issue as I assume are coal fired power stations, which in the UK at least, are being phased out along with coal mining, very quickly.

Apparently the new but very temporary, law  in Delhi, outlawing motor traffic vehicles with odd registration numbers one day and then even numbered vehicles being outlawed the next, as the French did in Paris,  is not having a a noticeable effect and many are simply hiring second cars with different registration plates to overcome the driving bans.

The same issue in China a few years ago was dealt with more or less successfully though with some draconian measures, resulting in over 7,000 polluting factory closures being necessary before the improvements began to come through.

London by contrast comes through remarkably well though is still over-polluted. 

Nuclear electricity generation  was  thought of as overcoming some of these problems.  The French have invested heavily in nuclear power stations but the huge difficulties in building the current generation of nuclear power stations not to mention the costs, probably signify that that is no answer. Also there are problems I believe, with some of their existing nuclear power stations.

Fusion power may be the way forward in years to come.  

Meanwhile wind energy for the UK appears to be providing a partial answer.  Electric cars of course would assist as well but really only if they are powered by electricity produced with minimum pollution. Of course  decent electric cars would need to be capable of travelling relatively long distances before needing to be re-charged. Recharging  electric cars would then need to be speedy and hopefully, inexpensive.

A long way to go then in my view.

Saturday, November 02, 2019

Rugby World Cup

Maytrees min having asked me to watch the rugby world cup final on her wide screen TV from 9 am, at her flat, I decided to take the forty minutes or so walk to her home, which is near to the old Wimbledon Football Club ground. Mrs maytrees is not a rugby fan so did not attend with us.

The weather though was not ideal for an early morning stroll. There were huge gusts of wind and heavy rain for  while, making the use of an umbrella impossible. 

Youngest daughter's flat is beautifully clean neat and tidy and she provided a decent towel for me to sit on whilst the  rain  was dripping dry, during the early part of the match.

Our breakfast of decent coffee and croissants  was ideal. The match despite the score which was 12 - 32, was exciting and although South Africa won, not only were they the best team, their win surely  is good for the wider South African community?

Nelson Mandela I think it was, changed the sport from being an almost exclusively white man's sport for what used to be called the upper classes, to a sport for all white and black South Africans without regard to class. Furthermore the South African rugby team captain,  Siya  Kolisa, was for the first time in the sport's history in that country, a black South African.

The English team played well but in my view nowhere near as well as they had played in their semi final a week ago, against the then champions New Zealand, when England won  19 - 7, against the odds.

The Japanese appear to have been terrific hosts and despite the typhoon during the earlier part of the tournament. The popularity of the  sport in Japan has surely been invigorated by that country's work behind the scenes, as well as  the Japanese team in the rugby itself. 

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Tragedy in A Cold Store Container

The news that  39 people suffocated to death inside a sealed refrigerated container lorry is tragic indeed. 

The nationalities of some of the deceased now appear to be Vietnamese whereas the initial view appears to have been that they were all Chinese. 

One girl is reported to have telephoned her family to say farewell as she was dying through lack of air. That family seem to have paid some £30,000 to the thugs who organised their illegal immigration through  various Far Eastern and European countries to the UK.

The initial arrest by the police in the UK of a driver of the lorry is hopefully just the start of fulfilling the needs to bring justice to the families of the deceased and to reduce this kind of human exploitation by such thugs.

My expectation is that the initial arrest of the Northern Irish driver and shortly afterwards, of three more UK suspects, will be followed by more, as possibly, the man initially arrested only drove the container for the final half an hour or so of its journey. If so the occupants of the container were probably tragically dead by then already. 

Possibly the ringleaders will be based outside of the UK as the journey made by the container  seems to have included China and other countries in the Far East as well as European countries.

The report that a local Catholic parish priest  in Vietnam referred to over 100 people leaving his province in that way for new lives, is worrying indeed not least because that report illustrates how sophisticated the  thugs' organisation has become and how it treats human  beings as mere cattle or worse. 

How many other people have died or will die because of the thugs' activities?

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Brexit - Again

A purpose of having a referendum supported by all of the main political parties was clearly to ensure that the majority of the  the adult population agreed with the view of David Cameron the then prime minister, that the UK should remain in the EU. Another purpose of the EU referendum was an attempt to see off the UKIP party headed by Nigel Farage.

The referendum result to leave the EU  ( I voted "remain") surprised everyone and in my view, probably arose through the EU failing to offer David Cameron very much at all in his attempted negotiation to secure a lower membership burden for the UK.

In any event the result did effectively see off UKIP though Nigel Farage who is not my favourite politician, has returned to politics with his Brexit party.

Despite all major political parties supporting the referendum there is now refusal by many to accept the result.  Such is the Lib/Dems concept of democracy that they have swung from supporting the concept of a referendum, to seeking another referendum in the hope that it would give them the result they prefer to now stating that they would simply remain in the UK despite the people's majority vote against that in the referendum supported by the Lib/Dems.

As for Labour, their policy now is probably impossible for even the most die hard Labour supporters to fathom.

The Tories too are not much better with many  essentially former Tories voting against the result of the referendum that their party  publicly supported three years ago.

Boris Johnson has  a colourful personal life but his political life so far as Prime Minister is at least courageous, with his obeying the letter of the law with a letter to Brussels seeking to extend British membership of the EU by presumably another three months but then adding two more letters of his own, seeking confirmation of the 31st October 2019 deadline already agreed by the EU and the UK.

The Northern Irish DUP party makes its lack of empathy with the Dublin government clear by its refusal to cooperate in a solution that would not be bad for the UK or Ireland. 

There was sympathy for the DUP given Sinn Fein's continuing  refusal to be part of the NI government  which presumably  contravenes the spirit if not the letter of the Good Friday agreement. However that sympathy has gone as the DUP's failure to respond positively to the current position in the interests of all Irelanders puts them in the same league in my view, as Sinn Fein.

A Brexit without agreement with the EU, is what the those in the House of Commons may now be causing despite people's vote marchers and Scottish legal actions.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Postal Museum and Mail Train London WC1

Friends asked mrs maytrees and I to accompany them to the old postal museum and mail railway in central London earlier in the week so we went with them not really knowing what to expect.

The museum was surprisingly empty. Of course more people probably attend over the week end but many young children would learn a fair deal about postal history should they be taken there  during the week day term by their schools. Also the museum canteen was good enough for us at least to enjoy a light lunch whilst there though there seemed to be ample places for picnicking inside and out, which might have suited some children rather well. 

As for the learning:

The earliest letter boxes appear to have been constructed with Ireland in mind see below left.














Though in Guernsey they apparently looked as above right. The red pillar boxes currently used in the UK including the Channel Islands came into use sometime before 1879.

An exhibit depicting the great train mail robbery in 1963 is being prepared.

The picture below left  of mrs maytrees and friend waiting for the  old mail train at the nearby station,  illustrates how empty the museum and its mail train station were




The mail train tunnels were extensive although the journey we took was really only 15 minutes long. The tunnels took a direct hit during WWII though apparently that did not stop the mail being distributed from there for more than 24 hours. 



Possibly making all the early C20 tunnels safe enough for visitors to be taken through would be expensive, given C21 health and safety  concerns though we all enjoyed the experience.

After lunch at the museum and a look at its shop, we walked  the half an hour or so, through side streets and cycle paths to St Pancras Station, where after a four minute wait, the Thameslink Wimbledon train took  all us home, neatly avoiding the tube rush hour traffic.


               

Sunday, October 06, 2019

Mass Communications

The  greatest changes that have taken place in many respects over the past few years, are of course the internet, the mobile phone and the various private messaging services such as whatsapp that  proliferate with new services being announced almost daily. 

Whilst in practice as a solicitor in England I well recall the days when to look  up a relatively obscure legal point or decision one had to visit the Solicitors' Law Society Library. Securing the information could take about a week only to find that it might not be fully on the point thus necessitating a supplemental search. Today however the information and supplemental information can usually be traced in seconds through say Google.

The importance of the above to daily lives in C21 (they hardly existed in most of C20) is clear. However today looking at movies or TV programmes that concern the pre-internet/mobile era is often more enjoyable than those which rely on all of C21's modern gadgets for their plots.

The Chinese sadly now appear to restrict their population's access to many internet sites when  views or opinions or even news shown on the sites, are not to their government's taste;  the Iranians sometimes seem to imprison people for what seem to me to be similar reasons although as the Australian and Iranian  recent prisoner swap may signify, the motivation of the Iranians may be rather different from that of the Chinese.

The Chinese however have pushed forward very speedily with their development of 5G technology  through their Huawei brand, which the US government is banning and is keen for other countries to do likewise, on the grounds that it contains hidden spyware which would harm nations' defences. Whether the UK follows the US lead  as regards Huawei is unclear as yet, as are the questions of what spying there might be and what actual harm it might be capable of. 

I doubt that 5G which BT is apparently developing and introducing into the UK market will be of much personal interest however.

UK General Election December 12th 2019

The general election in this country is due to take place on December 12th 2019. Hopefully the outcome will be clearer for the UK than the S...