Friday, March 31, 2006

Two War Criminals At Large, Sighted in North-West England

Two wanted war criminals, Condoleeza 'we don't do torture' Rice and Jack 'I'm clutching at..' Straw were seen at large in Liverpool and Blackburn last night and today. The pictures here, give proof to this statement, though local residents were astounded by the behaviour of the police who refused to arrest them.

One resident was overheard to say, "The police just did nothing. They just stood around while these terrorists, responsible for thousands of deaths, accosted school children in a local school, attempting to poison their minds with their own particular brand of hatred and bigotry. The police actually looked as if they were protecting them as if they were people of importance and note. I'd write to my MP, except he's New Labour as well!"

Condoleeza 'yes you can go wee-wee' Rice did say that in a democratic country, there should be the right to protest, "I get it in every town I go in America."

Pity she doesn't get the message.

A Few Media Links To This Story
USA Today
China View
The Times
The Guardian
Manchester Evening News
And finally, a really acerbic piece in The Australian

Thursday, March 30, 2006

War Criminals Not Welcome Here

This week sees a visit from US Secretary of State (and Bush's toilet nanny). She is visiting the Blackburn constituency of Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, and will be visiting 2008 City of Culture, Liverpool, over the weekend. This is nothing more than a personal photo opportunity for her, and given the GOP's record in using photos (see Moxiegrrrl's post here), it will be interesting to see how and where they are used.

As one of the top US war criminals, we do not want her here.

She is not welcome. But, unsurprisingly in Blair's Britain, civil liberties are being brushed aside as legal protest will not be allowed within her hearing. We wouldn't want to upset the sensitivities of such a warm, sensitive and compassionate person, would we? She may even want to go shopping for shoes on Bold Street! No, just clear all protest away.

This woman is a major player in the illegality of the Iraq war, Guantanamo Bay and a supporter of rendition, - the secret transporting of uncharged, innocent people to be tortured in other countries. Perhaps, for once, the police could actually arrest the right person, - but I'm not holding my breath.

Clearly, this woman has no shame and very little sense of morality. We should send here back to the cess pit that is GOP Washington as soon as possible.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Brian Haw - Blair's Favourite Protester.

On the 2nd June 2001, Brian Haw took up residence on Parliament Square outside the Houses of Parliament, to protest about UK and US policy towards Iraq.

During this period of occupation, Brian has seen off many attempts to have him leave and give up. The most embarrassing attempt being when Government ministers tagged onto the Organised Crime and Police Bill, a clause that would make it unlawful to protest within a 1 kilometer radius of the Houses of Parliament (this means that Whitehall and Downing Street would be protected from hearing those who disagree). This clause was specifically drawn up with the intention of removing Brian from his, as far as the Government were concerned, embarrassing and very public pitch.

Unfortunately, the Government proved incompetent in drafting this clause, and Brian won on appeal last June. So there he can stay, but no-one else is allowed to protest with him.

Yesterday, a supporter, Barbara Tucker, joined him and raised a banner and she was arrested to illegal protest within the 1 Km perimeter. Of course Brian was also arrested, even though he is there totally legally. They were both held for a couple of hours and then released pending a decision by the Crown Prosecution Service.

Iraq Protest
Last October, when I was in London, I saw Brian at his protest. Above is the picture I took at the time. As can be seen, his protest is quite visible, but doesn't stop people walking the pavement, or their enjoyment of the area. No, the only people it upsets are those who know they lied to get us into a war with the US on the off-chance a few crumbs from Haliburton's table would fall in our direction. In the meantime, British and American children are killed, along with tens of thousands of local Iraqis in the bloody civil war that is now in progress.

Other visitors have included Cindy Sheehan who came across last December and joined him on his vigil.

I am proud that this country can still produce world class protesters such as Brian. He doesn't make a great deal of noise, but his presence has become the conscience of all politicians entering the Houses of Parliament. The fact that the Government of the day was so scared of this one man that they had to draft a law to get rid of him (and couldn't even succeed at that) is demonstration enough of his power.

The fact that we no longer have the freedom to protest our freedoms outside the place that should be defending our freedoms is an absolute and disgusting disgrace.

You can read more of Brian's protest on his website.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Now Photographers Are A Threat

I confess. I enjoy taking pictures. I'll snap a few shots when I get the chance, or something catches my eye. I also like to share my photographs, and people are welcome to view my public pictures on Flickr. I've even got a badge you can click to take you to my page on Flickr somewhere down there on the left.

However, I feel I am responsible and sensible when it comes to taking pictures, so it comes as a shock to read about a photographer doing exactly what I would be doing, - except, he was arrested!

After reading the story, I honestly had as much sympathy for the police as I had for the photographer. It does seem that the administration in America has ratched up the hysteria to such a point that a photographer taking a picture of a public building from a public place was arrested and held for over 2 hours, because the police on duty thought he was a threat.

Could this happen here? Would I be arrested if I took pictures of the Old Bailey, or the Houses of Parliament? When are our governments going to release us from this atmosphere of fear and hysteria? For goodness sake, lets reclaim our lives from fear before it's too late.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Do I Hate Cats?

Someone, whose identity I won't reveal has unjustly and publicly accused of hating cats. Now, I resent that, and would like to take this opportunity to put the record straight.

Cats. They make me sneeze, wheeze, snort, cough, choke. My eyes run, my nose runs, and I want leave rooms when a cat is present. I don't hate cats, - I abhor cats. I detest cats.. They're extremely unfriendly, conceited, self-centred and all around boorish individuals.

And those meows! How the good Lord in His wisdom could let a sound like that on this green earth mystifies me.

Consider also, the sound from their nocturnal amorous forays? Well, as they say, it's enough to raise the dead. Or the living for that matter. I distinctly recall waking in a cold sweat on many nights, a condition undoubtedly induced by those eerie, preternatural wails that emit from feline throats.

But enough.

Let's get down to specifics; let's try for some objectivity here. Lets examine the 'domesticated' cat in his habitat.

The first thing is that cats don't seem to feel they belong to anyone. They're kicked out of the house and their first action is to come straight round to your garden for their toilet. They leave poo in the petunias and wee on the wisteria. Priceless seedlings scratched up and left for dead looking like a horticultural vision of the Somme. I won't mention the stress experienced amongst the local bird population, - some of whom have probably had to seek psychiatric help.

Needless to say, any sane, right thinking person would find this extremely distressing and distasteful.

Now let's move into the living room of a cat lover's house, where it seems the cat gains no greater pleasure than popping onto your lap just as your settling down with the Sunday paper and a cup of real coffee. The paper gets trampled, and, of course, if you're drinking said coffee, the entire scalding mug goes everywhere, except inside you. Moreover, when you get up and escape the torture go back to your own house, half the cat comes with you in the form of hair attached to just about every item of clothing, prolonging your period of complete and utter distress.

Push a cat away and it comes back for more. Get rough with it, and out come those claws to rake your arm, draw blood and raise welts on the skin that can take hours- even days - to disappear. God forbid if you take a swipe at that lowly cousin to the King of Beasts. That's when every cat lover in the room comes out of the woodwork , calls the RSPCA and turns you in for animal abuse. When it was all a case of self-defense in the the first place!

Finally, my children adore them, and chastise me every time I exercise my freedom to criticise the flea-ridden beasts.

But it's not just cats, - any beast the licks its own backside or enjoys swallowing its own fur only to later sick it back up is not welcome in my house

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Knives Are Out

It is reported that senior ministers, headed by Charles Clarke; the Home Secretary, are now openly criticising Jack Dromey, Labour party treasurer who instigated an investigation into the 'loans' issue now embroiling the Labour Party.

£14million were raised for election funds by the use of loans which, unlike donations, do not need to be declared as long as the loans are offered at commercial rates. Recently, however, this has come back to bite the party on the bum, when some of these lenders were turned down for honours, while others were getting increased contracts for Government work. All the hallmarks of sleaze that mired the last Conservative government. New Labour promoted themselves as being different, purer, more honest and yet here we are, back to the future!

Mr Dromey only launched the enquiry when he heard about the loans through the media. He says he has no knowledge of them, or how they were processed through the accounts.

How does a treasurer NOT know about such things as loans?

Anyway, party luminaries are not happy with this course of action, and his abilities are now being questioned by senior ministers. A rift is opening up between the Labour party and the Labour government, and this could all become a bit dirty. It is a real disappointment to me that a left wing party and government could allow itself to be bogged down in a scandal one would more likely to associate with the right.

The fundamental question remains. Who do our politicians work for, the voter or those with money and influence?

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Best Blonde Joke In The World - Probably

I've come across some hilarious blonde jokes in my time, but this one really cracked me up. You'll love it.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Six Nations - Final Weekend

Well it's over! The Six Nations Championship is finished for 2006 and we have a champion (France), Triple Crown winner (Ireland) and a Wooden Spoon holder (Italy). However, if you are a Wales or England supporter, there is very little to be happy about, - this season's championship was one that had to be endured rather than enjoyed! Apart from, obviously, France and Ireland, both Scotland and Italy have much to be pleased, - if not proud about.

Italy 10 - 13 Scotland

This was a scrappy match in which defenses held the outcome to the match. It was Italy that opened the scoring with a
Mirco Bergamasco try, converted by Ramiro Pez giving them a 7 point lead, but Scotland came back with a try from Chris Patterson, who converted his own try and Ross added a drop-goal to give the Scots a 10 - 7 lead at half-time. Early in the second half, the Italians came back at Scotland and eventually won a penalty to level the score at 10 - 10. That was how the gamed stayed until almost the last gasp when a penalty by Patterson sealed the win. Both sides have much to look back on with pride from this championship; Scotland's wins against France and England in particular must give pleasure, while Italy's draw at Cardiff, - their first ever away point, - and the fact that they were never totally out-played must give them heart.

Wales 16 - 21 France

This match was another won in the last few minutes of the game, when French flair finally put to rest Welsh endeavour and hard work. The first half quite definitely belonged to Wales who scored a try, one conversion and a brace of penalties, to which France could only reply with a couple of penalties of their own. However, the second half was a much more even affair, with the balance of luck falling to France who scored 2 trys and conversions and another penalty to sink Welsh hearts. For France, this championship has been one of progression. From a poor start against Scotland to their almost imperial win over England last week, they look every inch the World Cupp contenders many pundits see them. Wales, on the other hand, are rapidly going in the other direction. From Grand Slam winners last season to a shadow of themselves this season. The problems, as always with Wales, is as much off the pitch as on it. Losing a coach half-way through a major tournament speaks volumes.

England 24 - 28 Ireland

This is not an England season I wish to remember for long. In many ways, this was an absorbing match, but throughout the game, it was Ireland that seemed to be the more disciplined and controlled, with many ideas and tactics to fall back on. England, on the other hand, seemed a very disjointed and rudderless outfit. At times, the England phase play was back to something like the old days, but they couldn't convert that possession to scores. By half-time, Ireland had a 11 - 8 lead, and even after the break, couldn't really breakaway. At times, England's defense was immense, - it had to be. Borthwick managed to score his first ever England try, but that didn't seem to spur the English on. Andy Goode, on for the injured Charlie Hodgson, missed too many kicks which could have made a difference. In the end, a late try to Ireland gave them a well deserved Triple Crown. Like France, Ireland have shown signs of growth and development during this Championship, while England seem to have totally lost their way. There are only 18 months to the World Cup in 2007, not long for them to get their act back together.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Sleaze - Nothing Changes!

Over the past week the Labour party has been mired in a 'loans for honours' scandal that matches anything that happened under the previous Tory administrations. It would seem that Labour were 'loaned' about £14million prior to the last election as part of its campaign fund. Most, if not all, these 'loans' were done privately, - in some cases, even the party treasurer didn't know about them!

The suspicion is that these benefactors, especially those who loaned in a personal capacity, would be officially honoured in some way as an inducement to give.

A lot of this has had to come out because Dr Chai Patel, head of the Priory Rehab Clinic, had been refused a peerage by the nominations committee. Dr Patel had been one of 3 millionaires who gave large sums to the party prior to the election.

This, I believe, is getting out of hand. Money, and the raising of funds, is now becoming a major issue and influence within the political world and it needs to stop. Even though I resent, like all sensible tax-payers, any increase on the tax bill, I think that political parties should receive funding for elections from the public purse, based on verified membership rolls. Any other fund-raising would be to support infrastructure, and would have to be independently audited.

And, of course, get rid of this antiquated and irrelevant method of public honour we presently have in this country.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Let's Just Ignore The Children.

Sponger! Scrounger! Freeloader! Grasper! Vile! Evil! Thoughtless! Selfish!

These are all terms used by our glorious tabloid press to describe Mick Phillpot who is a married man and father to 14 (with another on the way) children born to his wife and a number of mistresses. He had requested a four bedroomed house from his local authority, and when he was denied, he went public about the situation.

Of course, the tabloids went OTT with this, informing the world that he received £25,000 pa in benefits, along with housing support and other benefits to support his growing family. All designed to make the reader angry, hateful and resentful.

Let me say from the off, that I do not support what this man has done and the choices he has made. He seems to be very lacking in a sense of responsibility and control, but the fact remains, he is the father of 14 children, - and it is those children we should be concerned about, - not him.

But if you were one of his children, how would it make you feel to read about your father in such inflammetary terms in the national press. To know that your school friends and colleagues probably know how the rest of the world should feel about your situation. What damage is going to ensue; and if the family remain in cramped conditions, what is that going to do to the social cohesion of the family and the wider community.

The situation is not one of the children's making.

I believe that before any of these self-serving and sensationalist 'journalists' ever put pen to paper (or is that finger to keyboard), they should have looked at this story from the children's point of view. This would probably have been less sensational, but might have induced a more responsible responce with the public. One only has to read the email responses to the story in The Sun, to see the sort of reaction they had generated. As far as one can see, no one has had a thought about the children!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Edging Towards Dictatorship

Judge Sandra Day O'Connor, a Republican-appointed judge who retired last month after 24 years on the US Supreme Court, has said the US is in danger of edging towards dictatorship if the party's rightwingers continue to attack the judiciary. At Georgetown University, Ms O'Connor criticised Republican leaders whose repeated attacks on the courts for alleged liberal bias could, she said, be contributing to a climate of violence against judges.

She also pointed to dictatorships in the developing world and former Communist countries as a warning on where interference with the judiciary might lead. "It takes a lot of degeneration before a country falls into dictatorship, but we should avoid these ends by avoiding these beginnings."

Ms O'Connor particularly singled out a warning to the judiciary issued last year by Tom DeLay, the former Republican leader in the House of Representatives (and a thoroughly up-standing citizen), over a court ruling in a controversial "right to die" case. After the decision ordered a brain-dead woman in Florida, Terri Schiavo, removed from life support, Mr DeLay said: "The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behaviour."

Mr DeLay later called for the impeachment of judges involved in the Schiavo case, and called for more scrutiny of "an arrogant, out-of-control, unaccountable judiciary that thumbed their nose at Congress and the President". (Of course, these judges are also charged with sending convicted criminals to jail, - something of great interest to De Lay).

"Such threats," Ms O'Connor said, "pose a direct threat to our constitutional freedom", and she told the lawyers in her audience: "I want you to tune your ears to these attacks ... You have an obligation to speak up. Statutes and constitutions do not protect judicial independence - people do," she said.

She also noted that death threats against judges were on the rise and added that the situation was not helped by senior senator, and fellow Texan friend of Bush, John Cornyn's suggestion, that there might be a connection between the violence against judges and the decisions they make. This senator made his remarks shortly after a judge was shot dead in an Atlanta courtroom and the family of a federal judge was murdered in Illinois giving very real impression of threat unless judges do as he believes they should.

Senator Cornyn said: "I don't know if there is a cause and effect connection (there isn't), but we have seen some recent episodes of courthouse violence in this country ... And I wonder whether there may be some connection between the perception in some quarters, on some occasions, where judges are making political decisions yet are unaccountable to the public, that it builds up and builds up to the point where some people engage in violence."

Although appointed by a Republican, Ms O'Connor voted with the supreme court's liberals on some divisive issues, including abortion, making her a frequent target for criticism from the right. After announcing that she intended to retire last year at the age of 75, she was replaced in February this year by Samuel Alito, who is generally regarded as being more consistently conservative.

In her speech, Ms O'Connor said that if the courts did not occasionally make politicians mad they would not be doing their jobs, and their effectiveness "is premised on the notion that we won't be subject to retaliation for our judicial acts". Her comments need to be heard by a much wider audience than a room full of lawyers.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Six Nations - Fourth Weekend

As an England supporter, writing these reviews are becoming an act of penance. What a weekend; Italy hold Wales to a draw - in Cardiff, Ireland play to something like their true potential, and Scotland demonstrate an inability to travel and England capitulate to France. This last match was a match to be endured!

Wales 18 - 18 Italy

This match, probably more than any other match, demonstrated that Italy have a right to play on the world stage of rugby. They came to the millennium stadium and refused to be cowed by the venue, crowd or team. This was a scrappy game which suited the visitors far more than Wales. Wales got off to a bright start, but Italy refused to lie down, and piled on the pressure themselves. Wales scored first with a Mark Jones try, but Italy fought back causing Welsh mistakes and eventually Galon 'scored' for the Italians. This was a controversial try, as it looked as if he grounded over the dead-ball line. I suspect that Galon lost his bearings and thought it was the try line instead. Anyway, the TV playback was inconclusive, so the try was given. Wales managed a further try through Steven Jones, but an intercepted pass by Canavosio restored the balance. The second half, both sides played themselves to a standstill, with a penalty each to bring the score to 18 all. Wales should have won this match, and Italy, if fitter, could have won this match. This was the most entertaining match of the weekend.

Ireland 15 - 9 Scotland

Ireland have now played themselves into a potential Triple Crown and Six Nations championship position. This was a game where defense dominated, and the only scores came from penalties. Scotland's defense was particularly good holding back the onslaught of the Irish backs. Along with Italy, Scotland have proved to be a revelation this season, playing with passion and commitment. The match was played in quite difficult conditions with the stadium being hit by a cold drenching rain. However, a last win for Ireland at their spiritual home before it is demolished for a new 21st century stadium. Ireland must be feeling confident for their match next weekend with England, however, it is to be played at Twickenham, which could make quite a difference.

France 31 - 6 England

It has been a long time since I've seen a worse performance from England. They never really got going, and in part, looked as if they really didn't want to be there. France were 7 points up in the first 2 minutes with a try coming from an untypical mistake in the backs in not securing a 'Gary Owen' kick. Further penalties for France followed allowing the scoreboard to trickle away from England. The main concern were the number of elementary errors being made by England, from not finding touch to kicking direct to touch. They had a tendency to over-complicate when, they weren't even doing the basics right. By half-time, France were ahead 16 - 3, and the second half failed to bring relief. France didn't play particularly well or fluidly, but they didn't need to, - England gifted the match to them.

Next weekend is the final weekend of the championship. Mathematically, if France lose in Wales, England can still win the Six Nations title by thrashing Ireland next Saturday, but that is unlikely on this evidence. The Championship is still wide open, with really only Wales and Italy ruled out of the running. Part of me can't wait for next weekend, but part of me is feeling very nervous.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

God Is Not Very Happy

An article in today's Guardian reports sources close the the archangel Gabriel's office, saying that God is getting very frustrated and angry at Bush and Blair's efforts to implicate Him in the war in Iraq.

The entire report can be found here, and is worth a careful read. My sympathy is with God on this one.

I also came across this bit of sabre rattling on MoxieGrrrl's site. Prepare for another war, chaps.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Shoot to Kill - Update

In a previous post I talked about the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell Tube Station last August, and in particular how this restrained man had to be shot 7 times in the head, because police believed that he was a suicide bomber. It now seems that the 'shoot-to-kill' policy put in place after last July's terrorist bombings was flawed.

The policy did not take account of suspected people acting innocently!

Chief Constable Barbara Wilding, now Chief Constable for South Wales, had been charged with organising the police response as a result of the London bombings. She told BBC's Panorama program that the policy, - called Operation Kratos, - was designed to respond to 2 restricted scenarios:
  • A spontaneous event in which a potential suicide bomber was identified, for instance by a member of the public, and there was no prior intelligence.
  • Potential attacks on specific targets where there was detailed intelligence and police had time to put tactics in place.

Mr Menezes was killed because he lived in a block of flats under police surveillance, and they believed he was a bomber on the way to carry out an attack.

Chief Constable Wilding told Panorama: "The planning that we did, did we look at a mobile intelligence gathering operation going live? The answer is no we didn't."

The Met's Assistant Chief Commissioner Steve House said Operation Kratos would be kept in place and constantly refined.

"We will seek any improvements that we can, both in the equipment and in the tactics, to make sure that it is the most effective deterrent that we have to suspected suicide terrorists coming to London again," he said.

The program also uncovered the fact that police radios didn't work deep inside the station, so effective communication with support officers was not available; and that British police are not required to confirm the existence of a "suicide jacket" before they open fire.

This latter contrasts with the Israeli rules of engagement, where officers need to be sure that the person was carrying a suicide belt or bomb before taking action.

Jean Charles de Menezes was in the wrong place, but if only the policy had been more carefully thought out, and the police responded with caution and intelligence, then he would still be alive today. I have yet to see an explanation for why he had to be shot 7 times!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

God Deserves Better

First Bush, now Blair.

In an interview to be screened today, Tony Blair says that "If you believe in God (the judgment) is made by God."

Mr Blair told chat show host, Michael Parkinson, how he had struggled with his conscience when making decisions about a potential war in Iraq.

"When you're faced with a decision like that, some of those decisions have been very, very difficult, most of all because you know... these are people's lives and, in some case, their deaths," he said. "The only way you can take a decision like that is to try to do the right thing according to your conscience." He went on: "I think if you have faith about these things, then you realise that that judgement is made by other people... and if you believe in God, it's made by God as well."

When asked if he had prayed to God on the matter, he replied: "I don't want to get into that...but yeah, of course, you struggle with your own conscience about it... in the end, you do what you think is the right thing."

Reg Keys, whose son was killed in Iraq, said Mr Blair was "using God as a get-out for total strategic failure" and his comments were "abhorrent".

Mr Keys, who stood in the 2005 General Election as an anti-war candidate in Mr Blair's constituency of Sedgefield, said religion had nothing to do with the Iraq war. "And the people who will be his judge is not God, it will be the families of the bereaved British soldiers and it will be the families of the bereaved innocent Iraqis who have all been slaughtered in this totally unnecessary conflict."

Mr Keys' son, Lance Corporal Tom Keys, was one of six Red Caps killed by an Iraqi mob in Majar Al-Kabir in June 2003. He is also the founder of campaign group Military Families Against The War, and said going to war had been a "catastrophic political blunder".

He accused Mr Blair of "jumping on the same bandwagon" as US President George W Bush, who has claimed that he decided to invade Iraq because he was on a "mission from God".

"Are we really seeing over 100 coffins coming back (to the UK) because God told him (Mr Blair) to go to war?"

Rose Gentle, whose son Gordon was killed in Basra in 2004, said: "A good Christian wouldn't be for this war. I'm actually quite disgusted by the comments. It's a joke."

I assume that God insistend that they both lie to ensure that destabilisation of the middle-east could go ahead according to God's design. The sooner the world is rid of these two dangerous, and now clearly unstable leaders, the better.

But with all this 'evidence' building up, then clearly the desicion to go to war was God's not Bush and Blair. So stop blaming them and blame God.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Some More Good News!

Yesterday, 20% was wiped off the share price of one of Britain's largest fizzy drinks makers. Britvic, which makes Pepsi and Tango, saw its value plunge by £95 million. It blamed health-conscious customers turning their backs on high-sugar, high-fat soft drinks, - a trend which is hitting other junk food companies hard as I posted the other day.

Lucy Harris, from nutrition campaign FoodAware, said: "It's good news if people aren't buying so many of these fizzy drinks any more, but I'd be even happier if they were buying fresh fruit juice or drinking more water instead."

Shares in Coca-Cola, Britain's largest soft drinks maker, have halved in the past seven years.

Could it be that there is a quiet revolution going on in Britain, where people are starting to make a choice against these massive corporations and their products. If the trend continues, maybe we will see the return of old style drinks such as sasparella, Dandelion and Burdock and some of the more locally made drinks I had as a child. I don't want to sound anti-American, because I'm not, but you can have too much of a 'good thing', and that is, perhaps, another reason why we Brits are slowly fighting back.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Some Good News, - I hope

McDonald's is to close 25 of its British branches (I won't say restaurant) at a cost of £23million. The fast-food giant announced the move amid signs that customers are coming to their senses and are being put off by health concerns and its dated outlets.

McDonald's will not say when or where the closures will take place, but Britain is widely seen as one of the worst-performing countries in the fast food empire, and the latest sales figures show it is pulling down its European operation.

Richard Watts, from the healthy food campaign group Sustain, said "it is all evidence of changing consumer behaviour because they don't want to eat junk food anymore. We are delighted the public are seeing through the millions spent on marketing and advertising and they are looking for much better quality food options."

However, for me, it has other implications in that it is the first sign of corporate America on the retreat from the British high street. Over my life, I have seen the character of the high street change, and on the whole, seen good British businesses shoved out by corporations for whom money is no object, - and I resent that. There used to be English coffee and tea houses, and locally run and owned cafes, but no more. Now it is McDonald's, Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Subway and Starbucks among many others, and I would dearly love to see a lot less of them, and the re-introduction of British owned shops and services. I'm not for getting rid of them entirely, but a bit of sensitive self-control would mean that these companys could happily co-exist along side more traditional high street fare.

Unfortunately, the mighty dollar is king!