Thursday, 29 September 2011

Cambodian royalty and Surin

Terrific news that HRH Princess Norodom of Cambodia will be hosting a live interview with Surin restaurant before Xmas.

Princess Norodom hosts an English language radio show - the first in Cambodia - on improving the country and Khmer people.

She is very interested in the restaurant and Surin Charity and is planning to visit Britain next year.

Princess Norodom left during the Khmer civil war and live in the USA for many years but has returned and is keen to help develop the country.

An amazing lady as she was a Hollywood and TV star and is writing a book of her experiences.

I really need to have a Kent school involved in the charity for a Cambodian school - Ellington have done wonderful work in Thailand.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Concrete Kent and the vote

The new Planning changes really do seem an appalling free-for-all to pour concrete. A spectacular backwards-step in regulating development which Britain can rightly be proui do and all the more appalling in the Age of Climate Change.

Very interesting to see that women will have the right to vote in Saudi Arabia at long last - only Brunei in Asia now denies the vote - although they are are democratic in that none of the 300k population - neither men nor women - can vote(!)

And as so often Britain supports such dictatorships - as we did in Hong Kong with an unelected council for decades even before it reverted to China.

And Britain has long supported - often with arms sales - undemocratic regimes in Arabia - most voting rights have only been given in the last few years.

In Kent it's about time we reduced the voting age to 16 in an ever-older world the younger generations voice will be drowned out.

More positively, here's a really interesting charity run by a friend to help children in China with education and preventing slums as they move to the cities:

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Air pollution, Carter out and death penalty

Another of the bizarre egg on face but facesaving attempts by our councillors and civil servants around Manston.

Not just the silly debate on not allowing night flights even though that’s exactly what has been forbidden under the S106 airport operating rules.

Feeble whitewash to cover up the lack of enforcement. And hoping schtum payoffs for Samuel and White will cover over the traces.

And now an air quality debate and consultation – that doesn’t even manage to mention the words “airport” or “cancer” in the dozens of pages of bumf.

More public time wasted and not even a free gas mask.

It seems to be suggesting having air monitoring across the whole of Thanet - again presumably that’s supposed to happen anyway – but seems again to be referring to removing monitors from the actual hotspots of pollution.

Presumably so the figures could be averaged out over the whole of Thanet and hey presto no pollution at all.

Or just the usual pretence that the 3 towns are one Thanetville sprawl area rather than 3 separate towns.

Very concerning given St Lawrence High St under the airport flight path has over 4 times the EU safe levels of emissions.

And only silence and cover-up from our councilors, TDC and Environment Agency.

No P45’s as yet for the civil servants who are supposed to be in charge of monitoring and no recall on the lavish silence payoffs to Samuel and White.

As you’d expect I suppose for a bottom 10% council.

But the public will be paying the price.

Despite last year’s November night flight consultation and collapse, even in February Bayford and Sandys were recommending a Manston parkway to KCC.

And even in April Carter and Buchanan were off to Whitehall for £10M of public funds to prop up the airport.

An airport that even Infratil confirms is bust and night flights would be unlikely to turn that around.

And every day overflights illegally flying low over Ramsgate – rather than the specified rural end of the airport.

And no fines for noise or air pollution – the very things we’re now supposed to be consulted on.

And nothing on the cancer effect on you and your children and grandchildren.

The reality is our councilors are fools – simply bumbling along from one disaster to another wit their only legitimacy a spurious approval from their local Party.

Carter at KCC now faces calls to resign after Manston and Thor and cementing of Kent – Nick Chard will be a better Leader.

Bayford and Sandys are a mere irrelevance – it’s time to remove them; Cllr Jo Gideon seems more capable as a local Party Leader with John Worrow as Deputy and a remit to purge the party ranks and overhaul TDC.

And Jack Cohen makes a good leader of the Independent group.

Why is Ezekiel of the Gang of Four still clinging on? And why no moves to sack the bloated and incompetent ranks at TDC – after 5 months we seem to have not had a peep out of McGonigal other than signing off the tainted accounts.

Why do our councilors stand again and again - they’ve failed at every opportunity. Simply padding out the council ranks with double and triple hatters to silence meaningful debate and remaining silent on FOI costs of the civil service.

And why bother funding County councilors for £13k or so if their allowance to actually use is only £25k – a nett of £12k when KCC spends £2.3Bn is a ludicrous.

As with Chinagate and the Labour £25k bung simply selling off public land on the cheap to prop up political and civil service vanity projects seems the TDC way.

Even now poisoning their own citizens and covering it up.

Sandys – like Gale - is a mere Party hack parachuted into a seat for hand-raising in Parliament. 30 years of failure for Gale and now over 12 months of Sandys with nothing but empty statements and ribbon-cutting.

What are their policies?

Re-invoicing the costs of failure to Party Head Office and recall for incompetence would be a start, with a council tax strike and direct rule from Westminster.

If these fools are legitimised by Party Head Office then the party should fund their failure no doubt with more tarmac deals.

For too long effective governance has been confused with mere Party politicking.

Time for Change.


A quick note on the death penalty: Troy Davis in Georgia due to be executed, despite numerous witnesses recanting their testimony and someone else confessing to the crime.

It seems typical intransigence and incompetence from the judicial system to risk someone’s life over such shallow claims.

A link:

Also Margate man Joshua French still in Death Row in the Congo: forgotten by our councillors, MP’s and dozens of public sector lawyers and the Foreign Office:

And a link to moves to ban death penalty lethal injection drugs for export from the UK:

Outside of China, Iran and USA barely two dozen people are executed each year. And the death penalty is banned or nit used in most countries in the world now.

I’m told of an attempted armed robbery in the Co-op on Grange Rd on Monday – surely these kinds of incidents are reviewed by councilors and MP’s? Have a guess.
Animal exports from Ramsgate – and presumably Dover: here’s link to stop this disgusting trade:
As Mayor I will instruct Police and RSPCA inspections of the trucks, no shipments at night, and rest periods for any shipments believed to be more than 8 hours and confiscation of any sick animals.

How disgusting and pointless shipping animals around Britain and Europe for a few quid.

Time for Change

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Is Kent arming the world?

We need to ask questions about Kent’s role in the arms trade.

Coming hard on the heels of KCC’s tobacco involvement, news that it is reconsidering its funding of BAE armaments is timely this week.

The opening of the DSEi bi-annual arms fair at London’s Excel trade centre hosts not just BAE but 180 other arms companies. And at least 14 authoritarian regimes such as Iraq, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia in the hunt for, not just missiles and tanks, but UK crowd control equipment such as handcuffs, rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannon.

The kind of equipment now being used on the public in Syria and Bahrain and Yemen for the freedoms we enjoy. Invariably the fall of a dictator reveals the torture chambers stuffed full of UK equipment – even the Libyan arms dump at Al-Ajaylat this week reveals tons of napalm, cluster bombs and even mustard gas – as used by Saddam on Halabja in the Iran War.

Sarah Waldron of CAAT said: “ The UK Government continues to spend taxpayers' money promoting arms sales to repressive regimes. DSEi is more than just an embarrassment -it is an outrage.”

In Kent, public funds are used not just for investments in the dictator’s tool box, but with Infratil and the arms trade through Ostend. Both Manston and Ostend are notorious gun-running hubs into Africa and the Middle East - only recently supplanted by the ghost airstrips of TransDniestra, Moldova and Romania - for arms shipments to hotspots such as Liberia, Congo, Sudan and Somalia.

Kent’s flight-logs include aircraft banned from the whole of Europe, such as Silverback Freighters and UN-sanction busters for guns and blood diamonds such as DAS Air, MK airlines, Afghan’s KAM Air, Russian Ilyushin freighters and even this week , just days after the 9-11 anniversary, Iran Air.

Who needs nuclear ICBM’s when you can fly a banned 747 across Europe and land near Canary Wharf?

And even bushmeat and Nigerian cocaine have been impounded at Manston by Kent Police. Undoubtedly the conflict zones trade in rare earths for your TV, mobile or computer will prove as enticing for smugglers and difficult for brands. With issues over supply chains whether it’s the sweatshops of Primark and Nike or Foxconn or just an ever more demanding consumer, and immediacy of the Facebook Generation, the landscape has changed for corporations.

Hugo Williamson of R2G Risk Resolution Group said: “UK companies and their agents and distributors across Africa and Asia need to take sound advice on the implications of the new Bribery Act, trade and Corporate Manslaughter legislation.”

Perhaps there’s an opportunity for Kent Police to be even more progressive in securing weapons procurement with the MOD and Port x-ray equipment for the kinds of semtex formerly provided by Libya to the IRA that would spoil a day out at Bluewater or Canterbury cathedral, rather than the bomb hoaxes of recent weeks.

Kent’s toxic legacy with the conflict zones of Africa – such as Thor mercury in Margate and Cato Ridge pales into insignificance given the role Kent companies such as MAG can play in demining say Libya – not just the present conflict but as far back as WW2 – or the EU-HALO programmes in Cambodia and Sri Lanka.

While a recent conference on the Ivory Coast highlighted not just a lack of a UK ambassador, as the country emerges from civil war centred on the blood diamond fields, but over 70% of food imported as rice aid from USA. An opportunity there perhaps with Kent’s sister-state Virginia for greater use of twinning associations and school exchanges.

As with the failed coup in Honduras, the Arab Spring heralds an opportunity for greater democracy with a UN Parliament and the UN Millennium goals – still with no UK public sector sponsorship- and global legislation against coups and military dictatorships. Again all the more suitable given this week’s 50th anniversary of the UN’s Dag Hammerskold in securing peace in Africa.

Kent’s vibrant Third Sector of charities and shops – and the battered High St in general - or progressive ethical funds such as the Co-op provide a clearer focus for Kent investments rather than bombs.

The threat of cluster munitions in Libya - and banned this week even by Afghanistan - still pose a deadly harvest across Laos and Cambodia from the Vietnam War. A munition as repulsive as napalm – only designed to pop off a foot or hand and to soak up medical aid, and brightly coloured for children to play with.

Elizabeth Barrett of Oxfam said: “Supporting charities such as Oxfam and handicap International helps our work in overcoming the suffering caused by cluster munitions.”

With UK arms exports at £9Bn – nearly 20% more than Third World aid – arms companies are essentially State tax-funded organisations. While UKTI spends nearly all its time on the arms trade – for less than 2% of UK arms exports.

Perhaps it is time for Kent to lead the way in ethical policies – not just opening arms factories for scrutiny and barcoding, arms shipments only by the military and greater scrutiny of tax investments, but wider policies such as Total petrol, currently facing EU sanctions in Burma.

Or divesting KCC’s other oil investments given the Chinese oil and gas and rail works across Burma into Southern China with razed villages, forced labour, slavery and civil war essentially funded on the rates.

Let’s hope removing Kent’s tobacco, arms and oil investments marks a sea-change in a more progressive Brand Kent for the 21st century.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Pfizer and Viiv and housebuilding

I've had some details from the Dept of Business on the Enterpise Zone at Pfizer.

I'll post the details a little later as they are better than I thought not just minor tax breaks.

Viiv is being considered to expand Pfizer, Glaxo and Viiv jobs.

Surprise was expressed at why 500 new homes were annopunced for the site. It wasn't the Dept's understanding and any application would need to be considered by Pfizer and Dover Council and presumably central Government.

The Daily Telegraph have raised interesitng points on sustainable development - the most important being that the most sustainable development is not to build at all but there were other points:

* 750,000 empty houses in UK
* new planning legisaltion drafted by the construction industry
* enough "land bank" already for 300,000 new homes
* VAT tax break for new build but not refurb
* £3M donated by housebuilders to the Conservative Party

There is just no rationale for new- build. I think that wwe actually need not just to adjust the VAT discrepancy but include a "Climate Change Levy" to price land for its Climate Change value not just housebuilding or food.

In Kent land values and building as we've seen are driven only by the KCC Cabinet of Murphy, Jacobs, Costain, Balfour, Beatty and the like, and civil service glory projects.

Add in monopoly supermarkets like Tesco and the imperative is always to pour tarmac.

And nibbling at greenbelt or not cleaning brownfield sites ius just a way to make it more profitable.

The Pfizer Enterprise Zone is better than I thought and I'll add the details once I've gone through them but 500 homes is a nonsense.

And Manston on the water supply, the MOD Fire base and Thor is an Environment Agency and KCC crime.

Friday, 9 September 2011

9-11 Ten: Manston a Kent failure

This Sunday marks 10 years after 9-11 but have we learnt nothing? Manston airport remains perhaps Europe’s most dangerous airport.

Noise and air monitors removed by Infratil and TDC. Banned EU airplanes regularly flying in and out transgressing all the safety zones.

Gunrunning and blood diamond flights from the Congo, Sudan and Sierra Leone spiced with cocaine from Nigeria.

And even banned Islamic airlines such as Afghanistan’s KAL Air or EqyptAir setting off from Cairo to land at Manston at 3am – when the airport is closed.

And the CAA and Kent Police wring their hands while KCC fund Infratil with tax-funds and the Environment Agency looks the other way on pollution. For months and years.

And all barely 10 minutes fly-time from Canary Wharf and requiring little more than half a dozen Lear jets for a spectacular opening ceremony for the 2012 Olympics.

Yet the world has changed since 2001. Over 35,000 terrorists arrested worldwide - largely in Turkey, Iraq and Afghanistan. While the threat of a global Jihad and Caliphate has collapsed.

The Arab Spring has shown that Arabia wants to be more like the West in terms of democracy and free and prosperous societies. And are certainly keen to remove repulsive dictators such as Gadaffi and Mubarak – assisted by Britain for torture, rendition and arms sales.

While even the Iranian Ayatollahs and repressive regimes of Syrian and Yemen can no longer count on State control even through the barrel of a gun.

And the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have highlighted how to win the war but lose the peace and carry on wading knee-deep in blood – surely time for DFID to instigate a Ministry of Reconstruction to swing into action after the first 6 months of any conflict or R2P action?

How can it possibly be justified to fire million pound cruise missiles into breezeblock shacks – a million pounds would buy an awful lot of hospitals and vaccines or work by Kent’s MAG or Smile Train. Or for the EU to export arms sales to conflict regions.

But the ramifications of the 9-11 decade persist even in Kent: safety barriers at Canterbury Cathedral, extra Police patrols at Dover, German Islamic terror suspects arrested and extra X-ray style equipment for nuclear and chemical devices.

While, the Calais Jungle and human trafficking through Dover resounds with the voices of desperate refugees from failed nations such as Somali, Afghanistan, Congo and Liberia. The 21st century challenges are not Islamic terrorism but dictatorships and failed nations.

The Arab Spring should be heeded also in Kent for its role in bringing youth out onto the streets in search of meaning and work - when Kent faces its highest-ever NEET and graduate unemployment. And a shocking 10 out of 12 Kent Districts failing to meet the government’s own economic and social targets. And diversity challenges only just touched on by Kent Police and NHS.

While Kent’s ever-expanding tax-take and growing public sector on a smaller wealth-generating sector is a recipe for disaster. Failing to extend the electoral franchise to 16 year olds in ever-higher life-spans only encourages at worst a tyranny of pensioners. All laced with the failure of Party politics representing only 1% of the populace and only 30% electoral turnouts. A perfect picture for a turnip Taliban if you will.

A reform of twinning associations from suburban cocktail parties in Lille to their original purpose of encouraging peace in war-torn Europe would work equally well with the Congo and Somalia or Cold War fragments of TransDniestra, Belarus or Kurdish diasporas.

Rather the 10 years since 9-11 has shown a sudden upsurge in democracy: ailing dictator such as Castro and Mugabe will soon be gone, the Burmese generals have begun to don suits rather than uniforms and North Korea is increasingly alone as China begins to democratise.

Aside from the sabre-rattling of the Korean peninsula the last Cold War fragments are the divides of Cyprus and Guantanamo lease and stale one-party crony-communism of Laos and Vietnam.

And democracy faces its last challenge only in Saudi Arabia and the tiny Asian state of Brunei where the vote for women is still banned.

Islamic fundamentalism is still important: the Thai-Malaya border, the islands of the Philippines and Indonesia and caves of Pakistan but now increasingly driven by State failure and crushing poverty.

Incredibly with only 3 years to go, none of the UN Millennium Goals are enshrined in Kent’s public sector – or anywhere in the UK.

And cancer and leukaemia from asbestos in Kent, Thor mercury hushed up by the Environment Agency akin to the same eco-scandal in Cato Ridge or dodgy tax haven construction projects such as Pleasurama and the Cayman Islands, seem more akin to the Third World than South East England.

If Islamic extremism has flickered brightly, the next 10 years without ethical policies are likely to see the same problems of dictatorship and poverty continuing the problem. And only ever highlighted when pilots learn to takeoff but not land. Because the bomber always gets through.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

KCC tobacco, IMF and seabass

An article published in the Independent yesterday on KCC and Big Tobacco - you need to scroll down the letters:

Also a letter published a monht or so ago in the Independent on reforming the IMF:

And an article on Surin restaurant and Laos cuisine and recipes (try the sea bass!