How about a week without American culture?

We are the 51st state only politicians & BBC on this side of the water still think Parliament is the centre of the world.

Desiring Progress

The worst fears of many about a Trump presidency are coming to fruition, especially with the implementation of the federal orders banning entry to anyone from born in one of seven Muslim countries (though not the worst, like Saudi Arabia or some of the Gulf states, with strong business links), or who holds dual nationality. Not to mention the ongoing plans for the Mexican Wall. And Britain’s excuse for a Prime Minister has offered Trump a full state visit, before tootling off to sign a lucrative arms deal with another dictator, President Erdoğan of Turkey. And I think to myself, what a wonderful world…..

But getting angry may not achieve anything, least of all convince the millions of Americans who strongly support Trump’s actions, and previously have shown ferocious support for capital punishment, horrendous rates of incarceration of those convicted of petty offences, an insane gun culture which causes annually over…

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Exclusive: Southern Railway contract to be investigated by National Audit Office

How infuriating it must be, then, for free-market ideologues that east coast depended on less public subsidies than any of the 15 privately run rail franchises. Indeed, the franchise has proved a lucrative cash cow for the state, bringing in around £1bn to the exchequer since 2009. East coast is an embarrassing success story for public ownership. Instead, it must be run by a tax exile and a Scottish businessman perhaps best known for campaigning against gay equality. source Owen Jones Guardian 2014. Now we have another train operator hitting the buffers, and yet again the ideologues of the right have seen that the Free Market solution to the UK’s infrastructure problems has failed. Many years ago I did a talk on Enoch Powell and his ideas on the free market. In summing up I remember saying “Powell’s arguments are based on a false premises. The markets in which he bases his theories never did or will ever exist. Almost every nationalisation has ended up as cartels which fix prices and which the shareholder rather than the consumer is king.

David Hencke

southern-railway-train-pic-credit-bbc A Southern Railway train: often overcrowded even if it runs. Pic Credit:BBC

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The badly managed and strike prone Southern Railway contract is to be investigated by Parliament’s financial watchdog, the National Audit Office.

After months if not a years of misery for commuters caused by failing services and strike action over safety  the NAO has quietly decided to investigate the Department of Transport’s  handling of the contract alongside another investigation into the modernisation of Thameslink services. Both are major commuter services  into the capital and both are owner by Govia, the country’s biggest privatised train operator.

The decision by the NAO has been quietly slipped out on its website as an update to the Thameslink investigation without an official announcement. Such a move is bound to cause some consternation for transport secretary, Chris Grayling, and his officials.

Publication of the report due this summer will trigger…

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How Romania’s inhumane prison system led to the tragic death of a campaigning newspaper owner

This article proves that Eastern Europe as some way to go before they can beclassifiedas democracies that uphold the rule of law.

David Hencke

foto-dan-adamescu-bw-1 Dan Adamescu who dies this week after falling seriously ill in an inhumane Romanian prison system.

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Earlier this month this blog covered the plight of Alexander Adamescu, the joint owner of Romania’s oldest newspaper, who is facing extradition from the UK on what are seen as trumped up charges of bribery using the European Arrest Warrant.

His father, Dan, who was the co-owner of Romania Libera, Romania’s oldest newspaper was in prison serving a four year sentence on similar charges and his family were planning to fight the state over the way they are trying to close down his companies.

Now tragically his father has died – after a short period in hospital – one of a large number of people who die every year because of the notorious nature of the Romanian prison regime.

His son Alexander states :“On January 24, right after midnight, Dan…

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The Christian Brothers should be banned and their property impounded.

Is it not time the people running this Church be held to account, do not tell me they did not know. Similar to the Anglican Church the Roman Catholic Church knew about it and did nothing. Only when those who turned a blind eye and where in a position to do something face the Courts this abuse will continue.

Malachi O'Doherty

No one took responsibility for the rape and brutalisation of children by religious orders when it was happening but there are more ways to respond now than simply by being appalled and swearing it will never happen again.
For a start, the orders which were responsible should be disbanded. This will only have token value, since there are few people left in them here and they have no responsibility for children any more. But if they stood down themselves it would be a singular admission of disgrace, and that is what is required of them.
Further, the state should impound their property and reverse legal sweetheart deals to limit the amount of compensation they would have to pay.
Those who continue to celebrate the contribution of these orders should examine their consciences carefully.
Currently there are Christian Brother trusts running schools on both sides of the border, preserving, as they…

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Coming soon: Chaos for your tax bill

So much for effective Whitehall predictions of cost cutting. If UK becomes the new tax haven, will it become the Cayman Islands (without the sunshine), relying on dodgy money and tourism for its living. I personally think the Internet is responsible for the vanishing Banks, Utilities Offices, Tax Offices, and next in line be Job Centres. Even the Local Authorities are outsourcing their face to face contact with call centres and internet options.

David Hencke

_1435278_tax300 Tax return: pic Ccedit: BBC

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Do you  find it difficult enough to fill in your tax form to meet the  revenue’s deadline of Jan 31?

Perhaps you don’t sympathise  with tax  officials anyway but you would want an efficient, accessible service – both on line and if necessary, in person.

A damning report from Whitehall’s watchdog body, the National Audit Office, reveals you are going to be very lucky to get either in future.

For the government latest economies are going to mean ” a slash and burn ” strategy for the way the Inland Revenue collects your money – with a prime aim of saving money rather than providing a service.

At the moment they are 170 local tax offices – whose buildings are already outsourced to a tax haven based company which grabbed them in 2001 without government ministers even realising who the “tax…

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A Romanian scandal that threatens press freedom that the UK could stop in its tracks

Did these countries in Eastern Europe ever really embrace Democracy and the rule of Law? I have my doubts, but even some Western European countries seem to be sliding down a slippery slope under the guise we needed to be protected, but from whom is the question to ponder?

David Hencke

alexander-adamascue

Alexander Adamescu: Facing extradition from the UK using the European Arrest Warrant

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Romania is not particularly high profile. It is  best known for Bram Stoker’s Dracula stories and the infamous  rule of Communist President Nicolae Ceaușescu overthrown and killed in a revolution in 1989.

Now it is seen as a NATO ally, a democracy with free elections and in European Union circles as being tough on corruption.

But beneath the surface there is growing evidence that Romania is about to go the same way as Hungary and Turkey with a crackdown on the freedom of the press, arbitrary arrests and flouting the rule of law.

The issue is becoming deeply personal – and this blog has decided to take up the issue – over the plight of a German businessman who with his father owns Romania’s oldest newspaper, Romania Libra. The paper  has been a thorn in the…

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Brian Altman: The scuba diving prosecutor who “speared” Milly Dowler’s killer

David Hencke

brian-altman-qc-320x289 Brian Altman – new lead counsel for the independent child sexual abuse inquiry. Pic credit: 2 Bedford Chambers

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The announcement this week that former Treasury counsel Brian Altman has been appointed lead counsel  from March to the much troubled Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse should be  good news for survivors.

The man has a formidable reputation as a forensic prosecutor and a particularly strong line in bringing criminals to justice in  ” cold case ” murders.  For once the phrase ” highly experienced”  used by the inquiry chair, Alexis Jay, is no exaggeration.

He has yet to get a cameo role as a lawyer  in ” Silent Witness” – though he did appear in a BBC 4 Real Crime and Punishment series ( sadly no longer available on BBC i-Player.).He has received much praise from journalists who regularly cover Old Bailey trials for the way…

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