Saturday, June 25, 2005

Wally by Name --- A Monkey's Tale ---by Wally Payne

Not just an autobiography, Wally by Name is an entertaining and often hilarious account of the doings (and misdoings!) of a soldier in the Royal Military Police, his postings ranging from Germany to Malta, Northern Island to Cyprus and Hong Kong.

Book Description
Having been required to resign from the Leicester City Constabulary for the heinous crime of ‘gross impertinence to a member of the public’, the author crossed the road to the Army Recruiting Office and enlisted into the Royal Military Police. It was a decision that, despite the odd knock back, he was never to regret.

The volumes recount the adventures, mishaps, misdeeds and observations of a character of some notoriety, charting his journey from the NAAFI canteen to the Officer’s Mess via Germany, the UK, Malta, Cyprus, Northern Ireland and the Far East. The tongue in cheek tales are told in a ribald, sometimes bawdy, occasionally cruel and unfailingly irreverent fashion that befit a person with a chip on both shoulders. Described by one officer as ‘arrogant, selfish, self-centred and pig headed’, he never discovered any reason to change.
About the author

A defrocked police constable, Wally Payne joined the Royal Military Police in 1964 and, following an often bumpy ride on the promotion roller coaster, rose to the dizzy heights of captain before retiring from the service in 1991.

Now resident beneath a mango tree in the Philippines , he continues to undertake security work in various far flung outposts. Recent contracts have seen him plying his trade in Algeria , China , Hong Kong , Leicester , Mali , Mozambique and Thailand .

NOTE This posting is to make you aware of yet another Angry (Young) man but this one has written a book. I recommend it to you if you want a good laugh.

ALSO his second book can be found at the same location

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Sri Lanka charges Oxfam £500,000 to allow in jeeps

Oxfam has had to pay £550,000 in customs duty to the Sri Lankan government for importing 25 four-wheel-drive vehicles to help victims of the tsunami, The Daily Telegraph has learned.

The sum was levied by customs in Colombo which have refused to grant tax exemptions to non-governmental organisations working to repair damage caused by the giant Boxing Day wave.

The Indian-made Mahindra vehicles, essential to negotiate damaged roads and rough tracks, remained stuck in port at Colombo for almost a month as officials completed the small mountain of paperwork required to release them. Customs charged £2,750 "demurrage" for every day they stood idle.

Oxfam said it had "no choice" but to pay the exorbitant 300 per cent import tax or face further delays to its relief operation.

Sources said that when Oxfam officials tried to reason with the government, the ministry of finance offered three options: pay the duty, re-export the vehicles or hand them over to a ministry of their choice.

Oxfam was one of the major charities to benefit from the generosity of the British public, which donated £300 million for tsunami relief under the umbrella of the Disasters Relief Committee.

It refused to comment on whether the customs payment was a fair use of donations. It said only that it "abides by the law" of the countries in which it operates, "including the tax laws".

Anger is growing in Sri Lanka among aid workers and residents who say that reconstruction is being slowed to a crawl by bureaucracy, corruption, greed and inefficiency.

An aid worker who asked to remain anonymous said yesterday: "When people watched those scenes of destruction and suffering on television they were moved to help the victims - not fill the government's coffers."

© Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2005.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

North-south divide: what divide?

If you thought you knew Great Britain, prepare to have your expectations blown away. This is the view of the co-ordinating author of an updated guide to Britain.

Urban regeneration in key cities has dispelled the myth that it’s 'grim up north'. Everywhere in the new North you’ll find dynamic architecture, designer hotels, cutting edge cuisine and buzzing bars and clubs, said David Else, one of the authors of Lonely Planet’s new edition.

The best-known attractions of the South are better than ever, says the guide to Britain. London has always been, and will continue to be, one of the greats with its world-class museums and galleries, vibrant nightlife and rich history. Other perennials include ever-popular Brighton, Bath and Windsor. The guide lauds the region, saying the South "has a sophisticated dynamism that belies its ‘old-style’ appearance. Inside sloping, half-timbered Tudor buildings you may find an Internet café with high-speed connections, a trendy Asian-fusion restaurant or a hip boutique hotel with the latest wallpaper."

But the North-South divide is a thing of the past. According to the authors there are equally compelling destinations beyond the Watford Gap. David Else said, "When it comes to great destinations, the North-South divide is a myth. Great Britain is now comparable to fine countries such as Italy, which boasts an array of unmissable cities like Rome, Venice, Florence, Turin and Milan."

Leeds is described as "an almost perfect reflection of the contemporary British zeitgeist" and admired for its "cutting edge couture" and "contemporary cuisine".

Manchester is described as "one of Britain’s most exciting and interesting cities" whilst Newcastle-Upon-Tyne is "supremely elegant and one of the most compelling examples of urban rejuvenation in the entire country".

Liverpool is applauded for its "great sense of spirit and togetherness at the core of the Liverpool experience… it’s hard to visit and not be affected". Glasgow is praised as one of the "few cities in Britain to have the contagious energy that you’ll find bubbling away on its streets and in its justifiably famous pubs and bars. Glasgow is a highlight of any trip".

Elsewhere the book finds the greatest appeal of the country to be the friendliness and warmth of the British people the authors encountered, stating that 'they're uninhibited tolerant, exhibitionist, passionate, aggressive, sentimental, hospitable and friendly. It hits you like a breath of fresh air.'

The introduction states Britain is a banquet, a feast of delights to make your mouth water. It's hard to believe that Scotland's snow-capped mountains, the azure waters on Cornwall's sandy beaches, the tranquil village pubs of Wales or the high energy clubs of Manchester are all in the same country - a country that takes just 12 hours to drive end to end.

The views of the authors are a world away from those of the last edition, which characterised the UK as a place of misery and rain.

Friday, June 03, 2005

High hedges set for the chop 02 June 2005

Homeowners will no longer need to suffer the misery caused by high hedges, under new legislation that came into effect on Wednesday 1 June.

The new powers mean neighbours who cannot resolve their disputes over high hedges can now ask local authorities to intervene. Local authorities, who have previously been powerless to act in such disputes, can step in to decide if the height of the hedge is unreasonable and spell out exactly what action must be taken.

Excessively high and unruly hedges can block daylight from neighbours' homes and gardens, having a negative impact on their quality of life.

The new legislation will take action against those who continually show a lack of consideration for others, although involving the local authority should remain a last resort.

Jim Fitzpatrick, minister at the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, said, "This legislation offers a light at the end of the tunnel for people whose lives have been made a misery from high hedges. Out of control hedges can block out the daylight from neighbours' homes and gardens, becoming a real drain on their quality of life."

Under the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003, local authorities have the power to intervene in disputes once a complaint has been made. The authority will decide whether the hedge is stopping someone's reasonable enjoyment of their home or garden, striking a balance between the complainant's and hedge owner's interests.

Where it is needed, the local authority will be able to serve a remedial notice to the hedge owner to identify what they must do to sort the problem out. If they fail to comply with the notice, they could be fined up to £1000.

The complainant must show they have tried to resolve the matter with the hedge owner. Complaints will only be considered where the hedge is evergreen, over two metres high and blocking out light, access or reasonable enjoyment of neighbours' property. If this is the case, local authorities will take a range of factors into account to reach a balanced decision on whether the hedge is a problem.

A fee to cover the costs will be charged by the council to the complainant at their discretion.

Other anti-social activities covered by the act include:

* Powers to disperse groups in designated areas suffering persistent and serious anti-social behaviour
* Extending powers to deal with aggravated trespass
* Simplifying powers to deal with unauthorised encampments (provided alternative sites are available)
* New mechanisms for enforcing parental responsibility for children who behave in an anti-social way in school or in the community
* Widening powers to shut down establishments that create noise nuisance
* Powers for local authorities to tackle graffiti on street furniture
* Powers to social landlords to take action against anti-social tenants including faster evictions and removing their right to buy their home
and about time too

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

US biometric ID request raises ID concern in UK

By (feedback at
Published Monday 30th May 2005 10:31 GMT

The UK government plans to issue its ID card as a passport with biometric identifiers stored in a chip – and the US wants those chips to be compatible with its own scanners, raising the possibility that US agencies could have access to the ID Card database.

The US call for biometric standardisation exceeds currently agreed international standards for airline navigation, safety and security. In 2003, it was agreed by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) that the initial international biometric standard for passports would be facial mapping, although additional biometrics such as fingerprinting could be included.

Currently, for example, all foreign visitors entering the US have their two index fingers scanned, and a digital photograph taken before they are granted entry. Most visitors are also required to obtain a visa.
Nature of the US request

Michael Chertoff, US Secretary of Homeland Security, last week said this the EU and US were close to a deal on the introduction of biometrics in passports for those seeking entry to the US, and urged the EU to ensure compatibility between EU and US biometric systems.

According to press reports, Chertoff has also asked the UK to consider chip compatibility in respect of the proposed UK national identity card scheme.

He told reporters: "It would be a very bad thing if we all invested huge amounts of money in biometric systems and they didn't work with each other."

"Hopefully, we're not going to do VHS and Betamax with our chips,” he added.
Compatibility could deliver on-line data exchange

According to The Independent newspaper, this could mean that information held on UK identity cards could be accessed in the US.

The potential for this link arises because of the decisions of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to promote an international standard for passports. These decisions have been reinforced by a decision of the Council of Ministers of the European Community to introduce a common format passport for member states.

The decision of the UK government to link the ID cards with the passport means that the UK's ID card will be compatible with international passport standards. According to the Passport Office website, "For many UK citizens the identity card will be issued as passports come up for renewal or for first time applications." As a result, "The Home Office, the UKPS and other government departments will now work together "to start to lay the foundations for the scheme, which will establish a more secure means of proving people's identity."

As part of this process, the UKPS "will progress its major anti-fraud and secure identity initiatives including the addition of a biometric to the British passport. So if a biometric passport is linked to the ID Card in a common format which is compatible with the USA's travel requirement, then direct USA access to the ID Card/Passport database becomes an option in relation to travel to the USA."
Lack of biometrics still a problem

The US had initially set 26 October 2004 as the date by which Visa Waiver Program travellers were supposed to present a biometric passport for visa-free travel to the US, but extended it for one year when it became clear that the 27 states that are eligible for the Program – including the UK – would be unable to comply.

Unfortunately EU countries are still unable to produce the biometrically-enabled passports, and unless the US is prepared to extend its deadline again, EU visitors to the US will soon find themselves obliged to obtain a visa before they will be granted entry.

According to reports, the US and EU are now close to a deal on the timing of the biometric passport requirement.
Biometric passports and terrorism

Biometric passports have been identified by governments throughout the world as a key factor in the fight against terrorism, and their implementation is being driven by the US.

The USA-PATRIOT Act, passed by the US Congress after the events of September 2001, included the requirement that the President certify a biometric technology standard for use in identifying aliens seeking admission into the US, within two years.

The schedule for its implementation was accelerated by another piece of legislation, the little-known Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act 2002. Part of this second law included seeking international co-operation with this standard. The incentive to international co-operation was made clear:

"By October 26, 2004, in order for a country to remain eligible for participation in the visa waiver program its government must certify that it has a program to issue to its nationals machine-readable passports that are tamper-resistant and which incorporate biometric and authentication identifiers that satisfy the standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)."

Citizens from those countries belonging to the Visa Waiver Program (including many EU countries, Australia, Brunei, Iceland, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, and Slovenia) do not require a visa, but as from 26 October last year, have been obliged to show a machine-readable passport.

Unless a further deadline extension is reached, VWP citizens entering the US after 26 October 2005 must, if their passport is issued after 26 October 2005, use a machine-readable, biometrically-enabled passport or obtain a visa.

Copyright © 2005, (

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