Only The Ghosts Still Linger…

by R J Adams     May 24, 2016 at 10:59am


With the EU referendum in Britain now less than a month away, one of the strongest arguments of the “Out” campaign is the ‘loss of sovereignty’ resulting from the U.K. being a part of Europe. Given the decision taken by the North Yorkshire County Council yesterday, this argument is laughable.

Sparrow Chat has long espoused the view that the U.K. is now little more than a satellite of the United States (Obama’s exertions to keep the U.K. in the E.U. served no other purpose than to provide the U.S. with a leverage in Europe, via Britain) and the democratic process is being similarly, systematically, eroded in the United Kingdom as in the nation with which it claims its “special relationship”.

Fracking was suspended in the U.K. in 2011 following minor earthquakes, but in April 2012 the U.K. government gave local authorities the option to allow drilling in their area. Until this week, none has given permission, due to huge public reaction against the process.

Yesterday, North Yorkshire County Council decided to ignore the demands of its voters, and agreed, by a 7-4 majority, to allow fracking to commence in the area.

Planners had recommended the Kirby Misperton plan was approved, but acknowledged the majority of representations received in consultation were objections.
Vicky Perkin, a council planning officer, told the committee that of 4,420 individual representations, just 36 were in support of the application.
But her report also said it should be noted there was a “national policy support for the development of a shale gas industry in this country and this is an important material consideration”.[1]

Despite objections to the fracking running at 122-1, North Yorkshire County Council still decided to override the democratic process and grant permission for the company, Third Energy, to proceed with fracking in the area.

What is ‘Third Energy’?

Tracing the money back isn’t difficult. Third Energy (originally Viking Oil) was bought out by Barclays Natural Resources Investments in 2010. BNRI is a private equity arm (read ‘hedge fund’) of Barclays Bank, which in turn is the operating arm of Barclays plc, the 25th largest company in the world.

In 2015, Barclays, along with Citigroup, JPMorgan and RBS, were between them fined $6 billion for manipulating the price of US dollars and euros. The company is hand-in-glove with the U.K. and U.S. governments and operates a ‘revolving door’ principle by which lucrative employment is offered government ministers and high officials from both nations while temporarily ‘out of office’.


Thomas David Guy Arculus, an independent non-executive Director from 1997 to 2006, was a member of the UK Government’s Better Regulation Task Force within the Cabinet Office from 2002 to 2005.

Sir Richard Broadbent, the former Chairman of HM Customs & Excise, has been a Senior Independent Director at Barclays plc since 2003. He is Chairman of transport services company Arriva PLC.

Mark Clarke, currently Director-General of Finance at the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, worked at Barclays from 2000 to 2003.

Sarah Cox of the Cabinet Office’s Business Support Group worked at Barclays plc from 2001 to 2004.

James Duddridge, Conservative MP for Rochford and Southend East since 2005 worked at Barclays Bank 1993–2002.

U.K. Life Peer Robert Fellowes, Lord Fellowes of Shotesham, was Chairman of Barclays Private Bank from 2000 until December 2009.

U.K. Life Peer Digby Jones, Lord Jones of Birmingham, who was Minister of State for UK Trade and Investment from 2007 to 2008, was a Senior Advisor to Barclays Capital from 2006 to 2007.

Sir Andrew Likierman, an independent non-executive Director since September 2004, was a Non-executive Director of the Bank of England and was Chief Accountancy Advisor at HM Treasury from 1993 to 2003.

Francis Maude, Conservative MP for Horsham, is a member of Barclays Asia-Pacific Advisory Committee.

Jami Miscik, who became Global Head of Sovereign Risk at Barclays Capital after it bought Lehman Brothers, was Deputy Director of Intelligence at the CIA from 2002 to 2005.

Sir Anthony Reeve, Ambassador to South Africa 1991-96, was Director Barclays Private Bank Ltd, 1997–2001.

Barclays Bank plc employee Howard Spiers was seconded to the Department for Trade and Industry from 1998 to 2001 as an export promoter.

Robert K. Steel, a Non Executive Director of Barclays Bank plc from 2005 to 2006, was Under Secretary, Domestic Finance, U.S. Department of the Treasury from 2006 to 2008.

Sir David Wright, a former British diplomat and Group Chief Executive at British Trade International, became Vice-Chairman of Barclays Capital in 2003. (For references see Wikipedia – ‘Barclays’)

It’s easy to construe from this that North Yorkshire County Council were merely spearheading a much larger and more powerful group composed of a huge, multi-national, private company in league with the British and United States governments. One can only theorize just exactly what the elected members of the North Yorkshire County Council received in return for playing Judas to the constituents they’re supposed to represent in North Yorkshire, but it surely has to be substantial.

Democracy and sovereignty are long dead. What we are living with today are merely the ghosts of both.

[1] “Landmark North Yorkshire fracking operation approved” BBC, May 24th 2016

R J Adams     May 24, 2016 at 10:59am     No Comments

Life Moves On…

by R J Adams     May 22, 2016 at 11:06am


So much has been written in the last twenty-four hours on the demise of Flight MS804 that there is little more to impart. It now seems likely the aircraft developed a catastrophic technical fault, causing it to crash into the Mediterranean Sea.

Information received from the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (see above) suggests smoke was detected, first in the aircraft’s toilet, then in the avionics (electrical systems) directly beneath the cockpit, shortly before the crash.[1]

Given the lack of any known claim of responsibility from terror groups, until a full investigation is completed technical failure is now the most likely cause of this disaster, which claimed the lives of sixty-six people.

The plight of MS804 is now ‘off the radar’ for most news outlets. The plane’s been located – at least part of it – and the evidence of fire on board has taken much of the mystery away, leaving major outlets with other matters to fill their front pages.

Life moves on. The work of assessing exactly what caused this crash will take many months, if not years. By the time we know for sure these last few days will be a distant memory for all, except of course, for the families and friends of the sixty-six who never came home.

[1] “Crash: Egypt A320 over Mediterranean on May 19th 2016, aircraft found crashed, ACARS messages indicate fire on board” Aviation Herald, May 21st 2016

R J Adams     May 22, 2016 at 11:06am     4 Comments

EgyptAir Flight MS804: What We Don’t Know

by R J Adams     May 20, 2016 at 2:45pm


The EgyptAir A320 Airbus designated Flight MS804 left Paris at 21.09 GMT. It was due to land in Cairo at 01.15 GMT. Twenty minutes prior to landing the plane made a series of abrupt course changes and disappeared from the Greek air traffic control radar that was tracking it.

General speculation suggests either a bomb, or catastrophic failure, caused the aircraft to crash into the Mediterranean Sea.

While the latter remains a remote possibility, the chances of it being a bomb seem equally unlikely. U.S. satellite sources state the aircraft could not have blown up, as the blast would have registered on their equipment. Also, historically, most explosive devices placed on airplanes have been timed to explode within an hour or so of take-off. Waiting until twenty minutes prior to landing could have caused the bomb not to explode until the aircraft was on the ground, had it arrived early at Cairo – a distinct possibility on a four hour flight.

Catastrophic failure is virtually unknown on an aircraft that has almost completed its flight. Take-off and landings are the times of most airframe stress, not at 37,000 feet and with the engines throttled back to cruising speed.

The pilot made contact with Greek ATC at 23.24 GMT, approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes into the flight. At 00.27 GMT Greek controllers failed to make contact with the plane, either on normal or emergency frequencies. Yet the plane was still being tracked by radar and appeared on a normal flight-path for a full 2 minutes and 40 seconds before it disappeared.

Egyptian radar lost track of the aircraft 20 seconds later, at 00.30 GMT.

According to the Greeks, the plane made an abrupt turn to the left before plummeting to 15,000 feet. At 10,000 feet they lose sight of it. ATC radar is designed to track aircraft at high altitudes, so it may be the aircraft dropped below radar level very quickly, but didn’t necessarily crash into the sea.

Of course, this is all speculation, but where is the wreckage? This is the Mediterranean Sea, not the wilds of the Southern Indian Ocean where MH370[1] supposedly crashed. It’s barely a mile deep in the Levantine Basin, where MS804 is alleged to have gone down. An aircraft plummeting from 37,000 feet into the ocean would break apart on impact, scattering debris over a wide area. Either the search aircraft and vessels aren’t proving very observant, or the aircraft isn’t where everyone says it is.

There is another option: a simulated crash. The aircraft is forced into a steep, spiralling, dive down to 10,000 feet, or probably less, to give the impression of a crash, before levelling out and ‘wave-hugging’ until reaching the coast of a designated country. Tunisia, Libya, Lebanon, Syria, all border the Mediterranean in that area.

Even as this is being written debris of Flight MS804 could be pulled from the depths, and the mystery, at least partially, solved. Maybe the aircraft did crash somewhere in the Levantine Basin, but in an area of many local fishing communities, heavily trafficked, why did no-one see or hear anything as this aircraft came down? And why is the wreckage proving so difficult to locate?

A fatal crash, or a very clever hijacking? Only time will solve that mystery.

[1] “MH370 – Flight To Armageddon” Sparrow Chat, January 29th 2015

[2] “EgyptAir flight MS804: What we know” BBC, May 19th 2016

ADDENDUM: Sadly, it now looks like MS804 did indeed crash into the Mediterranean, with the loss of all on board. Reports are coming in of debris: seats, luggage, even body parts being found.

The remaining question is what caused this crash. Some experts are saying that the erratic course changes the plane made prior to being lost from radar, point to interference on the flight deck, rather than an explosive device:

Mike Vivian, former head of operations at the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority, told the BBC that the plane’s sharp manoeuvres before disappearing from radar were more likely to be caused by human interference than a bomb.

“It looks highly unlikely that this was consistent with some sort of explosive device,” he said.

“One’s inclined to go towards the theory that there had been some interference in the aircraft and on the flight deck, with the control of the aircraft.”[2]

If that’s the case, what sort of interference, and by whom? If, as one would anticipate, the cockpit door was locked and reinforced, then how could anyone gain access? Or, was the ‘interference’ by the pilot, or co-pilot?

There’s still a slight possibility that catastrophic failure, perhaps somewhere within the wing structure, may have caused the erratic behavior of the aircraft prior to it plunging to its doom in the ocean.

It may be a long time before these answers are known.

R J Adams     May 20, 2016 at 2:45pm     No Comments

Excusez-Moi, Où Sont Les Toilettes?

by R J Adams     May 18, 2016 at 10:20pm

French toilettes

There’s a battle going on in the U.K.’s northern town of Hull. It’s all about toilets. A fast food chain, ‘Greggs’, regards itself as primarily a takeaway food establishment, but has a limited number of tables inside the premises for customers wishing to eat their purchases on site.

Hull City Council has determined that ‘Greggs’ is legally obliged to provide toilet facilities, given that some customers remain on the premises to eat. ‘Greggs’ says that’s rubbish. They maintain they’re a fast food outlet and as such are not required to provide said facilities. The case has gone to the court of appeal.[1]

To anyone living in France, the idea that laws could force a shop to provide toilets would be considered Nirvana. The standard of facilities, even in most large supermarkets, is nothing short of disgraceful. And that’s if they exist at all.

Public toilets, of the type found in town car parks or market squares, are even more diabolical. Filthy, cobweb-ridden, stinking of stale urine and other detritus, a visit to one of these places can leave one reaching frantically for hand disinfectant, as there’s no likelihood of working washing facilities in these dark, damp, hovels.

Admittedly, things have improved somewhat since the 1980s. The ‘hole-in-the-ground’ out the back is more of a rarity, though has certainly not disappeared completely.

It all makes travelling around France something of a fraught experience, particularly on Sundays and Bank Holidays when major supermarkets – the main source of these facilities – are closed. Then one can only hold on and hope that a public loo will eventually appear, though often they don’t. Even if one does turn up eventually, it’s generally at the point one is so desperate the poor state of the internal plumbing becomes irrelevant. A rusty bucket would suffice, so long as it was out of public view.

Why this state of affairs has been allowed to continue for so long in a modern, civilised, nation like France is not immediately obvious, but soon becomes so after one has lived here for a short while. This is still very much a male dominated country. French men are quite happy to relieve themselves whenever and wherever they feel the need arises. It’s not uncommon to drive along a busy highway and pass parked cars, drivers facing a convenient tree with their backs to traffic, doing what comes naturally. Who needs a public toilet when the whole countryside is available for one’s needs?

Which begs the question: what do the women do? The answer is not immediately obvious. French women apparently have more decorum than their male counterparts. One never sees a woman crouching behind a tree while waving to passing motorists.

It can only be assumed their holding power is much greater than that of the average Frenchman, and they stay home on Sundays and Bank Holidays.

So there you have it. The owners of Greggs fast food emporium in Hull have the perfect solution to the legal problems that are blighting their business. All they need to do is move their entire fast food empire to France.

No-one will ever demand they install toilets over here. And, even if some interfering French official tried, they’d only have to dig a hole in the backyard.

“Greggs loses takeaway loo battle in Hull” BBC, May 18th 2016

R J Adams     May 18, 2016 at 10:20pm     2 Comments

Who Needs Doctors Anyway?

by R J Adams     May 17, 2016 at 11:18am

Nursing shortages

In February this year, the Guardian carried a story entitled, “NHS nurse shortages ‘to last another four years’,” which outlined the severe lack of qualified nursing staff within the U.K. National Health Service:

Ian Cumming, chief executive of Health Education England, said there would be a shortfall in nurses until at least 2020.”[1]

Today, three months later, the BBC website has this headline, “‘Train NHS staff’ to plug doctor gaps, bosses say,”:

Nurses, paramedics and pharmacists should be trained to fill in for doctors and help the NHS in England cope with demand, bosses say.
Management body NHS Employers has given the plan the green light after advisers said there were a range of extra tasks they could do with more training.”[2]

Presumably the “Management body” deftly known as, “NHS Employers” are the group of overly-well paid, brandy-swilling, elites who’ve landed the plum job of doing very little while their minions slave away beneath them and carry the can when things go awry. It’s doubtful said elites could distinguish a bed-pan from a set of artery forceps.

This idea is reminiscent of the workings of the U.S. health system, which over the years has seen the introduction of unskilled labour filling in for qualified doctors. There are, ‘doctor’s assistants’, ‘nurse practitioners’ and various other fancifully named job descriptions that can all be grouped together under the heading, ‘unqualified doctor substitute’.

It became increasingly difficult to arrange an appointment with a genuine doctor in the United States as hedge fund owned medical practices squeezed the last ounce out of overworked health employees in their effort to save money and increase profits.

“I’d like an appointment to see a doctor, please.”

“I’m sorry, Doctor So-and-so is very busy. His next available appointment isn’t until three weeks on Friday. I can get you in tomorrow at ten with our nurse practitioner.”

But, I need to see a doctor.”

“It will be three weeks. If it’s urgent you can always go to the emergency room.” (A&E)

The above conversation is fairly typical of how to arrange an appointment at the doctor’s office in the United States. It varies depending on whether your medical practice is run by the city, or a private hedge fund. The latter are rapidly expanding their tentacles throughout the American heath service. After all, sickness can be a nice little earner provided expensive, qualified, medical staff are kept to an absolute minimum.

The problem with Britain’s health service has nothing to do with the working staff. A finer, more dedicated, bunch of individuals it would be hard to find anywhere. As always, the problem lies with the top echelons of elite, silver-spooned, ‘jobs-for-the-boys’, parasites that exist under the cloaked heading of, ‘NHS Employers’.

Boss man of this sanctimonious club is the Health Minister, Jeremy Hunt, who would dearly love to see U.S. hedge funds financing the U.K.’s health service.

Meanwhile, he’ll save money by using unqualified staff, who are already in short supply and grossly overworked, to take on the work of doctors, just as they do in America.

And if that doesn’t work out it’ll just become another reason to privatise the British NHS.

[1] “‘Worrying shortage of senior NHS nurses'” Guardian February 29th 2016

[2] “‘Train NHS staff’ to plug doctor gaps, bosses say” BBC, May 17th 2016

R J Adams     May 17, 2016 at 11:18am     No Comments