Friday, 31 August 2012

Our NHS in Wales ...

... is like looking through a distorted mirror, take obesity ...

... to qualify for Metabolic and Obesity Surgery in England the criteria is :
... people must have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 35 with related health problems, such as diabetes or sleep apnoea, or 40 without.

In Wales to qualify for the same procedures the criteria is :
... people must have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 50 with related health problems. This means patients can only be operated on once they are in poor health
... yet the peoples of Wales pay the same taxes as their cousins to the east of Offa's Dyke.

It would be best if the British taxpayers were treated equally .......... on both sides of the dyke !

I digress ...

... something amiss !

Thursday, 30 August 2012

... this week the FoS award belongs to Jac ...

... o' the North, who else would write of our Paralympic athletes in moronic terms bordering on the obscene.

You may not agree with me, try him for yourself here, ...

... for the record :

The charity Scope commissioned the pollsters ComRes to survey disabled people and their parents and carers last winter: 
46 per cent of respondents thought that attitudes towards them had worsened in the previous year; 
13 per cent thought they’d improved; 
76 per cent had direct experience of other people refusing to make adjustments to allow for their circumstances; 
73 per cent said that the assumption had been made that they didn’t work.
64 per cent had some experience of hostility or aggression.
The 2012 Paralympics can change the way people think about disability, somehow I think there might be a severe hill to climb when considering the bigots of Wales.

Returning to the FoS award, this is the man who looks towards an Independent Wales ........
...... much like the Third Reich I expect.


... two views, two ...

... quite different perspectives !

The UK government through its Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said the rich of the UK pay sufficient into the tax pool, check out the figures ...

... almost 90% of tax take is paid by the top 50% of the income groups.

This particular coin has a very different other side, the wealth of the top 50% ...

... dwarfs the wealth of the bottom 50%.

You might say that the wealth has been earned therefore such comparisons should not be made, as George Osborne said ...
... beware of "driving away" the UK's "wealth creators"
I have this feeling that our politicians are not being particularly honest with the electorate.

Is it the politics of envy to ask the top 50% of taxpayers to contribute a little more to pay for the poverty that underpins their wealth, Is it true that if taxes increased for the wealthiest 50% they would depart our small island leaving an unfilled vacuum ...

Or could it be true that the top 50% of taxpayers exist because of the production of the little people at the bottom of the pile, could it be true that an economic vacuum cannot exist except in the empty minds of politicians.

It's not necessary to invoke the politics of envy to right an obvious wrong, it is important to maintain a culture where aspiration is a motivating factor ...

... but it's equally important that we do not have a social underclass as a foundation of society.

Economic Justice is as important as Criminal Justice.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Clegg is wrong to suggest the wealthiest people ...

... could be asked to pay more tax for a limited period.

 A weak politician with feeble ideas, if he had a backbone he would have said ...
Every person earning above the average should be taxed to support the lowest paid in the economy, the lowest paid that underpin our economy through their poverty.
The idea is, we are all players in the game of life, and, with a few exceptions, contribute to society, unfortunately some contribute much effort for little return, and those of us who were cast a better hand are given an advantage that is unjustified.
What is the worth of a doctor to society, when compared to his nursing colleague, compared to the hospital porter, compared to the hospital grounds cleaning team !

The aim of the Liberal Democrats could be a levelling game, the levelling of opportunity for people, this is not the model of Marx but the models based on the propositions of John Rawls, deliberations from behind his "veil of ignorance" to promote social justice.

Would we condemn people to poverty if we might be tomorrows pauper, would we set a minimum wage that is insufficient to sustain our existence.  It's true that poverty is relative in a discrete society, it is not useful to compare the poverty of Britain with the poverty of Brazil when exploring local solutions, solutions to issues that Clegg might consider today;  although in the greater scheme such comparisons will expose our humanity or lack of.

For Clegg he might begin a British long march towards Justice and the elimination of poverty, as a start he could do well to consider the reform of taxation in our country, a reform to ensure that no-one person or company doing business in Britain fails to contribute in full.  That is the foundation, a society where contributing is a virtue.

A digression following on from yesterday in the USA ...
... in the USA during 2007 the following words were expressed ...
"If we took away women's right to vote, we'd never have to worry about another Democratic president. It's kind of a pipe dream, it's a personal fantasy of mine, but I don't think it's going to happen. And it is a good way of making the point that women are voting so stupidly, at least single women."
... by the conservative Fox news guest and celebrity pundit Ann Coulter.

... she would disenfranchise half of society, what hope for the little people ?

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Martin Luther King or Royston Jones ...

I have a dream or the language of hate .

First from the Western Mail today ...

SIR – Dennis Coughlin ........
This anti-Welshness also explains why the Welsh Government refuses to run Wales in the interests of the indigenous population ..........
Tywyn, Gwynedd

... second, check out the language of hate, Martin Luther King would recognise the sentiments, would this Royston Jones recognise the Alabama of the 1960's in his vision for Wales.
But for the politicians of Wales an impossible citizen, a citizen who is unable or unwilling to recognise his absurd hatred.

... what exactly is his "indigenous population", how is it characterised, what are the criteria, who would be excluded from our democracy ?
The answer lies somewhere in the dark area's of society, those area's that politics can only imagine might exist !
But for those who believe that "the modern state that is the whole body of a nation expressing its will",  what place for Royston and Co, how does our Assembly satisfy the wants of extremist Wales.

A digression ...
... in the USA reports are coming out that legislation to prevent electoral fraud has disenfranchised a huge swathe of US society, people are unable to register for voting because they do not have unexpired government-issued photo ID's,.

... as many as 11 percent of eligible voters—roughly 21 million Americans—lack current, unexpired government-issued photo IDs.
It only takes a small drop of ink in many parts of the world ...

... to enfranchise its citizens.

Martin Luther King would have recognised this particular anomaly in the democracy held up as an example to the rest of the world.

Might the legislation to prevent electoral fraud have included a mechanism to capture everyone eligible to vote, after all this is what democracy is about.

Monday, 27 August 2012

... the stakeholder eisteddfod,

... in stakeholder Wales, in a stakeholder world.

It doesn't really matter how small the taxpayer contribution is, but for every penny of contribution (for every cent of contribution) we become stakeholders, and as stakeholders everyone should be included.

It's a simple formula, as a taxpayer (and that is everyone) we should expect an equal return on our investment, so the National Eisteddfod if it is to receive any funding from government must become inclusive, and to this end it should be subsumed by a new "Wales Eisteddfod" where the cultures of all the peoples are celebrated, where every stakeholder is able to share their particular cultural niche with everyone.  And Carwyn Jones our First Minister is well placed to lay the foundations for a celebration of everything that is Wales.


I digress ...

In the USA Apple have been awarded an enormous sum as damages from Samsung, but will the little people receive a stakeholder percentage through taxation, or will the damages be absorbed by Apple's offshore tax avoidance vehicles.  Just thinking ..............


Returning to Wales ...

If Carwyn Jones created a new eisteddfod he would become the first to create a cultural celebration for all ... the first to recognise the stakeholder citizen.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Cardinal O'Briens' ...

... letter read out to every Scot who attended mass this Sunday ...
A Message for Marriage Sunday 26 August 2012

from The Bishops’ Conference of Scotland

In all things, we as Catholics look to Jesus Christ as our model and teacher.   When asked about marriage He gave a profound and rich reply: “Have you not read that the Creator, from the beginning, ‘made them male and female’, and said: ‘This is why a man must leave father and mother and cling to his wife and the two become one body’.”   (Matthew, 19: 4-5)
In the Year of Faith, which begins this October, we wish to place a special emphasis on the role of the family founded on marriage.   The family is the domestic Church, and the first place in which the faith is transmitted.   For that reason it must have a primary focus in our prayerful considerations during this period of grace. 
We write to you having already expressed our deep disappointment that the Scottish Government has decided to redefine marriage and legislate for same-sex marriage. We take this opportunity to thank you for your past support in defence of marriage and hope you will continue to act against efforts to redefine it.   We reaffirm before you all the common wisdom of humanity and the revealed faith of the Church that marriage is a unique life-long union of a man and a woman.
In circumstances when the true nature of marriage is being obscured, we wish to affirm and celebrate the truth and beauty of the Sacrament of Matrimony and family life as Jesus revealed it;  to do something new to support marriage and family life in the Catholic community and in the country;  and to reinforce the vocation of marriage and the pastoral care of families which takes in the everyday life of the Church in dioceses and parishes across the country.
For that reason, in the forthcoming Year of Faith we have decided to establish a new Commission for Marriage and the Family.   This Commission will be led by a bishop and will be composed mostly of lay men and women.   The Commission will be charged with engaging with those young men and women who will be future husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, and with those who already live out their vocation to marriage and parenthood in surroundings which often make it hard to sustain and develop the full Catholic family life we cherish. 
We wish to support too, those who are widowed, separated and divorced and all who need to feel the Church’s maternal care in the circumstances in which they find themselves.   The new Commission will promote the true nature of marriage as both a human institution and a union blessed by Jesus.
The Commission will be asked to develop an online presence so that prayer, reflection, formation and practical information on matters to do with marriage and family life can be quickly accessible to all.   It will also work to produce materials and organise events which will support ordinary Catholic families in their daily lives.   During the course of the coming year we will ask for your support for these initiatives.
Our faith teaches us that marriage is a great and holy mystery.   The Bishops of Scotland will continue to promote and uphold the universally accepted definition of marriage as the union solely of a man and a woman.   At the same time, we wish to work positively for the strengthening of marriage within the Church and within our society.
This is an important initiative for all our people, but especially our young people and children.  We urge you to join us in this endeavour.   Pray for your own family every day, and pray for those families whose lives are made difficult by the problems and cares which they encounter.  
Finally, we invite you to pray for our elected leaders, invoking the Holy Spirit on them, that they may be moved to safeguard marriage as it has always been understood, for the good of Scotland and of our society.

Is the Catholic Church in Scotland opposition to Gay marriage another manifestation of intolerance towards minorities ?

I believe so, and mores the point, if politics doesn't remove this intolerance, it will send a message that intolerance of minorities is "Open Season" ...............

............... who or what would be next on the intolerance agenda ?

Culture, is there a place ...

... for this ...

... in the cultural landscape ?

It's not quite ...

...Marchal-Mithouard, but it might be if our cultural mindscape were not inhibited by the boundaries of a cultural past, is it time the youth who create the skateboard art were invited to our Eisteddfod ...........

Thursday, 23 August 2012

A cultural border, the Eisteddfod ...

... in Wales does little to embrace cultural Wales, so says Dennis Coughlin of the Heath, Cardiff in today's Western Mail (the second letter).

I recently visited the Eisteddfod at Llandow where what seemed an entirely white Welsh speaking gathering were enjoying this traditional event of Welsh language, literature, history and music. I support this subsidised festival because it helps protect the ancient language and culture for this minority who have a long Welsh speaking lineage.
But you cannot impose this elite parochial version of Wales on the rest of us. This is your world.
Literature, art and history are international and the English language provides access to a cornucopia of cultural treasures from Kafka to Corrie, Socrates to the Simpsons, and Voltaire to The Vulcan. This is my world and I cannot be restricted to cultural borders.
Is Dennis correct, is there a minority elite that has created a cultural border that excludes the majority of peoples in Wales ?

If Dennis is correct there would be a great injustice being played out behind minority cultural doors !

If Dennis is correct .................... remember the 14 July 1789, not every "Bastille" is stone built.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Apple or Scott McKenzie ...

... are both in the news, innovative Apple and the harmonies of Scott McKenzie who died a few days ago.

Scott is remembered here ....

... whilst Apple is reported in today's news as :
... the most valuable company ever !
... as reported in the Telegraph.

There is no dispute that Apple is an icon of the age, there is little dispute that its success will probably outlive the fan-base of Scott McKenzie ...

... but when will Apple pay its taxes to the peoples of the USA, that's the big question that neither Washington nor the little people of the States seem to be asking in a voice loud enough to be heard, strange ....

... in Wales politics seems to have become a dry husk ........... no change there !

Monday, 20 August 2012

Where is the justice in ...

... a world where we insist that society is built upon a foundation of poor people, and where we insist that the poor amongst us are further impoverished through insisting they live together in "cheaper homes", which by definition create impoverished and disadvantaged area's, is this a modern form of social cleansing as The National Housing Federation is quoted as saying.

To explore the reasoning we have essential reading from the think tank Policy Exchange, the logic underpinning the 50 page report is based upon land costs ...

Area                                           Total per hectare         Total per home
London                                           £3,000,000                 £100,000
South East/East/South West            £900,000                   £30,000
Other regions                                   £450,000                   £15,000
... to be fair to Policy Exchange there is no recommendation to cut into the standards of design and construction, at least not just yet, as it states ...
We should build to Parker Morris standards (created in 1961, these set a minimum floor space for each property size).
  • In one, two and three bedroom dwellings, one flushing toilet is required, and it may be in the bathroom.
  • A semi-detached or end-of-terrace house for 4 people should have a net floor area of 72 square metres.
  • A dwelling for three or more people should have enclosed storage space for the kitchen of 2.3 cubic metres.
  • Dwellings should be fitted with heating systems that maintain the kitchen and circulation space at 13 degrees Celsius, and the living and dining spaces at 18 °C, when the external temperature is −1 °C.
Now the proposals have little effect upon the super-rich, cost is less important to those who build their personal gated properties.

It is with the middle classes and particularly the professional-managerial class of Britain [and other developed countries of the world] that will benefit from the ghettoization of the poor amongst us, the other side of this particular coin is the gentrification of existing social housing, an effect will be to underpin or in some cases increase property values though I do not see this aspect as of great importance, it is the creation of modern serfdom.

Without a lessor group of people to underpin the mobile middle classes what is the point of the middle classes, and if the lessor group are not segregated into their 21st century ghetto how do the middle classes manage their aspirational lives.

Part of the middle/professional-managerial class are our politicians, the hinge pin that enables our middle classes to engineer society as an illusionary 21st century version of the middle ages, the ultimate beneficiary of which are the super-rich who continue to own the majority of wealth whilst standing at the Orchestra Podium directing society to internal conflicts that fails to address the real problem of our 21st century world, the provision of universal justice.

In Wales, we have political powers devolved to the Assembly Government, whereas Policy Exchange would advocate politics coercing social housing providers to ghettoise the less fortunate amongst us, I would encourage a policy that further integrates people into society through the prevention of social housing providers from building social housing in discrete, detached from others, estates.  Social housing providers should be obliged to purchase dwellings within the current housing stock.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Dissent, a cornerstone ...

... of democracy, of civilisation, for without dissent in Britain we would have :

  1. children chimney sweeps.
  2. children mine workers.
  3. children as young as 5 working
Our voice of dissent in Britain was Anthony Ashley Cooper, better known as the 7th Earl of Shaftesbury.

In Russia today there are the punk band Pussy Riot,and the object of their dissent is nothing more than the vertically challenged President (some say for life) Putin, a man who is unable to contemplate a democratic challenge.

In 16th century Italy there was Galileo Galilei, a dissenter who searched for truth through science, his adversary was the Roman Inquisition

Whereas Galileo was persecuted because he had proven the Earth orbited our Sun, the Pussy Riot are being persecuted by the Russian political establishment because they will have no truck with the Putin regime.

What point life if you are unable to protest another man's politics ...........

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

This weeks FoS award goes to ...

... Paul "Petey" Ryan, running mate of Romney.

... written in The Times by Sam Coates Deputy Political Editor
Mitt Romney’s running mate in his campaign to become the next US President has been sharply critical of the NHS, claiming that free healthcare distorts the democratic process because it makes patients dependent on government help.
Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin congressman who was announced on Saturday as the Republican vice-presidential contender, has also compared the British economy to those of Greece and Ireland, saying the “day of reckoning” has already arrived in all three countries.
The remarks are likely to cause further transatlantic friction after Mr Romney’s troubled visit to Britain last month in which he criticised preparations for the Olympics. 
Mr Ryan’s attack on the NHS was part of an effort to stop President Obama’s healthcare reforms, which the Republican said would put the US "on a glide path toward European-style socialism". He wrote in the Wall Street Journal:  "We need only look to Great Britain and elsewhere to see the effects of socialised healthcare on the broader economy. Once a large number of citizens get their healthcare from the State, it dramatically alters their attachment to government.

"Every time a tax cut is proposed, the guardians of the new medical-welfare state will argue that tax cuts would come at the expense of healthcare — an argument that would resonate with middle-class families entirely dependent on the government for access to doctors and hospitals." The analysis came in 2009, in an article co-written with Peter Wehner, a former adviser to President Bush.
Our NHS is not "European-style socialism", its a recognition that we are all dependent on one another at some point in life.  A recognition that there are aspects of life that require just a little more intervention than the markets.

In the UK, we as a people through the ballot box, have decided that our imperfect NHS, a service that is totally inclusive, is a better civilised solution to health care than the models that Ryan and chums subscribe to.

For the little people, those who have been denied opportunity by accident of birth, working with asbestos during the 20th century developed incomprehensible debilitation by virtue of occupation.  These people produced products used by all, produced products upon which vast fortunes were made.  This is the single example needed to justify an inclusive health service is provided by all to everyone with a need.

The little people need this service when their earnings hover around the poverty level .... 

Professional politicans rarely experience this type of need .......
 .......... so we award the Full of Shit medal to Paul "Petey" Ryan, not a friend of the little people.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Mitt Romney and Team GB ...

... is there a lesson to be learned ?

The London Olympic was a success from its stunning opening ceremony to the end game party last night, some have described it as the most successful exhibition of sporting excellence of all time, for myself its success lay in the projection of inclusive stakeholder participation by all;  athletes, audience and organisers, that's not to say everything was perfect, but as Sebastian Coe said at the closing ceremony ...
... when it came to our turn, we did it right !
In the USA, the appointment of Paul Ryan by Mitt Romney as his Presidential running mate, sends a very clear message to the population that "things, they will be changing !"

It is the change that is causing concern ....

The most damming condemnation ...
Network, a Catholic social justice lobby group, which organised a six-state "nuns on the bus" tour last month, damned Mr Ryan's proposals as "immoral".
Sister Simone Campbell, Network's executive director, said: "His budget deliberately harms people at the economic margins. It is also unpatriotic because it says that we are an individualistic, selfish nation."
Paul Ryan's "Path to Prosperity" is long on words, with a very simple underlying message, government must shrink!  The full document can be found here, it runs to 99 detailed pages, it might have added a page to explain why Sister Simone Campbell's "people at the economic margins" are not considered as stakeholders in the great nation that is the USA.

As a small country Great Britain came third in the medal tally for this Olympic Games, the success must in a great part be attributed to the way the peoples funded the athletes in the years prior to the games, as Samantha Murray said after winning the silver medal in the very last event, modern pentathlon, "If I can do it, and I'm a normal girl, anyone can do what they want to do."

Shrink government at the expense of the little people of this world and it is a poorer, brutal existence, not civilisation........

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Diabetes and Liberal Democrats who throw their toys out ...

... of their buggy while the adults get on with the job of parliamentary reform.

The little people of Britain believe that there are too many politicians at Westminster;  and this feeling cascades down to the devolved administrations of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.  Might this feeling from the birthplace of democracy be felt by the little people of the world I wonder ?

Unfortunately Cleggy, the deputy Prime Minister, said on Monday that his party could not support the boundary changes because the Conservatives have dropped reforms to the House of Lords.

 In response yesterday our erstwhile Prime Minister, David Cameron, told the world (well, those within 20 meters of him as the majority have better things to do with their summer day), that he would be challenging the politicians of both sides of the house to support reforms we (the electorate) are demanding.

So Cameron has challenged the Lib Dems to grow up, he has challenged them to explain in Parliament why reducing MP's is bad democracy, they will also have to explain to the electorate why they intend to vote in the face of public opinion, that's the opinion that places Bankers and Politicians into the very same box with Schrödinger's cat

Brining the debate to Wales the proposal is for 30 MP's in 30 equal sized constituencies, this should be extended to the Assembly having 30 constituencies matching the parliamentary boundaries, it would be admirable if the Assembly then had 30 constituencies of two AM's dumping the regional nonsense where AM's are divorced from the people they are elected to represent.

And Diabetes .......... it seems the secret to living with Type 2 is to ...
"learn to live with hunger !"
... less is indeed more, trust me its true, eventually the hunger goes and you are rewarded with a smaller appetite.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Tuesday ... Louise Mensch, another reason ...

  ... to switch allegiance for team GB voters.

Not because she has quit politics, but because the Conservative Party made a pigs ear with her selection, they chose a lightweight "media star" rather than a political mind able to craft legislation.

This latest manifestation of Great Britain in political decline is to be expected when the political landscape is little more than beach volleyball between politicians and the media, the little people recognise and understand that democracy only occurs at election time, for the remaining 5 years of the life of the Parliaments (and Assembly's scattered around our country), democracy takes second place to a contest between political leaders and the media.

My advice to the Conservative Party would be to find a Mensch replacement with a certain enquiring depth, not a "bright media star", someone who might Tweet less, Corby and East Northamptonshire need a representative not a writer of chick lit fiction.

Lady Lynn de Rothschild (in today's Times), the businesswoman and lawyer, has lamented the fact that many women lose their ambition when they marry "alpha males".

Alpha Males ! .... her husband is the manager of a rock bandfor goodness sake, she is moving to New York for an exciting life Westminster is unable to compete with.

Closer to the truth of this débâcle in today's Times ...
.... speculation about Mensch’s “real” motive yesterday. Perhaps in vacating her marginal seat she was leaving a sinking ship? Perhaps she was bored by politics and wants to return to her previous career, writing novels, or to concentrate on her social networking site Menshn which is intended to be a rival to Twitter and which she set up after receiving hateful tweets about her children from a Twitter troll who was later prosecuted. Perhaps she simply wants to be with her new husband, a man who has managed Metallica and the Red Hot Chili Peppers and with whom she seems blissfully besotted.
“I have strong feelings of hero worship towards him. I was longing to brand myself with his name for a very long time. He’s a living legend, and to be his wife is the greatest honour”, she said recently. “He is absolutely stunningly gorgeous. My palms still sweat with adrenaline whenever he walks into a room”.
Whatever her reasons you have to hand it to Louise Mensch. In a week when politics was the last thing on people’s minds and the names dominating the headlines were people in tight Lycra shorts, Mensch, ever the self-publicist, lobbed a small hand grenade and did what she will always do brilliantly. Put herself in the spotlight. 

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Sunday 3 - Olympic dessert ...

... by Lucas Hollweg.

Apricot and mascarpone tart

A variation on the classic French tart, this is best eaten just warm or at room temperature. You can use ready-made sweet pastry, though it never has quite the crumb and richness of home-made.

Serves 6-8
For the pastry
200g plain flour
A good pinch of salt
100g cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
¼ tsp natural vanilla extract
1 medium egg
50g icing sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
For the filling
250g caster sugar
400g apricots, halved and stoned (remove any particularly stringy bits from the stone cavity)
150g mascarpone
1 medium egg
50g ground almonds
1 tbsp flaked almonds
First make the pastry. In a food processor, using the metal blade, whiz together the flour and salt until well combined. Add the butter and quickly blitz until the mixture forms breadcrumbs. Mix together the vanilla extract, egg, icing sugar and 1 tsp water, add to the flour mixture and pulse in until everything starts to clump together in clods. Stop before it forms a big clod around the spindle. Form into a ball, wrap in cling-film and chill in the fridge for at least 1½ hours.

Lightly flour a work surface and roll out the pastry to a circle 3mm thick. Turn the pastry 90 degrees after each roll to stop it sticking and to achieve an even thickness. Reflour the surface and rolling pin if necessary. You want to end up with a circle large enough to fit the base and sides of a 23cm loose-bottomed tart tin, with extra pastry overhanging the edges. Drape the pastry into the tin and trim so there’s a 2cm overhang. Put in the fridge to firm up for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, put 200g of the sugar in a saucepan with 200ml water. Heat until the sugar has dissolved, then add the apricots and simmer for 4 minutes until just softened. Don’t overdo it or they will disintegrate. Remove with a slotted spoon and put to one side.

Put a baking sheet in the oven and preheat to 190C/Gas Mark 5. The heated sheet will help to  cook the bottom of the tart. Line the base and sides of the pastry with a circle of baking parchment and fill the middle with ceramic baking beans, if you have them, or uncooked pasta shapes or rice. Put the tart tin in the oven on the hot baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes until the sides have set.

Remove the paper and beans and cook for another 5 minutes. Trim the pastry around the rim with a sharp serrated knife (eat the trimmings), then leave the case to cool for a few minute.

In a mixing bowl, beat together the mascarpone and egg until smooth, then mix in the ground almonds and the remaining sugar. Pour into the tart case and smooth out so it covers the bottom. Quickly press the apricot halves into the mascarpone mixture, so they poke through like orange moons. Scatter the top with flaked almonds.

Turn the oven down oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4 and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the middle is puffed and tinged with brown, then remove from the oven and leave to cool for at least 20 minutes. Take the tart from the tart tin and eat in generous slices with a dollop of thick cream or crème fraîche. 

 ... enjoy like we enjoyed Super Saturday at the Olympics with Team GB.

Sunday 2 - Apple dilemma, a cash crisis !

Not the usual cash crisis that the little people face when they are unable to feed their families, not the cash crisis of a company competing on an uneven playing field, this is the cash crisis of a company that has not paid its tax due to the US treasury ...

... currently a potential (estimated) $25 billion in back taxes.

For those not able to read the Sunday Times report by Simon Duke .......

The tech giant must find a way to spend its $117bn pile and deal with threats to its dominance.
With his dark jeans, open-neck navy blue shirt and matching sports jacket, Tim Cook had assumed the mantle of Silicon Valley kingpin with ease.

At a meeting of technology executives in late May, the chief executive of Apple made it plain he expects other West Coast traditions to be upheld.
Under Cook’s command, the culture of mystery that helped transform Apple from a basket case into the world’s richest company was to be strengthened. The iPhone maker would “double down” the air of secrecy created by his predecessor, the late Steve Jobs. And all the more so where takeovers were involved.
“We buy companies. We don’t like to make it public,” Cook told his high- powered audience. “If I don’t have to, I won’t.”   The 51-year-old has lived up to his word. Just two months after this bold declaration, Cook didn’t bother to release a press release when he splashed out $356m (£228m) on a company that produces fingerprint recognition technology.
For the typical chief executive, a deal of this size would be a serious gamble, garlanded with corporate spin to win over investors. Not for Cook. With Apple banking almost $1 billion a week, the takeover of Authentic ate up less than two working days’ profit.
Like a latter-day Croesus, he has almost limitless resources at his disposal; he could buy almost any company on the planet before hitting the bottom of Apple’s war chest. With $ 117 billion ( and counting) in the bank, the cash hoard is larger than the market value of Glaxo Smith Kline, one of Britain’s largest businesses and the 33rd most valuable company in the world.
Cook, it would seem, is sitting pretty a year after succeeding Jobs. However, he is facing a critical test next month with the launch of a new iPhone.
For the first time, Apple will be leaping ahead without the creative imprimatur of Jobs, who lost his battle with pancreatic cancer in October.
Cook cannot afford any slip-ups if Apple is to maintain its supremacy. Rivals are already making inroads — Samsung, the South Korean electronics giant, sold twice as many high- end phones as Apple in the second quarter. The two companies are now slugging it out in a Californian courtroom over a multi-billion dollar patent infringement case.
Cook has not been afraid to show an independent streak. Breaking ranks with Jobs, who was set against returning money to shareholders, he has launched a $10 billion share buy-back plan and sanctioned Apple’s first dividend since 1995. He is also showing a thirst for takeovers. Apart from the Authentic deal, Apple has held talks with Twitter about a significant investment in the short-messaging service.
Although Cook’s $117 billion piggy bank is the envy of the industry, a cash crisis has begun to afflict Apple. The bulk of its money is trapped overseas — out of reach of the tax-man but also the company’s shareholders. The shining star of America’s tech industry isn’t prepared to hand over some £ 25 billion in back taxes to bring its riches home. In a courtroom in down-town San Jose, the self-styled capital of Silicon Valley, a middle-aged man with long hair and an untidy, grey- flecked beard launched a tirade against a perceived enemy.
“We’ve been ripped off, it’s plain to see. It’s offensive,” he protested.
It may sound like a domestic dispute or a street robbery, but the furious attack in fact came from one of the most respected figures in the tech industry.
Christopher Stringer, a long-time Apple designer who worked on the original iPhone, gave his explosive testimony during the opening skirmishes of the lawsuit that Apple has brought against Samsung.
It has accused the Korean rival of copying iPhone and iPad designs and is seeking damages of $2.5 billion.
Apple’s design team is a group of 16 “maniacal individuals” whose job is to “imagine products that don’t exist and guide them to life”, Stringer said. When Samsung started to “rip off” his pioneering ideas soon after the 2007 launch of the iPhone, it was hard not to quell the anger, he told the court.
Samsung rejects the charges. “This is not some copyist, some Johnny- come- lately doing knock-offs,” its lawyer said.
The case is just one flank in a worldwide legal battle between Apple and handset makers that use Google’s Android operating system to win control of the booming smartphone market. In addition to damages, Apple is seeking to have copycat products removed from the shelves around the world.
The stakes are enormously high. According to documents filed with the court, Apple earns a profit of as much as 58% on each and every iPhone shipped. At an average wholesale price of $650, that means the company has generated earnings of nearly $100 billion from the ground- breaking smart-phone since 2007.
In the current year alone, the iPhone is forecast to bring in earnings of $ 30 billion — equivalent to two- thirds of Apple’s expected profits. By contrast, the iPad contributes a modest 15% to the bottom line.
With Apple’s fortunes so tightly tethered to the iPhone, investors were unnerved by the second-quarter results.
Operating profits may have jumped 23% to $ 11.6 billion between April and June, but that fell short of the vertiginous growth rates Wall Street has come to expect.
Worrying soft patches have emerged. Sales in China, for instance, tumbled 28% compared with the previous quarter. Though an estimated 270m people in China can now afford to own an iPhone or iPad, sales of cheaper Android handsets are becoming the staple in the world’s second largest economy.
Europe’s economic woes also took a toll. Sales in France, Greece and Italy were “particularly poor”, Cook admitted, while the historically resilient German market registered growth of mere “single-digits”.
Much of the disappointment can be attributed to Apple’s savvy customers. The company may officially keep its own counsel on the timing of its next big launch, but it ticks like a metronome. The iPhone is reinvented every autumn, so Apple fans hold back in the spring and summer before upgrading.
There are reasons to fear that this pattern may be disrupted. For one thing, rivals are finally catching up. By fair means or foul, the third version of Samsung’s latest Galaxy handset has become a formidable competitor to the iPhone. Although badly wounded by Apple’s domination, Nokia and BlackBerry are fighting back.
Whether the Californian behemoth can continue spewing out profits will become clearer on September 12, when Cook is set to unveil the company’s latest iPhone.
As well as a better camera, a higher-resolution screen and a more powerful processor, it is expected to work on new super-fast mobile phone networks that offer lightning- quick downloads on the move. Although these fourth-generation services won’t be launched in Britain until next year, they are being rolled out rapidly in American, Scandinavia, Germany and developed Asian economies such as South Korea and Japan.
Other factors are likely to work in Apple’s favour. The new iPhone will be widely available for the Christmas gift-buying season in the West and for the Chinese new year. More importantly, the combination of the iTunes and Apps stores is locking customers into Apple’s devices.
“The great majority of iPhone users intend their next phone to be another iPhone. No other brand has the same loyalty,” said Benedict Evans of Enders Analysis, the research service. STEVE JOBS offers an object lesson in how fast and fickle the technology industry can be. Apple, founded by him and Steve Wozniak in 1976, was floundering by the mid-1990s. Close to bankruptcy, the once pioneering firm re-hired Jobs as chief executive in 1997, 12 years after he had quit.
Within 12 months, he had overseen the launch of the iMac personal computer. The sleek desktop was a hit with consumers but greater successes were soon to come. The iPod and then the iPhone not only turned the music and mobile phone markets upside down but transformed Apple into the most powerful and richest company in the world.
Cook and Stringer, the design guru who has spent nearly two decades at Apple, know all too well that the tech industry is brutal and the lifespan of world-beating companies can be pitifully short. As the decline of Yahoo and AOL has shown, the apparently impregnable are in reality never more than one false step from falling into irrelevance or worse.
Apple at least has the comfort of a thick cash blanket to keep ahead of its rivals. After Facebook’s calamitous float, Cook’s interest in investing in Twitter has waned. His company has the means to buy a Hollywood studio, such as Disney, to bolster the television set it is rumoured to be launching next year.
Great riches, though, are rarely the panacea they seem.
About $80 billion of Apple’s wealth is held in a gnarly web of foreign subsidiaries, where it is shielded from the US tax-man. To bring it home, the company would have to pay an estimated $25 billion in back taxes.
Because of this enormous potential bill, the treasure is effectively trapped abroad, with Apple unable to return the cash to investors or use it to fund American takeover deals.
Unless Cook solves this conundrum, he could be crushed by the burden of inherited wealth.
That $25 billion represents the stake that the US taxpayers have in Apple, this money rightfully belongs to the people, the little people who are the unregistered stakeholders ............

Sunday 1 - Ta ta to the TATA pension ...

... scheme, TATA STEEL has taken the first step towards closing the historic British Steel final-salary pension scheme.

... as reported by Karl West in today's Sunday Times :

Generous final salary scheme closed to new staff as losses at steel-maker soar to £846m.
TATA STEEL has taken the first step towards closing the historic British Steel final-salary pension scheme.
The move was revealed as the Indian group’s debt-laden European arm, including the rump of British Steel, racked up a pre-tax loss of £846m in the year to the end of March 2012. It lost £379m the year before.
Accounts for Tata Steel Europe said demand for steel had been hit by the deepening crisis in the eurozone. The company also raised the amount it invested in the business by 85% to £441m, including a further £74m towards rebuilding the No 4 blast furnace at Port Talbot, South Wales.
Karl-Ulrich Köhler, head of Tata Steel Europe, last month warned it may delay lighting the £ 185m furnace if the market remains subdued.
Tata Group is a big investor in Britain — it also owns Tetley Tea and Jaguar Land Rover. The Indian conglomerate bought Corus, the Anglo-Dutch giant that included British Steel, in a £6.7 billion deal in 2007.
The European steel operation is still weighed down by borrowings of £3.4 billion. It paid £424m in finance charges to service the debt last year.
Tata Steel employs 19,000 workers in Britain. It controls 46% of the domestic steel market, with 48% of the steel used in Britain being imported and 6% provided by other home-grown companies.
Union leaders have fought to keep the steel-maker's gold-plated retirement plan open to new entrants since Tata took over Corus.
However, the latest accounts reveal that from April 2014 new starters will be enrolled in a “nursery” pension arrangement. This less generous defined-contribution scheme will give new recruits the option of entering the final-salary plan at a future unspecified date, “subject to agreed conditions being achieved regarding the strength of the British Steel Pension Scheme”.
Sources said the future of the final- salary scheme would depend on how it performed.
Roy Rickhuss, national officer for steel at the Community trade union, said members of the nursery scheme would become eligible for the more generous pension if it has a funding level of at least 104%, or more assets than liabilities.
In March 2011, the scheme was valued at £11.4 billion. But, like many other former nationalised industries, the British Steel pension fund is paying out millions in benefits each year to 155,000 members, while only 18,500 workers are currently contributing to the fund.
This gave the scheme a funding level of 97% last year. The latest triennial valuation will be revealed within the next few months.
Rickhuss rejected suggestions that the nursery plan heralded the inevitable closure of the final-salary scheme.
“We would not have entered discussions on that basis. In our view it was a fairly good, sensible compromise,” he insisted.
The answer to TATA's problems in the UK might be alleviated if the 48% of the steel used in Britain that is currently being imported, had a "Green Tax" imposed, make it an economic imperative to make it where you intend to sell it ...

... of course energy pricing in the UK must be impacting TATA as it impacts the little people of Britain, but more of that later !