Opinions on ‘Donald MacIntyre Unsolved’

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Watched an episode of ‘Donald MacIntyre Unsolved’ last night – Spoiler alert. A 35 year old woman had disappeared without a trace. Her name was Claudia Lawrence and she was a chef at the University of York. I love the mystery aspect of the programme but I often think there is something else in the investigation that is being withheld from the viewer. A vital clue that would lead you to a conclusion but probably not a suspect in these types of crimes.

Apparently march 18th, 2009 was the last date anyone saw Claudia alive. She had walked to work as usual, around 5am. Worked through the day and given a lift home for 2.50pm. She phoned her mum, displaying no anxiety or upset. The last text she sent was 8.23pm, all normal. The phone signal died at midnight, it said. It was said in the programme that she always made sure the phone was charged for the next day.

There was some cctv apparently of interest that was shown. At 7.15pm on the 18th a figure with a bag walked around to the alley behind her house and a minute later walked back around and off. The same cctv caught a similar figure doing exactly the same thing at 5.07am the next morning. It looked like a man but wouldn’t have had time to get into the house from the alley in the time he took on the cctv. Nothing else was noted or came out in the programme about activity around the house on the night and morning of 18th march, 2009.

A big red light for me turned up later in the show when it came out that she had lots of partners, some married or of dubious moral background. While her life is obviously her own a clandestine entanglement lends itself to being alone with someone you don’t know alot about. In places where almost no-one knows where you are at any given time. Donald Macintyre at the end even said at the end that she may have stayed at a lovers house that night.

The police investigation caused some controversy among Claudia’s friends and family by issuing a photograph showing her with the wrong coloured hair. It took a while to get it removed and a new one issued. The attitude of the police to witnesses was criticised too as it was felt they alienated people with their questioning. An interested sky reporter told how he was warned off and threatened by people he asked about Claudia’s habits, etc.

No real breakthrough in the investigation and watching it was a little dissatisfying as a conclusion at the end was missing. There were too many unanswered questions really.

That lack of a conclusion spurred me on the scour other literature and reports online. A Sun article dated 3/12/2019, introduces the theory convicted killer Christopher Halliwell might have been involved in her disapperance. There is loads to look at and it would be a real job to look and document it all. In a nutshell the authorities say there is no way that Halliwell had anything to do with Claudia’s disappearance. Despite the investigation into him only having £40,000 and the Senior investigating officer was sure Halliwell killed lots of other women. The investigation into other murders was halted because of procedural errors. However there are a few tantalising things linking him to Claudia’s case. The date, 18th march was significant to Halliwell, he’d broken up with a partner on march 19th, he’d killed another woman on march 19th Sian O’Callaghan in 2011. Also it has come to light that Halliwell’s dad lived close to Claudia Lawrence’s home so it’s possible Halliwell might have known her.

From my own experience walking to work in the early hours I found that I attracted unwanted attention from odd people. So I tried to vary my times and route. That worked a lot of the time. With Claudia walking the same route at the same time I could understand her being noticed by undesirables sooner or later. Her colourful private life was an invite to safety issues too. The person of interest on evening of the 18th and the early hours of 19th was interesting. Going around the back of Claudia’s house on both occassions seemed to be checking if someone was in. Especially the morning of the 19th going round the back of Claudia’s house at 5.07am. With Claudia going work at 5am, perhaps the prowler on cctv was checking if a light was on in a back room or bedroom suggesting Claudia was still at home and was late or that no-one was in if no lights were showing. Leading the prowler to come out of the alley behind Claudia’s house even quicker than than they had the previous night at 7.15pm. Leading me to think that the prowler was interested in knowing where Claudia was that night and so was unlikely to be the perpetrator. I think that Donald MacIntyre’s theory that Claudia was not at home overnight seems very credible bearing in mind the prowlers actions. Perhaps he’d heard someone down the ‘Wolf Pack’ pub saying they were going on a date with Claudia or something and was checking if Claudia was at home to check. It would have helped if the police had checked where her phone said she was too. What do you think?

Former French President, Nicholas Sarkozy Found Guilty Of Corruption.

Former President of France, Nicholas Sarkozy has been sentenced to three years in prison after being convicted of corruption and influence peddling, according to a Polito article.

I wonder what Matt Hancock will be thinking about while he reads this? Refer to a previous blog on his activities I made.

Nicholas Sarkozy is the first French president to face jail time for his actions while president. The former president Jaques Chirac getting a suspended sentence over a fake job case.

The corruption allegations surfaced against Sarkozy after investigators wire-tapped conversations between him and his lawyer, Thierry Herzog. The investigation was into allegations of Libyan financing in Sarkozy’s 2007 campaign.

The recordings showed Sarkozy and Herzog had discussed contacting Gilbert Azibert, a magistrate at the Court of Cassation. That is France’s court of last resort for criminal cases. The magistrate was contacted to gain information on another investigation into whether the ex-president had received donations from L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt.

Prosecutors said Sarkozy and his lawyer discussed offering a prestige post in Monaco to Azibert in return for information about the Bettencourt case, which was eventually dropped.

Thierry Herzog and Gilbert Azibert were also found guilty and sentenced to jail terms.

Nicholas Sarkozy has the option to be detained at home with an electronic bracelet instead of the one year prison sentence, so he is unlikely to see the inside of a prison cell. The other two years are given as a suspended sentence.

He is almost certain to appeal the courts decision, in a bid to clear his name. The ex-president has eyes on the 2022 elections in France and would have no chance if the courts verdict was not reversed.

The Main Reason For UK Lockdowns Revealed.

Chris Hopson, CEO of NHS Providers.

According the an article in the Daily Mail today, the main reason for lockdowns during the past twelve months has been to shield the N.H.S. from being swamped by large numbers of patients!

I am glad that the truth is finally out there and the real culprit for forcing untold misery on tens of millions of people in the country can be levelled at Government policy over the years.

Chris Hopson, the CEO of N.H.S. providers, has called for an urgent review of the way intensive care is managed.

He is quoted as saying, “The East of England, South West and South East were falling short in particular. These are exactly the areas of the country that have experienced the worst volume of Covid patients. Who have had to be transferred around the country to ease pressure.

He says, “It is neither safe nor sensible to rely on N.H.S. hospital trusts being able to double or triple capacity at the drop of a hat, as they have had to.”

Whilst the U.K. has 7.3 critical care beds per 100,000 people, Germany has 33.8 and the U.S. has 34.3.

There are still nearly 4,500 people being treated in critical care units each day according to published figures. For comparison 3,100 ICU beds were occupied during the same week (Feb 15-21) over the past four winters.

A Department Health and Social Care spokesman said, “The Government is determined to back the N.H.S. in every possible way. Investing £52 billion this year and £20 billion next.” Pity we couldn’t have kept pace with other countries capacities in hospital needs, without playing catch-up after the horse had bolted.

I think I have covered the same ground on previous occasions in previous blogs, quoting officials and official figures with the same conclusions. However I will add that according to official figures, the N.H.S. as a whole, has at no time during the crisis been swamped by Covid-19 patients. Also if the the Nightingale hospitals capacity around the country had been brought to bear. It is arguable that none of the lockdowns following the first would have been needed. That supposes there were sufficient trained staff to man the nightingale hospitals, if there were not what was the point?

I thought it would be interesting to include this graph to illustrate the difference between a country which had no lockdown, no economic impact to their economy and no increased mental health issues, etc.. To the U.K.’s experience tracking the new deaths attributed to Covid-19. It may not be as clear as I would have liked but the blue line is the U.K. and the red line is Sweden! Interesting isn’t it!

Now do you believe what the Government is telling you?

R.A.F. Fauld, 27th November, 1944.

On November 27 th, 1944 an underground factory producing bombs, shells and rifle ammunition exploded.

R.A.F. Fauld blew up killing 70 people, the exact number may never be known. The blast from the detonation of up to 4,000 tons of explosives, including 500,000 rounds of rifle ammunition, blasted out a huge crater, measuring 120 metres deep and 1,200 metres across, that’s still visible today.

A total of 70 people died, including R.A.F. personnel, six Italian prisoners and over 200 cows on nearby farms were killed.

Also a 450,000 cubic metre reservoir was destroyed in the explosion leading to 37 people being drowned.

It is known that not all the ordnance close to the explosion blew up, but it is deemed too dangerous to recover any unexploded ordnance. Approximately one third of the underground facility was blown up, equating to 65,000 square yards.

What I found more amazing, is the fact that the other two thirds of the facility continued to be used until 1966, when the unit operating it(R.A.F. No.21 MU) were disbanded. The American forces took over from 1967 to 1973. It goes without saying that if the whole facility had exploded the local area would have all disappeared.

A Derbyshire newspaper article mentions the testimony gathered by a local journalist called Mark Rowe. He talked to witnesses directly and recounts some first hand accounts and quotes from the secret inquiry. A crucial witness was a man called Lionel Poynton. He told the enquiry he had seen a man chiselling on a bomb minutes before the explosion, at 11.11 am on that Monday morning. The enquiry later judged that someone using a brass chisel, instead of a wooden batten, to remove a detonator on a bomb caused a spark.

The bomb was being worked on inside the underground store, against standing orders. The inquiry was told that due to pressure of work, staff shortages, etc. leading to corners being cut to get the job done. Also lack of oversight meant a tragedy was likely at some point. It might be pertinent to add that it is recorded there were 189 Italian prisoners were working at the facility at the time of the accident.

According to eyewitnesses of the event, R.A.F. No. 21 MU Bomb Storage Dump blew up in two explosions leaving two distinct columns of black smoke, taking the form of a mushroom cloud. The cloud rose to several thousand feet, with a huge blaze at its base. A huge open air dump of incendiary bombs caught fire but it was allowed to burn itself out.

Upper Castle Hays farm completely disappeared and Peter Ford’s Lime and Gypsum Works, nearby with cottages were levelled. The Lime Works being destroyed by the water from the destroyed reservoir dam. Three other farms and accompanying cottages were extensively damaged as well.

I have always been interested in this story while growing up. My father had relatives and friends at Tutbury and he told me about the explosion as a small boy from what he’d been told.

Incredibly, the working were open to the public up until 1979, when it was fenced off and entrances sealed. I might have visited if I’d known and I don’t think my father knew either because he never mentioned it. I understand occasional visits are made by interested people despite the constant risk of ordnance exploding.

Perseverance Rover.

N.A.S.A,’s Perseverance Rover landed on the surface of Mars, in excellent shape, on 18/02/21.

High definition camera footage was obtained from strategically placed cameras of the vehicles descent and landing. The scientists were able to check its many transitions during the fall. In the event of accidents they would be able to see what went wrong and adjust for the next time. Fortunately nothing broke and we are left with some exciting footage that looks like a CGI animation.

About the size of a car and weighing 2,263 lbs the rover is designed to look at the geology and biology of the Red Planet. An instrument called SupaCam helps in the analysis of the chemical composition and mineralogy of the surface at a distance. An instrument for x-ray lithochemistry, an x-ray fluorescence spectrometer and high resolution imager to map the fine scale elemental composition of surface materials. Plus the ability to map the minerology and organic compounds using an ultraviolet laser equipped spectrometer.

There are two cameras mounted on a pole at the front. They are left and right mastcam-z equipped with 20 mp cameras and a zoom function. They are able to capture panoramic and stereoscopic images as well. These along with others have been tested and and footage sent back for viewing by the public.

A set of sensors to temperature, speed, direction, pressure, relative humidity and dust size and shape help too.

At the back of the rover is a box containing a ground penetrating radar to provide centimetre-scale resolution of the geologic structure of the subsurface.

A very interesting experiment to find out if oxygen can be made from the atmosphere of Mars is housed on the rover too. The Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment(MOXIE) will be used to demonstrate if oxygen can be made from the thin atmosphere of Mars. A ‘scroll compressor’ is used to compress the Martian atmosphere, to an earth type pressure. Then the resulting gas gets fed into a ‘cell stack’ at 800 degrees centigrade to enable the chemical process to start. The Co2 is split into carbon monoxide and oxygen. Creating 10g of oxygen per hour in each experiment. These will be carried out at intervals because of the experiments power demands, it requires the full output of the on-board reactor. If the MOXIE works as expected the machine will be up-scaled and used to provide a source of oxygen for future astronauts and spacecraft.

In 2026 N.A.S.A. has plans to send another rover to collect samples the Perseverance rover picks up. The idea being to send the samples back to Earth for more analysis.

An incredible addition to the Perseverance expedition on Mars will be a helicopter called Ingenuity. It is expected to fly five times during its planned thirty day testing schedule. Each flight should be between 10-16 ft above the ground and upto 160ft away from the rover. It has the ability to be airborne for upto ninety seconds per day, charging for the rest of the time. The 35-40 wh battery only uses 33% of its capacity per flight but requires the rest to keep the batteries and circuitry warm in the cold Martian environment.

It is designed to be fully autonomous in flight as the time delay to earth would make it unusable. Missions will be planned then sent to the helicopter to fulfil. The results of the mission analysed back on Earth at J.P.L..

The design of the helicopter incorporates the use of two contra-rotating rotors, which because of the Martian atmosphere being the equivalent of 100,000 ft here, need to rotate at 40 times a second. Also there is a lot less gravity on Mars, at 38% of ours here and its weight has been pared down to 1.8 kgs. So overall Ingenuity is expected to fulfil its mission. Scientists believe, using data acquired by previous rovers, that the best time to attempt a flight will be 11 am Martian time. After gaining some flying experience different times might be attempted.

Altogether a very complicated scientific expedition to test out new technologies and survey the Martian landscape. Leading to better technologies to make it easier to potentially colonise Mars in the future.

It all looks like a planned mission with an end in sight. Elon Musk’s Starship experiments should mesh nicely with N.A.S.A’s plans if they can work together, like the Dragon capsule.

A really fantastic time to be alive, I think. Something to look forward to post Covid.

Panorama of the landing site in Jezero Crater taken on 20/02/21.
Persevereance’s big wheel.’

Update 03/03/21; New colour image from Perseverance.

Nipah Virus Panic?

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Nipah virus has been highlighted, in a recent Daily Express article, as being the next deadly pathogen to appear on the horizon.

Biotech company Moderna is reportedly using messenger RNA technology to create a vaccine for the Nipah virus(NiV). The go-ahead was given in mid January apparently.

According to the article Nipah virus is related to virus’ in bats, the fruit bat to be specific. I have to put it out there, why are they concentrating on a bat virus again?

Nipah virus is(NiV) estimated to have between 45% and 75% mortality associated with it.

An associated article in the same paper says a number of out breaks were identified in Malaysia in 1999. A drug called ribavirin was used to treat these cases but the drugs efficacy in people is reportedly unclear. Although there are no current cases.

There is no official treatment or vaccine available.

I think we should wait for an out break of a more ‘refined’, Wuhan based version before we get our masks out and restrict our movements to our own homes though.

That’s taking nothing away from the Nipah virus(NiV), which I am sure is a nasty piece of work. However there are many diseases around the world we should be afraid of. Not all diseases begin with bats, I think.

Some Thoughts On Big Texas Whiteout.

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According to an article in the American Statesman newspaper in Austin, Texas recently, frozen wind turbines were hampering power output in the state of Texas last week. That must be cold to freeze wind turbines! At the height of the power outages last week it was reported that 40% of customers were without power. That’s over 200,000 people without power in this technological age. 25% of that power came from wind power, according to the paper.

Griddy, a Texas power provider went so far as to tell its 29,000 customers to switch to another provider because spot electricity prices had jumped to $9,000 a megawatt hour. Its customers being exposed to real-time swings in wholesale prices for electricity on the markets. The big freeze led to huge spikes in electricity costs, making it cost $900 to charge a Tesla car. I wonder what Elon Musk thinks about his decision to place a giga-factory in the state?

In a de-regulated market any way of maximising profit is ok. That’s why most power providers there have their customers fit smart meters. The companies know all about their customers power habits and charge accordingly. It probably works in the customers favour when prices are cheap but in their present predicament it works against the customer.

Republican Texas congressman, Dan Crenshaw, is reported to have commented, “This is what happens when you force the grid to rely, in part, on wind as a power source. When weather conditions get bad, as they did this week, intermittent renewable energy like wind isn’t there when you need it.”

Texas Agriculture Commissioner, Sid Millar went so far as to say, “We should never build another wind turbine in Texas. The big experiment has failed big time.”

Needless to say, the climate activists, who have been pushing the warmer winters narrative, were upset by these pronouncements. Bill Gates slamming governor Greg Abbott for Texas blackouts after the governor used the crisis to attack the ‘green new deal’, a climate activist initiative. President Biden and Google jumped on the stories saying renewables failed also saying they weren’t to blame.

Nice to know someone else had some winter weather during the winter season.

Finally Admitted P.C.R. Tests Are Creating Too Many False Cases.

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A recent article in the Lancet says that P.C.R. tests can discover genetic code from single copies of Covid-19.

Using the P.C.R test with swabs taken from a patients nose and throat. Then amplifying the genetic code, of the swabs contents, over thirty-forty times. Although up to forty-five times is quoted else where and remember the accuracy suffers above thirty-five times. This process doubles the size of the genetic code fragments being tested. Which leads to billions of pieces of R.N.A. fragments to be identified. Thus enabling the test to distinguish potentially single copies of genetic code. According to the February 17th article, the fragments can linger for weeks in a patients nose and throat. So the patient may not have symptoms when tested as the infection will have been tackled by the patients immune system.

The article goes on to say that most people are contagious for 4-8 days. With most transmission occurring before day 5. This timing fits with observed patterns of two days before and five days after the onset of symptoms. This short period of transmissibility is in stark contrast with the 22-33 days of P.C.R. test positivity. So according to the article, this suggests that 50-75% of the time a patient is P.C.R. positive they are going to be no longer infectious!

When the persons immune system tackles the Covi-19 infection, in healthy adults, fragments of genetic code falls to very low levels in mucus in the nose and throat. However the P.C.R. test can pick up and provide a positive result for weeks or sometimes months after the person has stopped being infectious!

The main thrust of the article was to try and clarify the differences between the P.C.R test and the L.F.T.. It tried to reconcile the conflicting data from various sources. Basically the P.C.R. test is deemed to be very accurate at what it does when applied in the correct environment. Something the likes of Dr. Michael Yeadon and others told the Government at the start of the ‘pandemic’. He has proven to be right all along. By using the P.C.R. test to base the Governments public restrictions policies on, since the start. I believe the huge case numbers the Government has used to instigate the restrictions weren’t valid. Therefore an enquiry needs to be initiated in to the Governments handling of the whole episode.

The lateral flow tests the Government favours now, because of the speed of the results, have failed to live up to their initial promise. The roll out in the City of Liverpool and University campuses late last year led to grossly inaccurate results and I have commented on it before. The roll-out of ‘surge testing’ using this type of test will lead to more outlandish figures, in my opinion. All positive test results using this method had to be re-checked using the P.C.R. test. Thus creating a testing nightmare for people, waiting a day or so to find out if they were positive or not.

At the moment schools are set to return on March 8th. Every pupil will be tested by the school and parents are to test their child at home twice a week. All using the lateral flow test, can anyone see what is likely to happen? More positives than you can shake a stick at, I think. That’s going on past experience and what will that lead to? Undoubtedly more reasons to restrict the public, I think.

The biggest question is how much is all this extra testing going to cost? The Government said late last year that it was likely to cost £150 billion, that was down graded to £100 billion after some murmers of discontent.

To those who might say the vaccination program will have a big impact I say it might. However it is aimed at the over sixties, who have mostly been shielding or been in care homes. So having limited impact on spreading the virus.

Scientists Prepare For The Very Close Flyby Of Asteroid Apophis In 2029.

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Astronomers and other scientists will be very excited to say hello to asteroid Apophis on March 5th, 2021. It is calculated to have the closest approach to earth on April 13th, 2029 and it is a Friday.

Scientists are hoping to get as much data as possible during the March flyby to better calculate its size, shape and trajectory. It could become the most important asteroid for a 1,000 years, according to Marina Brozovic, a radar scientist at N.A.S.A.’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, in a Space.com article recently.

The March flyby will be more than 40 times as distant as the moon is from Earth and scientists believe the asteroid to be more than 1,000 feet wide. It is a mix of rock and metal and could be shaped like a peanut.

According to Richard Binzel, a planetary scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “Apophis is 300 times more massive than Tunguska and 5,000 times more massive than Chelyabinsk, so this is an object that certainly gets your attention.”

Nine or so more loops around the sun and eight more for Earth will bring Apophis within 19,800 miles of Earth. That will bring the massive object inside the orbit of satellites in geosynchronous orbits, at 22,236 miles above Earth. That’s why March’s flyby will be extremely important for scientists. Any change in the asteroid, whether it is size or speed or trajectory needs to be checked. In astronomical terms 19,800 miles in 2029 is equivalent to a hairs breadth. But it won’t hit the earth!

The uncertanties start to mount up during the 2029 flyby though. Apophis will come in to the sphere of influence of Earths gravity, being so close. Scientists aren’t sure about the asteroids composition. Is it a one piece solid, is it a loose collection of material which might fly apart under the strain of gravity? If parts break off where will they go? No-one knows what will happen but there is alot of mass to the asteroid.

The only previous history scientists can draw any conclusions from was the comet, Shoemaker-Levy 9. Which had a disastrous encounter with the planet Jupiter in 1993. The comet was torn apart by Jupiters massive gravity and collided with the surface. Scientists don’t expect this to happen with Apophis because the Earth is a lot less massive but it might change the asteroids trajectory. Leading to the recalculation of subsequent orbits in future years.

Apophis will be at its closest approach to Earth on March 6th at 01.15 GMT.

Groundhog Day Isn’t Just A Film.

I always thought ‘Groundhog Day’ was just a film but no, Groundhogs are real and they are used to predict future weather. A peculiar past-time across the pond apparently, sorry for showing my ignorance.

Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil was reported to have run from hole, at around 7.25am Tuesday to predict their weather. The country is due for six more weeks of winter, according to a USnews article.

The Groundhog Day tradition goes back to 1887 when the first official trek was made to Gobbler’s Knob on February 2nd. Br’er Groundhog was consulted for a weather prediction and the rest is history.

Part of the allure of Pennsylvania’s tradition is Phil being the only true American groundhog prognosticator. However while Phil’s predictions may hold up in the in the Northeast, weather in the entire country is another task entirely.

In Georgia, General Beauregard Lee, nicknamed Beau, is famous around the South for his accuracy. According to PolitiFact, he is listed as 94% accurate. Beau, one of Punxsutawney Phil’s strongest rivals holds honourary doctorates from the University of Georgia in weather prediction and Southern groundology from Georgia State.

Woodstock, Illinois is home to Woodstock Willie and is the star of a week long festival. The weather prediction takes the form of a re-enactment of the ceremony filmed for the 1993 film, Groundhog Day, which was originally filmed in Woodstock.

In Louisiana two large semi-aquatic rodents, called nutrias, predict the weather.

Pierre C. Shadeaux of New Iberia is known as the cadjun groundhog as groundhogs are not native to the area.

New Orleans is home to T-Boy another nutria turned weather predictor.

Maryland has Western Maryland Murray as its groundhog, who has been making predictions since 2008 apparently.

In Michigan they have Woody the Woodchuck is the groundhog of choice and the only female.

New Jersey has Essex Ed whose been making weather predictions since 1997. Another string to his bow is predicting the Super Bowl winner each year.

New York has at least four groundhogs predicting the weather. Staten Island Chuck makes the official prediction for New York City. While Dunkirk Dave, Malverne Mel and Holtsville Hal make predictions throughout the rest of the state.

North Carolina has Sir Wally Raleigh and is reputed to have a better record for accuracy than Punxsutawney Phil.

Ohio has Buckeye Chuck as its official groundhog, based in Marion.

The city of Cleveland has Thistle the Whistlepig as their official groundhog and a newcomer to the weather prediction game.

Oregon has Fufu and Nancy the hedgehogs predicting their weather up to 2020. Then Filbert the Beaver, also known as, Stumptown Fil, started making the weather forecasts in the Beaver state.

Tennessee has Chattanooga Chuck of Chattanooga who delivers his groundhog prediction in the form of a poem.

West Virginia has French Creek Freddie as their official groundhog, with over 60% accuracy over 43 years.

Wisconsin’s Jimmy the Groundhog has also been touted as having high accuracy in his weather predictions.

They all seem to be very colourful characters in the weather predicting game and I think we could benefit from a dose of national animal weather prediction over here in the U.K.. The meteorological office could always do with some more accurate competition. Their record is atrocious from personal experience.

M.I.5 Could Authorise An Operative To Commit Serious Offences, Even Murder.

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The U.K. has introduced a bill allowing confidential informants working for M.I.5 and the police to break the law. Allowing them to carry out serious crimes and even murder with impunity, says a series of articles by Dan Sabbagh in the Guardian over the last six months.

In a challenge to M.I.5’s handling of agents, lawyers for a coalition of human rights groups have questioned the legality and extent of its powers.

Ben Jaffey Q.C., representing Privacy international, Reprieve, the Belfast based Committee on the Administration of Justice and the Pat Finucane Centre, said the policy, known as ‘the third direction’, in effect meant that M.I.5 was granting immunity to its agents. The third direction guidelines allow agents to become involved in criminal activity without specifying the limits to the criminal activity.

Ben Jaffey Q.C. went on, while addressing the investigatory powers tribunal(I.P.T.), because M.I.5 doesn’t tell the victim of any crime, police or prosecutors they were in practice concealed and no public interest prosecution was considered. Collusion between officials and agents inside terrorist organisations had led to serious abuses, he said.

Police recently recommended that more than 20 people, including senior officials, should be prosecuted for murder, kidnap, torture and perverting the course of justice following an investigation by Operation Kenova into the handling of agents inside the I.R.A. during Northern Irelands troubles.

M.I.5’s policy was drawn up following the murder of the Belfast lawyer Pat Finucane in 1989 by loyalist paramilitaries who had been working as informants for R.U.C.’s special branch. He was shot 14 times in front of his wife and children and involved British state collusion, which led to an apology from the prime minister David Cameron in 2012.

In a recent court of appeal hearing Sir James Eadie, representing the Government, when asked if a Security Service officer had the power to authorise an agent to execute an extremely hostile individual. He is reported in the Guardian, there would be the power to do that under the 1989 Secret Service Act and the royal prerogative that effectively governed the intelligence agency before that.

I thought it important to air this information because on the one side we all want to be safe and go about our lives in the knowledge we are being protected. On the other side are we prepared to have an organisation we think of as up-holding the law and locking up bad guys. In actual fact working in cahoots with criminals for extended periods, carrying out criminal acts on a regular basis, in the hope of putting the original criminals in jail? Isn’t there an intrinsic risk that our intelligence services become entwined with criminal elements over time and leads to a slippery slope, to a situation where they are used to carry out the very acts they are supposed to stop. The killing of a fine upstanding citizen like Pat Finucane highlights the dangers for me. I am sure there have been many others in the past who haven’t been brought to the publics attention.

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