One In One Out

Benefitz Betty's picture

tis Conference season:

"Countries that were once democracies are becoming plutocracies; plutocracies are becoming oligarchies; oligarchies are becoming kleptocracies."

"Strangely, one of the best evocations of this long-gone system is Goldfinger, the James Bond book. The film of the same name has a slightly different plot, but they both feature an attempt to undermine the west’s financial system by interfering with its gold reserves. “Gold and currencies backed by gold are the foundations of our international credit,” a Bank of England official named Colonel Smithers explains to 007..."


"THE Government announced its crackdown on the gambling industry in May by slashing the stakes on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals from £100 every 20 seconds to just £2. That was their intention but there is a lot of confusion around when this is going to happen. It is widely anticipated that millions of pounds will be spent on these machines in the time the Government takes to implement its promises. 

The setting up of its legislative review also does little to tackle the harmful effects of online gambling which is becoming an epidemic. To me, it does not make sense to have such incoherent legislation. We are simply taking the addiction off the high street and sending it online.  

GambleAware, a charity which raises awareness of gambling addiction, said that 370,000 young people aged 11 to 16 gamble each week and that 25,000 of them are classified as problem gamblers.  Adam Bradford: My father went to prison because of his gambling addiction   With the sharp increase in online advertising and social media tactics used by gambling firms, it is no wonder that people like me are increasingly worried for the next generation.  Four years ago, my dad was caught in the grip of a gambling addiction. He went to jail after stealing over £50,000 from his employers and had kept his ordeal secret from the family. 
We only knew there was a problem when it was revealed that he was on his way to prison.

He racked up hundreds of thousands of debt in the background, even remortgaging our family home to keep the whole facade rolling. Stories like his are seldom heard.

Since our ordeal, we started a national campaign to raise awareness of the addiction and for it to be treated as a mental health problem like drug and alcohol addiction. Gambling activity does, after all, affect the endorphin in your brain like cocaine does, according to University of Cambridge research. What I never expected in running this campaign was for the less educated public to shout back at us so loudly.  Of course, running a campaign you expect a certain level of feedback and reaction. We have received horrific abuse. From people wishing me and my dad dead to those calling for him to be sent back to prison.

We are raising awareness of a serious condition. The Gambling Commission’s most recent statistics suggest that over 500,000 people are problem gamblers in the UK, but of 
course this information is not complete in my opinion. Many hide their addiction, like my dad did, and even do not realise 
they have a problem until it is too late.

Tom Watson MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, calls gambling addiction ‘Britain’s hidden crisis’ and has stood up against Labour’s previous policy of virtually deregulating gambling in the 2005 Gambling Act.   The Government’s recent review includes a recommendation for Public Health England to look into
the health effects of gambling and for online gambling regulation and advertising to be reviewed.

It is promising rhetoric but what we need is action. Firm, fast action which will stop lives from being ruined and kill this social blight. A compulsory levy should be further strengthened so that the adequate amount of treatment and support can be delivered to both gambling addicts and the families who their addiction affects.

There was no support available for our family, besides self-help groups. It is estimated that problem gambling costs the country over £1.2bn a year, according to a study from GambleAware and the Institute of Public Policy Research think-tank.    Craig Thorley, research fellow, from the IPPR, said that problem gambling is a hidden addiction. IPPR’s research shows the scale of the challenge for Britain’s public services for the first time.

This should be a wake-up call to the Government. We need a robust strategy to deal with this issue, just like we’ve had for other public health issues such as alcoholism.  What we do not need is brave campaigners, who are telling their stories to influence meaningful policy, lambasted and insulted because of their work to make a genuine difference to the lives of 

Bach, Bark & Bite ...


"The villain Auric Goldfinger’s cunning scheme is to own pawnbrokers all over Britain, buy up gold jewellery and trinkets from ordinary Brits in need of a bit of cash, then melt them down into plates, attach the plates to his Rolls-Royce, drive them to Switzerland, reprocess them and fly them to India. By doing so, Goldfinger will not only undermine the British currency and economy, but also earn profits he could use to fund communists and other miscreants. Hundreds of Bank of England employees are engaged in trying to stop this kind of scam from happening, Smithers tells 007, but Goldfinger is too clever for them. He has secretly become Britain’s richest man, and has £5m-worth of gold bars sitting in the vaults of a bank in the Bahamas.

“We are asking you to bring Mr Goldfinger to book, Mr Bond, and get that gold back,” says Smithers. “You know about the currency crisis and the high Bank rate? Of course. Well, England needs that gold, badly – and the quicker the better.”

By modern standards, Goldfinger wasn’t doing anything wrong, apart perhaps from dodging some taxes. He was buying up gold at a price people were prepared to pay for it, then selling it in another market, where people were prepared to pay more. It was his money. It was his gold. So what was the problem? He was oiling the wheels of commerce, efficiently allocating capital where it could best be used, no?..."

"By the 1960s, perhaps 5% of all the money in Europe lay under Switzerland’s steel mattresses.   For the City’s most ambitious financiers, this was tantalising: there was all this money squirrelled away, doing nothing much, and it was exactly what they needed in their quest to start selling bonds again. As Warburg saw it, if he could somehow access the money, package it up and lend it, he would be in business. Surely, Warburg thought, he could persuade the people who were paying Swiss bankers to look after their money that they would rather earn an income from it by buying his bonds? And surely he could persuade European companies that they would rather borrow this money from him and avoid paying the steep fees demanded in New York?...

"Time after time, countries have chased after the business they have lost offshore (as the US did by abolishing the regulations the banks were dodging when they moved to London), thus making the onshore world ever more similar to the offshore piratical world that Warburg’s bankers created."

The Shorts are out?

"Come January, we will get another update of how much more of the world’s wealth these oligarchs have taken for themselves: the only surprise will be the precise volume of their new acquisition, and how little they have left for the rest of us. But we shouldn’t wait until then to grasp the urgency of the situation.

We need to act now to shine a light on their wealth, on the dark matter whose gravitational power is bending the fabric of our societies. We may have been ignoring Moneyland, but its nomad citizens have not been ignoring us. If we wish to take back control of our economies, and our democracies, we need to act now. Every day that we wait, more money is stacked against us."



Captain Black's picture

A Chicken & Egg Race

"The European Parliament has passed a resolution calling for an international ban on so-called killer robots.

It aims to pre-empt the development and use of autonomous weapon systems that can kill without human intervention.

Last month, talks at the UN failed to reach consensus on the issue, with some countries saying the benefits of autonomous weapons should be explored.

And some MEPs were concerned legislation could limit scientific progress of artificial intelligence.

While others said it could become a security issue if some countries allowed such weapons while others did not.

"I know this might look like a debate about some distant future or about science fiction. It's not," said Federica Mogherini, the EU chief of foreign and security policy during the debate at the European Parliament..."



Captain Black's picture

The Perfect Storm

One for the Odd Bods:

Dark Matters.


""We have looked into the option of a tranquilliser gun, however after many hours on the phone to various Vets, Zoos, RSPCA, Police and other organisations, they are not as readily available as people may think. They are heavily regulated and using them also has many inherent risks. Assuming he is in an area where its safe to discharge the dart then the drugs don't take effect immediately. He may well cover some distance upon the dart hitting him and could cause himself injury or disappear from view.  We want to assure people that his welfare is our number one priority and any decisions made are based on that."

In the loop.

"The park say that they have been taking specialist advice on other ways to recapture Houdini but want to make sure any method they use will not harm him."

""This is the nightmare scenario long feared; according to the UK's most senior police officers... The Home Office said it would not comment on leaked documents. A spokesman said: "We do not want or expect... and are increasingly confident that we will secure a deal... "However, it is the duty of any responsible government to prepare for every eventuality, including the unlikely scenario that we reach March 2019 without agreeing a deal.  "With that in mind, we are working closely with operational partners - including the police - on contingency planning so we can ensure the safety and security of our citizens in all scenarios."

Saltersgate Inn

Captain Black's picture

Monzo v Gonzo

"Tens of thousands of people have signed up to a new service from two mobile-only banks designed to help problem gamblers. One former addict says this "gambling block", available on the banks' apps, helped him beat his addiction.

"I'd be setting my alarm to wake up at 4am to do a first bet," says Danny Cheetham, who began placing bets in his early 20s.

"I'd plan my route to work so I could call in to a bookies which opened early for commuters."

Danny, who is now 29, found himself betting in bookies, on slot machines and online. He gambled a lot on football, which he doesn't even like.

He began relying on overtime from work and on payday loans. In the course of eight years, Danny, who's from Stockport, estimates he lost more than £50,000.

He sunk into depression and moved in with his dad as he could not afford to pay rent.

It was the death of his mum Christine in 2015 that he says was the turning point for him - but he was not able to kick his habit until he signed up to a gambling block with his bank, Monzo. The so-called challenger bank is a mobile-only version of a traditional bank.

Once the block is activated by the customer, it can spot any transaction that person might try to make with bookmakers - either online or in a shop - by using merchant category codes. It instantly stops the transaction from happening, before any money has left that customer's account.

If a customer is tempted to place a bet in the heat of the moment, there is a 48-hour cooling-off period before the block is switched off. There is also a daily limit on cash withdrawals."

"Sting, Rita Ora and Ed Sheeran have joined forces to warn Theresa May a "no-deal" Brexit will put Britain in a "cultural jail".

Bob Geldof is spearheading a campaign to warn of the impact of Brexit on the music industry, and has drawn support from artists across the country.

Geldof said: "It's two-fold. One is the income it generates for this country, £94bn, contrast that to the NHS spend, of £115bn, almost the same.

"This will be critically damaged.

"The second reason is cultural - the voice of Britain, the genuine, global British voice is music, it has been since the Beatles.

"No one knows quite why this tiny island produces such vast reservoirs of talent but we do know the entire planet dances, eats, sleeps, and plays hard to our noise.

"That is being endangered by a recklessness which is existential and historically self-damaging."...

"We are about to make a very serious mistake regarding our giant industry and the vast pool of yet undiscovered genius that lives on this little island."

Captain Black's picture

Bake A Cake

"I think we're at that stage now that it's not sustainable any more. It's not a system that can work.

"It's not a system that's providing the safety net that people expect when they need support.

"I think we are moving to a position now where it is just not sustainable.

"It will have to go.

"I think we are moving towards a conclusion now that you can't save the thing, it's got to go."

""By scrapping universal credit, a programme which has helped deliver record employment, Labour would return to the record of previous Labour governments, every one of which left more people out of work.

"Conservatives on the other hand believe in social mobility and supporting aspiration and people into employment."

A four day week?

"We'll see how it goes."

Captain Black's picture

The Fish Pond

"A long-forgotten tunnel walkway underneath Scarborough’s historic Spa cliff lift could be brought back into use.

Scarborough Council has commissioned plans as part of a proposed Heritage Lottery-funded South Cliff Gardens project, to bring the area back to its glory days.

The South Cliff Gardens project is currently going through the bidding process with the Heritage Lottery Fund, with £5m proposed to secure the future of the iconic gardens.

Southern Green, which has been appointed by the authority to oversee the project, has now submitted a planning application to re-open the tunnel under the Grade II listed cliff railway.

The supporting document notes:

“The cliff lift or funicular railway provided a vital link between the hotels and boarding houses at the top, to the promenade, Spa, bathing machines and beach huts below. It was designed by William Lucas and built by Crossley Brothers of Manchester in 1875.

The railway set a trend which was taken up at many English resorts.

The Cliff Railway is thought to be the earliest example designed for passengers in England and is of considerable evidential, historic and technological interest.”

The tunnel that ran under the railway tracks was built in 1874 so that the lift would not cut off access to the gardens.

Structural issues later forced its closure but it has recently been re-opened to allow experts to detail the repairs that would need to be carried out..."



"Benjamin Franklin's
Essay on Daylight Saving  
Letter to the Editor of the Journal of Paris, 1784"

Captain Black's picture

Backwards into Forwards

"It’s that time of year again, the ritual of trying to work out which of your electronic gadgets automatically adjust for clock changes, and which don’t. British Summer Time officially starts at 1am on Sunday 31 March, when the clocks go forward one hour to 2am.

With Brexit on the horizon, it remains to be seen whether changes to daylight savings time plans in continental Europe will have any effect on British clocks in the future. For some time the European Union has been making progress towards abolishing the ritual altogether..."

"Because only one medium-size torso can be made ready by Friday, March 29, Koch will wear it."

The aim of the mission is to continue the installation of "powerful lithium-ion batteries for one of the station's solar arrays".


The Appliance of Science.

"If you want to work in the Vatican City, join the Catholic Church and make a run for the Pope position. Before you do that though, check out the book below about how to become the Pope."

Captain Black's picture

Memory Mining

"“The financial position of WtY is challenging and there are cash flow issues due to a number of factors, including the one off costs associated with the investigations and the pause of and/or reprofiling of public sector funding.

“Indications are that WtY can recover from the current financial situation.”"

"They know that Welcome to Yorkshire has helped – with others – to transform the reputation, and profile, of this county since its inception a decade ago and its work remains integral to the success, and value, of the wider regional economy."

""When I got this job one of the first people that got in touch with me was Robert [Goodwill] saying 'we need to address this [funding issue]' and that's why we've got a package of £14bn. That means that we're setting out the minimum amount of funding for every single school in the country and that is £5,000 per pupil for every secondary school and £3,750 per pupil for every primary school that will be rising to £4,000 the following year.

He added: "Because places like Scarborough mean an awful lot to me, I wanted to put right the wrongs that had been going on for far too long and that's what I've been doing. I knew we needed to address this problem and I got the support of the Prime Minister to get this problem addressed.""

"As soon as Williams opened his mouth and talked about his childhood in the Thirties, of the war, of terraced houses, of outside lavs, of ordinary British life," his fellow comedian Lenny Henry recalled, "we knew he was from right here. And we loved him for it."

The Floral Hall?   Am sure it was the Spa...  anyhoos about those 'tiger waves'  and erm ...

NAFD 2020.