What happened to the lamp beside the golden door?

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The Telegraph reports:

Mr Trump signed an executive order closing US borders to all refugees for a period of at least four months and temporarily banning all travellers from half a dozen countries, regardless of whether they have already been issued visas…

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A tale of two Presidents

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As we know, on Friday Donald Trump was inaugurated as President of the United States. This was in a carefully choreographed handover of power, laid down by the Founding Fathers of the nation a couple of centuries ago. This is a country of 319 million people with a GDP per capita (PPP) of $53,750. Trump was elected in a process which took two years in total. Controversial but smooth.

Just a few hours before, election winner Adama Barrow was sworn in as President of The Gambia, one of Africa’s smallest states. It is smaller, in land area, than Yorkshire. It has 1.9 million people. The equivalent GDP figure here is 3% of that of the USA. This Presidential inauguration was rather different to the one in Washington DC. Continue reading

Farron: May is leading the UK towards a hard Brexit that was never on the ballot paper

Reacting to Theresa May’s Brexit speech, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said:

Theresa May is leading the UK towards a hard Brexit that was never on the ballot paper. This is a theft of democracy, a presumption that the 51.9% of people who voted to leave meant the most extreme version of Brexit available.

The BBC reports further remarks from Tim:

Lib Dem leader Tim Farron says Mrs May has adopted “Nigel Farage’s Brexit plan” which is bad news for the UK, accusing the prime minister of “waving the white flag across the white cliffs of Dover” regarding single market exit. Continue reading

Exceptional BBC documentary on the making of “Life on Mars” and “Hunky Dory”

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“Exploring ‘Life on Mars’” is an exceptional BBC radio documentary which is available on iPlayer for another 25 days.

Ostensibly it is about how “Life on Mars” came about, but, in fact, it is broader than that – it is basically about the making of “Hunky Dory” – my favourite Bowie album. It really is a corker of a documentary – with input from Ken Scott, the co-producer of “Hunky Dory”, Dana Gillespie, Rick Wakeman, who played piano on ‘Life on Mars’ etc. And there are some exceptional archive recordings. To hear Mick Ronson counting in “Song for Bob Dylan” in his Hull accept, was a golden moment!

I really recommend listening to this little beauty.

Slithering headlong down the rabbit hole

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Down, down, down. Would the fall never come to an end? “I wonder how many miles I’ve fallen by this time?” she said aloud. “I must be getting somewhere near the centre of the earth. Let me see: that would be four thousand miles down, I think-“
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll

The latest Trump episodes really mark a drop down the rabbit hole. We were in “post-Truth” mode, but now we have switched over into an alternative reality. Continue reading

The physical network behind surveillance – an extraordinary video about Cornish internet apparatus

The path to the beach at Porthcurno - geograph.org.uk - 1298346
The path to the beach at Porthcurno, Cornwall. The diamond-shaped sign indicates the presence of underground cables, of which there are many buried under the beach, this place being the landfall of many cables under the Atlantic Ocean. The small building houses the terminals of these cables.
Here on Liberal Democrat Voice, we often debate the subject of government surveillance. But do we ever consider the actual physical network of cables and buildings which underpin that surveillance?

Videographer Mark Thomas has published an extraordinary video on You Tube which shows cables, manhole covers, buildings and the like, to give a detailed picture of how the network, which presumably facilitates surveillance of data, works on the ground. Continue reading

The Fleming museum – a major item ticked off my bucket list

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I ticked off a major item from my bucket list yesterday – I visited the Fleming museum in London.

I only found out it was there a few months ago. I was walking along Praed Street and noticed the blue plaque. To be honest I thought Sir Alexander Fleming, a Scot, had discovered penicillin in Edinburgh. I had no idea he did so just near Paddington Station in London.

So I was given a dispensation from retail therapy with my girls and toddled along. I had to follow a lot of arrows, going through the corridors of St Mary’s Hospital Paddington. Then I arrived at the museum reception to be greeted by two lovely ladies who were most charming.

One showed me to the actual small room, overlooking Praed Street, where Sir Alexander worked for many years and discovered pencillin. I was overwhelmed with emotion at seeing the actual place where the discovery took place – a discovery that has saved my life many times and that of my family and friends. Just think when you last had earache and the doctor prescribed anti-biotics for it. Well, before 1928 and the discovery of penicillin, hospitals were chocked full of people who died of ear infections and other infections which, nowadays we take for granted and get cleared up with anti-biotics.

It was a moment to be very humble and very grateful.