Archive for October, 2010

John Hurst – tax rebel

The following extract was taken from IanPJ on politics and is well worth the read. I am adding it to my blog as the newspapers may well suppress the information on orders from the Government. After you have read it, and if you want more information, click on the above link.

Council tax, rebellion, and a day in court

Friday 8th October 2010 – A Friday October morning at the Magistrates` Court in the small Welsh town of Brecon seems an unlikely setting for a case that promises to have a fundamental effect on the entire British legal and tax-collecting system. Amongst the usual run-of-the-mill cases that turn up in a small rural community was one involving Powys Council`s application over the non-payment of Council Tax, issued against John Hurst and his wife Tina.

Before anyone jumps to the wrong conclusion, John Hurst is no free-loader. He is a highly responsible and patriotic citizen, a former police officer with an impressive record. His decision not to pay is based on thorough research indicating that councils have no legal right whatsoever to levy such a tax on its citizens. Believing this to be true, John would have therefore committed an offence by actually paying the tax, as the majority of us already have. Given that ignorance of the law is no defence, it places the overwhelming majority of hitherto respectable British citizens in an invidious situation and the courts in an even worse one.

John, a committed supporter of Lawful Rebellion, arrived at the court with his wife, along with her Mackenzie Friend. The court official took down the details but then returned some time later stating that Tina Hurst’s case was no longer listed. This was an extremely odd development, given that Tina is registered disabled with visual impairment and would have hence qualified for a Council Tax rebate, which had not been awarded and for legal aid should she decide to take the case further. It would appear that suspicions of skulduggery would not be entirely unfounded. The official was challenged over this and shortly afterwards brought out a more senior figure, a pleasant young man, who invited the little party into a private office. There he declared that on checking his information, Tina Hurst was on the list after all!

Much later, the group was invited into Court. John Hurst, representing himself, immediately questioned as to why there were only two magistrates on the bench instead of the required three. The Council`s solicitor stated that he had to agree but that this was not contentious. John immediately retorted that it was and insisted on exercising his legal right to have three magistrates present. The court officials had to concede and the group was asked to leave the Court whilst a third magistrate be found.

Amongst John Hurst’s contentions, was the fact that this court had no jurisdiction to make a firm decision on his case. Therefore, it was welcome when the council solicitor appeared, telling John that the court had decided that the matter should be passed to the Court in Llandrindod Wells for trial on Friday 5th November at ten a.m.

The group re-entered the Court shortly afterwards for the formal decision to be announced, but John consequently and successfully challenged the by now hapless and bewildered clerk of the court over a number of legal and procedural issues.

You can read the full report on IanPJ on Politics website.

 

Ampers.

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Ethnic Cleansing

Ian Duncan Smith (or ‘the twins’ as Paul Merton used to refer to him as) said yesterday:

‘Today every working person in Britain is paying almost £700 a year for housing benefit. This is unfair to taxpayers, but also unfair to the people on benefits living in accommodation that they could never afford to maintain if they entered work.
My emphasis. Read the whole article which might open your eyes at the newspaper’s website
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More on Open Source

This concerns our own British Government. I have highlighted the passage I want to talk about in red below.

UK: Open source gets a place in long-term strategy city councils

by Gijs Hillenius — published on Sep 28, 2010

City councils in the United Kingdom are turning to using open source software to reach long-term goals to battle vendor lock-in, increase interoperability and save costs. The national government meanwhile is asking for business cases proving that using open source is cheaper.

Reaching such goals in the short term is hard, discovered the council of the city of Bristol. Its plans to use OpenOffice on its desktop are hampered because of the widespread use of proprietary documents formats by other UK public administrations, Mark Wright, the city councillor responsible for IT, explained last week at seminar on open source in government.

To overcome this interoperability, Bristol is forced to spend 7.3 million GBP (about 8.6 million Euro) on proprietary software licences, according to proposal published by the city.

“The Council is a strong advocate of open data, open standards and  open source solutions. Our ‘Open ICT strategy’ mandates future suppliers of ICT products must comply with open standards and offer open source solutions in line with Government and Council policy. Therefore, the recommended solution must support this position but also address the business critical requirements that need to be met, in particular to exchange information with partners and to integrate with other business systems”, the IT department writes.

According to Computing, an UK IT news site, councillor Wright explained that he thought Bristol would be the first of many city councils moving to open source. “However, we remained the only council to do so, with other councils expecting documents to be created in Microsoft. Microsoft tends to run the closed file format docx. It does have an open source file format, odf, but doesn’t offer much support for this.”

Collaboration

At the same seminar, the council of the city of Birmingham also announced its intention to do more with open source in the long term. According to a report by Computer Weekly, Birmingham started a review of its IT strategy. The city aims to be able to use open source to save costs and to increase collaboration with other organisations.

“Like all authorities, what we are facing at the moment are fairly significant cuts. Any potential cost-reduction business case is receiving serious scrutiny,” Gerry McMullan, business policy manager for the council, was quoted by Computer Weekly. “So we will be looking again at some of the cost aspects of open source.”

Speaking at a different conference, Bill McCluggage, deputy chief information officer for the UK government, last week hinted the government will specify the use of open standards, which should open the way for open source applications. He also called for business cases that show that using open source is cheaper than using proprietary software.

IT Pro, a UK IT news site, quoted McCluggage as saying: “I have not seen a business case that has articulated open source being cheaper than proprietary.”

I am not sure how to take the comments of the UK government’s deputy chief information officer above, highlighted in red. Earlier he talks in favour of Open Source, but to the Press he says something that seems very different.

Bearing in mind that Microsoft licenses are hugely expensive and for most of the civil service covers not only licenses for Windows, but for Microsoft Office as well. We are talking huge bucks here.

The Linux operating system is free, as is Open Office. Admittedly there is the cost of retraining the IT people, but that is a once-off cost en masse, and when people leave, it will be much easier to train new staff individually.

Even if you added the Microsoft licence cost to the support costs, supporting Linux would be much lower than the combined cost.

As for Open Source “Open Office” having a different file structure.Yes, that is so, but Open Office can not only read Microsoft’s new docx files easily, but can save back to Microsoft Office format so Bristol Council’s reason for keeping to Microsoft is disengenerous!

It would make sense if McCluggage was illegally taking a bribe from Microsoft but, as McCluggage works as a senior man for the Government, this could just not possibly be. No way would anyone in the Government take kickbacks, would they?

So it will have to remain a mystery and we tax-payers will have to bite the bullet and continue paying Microsoft their very large license fees. Unless he has been misquoted by the press. It would be nice to have this cleared up.

Ampers.

 


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I may despise the EU but…

… I do appreciate their rules on Open Source and Linux software. Here is an extract from their local monthly newsletter on Open Source.

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Linda Norgrove

No wonder this Highland girl was a caring loving soul, I have just watched her parents talking for the first time and their position is what I would expect from these hardy islanders. Mature and thoughtful.

I cannot say the same for the uncaring thoughtless Police in Lewis in the Western Isles. When word came though of her death they immediately went to inform the parents.

At three o’clock in the fucking morning!

Most readers know I rarely swear on my blog but there are times when one just needs to vent their real anger at the stupidly of some people.

The early hours of the morning is when sleep is deepest, and being woken up leaves the sleeper vulnerable.

For God’s sake, that’s when you go to arrest villains!

Ampers.

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Virgin Mobile don’t get it!

We have moved away from Labour, but not Virgin Mobile. They still think they are part of the nanny state.

They will not allow me to go into certain websites because they think they know better than I do of what is good for me.

I was born in 1939. I am 71 years of age, and they know this as my account on their website reflects my date of birth. However, recently I tried to go into a communication website from their mobile and it wouldn’t let me.

Now if this website was porn they might think they would have a case to stop a seventy-one year old from getting too excited! However, the only thing that truly excites me nowadays is the sexy black shiny bottle of South African Imoya VSOP Brandy!

When I emailed them, they took nearly a week to reply and all that was to say they I should use their secure website as then they would know that the email was from me.

I do understand that in some cases, this could well be a good idea. However, when a seventy-one year old who they know is seventy-one asks them to tweak their website to make sure it now recognises the seventy-one year old is seventy-one, a secure email is not needed. It could be Joseph Stalin, Adolph Hitler or Tony Blair sending them the email, but it would not matter. After all, it is just an email telling them to get their act together.

I will be writing further about companies acting like the previous government so please, dear reader, if you have had any difficulties with Virgin Mobile or, indeed any other company, please write and let me know.

I have given Virgin the right of reply as I believe this is the proper thing to do. However they have not replied but that could be due to the slowness of a Corporate. So if they reply, I will add it as a comment at a later stage.

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Nothing changes

Will Rogers wrote, in 1924:

“The more you read and observe about this Politics thing, you got to admit that each party is worse than the other.”

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