August, 2003

Alistair Campbell Resigns

Well it’s come a bit out of the blue, but he’s gone. I think it was fairly well expected that he’d be going some time soon, but while the Hutton Inquiry is still ongoing seems very unusual.
Does this take the heat off Geoff Hoon or the rest of the government? These are the questions we must await.
I’m listening to John Pienaar and now John Prescott on Five Live, and it’s become obvious that with the Hutton Inquiry running on for more time than expected, it was going to run into party conference season, so that’s why he’s gone now.

Arsenal in Champions’ League

Just been watching the Champions’ League Draw on Sky Sports. You’ve never seen so many containers of balls in your life. I won’t begin to try to explain how they made something so simple so complicated. I still don’t quite understand red and blue groups – something to do with A-D being red and E-H being blue… I think.
OK so Arsenal are in Group B and will play Inter (who were forced into our pot), Dynamo Kiev and Lokomotiv Moscow.
Quite an east European lineup!
But the question is which groups play on Arsenal’s night, since that’ll effect how likely it is that Arsenal’s games get shown.
Man Utd have got Rangers, Panathinaikos and Stuttgart.
Chelsea have Lazio, Sparta Prague and Bekitas
Celtic have Bayern Munich, Lyon and Anderlecht

Al Franken Interview

A nice piece on Salon interviewing Al Franken about his recent “run-in” with Fox News. It’s also interesting to read a little about the progression of the “liberal” talk radio network that’s being set up. I assume that this is the same project that Fi Glover left Radio 5 to write a book about.

Ryanair Suspends Flights to Strasbourg

In an interesting turn of events, Ryanair has suspended flights to Strasbourg after a court launched an investigation into Ryanair receiving 1.4m Euros from the local Bas-Rhin Chamber of Commerce.
I must admit that I’ve always seen something like this coming. Ryanair gets payments from a number of smaller regional airports around Europe in return for running flights to those locations. These can be billed as marketing payments, although most of the marketing I see is just lists of locations rather than anything too specific for a region.
There’s a European commission enquiry underway at the moment examining payments and benefits received by Ryanair for using Charleroi (or Brussels – Charleroi as Ryanair term it. It’s not exactly close to Brussels however) as a hub airport. There could be up to 17 other deals to inspect.
There’s an interesting piece in today’s Times about this practice as well.
I can’t see that in the long term, this sort of practice can continue. Surely it’s not that far off taking back handed bribes?
Ryanair themselves of course don’t quite frame it in the same way…

Wilfred Thesiger

When one is awarded one’s degree at the ceremony, in my case in a large tent on the grounds of Bath University, it’s common that some great and good person is given an honorary gong.
It was with great pleasure that Wilfred Thesiger was there to receive an honorary degree of some sort (I say “some sort” because Bath University’s website is wholly unhelpful in the matter).
Sadly, he’s passed away at the age of 93.
I must admit, although I’ve owned a copy of Arabian Sands for years, I never really did read it, and I know that I must.
There are obituaries at the BBC (and here), The Times, Daily Telegraph and The Guardian.

Tories Would Shut Down BBC Website

Well how about that? The Tories would close down the BBCi website and BBC Three according to a story on Mediaguardian.
That’s the way to make yourself popular with the voters. Shut down the fourth most visited internet site in the world. Why should we get the BBC News free? It seems a crime that the BBC are allowed to make available the wealth of information that we the UK public have already paid for.
I can just see middle England voters being so happy that the one site they can trust their kids to be on is shut down. Good idea Tories. I know that with all this Hutton Enquiry stuff you think that you’ve a fair chance of getting in, but once Hoon has fallen on his sword, Blair will be back to business as usual I feel.