2010年1月29日 星期五

London mayor takes aim at French with cake jibe

London mayor takes aim at French with cake jibe

The mayor says Britain would always beat France in attracting big business as their people have an instinctive flare for innovation.

Davos – London mayor Boris Johnson took a gastronomic pot shot at the French on Thursday over attracting big business, saying Britain would always beat France -- using cakes as ammunition.

Speaking on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the eccentric former journalist teased President Nicolas Sarkozy for "seeking to have designs on London's pre-eminence in financial services".

The French leader gave the keynote opening address at the Davos conference on Wednesday, pledging to re-design the global economic architecture when his country takes over the Group of 20 (G20) presidency next year.

"Well I say to him that he should look to the safety of his cake industry," he said, citing the case of a London cake and pudding maker, Gue, which he said sold five million pounds' worth of its products to France every year.

The "genius" of the British company was to give itself a foreign-sounding name, fooling the French -- who are notoriously proud of their gastronomic tradition, he said.

"The French consommateur would not readily be persuaded to buy 'Waltham Forest cake,' and so what did they call it? 'Gue' -- thus bamboozling the poor people of France into thinking that it was Austrian cake.

"That instinctive flare for innovation, for value-added, that means in my view London will always be the place for cutting-edge service industries," in particular for the finance sector, he added.

He concluded: "To the French I say: Let them eat cake" -- the English version of "Qu'ils mangent de la brioche," a reported put-down by 18th century French Queen Marie Antoinette when told that the peasants had no bread to eat.

Johnson was speaking at one of the numerous corporate-sponsored events held on the sidelines of the annual WEF meeting, which brings together some 30 national leaders with 2,500 business and cultural chiefs.

AFP / Expatica

 法新社瑞士達佛斯28日電:倫敦市長強生(Boris Johnson)今天就吸引龐大商機對美食王國法國發表一番評論,表示英國總是會擊敗法國─蛋糕就是砲彈。

 法國總統沙柯吉(Nicolas Sarkozy)在瑞士達佛斯(Davos)世界經濟論壇(World Economic Forum)發表開幕致詞,矢言明年由法國接任20國集團(G20)主席國時,將重新設計全球經濟框架。



 他說:「法國顧客才不會欣然去購買店名叫做 Waltham Forest的蛋糕,所以他們怎麼取名呢?Gue─迷惑可憐的法國人,讓他們以為買的是奧地利蛋糕。」


 最後強生以18世紀法國皇后瑪莉安東尼(Marie Antoinette)聽到農民沒有麵包可吃時據稱曾說過的話作結語,他說道:「法國人,讓他們吃蛋糕吧!」

Iraq inquiry hears defiant Blair say: I'd do it again

Iraq inquiry hears defiant Blair say: I'd do it again

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Tony Blair: "I think that Saddam Hussein was a monster...it was better to deal with this threat"

Tony Blair has said the Iraq war made the world a safer place and he has "no regrets" about removing Saddam Hussein.

In a robust defence of his decision to back war, Mr Blair said Saddam was a "monster and I believe he threatened not just the region but the world."

The former prime minister was barracked by a member of the public as he made his closing statement at the end of a six-hour grilling at the Iraq inquiry.

He said Iraqis were now better off and he would take the same decisions again.

'Safer place'

Family members of service personnel killed in Iraq - and members of the public who got their seats after a public ballot - had been sitting behind Mr Blair in the public gallery as he was questioned about the build-up and aftermath of the Iraq war.

9/11 changed attitude to Iraq and meant tougher line was needed
Denied "covert" deal at Crawford summit with President Bush in April 2002 over invasion
Stood by "beyond doubt" claim over Iraq's chemical weapons
Basis for war was Iraqi breach of UN disarmament agreements not regime change
Should have corrected media reporting of 45-minute WMD claim
Second UN resolution preferable but not legally necessary
US offered "way out" option if UK could not provide troops

When Mr Blair left he was booed by some members of the public and two women shouted at him "you are a liar" and "you are a murderer".

Committee chairman Sir John Chilcot asked Mr Blair at the end of the session if he had any regrets about the war, but Mr Blair said that although he was "sorry" it had been "divisive" he believed it had been right to remove Saddam.

"It was better to deal with this threat, to remove him from office and I do genuinely believe the world is a safer place as a result."

He told the inquiry if Saddam had not been removed "today we would have a situation where Iraq was competing with Iran" both in terms of nuclear capability and "in respect of support of terrorist groups".

"The decision I took - and frankly would take again - was if there was any possibility that he could develop weapons of mass destruction we should stop him."

'Covert deal'

Sometimes it is important not to ask the "March 2003 question" but the "2010 question", said Mr Blair, arguing that if Saddam had been left in power the UK and its allies would have "lost our nerve" to act.

Protesters near the Chilcot inquiry
Anti-war protesters were out in force near the Chilcot inquiry building

He also stressed the importance of taking a "tough line" with Iran, accusing the country of colluding with al-Qeada to destabilise Iraq in the aftermath of the invasion, rejecting claims the UK had taken a "cavalier" attitude to post-war planning.

Earlier witnesses to the inquiry have suggested he told Mr Bush at their April 2002 meeting at the ranch in Crawford, Texas, that the UK would join the Americans in a war with Iraq.

But Mr Blair denied striking a "covert" deal with the US President, saying he had been "open" about what he had told Mr Bush in private that "we are going to be with you in confronting and dealing with this threat".

Pressed on what he thought Mr Bush took from the meeting, he went further, saying: "I think what he took from that was exactly what he should have taken, which was if it came to military action because there was no way of dealing with this diplomatically, we would be with him."

But he also confirmed that a year later, on the eve of war, the Americans had offered Britain a "way out" of military action, which he had turned down.

Peter Biles
Peter Biles, BBC World Affairs correspondent:
Tony Blair adopted an almost evangelical tone as he mounted a robust defence of his decision to take Britain to war in Iraq. He remains a "true believer".

There was barely a hint of contrition or regret, in spite of the fact that bereaved families who lost loved ones in Iraq, were among those sitting behind him in the public gallery.

As Sir John Chilcot concluded the session, the chairman appeared to try to elicit a response from Mr Blair that might go some way to ease the anguish and anger felt by the families. Mr Blair did not take up the opportunity. Although he did say he was sorry about the war proving divisive he did not refer directly to the loss of Britons in Iraq.

One of the sisters of Margaret Hassan, the British aid worker who was kidnapped and killed in Iraq, said the only consolation to be drawn from this marathon session was that Mr Blair had been forced to appear before the Iraq Inquiry.

Mr Blair remained utterly firm in his belief that what he did in Iraq, was right. Few people watching, expected to hear anything else.

"I think President Bush at one point said, before the [Commons] debate, 'Look if it's too difficult for Britain, we understand'.

"I took the view very strongly then - and do now - that it was right for us to be with America, since we believed in this too."

On the issue of whether or not military action would be legal, Mr Blair said Mr Bush decided the UN Security Council's support "wasn't necessary". He said it was "correct" to say that he shared that view, although it would have been "preferable politically".

But he told the inquiry he would not have backed military action if Attorney General Lord Goldsmith had said it "could not be justified legally".

Asked why Lord Goldsmith, after initially saying he thought it would be illegal, in line with all government lawyers at the time, made a statement saying it would be legal a week before the invasion began, Mr Blair said the attorney general "had to come to a conclusion".

He said he had not had any discussions with Lord Goldsmith in the week before he gave his statement but he believed the attorney general had come to his view because weapons inspectors had "indicated that Saddam Hussein had not taken a final opportunity to comply" with UN demands.

Mr Blair was also quizzed about the controversial claim in a September 2002 dossier that Iraq could deploy weapons of mass destruction (WMD) at 45 minutes' notice. Mr Blair said it "assumed a vastly greater significance" afterwards than it did at the time.

He said it "would have been better if (newspaper) headlines about the '45-minute claim' had been corrected" in light of the significance it later took on.

'Beyond doubt'

Looking back, he would have made it clearer the claim referred to battlefield munitions, not missiles, and would have preferred to publish the intelligence assessments by themselves as they were "absolutely strong enough".

But Mr Blair insisted that, on the basis of the intelligence available at the time, he stood by his claim at the time that it was "beyond doubt" Iraq was continuing to develop its weapons capability.

However he acknowledged "things obviously look quite different" now given the failure to discover any weapons after the invasion.

He also rejected claims he manipulated intelligence to justify the invasion.

I never regarded 11 September as an attack on America, I regarded it as an attack on us
Tony Blair, former prime minister

"This isn't about a lie or a conspiracy or a deceit or a deception," he told the panel.

"It's a decision. And the decision I had to take was, given Saddam's history, given his use of chemical weapons, given the over one million people whose deaths he had caused, given 10 years of breaking UN resolutions, could we take the risk of this man reconstituting his weapons programmes or is that a risk that it would be irresponsible to take?"

Even up to the last minute Mr Blair said he was "desperately" trying to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis but France and Russia "changed their position" and were not going to allow a second UN resolution.

Saddam Hussein had "no intention" of allowing his scientists to co-operate with UN weapons inspectors, he said, with the regime concealing key material.

'Bigger threat'

Giving the inspectors more time would have made little difference, he added. He also said Iraq had the "intent" and technical knowhow to rebuild its weapons programme and would have done so if the international community had not acted.

Mr Blair also denied he would have supported the invasion of Iraq even if he had thought Saddam Hussein did not possess weapons of mass destruction, as he appeared to suggest last year in a BBC interview with Fern Brittan.

What he had been trying to say, he explained to the inquiry, was that "you would not describe the nature of the threat in the same way if you knew then what you knew now, that the intelligence on WMD had been shown to be wrong".

Chillingly, the ex-prime minister showed no regret for his dubious decisions which led us into the worst foreign policy disaster in modern times
Angus Robertson, SNP

He said his position had not changed, despite what reports of the interview had suggested.

Mr Blair was at pains to point out that he believed weapons of mass destruction and regime change could not be treated as separate issues but were "conjoined".

He said "brutal and oppressive" regimes with WMD were a "bigger threat" than benign states with WMD.

He also stressed the British and American attitude towards the threat posed by Saddam Hussein "changed dramatically" after the terror attacks on 11 September 2001, saying: "I never regarded 11 September as an attack on America, I regarded it as an attack on us."

Inquiry chairman Sir John Chilcot began the six hour question session by stressing that Mr Blair was not "on trial" but said he could be recalled to give further evidence if necessary.

Opposition reaction

Conservative leader David Cameron said it was too soon to tell whether Mr Blair had misled the country about the reasons for going to war.

"Clearly, some of the information that was put in front of Parliament, the dodgy dossier for instance was just unacceptable and was wrong and shouldn't happen again but I think we have to wait for Chilcot's full report before we come to a full conclusion."

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, whose party opposed the war, said he "was not sure if people have learned that much which is substantially new from Tony Blair", but said it was a "good thing" he had appeared.

"Because that makes it all the more difficult for Britain ever to be taken to war again, simply on the personal whim of the prime minister," he added.

SNP Westminster Leader Angus Robertson said: "No matter how skilfully he ducked and dived today, Tony Blair's legacy will forever be that of the illegal, immoral Iraq war.

"Chillingly, the ex-prime minister showed no regret for his dubious decisions which led us into the worst foreign policy disaster in modern times."

2010年1月26日 星期二

the longest UK recession on record

UK economy emerges from recession

Graph showing GDP growth

The UK economy has come out of recession, after figures showed it had grown by a weaker-than-expected 0.1% in the last three months of 2009.

The economy had previously contracted for six consecutive quarters - the longest period since quarterly figures were first recorded in 1955.

There have been recent recovery signs - last week, UK unemployment fell for the first time in 18 months.

The UK's had been the last major economy still in recession.

Europe's two biggest economies - Germany and France - came out of recession last summer. Japan and the US also emerged from recession last year.

The weak level of growth took its toll on the value of the pound, which fell against both the dollar and the euro on the money markets.

'Below expectations'

"We can say that Britain has just crossed the line in coming out of recession," said BBC chief economics correspondent Hugh Pym.

"It [the growth figure] was below analysts' expectations. The figure could be moved down, or indeed upwards."

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How the ONS announced the UK had emerged from recession

Our correspondent said the move out of recession had been greatly boosted by the government car scrappage scheme.

Joe Grice, from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), said the UK's production and service sectors each grew by 0.1% during the quarter.

The ONS figures also showed that GDP fell by a record 4.8% in 2009.

"The Q4 GDP figures are a major blow to hopes that the UK economy had emerged decisively from recession in Q4," said analyst Jonathan Loynes at Capital Economics.

"No doubt some commentators will claim that the figures are under-estimating the true strength of the recovery and will be revised up in time.

"That is certainly possible. But it won't change the big picture of an economy still operating way below both its pre-recession and trend levels of output."

'Frail' recovery

The UK recession began in the April-to-June quarter of 2008, and was the longest UK recession on record.

During 18 months of recession, public borrowing increased to an estimated £178bn, while output slumped by 6%.

After the GDP figures were published, John Wright, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said that the recovery remained "frail".

Even with some revision... we are still talking about an extremely lacklustre recovery
Stephanie Flanders, BBC economics editor

"In order to strengthen the recovery it is important that we boost consumer confidence and demand and that interest rates are held steady as continued investment in the economy will be the key to ensuring a sustainable recovery," he said.

Meanwhile, Lee Hopley, chief economist at manufacturers organisation EEF, said: "Whilst today's data confirm that manufacturing is now out of recession, they also continue to raise questions over the health of the wider economy.

"The trajectory for the recovery, particularly in the next six months, is an uncertain one and the best prospects remain an export-driven turnaround."

First estimates of how the economy has performed are made with about 40% of the data available, and Investec economist David Page has warned there is "plenty of room for surprises" in the figures.

But the BBC's Economics Editor Stephanie Flanders said: "Even with some revision - in fact, even if it turns out that the economy actually started to grow in the third quarter, given that the first estimate of a decline 0.4% has already been revised up to -0.2% - we are still talking about an extremely lacklustre recovery."


Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling said he was now sure that "we are on a path to recovery.

"I'm confident but I'll always remain cautious".

But shadow chancellor George Osborne told the BBC that the UK needed a "new model of economic growth" under a Conservative Government.

He added: "Let's be clear - this is about as weak growth as you can get."

Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman, Vince Cable said the markets would be surprised that growth had been markedly slower than expected.

"Far from the quick recovery the chancellor has been praying for, the economy is only just staggering back into growth," he said.

2010年1月23日 星期六

“The Beatrix Potter Guide to Business”

“The Beatrix Potter Guide to Business”


The tale of Mr Jackson

The public sector has had its fill of management consultants

2010年1月13日 星期三

Policy Exchange think tank calls for BBC overhaul

Policy Exchange think tank calls for BBC overhaul

Cast of Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps
The report says Channel 4 or E4 may do better at attracting young audiences

The BBC must undergo a radical overhaul and Channel 4 should be privatised, a think tank has said in a report on the future of UK broadcasting.

The centre-right Policy Exchange said the BBC should cut the amount it spends on sports rights, popular entertainment and shows for 16 to 35-year-olds.

It also urges the government to drop its controversial "broadband tax".

The BBC Trust said any proposed changes must not put the public value of the BBC or its independence at risk.

The report by the free-market think tank said public service broadcasting was under strain and needed radical reform if it was to survive in the digital age.

It said the BBC should put quality before ratings and leave sport and popular entertainment to commercial channels.

Star salaries

It highlighted the reported £6m a year salary of Jonathan Ross, who announced he was quitting the BBC last week.

"The problem was not so much what the BBC paid, but what the BBC was doing in the bidding ring in the first place," the report said.

It recommended licence fee money should be spent on Channel 4 or E4, rather than BBC3, in order to reach 16 to 35-year-olds.

And it called for BBC Worldwide, which is the corporation's commercial arm, to be privatised and the BBC Trust to be scrapped.

Policy Exchange said a Public Service Content (PSC) Trust should be set up to promote public service broadcasting across all TV, radio and broadband.

The current UK broadcasting system was set up in the 1950s and now struggles to keep up with the extraordinary changes of the digital age
Mark Oliver, author of Changing the Channel

It would lead the way in tasks such as monitoring the delivery of BBC services and reviewing the effectiveness of the BBC's co-funding obligations.

The report also said government plans for a "broadband tax" to fund super-fast broadband should be scrapped and funded from general taxation, if it is shown to be necessary.

Meanwhile, Channel 4 should be privatised in 2012 but retain a public service broadcasting licence for at least 10 years.

The report said it should receive extra digital capacity, reallocated from ITV and perhaps the BBC.

Channel 4 should also be granted cross promotional and linked access to BBC new media services such as www.bbc.co.uk and the iPlayer.

The BBC Trust said any proposed change must not put the public value of the BBC or its independence against inappropriate political or commercial influence at risk.

Mark Oliver, the author of the report called Changing the Channel, was previously the BBC's head of strategy and has advised the government.

He said: "The current UK broadcasting system was set up in the 1950s and now struggles to keep up with the extraordinary changes of the digital age.

"It is clear that the 20th Century analogue institutions that were created are now worryingly out of date.

"We need a dramatic rethink if we are to continue to deliver public service broadcasting in an entirely new age."

2010年1月11日 星期一


2010-01-11 16:09:00

倫敦泰晤士河停泊了一艘號稱當地最昂貴的豪華船屋「海洋號」(Ocean),叫價一百萬英鎊,正在尋找新主人;船上不僅有三間睡房, 還有一個小游泳池,客廳、開放式廚房和浴室等一應俱全,奢華指數一等一。 這間豪華船屋由一名地產發展商從法國購入,他和家人在船屋住了數年後,決定回到「陸地」過不一樣生活,因此把船屋放售。它的面積達1388平方呎,甲板面 積有577平方呎,設有一個小泳池。 船屋停靠在豪宅雲集的西倫敦切爾西區(Chelsea)艾伯特橋(Albert Bridge)的卡多根(Cadogan)碼頭。 地產公司Foxtons表示,這艘豪華船屋上有三間套房,開放式廚房、飯廳、書房、接待室和雜物間應有盡有,雖然售價有點貴,但和區內其他物業相比,仍然 超值。 如果不包括泳池,這艘船屋每平方呎只售720英鎊,較切爾西區的公寓平均每平方呎售價動輒1000英鎊便宜。

2010年1月8日 星期五

Eurostar 再受困


法新社倫敦7日電:歐洲之星(Eurostar )又有一列高速火車在英吉利海峽隧道( Channel Tunel)內故障,讓乘客飽受寒冬痛苦,而暴風雪造成英國數以千戶人家電力中斷。





 英國航空公司(British Airways)表示,因氣候嚴峻,取消蓋維克和倫敦希斯羅機場(Heathrow)多架航班,造成班機延誤。



Eurostar 再受困


法新社倫敦7日電:歐洲之星(Eurostar )又有一列高速火車在英吉利海峽隧道( Channel Tunel)內故障,讓乘客飽受寒冬痛苦,而暴風雪造成英國數以千戶人家電力中斷。





 英國航空公司(British Airways)表示,因氣候嚴峻,取消蓋維克和倫敦希斯羅機場(Heathrow)多架航班,造成班機延誤。



2010年1月4日 星期一

Tory plan to 'curb' supermarkets

Tory plan to 'curb' supermarkets

Fruit and veg stall (Image: BBC)
Both parties say food diversity must be protected

The Tories say they plan to introduce a new supermarket ombudsman to support the interests of farmers against abuses of power by large food retailers.

The ombudsman would settle disputes between retailers and suppliers.

The Tories will announce the idea at the Oxford Farming Conference, as they call for a "new age of agriculture".

Labour is due to launch its own food strategy, with ideas such as "meat free" Mondays, more allotments and a bid to cut waste and reduce emissions.


In a speech to the conference, Environment Secretary Hilary Benn will point out that methane produced by ruminant livestock accounts for 4% of the UK's total carbon emissions.

He will urge farmers and food producers to do more to reduce their carbon footprint while urging consumers to be more aware of how food is produced and its environmental impact.

In its updated food strategy, the government acknowledges calls by some campaigners for people to eat less red meat to protect the environment but says the evidence needed to back this up and to provide appropriate advice to consumers is "currently unclear".

Mr Benn will also pledge to do more to combat obesity, suggesting smaller portions of high-fat food.

He also wants to make it easier for people to lease land to grow their own vegetables as way of reducing the long waiting list for city-centre allotments.

It is not enough to talk loosely about a fair market or the need for better labelling
Shadow environment spokesman Nick Herbert

Addressing the same event, shadow environment spokesman Nick Herbert will say the voluntary code of practice governing the relationship between supermarkets and food suppliers is not "worth the paper it is written on" unless properly enforced.

"It is not enough to talk loosely about a fair market or the need for better labelling," he will say.

"We need action, with a supermarket ombudsman and legislation to enforce honest labelling if the retailers won't act."

Following a long-running inquiry, the competition authorities concluded in 2007 that the supermarket industry was operating in the public interest and leading retailers such as Tesco were not overly dominant.

But they called for an ombudsman to resolve disputes and ensure retailers did not exploit relationships with suppliers to push through unfair or retrospective contractual agreements.

"Failure to do so could result in reduced investment by suppliers, lower product quality and less product choice, with potentially higher prices in the long run," Mr Herbert will add.