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Starting with the biggest news of the day
Amy Winehouse has had her hair cut. More on that tomorrow, and every day for the next six weeks.
A very bad day for UK politics today.
Firstly the news that Schools secretary Ed Balls made something of a gaffe in the Commons when asked to list the colours of the rainbow. He apparently responded red, yellow, pink and green, purple and orange and blue when the correct answer is Why the fuck are we discussing this in the house of commons? Shouldn’t we be talking about important stuff like how to maintain the health service and how to bring peace to the middle east?
Secondly today is the day the government is going to quietly push through the formal approval for a huge slew of new nuclear power stations. It’s strange this because we’re essentially being told it’s our fault for wanting carbon emissions reduced. It’s like when you tell your mum you don’t like cabbage, hoping you’ll get extra pudding instead, but she replaces your cabbage with sprouts. We wanted fields of majestic windmills preferably all round Noel Edmonds house. Slight diversion but at the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales there’s an area with a “range of opinions” on wind power and lots of celebs saying how much the planet will benefit from harnessing natural energy from the wind and in the middle is a quote from Noel Edmonds saying he thinks windmills are ugly. Ah the irony, cos I think Noel Edmonds is ugly. But I digress. The new power stations will all be built, most likely by EDF energy, a company whose media relations officer, I discovered in Private Eye this week – is Gordon Brown’s brother. Conflict of interest? What? Where? Dunno what you’re talking about.
Yesterday the daily mail had a lengthy opinion piece poo-pooing campaigners against brutal battery chicken farms. Today their front page is horrified at the state of a horse farm in Buckinghamshire. The main difference between the two is that the chickens are sold in UK supermarkets while the horses are exported to be eaten by dirty French people.
The front page of today’s Independent says that British dental care is the most expensive in Europe. They say the average filling in Hungary or Poland costs only £5 including x-ray, drugs and overheads while in the UK it costs £117 including x-ray, drugs and the dentist’s travel over from Hungary or Poland.
Another report in the Independent says a cloned pig whose genes were altered to make it glow green in the dark has passed on the trait to it’s young. They say the development could lead to the breeding of pigs for human transplant organs. I’m not sure that if I needed a transplant I’d want a luminous green one. Wouldn’t it keep you awake at night. Maybe it’s a solution to reducing energy usage, giving people a natural flashlight in one finger. Most frightening would be if you had an accident and needed a face transplant and woke up with a luminous pig-face. If you were the sort of person who was at risk of losing their face (I know I can never find my passport and my oyster card, usually got the face to hand though) you could keep a couple of pigs with your face pre-grown on in the garden – would sure be a talking point at dinner parties.
The way in which secondary schools are measured is changing. Until last year they measured the percentage of students getting five or more Cs at GCSE. However now they have been instructed that the five GCSEs must include English, maths and science. This is to prevent the existing problem of schools boosting their performance by offering GCSEs in finger painting, making macaroni necklaces and eating play-doh.
The requirement for a science GCSE has caught out some faith schools including St Augustine’s Catholic School in Trowbridge who have seen their pass rate drop from 84% to 3%. Apparently the drawing a flow diagram of how Richard Dawkins should be burnt at the stake isn’t enough for the Cambridge Exam Board any more.
Civil servant Derek Pasquill has been cleared of leaking damaging government documents. The information he was accused of letting slip was that the Iraq war was fuelling Muslim extremism in the UK. Luckily “stating the bloody obvious” isn’t illegal in the UK. I’m amazed it needs saying but just in case anyone doesn’t get it: Bombing the crap out of people doesn’t make them like you.
Jane Austin has been given a makeover for the cover of a book about her life. Apparently the only confirmed existing portrait of her just doesn’t give enough sizzle to shift copies. Hopefully when the impact on sales becomes apparent they’ll insist that for sleeve photos and press conferences Martin Amis wears a burqa.