Blonde

A plane is on its way to Melbourne when a blonde in Economy Class gets up and moves to the First Class section and sits down.
 
The flight attendant watches her do this and asks to see her ticket. She then tells the blonde passenger that she paid for Economy and that she will have to go and sit in the back.
 
The blonde replies,
 
‘I’m blonde, I’m beautiful, I’m going to Melbourne and I’m staying right here!’ 
 
The flight attendant goes into the cockpit and tells the pilot and co-pilot that
there is some blonde bimbo sitting in First Class that belongs in Economy and
won’t move back to her seat.
 
The co-pilot goes back to the blonde and tries to explain that because she only
paid for Economy she is only entitled to an Economy place and she will have
to leave and return to her original seat.
 
The blonde replies,
 
“I’m blonde, I’m beautiful, I’m going to Melbourne and I’m staying right here!’
 
Exasperated the co-pilot tells the pilot that it was no use and that he probably
should have the police waiting when they land to arrest this blonde woman
who won’t listen to reason.
 
The pilot says, ‘You say she’s blonde? – I’ll handle this, I’m married to a blonde,
and I speak blonde!’
 
He goes back to the blonde, whispers in her ear, and she says, “Oh I’m sorry – I had no idea,” gets up and moves back to her seat in the Economy section.
 
The flight attendant and co-pilot are amazed and asked him what he said to make
her move without any fuss.
 
The pilot replied,
 
“I told her First Class isn’t going to Melbourne .”

48 Hours For Europe

MORNING BRIEFING – By Benedict Brogan (Daily Telegraph)

EU Finance ministers meet today in Brussels, ahead of tomorrow’s showdown between Francois Hollande and Angela Merkel in Berlin.

The Times (£) and Guardian have both splashed on the coming 48 hours for Europe. The Times includes a quote from Vince Cable warning that the UK will experience a “massive” economic impact should the eurozone fail.

Meanwhile, the FT (£) reveals that Eurozone central bankers are finally discussing how to manage a potential Greek exit publicly.

The encounter will be watched closely here. Ministers are growing increasingly anxious about the impact of the political turmoil raging across the Channel. Yesterday Angela Merkel took a beating in North Rhine-Westphalia (the most populous state of Germany), adding to the chaos in the Greek election aftermath. Political uncertainty is encouraging the clamour against austerity.

Our business splash reports that Germany has drawn up plans to make Britain pay a share of the multi-billion pound clean-up costs if Greece is ejected from the euro. Something that would go down very badly with Dave’s (already disgruntled) backbenchers. The Times (£) details more on the trouble brewing in the 1922 Committee.

No 10 will also note with a degree of foreboding the FT item claiming that Tony Blair is about to join forces with those calling for a new approach to stimulate growth.

With the unlikely pairing of Ed Balls and Peter Mandelson teaming up in the Guardian, it begins to look as if Ed Miliband is successfully organising a rallying round of the (successful) old guard to put pressure on David Cameron and George Osborne.

A Labour reshuffle is almost certain now that Peter Hain has announced his departure. Read our report. The Guardian’s Jackie Ashley says that if Ed plays this well, he could be left with a winning hand.

IDS WIELDS THE AXE

But if there’s one person not frightened of starting a political fire it’s Iain Duncan Smith. We’ve splashed on news that he’s about to crack down on abuse and fraud in the disability benefits system. This could result in 500,000 losing their benefits.

Our leader column is supportive, but warns that this will be a test for the Government, saying:

“There will inevitably be distressing stories of people, including soldiers, with disabilities losing their allowance that will test the Government’s resolve to see this through.”

GO GREEN LEADER

Caroline Lucas is stepping down as the leader of the Green Party to make space for another high-profile candidate. She was making the move “in order to broaden opportunities for the range of talent in the party and to raise the profiles of others aspiring to election”.

The party’s victory over the Lib Dems in the London Mayoral race has clearly raised their ambitions for 2015. Read the Guardian’s report.

CLEGG SOCIALLY MOBILE?

The Lib Dems are working on a fightback strategy though. Nick Clegg gives a speech today announcing the pupil premium, and adding:

“The Liberal Democrats are in this government to play our part in rescuing and reforming the economy...But we are not going to miss our chance to make Britain a better, fairer place too.”

He’ll claim that the idea has travelled from a pamphlet via “the Liberal Democrat manifesto” into the schools budget.

An interesting judgement call, given that the pupil premium was in the Tory manifesto too.

BO JO’S BACK

Now election season’s over, Boris’s column was back in the Telegraph as of last week. And characteristically, he’s started off with a bang, calling for the next director general of the BBC to be a Tory.

He calls the BBC “statist, corporatist, defeatist, anti-business, Europhile and, above all, overwhelmingly biased to the Left.”

He makes a compelling argument, but this is clearly another calculated tilt at the sensibilities of robust-minded Tories.

WORK HARDER

The Mail has picked up on yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph story, echoed by Eric Pickles, on William Hague’s urging that we must all work harder. Presumably that applies to ministers too? The Mail’s leader column suggests they should give it a try.

The FT (£) says this is “a sign of deteriorating relations between the coalition and business,” including quotes from John Longworth, the director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce, who said that ministers were “losing the plot” on growth.

CAM BACK ON COST OF SOCIAL FAILURE

The Mail has also made supportive noises about the family vouchers project being put to trial by No 10, giving it a “a cautious welcome” in its leader column today. This is a Steve Hilton valedictory project that many predict will soon pass from the scene (a bit like him).

But Mr Cameron is invested in it and it speaks to the Government’s aim of pushing structural change that might over time reduce the costs of social failure (remember those?).

TWEETS AND TWITS

Kerry McCarthy, the Labour government’s one-time Twitter Tsar, lets us know what keeps her up at night: ‏

“@KerryMP: Can’t sleep. Reading about emperor penguins’ love lives…”

POLL WATCH

Latest YouGov/Sunday Times: Conservatives 31%, Labour 43%, Lib Dems 10%

Overall government approval rating: -39

TOP COMMENT

In The Telegraph

Boris Johnson: The statist, defeatest and biased BBC is on the wrong wavelength

John Sentamu: Let’s not be afraid to talk about death

Leader: A welfare reform to test the Coalition’s resolve

Leader:No sense of proportion

Best of the rest

Ed Balls and Peter Mandelson in the Guardian: We agree about Europe

Nick Pearce and Jo Johnson in the Financial Times (£): Foreign students are key to UK prosperity

Jackie Ashley in the Guardian: A wise reshuffle could leave Ed Miliband with a winning hand

Mary Ann Sieghart in the Independent: Get new fathers to stay at home with the baby and we all gain

THE AGENDA

Today: Commons debates the Queen’s Speech, focusing on business and the economy

Today: Lords debates the Queen’s Speech, focusing on constitutional affairs

Today: A seven-year-old girl delivers a letter to David Cameron at Downing Street asking him to reverse the proposed 20 percent VAT on listed buildings alterations. She wrote the letter after costs stalled building work at Wakefield Cathedral.

Today: Philip Hammond gives a speech on infrastructure security, Westminster

10am:News conference with the Dalai Lama in advance of him receiving the 2012 Templeton Prize. St Paul’s Cathedral

10am: Nick Clegg gives a speech on the Pupil Premium. New North Academy, 32   Popham Road, Islington

10am: Alastair Campbell and Lord O’Donnell to give evidence to the Leveson Inquiry. The Royal Courts of Justice, The Strand

6pm: Parliamentary Labour Party weekly meeting, Committee Room 14, House of Commons

creatingreciprocity

In 1999, Sugata Mitra – now Professor of Educational Technology at Newcastlle University in the UK, was working in Delhi when he had a crazy idea.

The complex in which he worked was surrounded by a slum and he wondered what would happen if he embedded an internet-enabled computer in the wall of the complex at kid-height, so that the children running around outside could reach it?  Would the children ignore the computer?  Break it up?  Or – most unlikely of all – would the children learn to use the computer? (Preposterous notion given that these were slum children who hardly ever went to school, never saw the internet and didn’t speak or read English)

So – what do you think happened?

Have a look for yourself.

P.S. – Fun fact – when Vikas Swarup read about Sugata Mitra’s experiment he began to think about slum children educating themselves and…

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Manchester City’s dramatic Premier League title win the first step on a quest for world domination

He saw Sergio Agüero kneed in the leg by Joey Barton and then strike a brilliant winning goal in a campaign that lifted a 44-year shadow over the club he picked off an international investment menu.

With no space in his diary to permit a trip to the district of Manchester that is his other fiefdom, the Sheikh must have marvelled at what fun money can buy you in the opera of the English game.

He saw an enfant terrible who recites Nietzsche to the people act like a thug and depart the stage (Barton).

Manchester City’s absentee owner then observed a relegation-threatened 10-man team hold off champions-elect until five minutes of madness rewrote the sporting history of Manchester.

Imagine how powerful he felt. All those people in the stands with chest pains and short of breath. All those asking themselves how they would cope with another United title win. And then all that happiness breaking the dam of 44 years.

Read more….

Let’s not be afraid to talk about death

To die with dignity has become inextricably associated with a campaign for “assisted dying”, but for me dignity is actually about valuing life – life, as Jesus demonstrated, “in all its fullness”. In a society where people are living longer and medical science is enabling us to add more years to our span of life, we should not have to live in fear – we should celebrate and live life to the full. But in evading one of the most important discussions of our lives, we lose sight of the fact that a good death is also part of a good life.

Until this Monday morning you were probably not thinking about the meaning of life and the inevitability of death. Why would you? Even when there is time to sit back and consider the important things in life, we very rarely talk about death, even though sooner or later it catches up with all of us, regardless of our ethnic background or status. Death is the most democratic of all happenings.

It’s not that I want to depress you. Rather I want there to be an open discussion about the way our society deals with dying. Neither am I going to remonstrate with you on the importance of getting your spiritual and practical affairs in order. I simply want to ensure the fears and taboos surrounding death are challenged.

Read more….