A policeman apologizes

A man is being tailgated by a stressed-out woman on a busy boulevard. Suddenly, the light turns yellow, just in front of him. He does the right thing and stops at the crosswalk, even though he could have beaten the red light by accelerating through the intersection.

The tailgating woman hits the roof, and the horn, fuming in frustration as she misses her chance to get through the intersection with him. As she is still in mid-rant, she hears a tap on her window and looks up into the face of a very serious police officer. The officer orders her to exit her car with her hands up.

He takes her to the police station where she is searched, fingerprinted, photographed, and placed in a cell. After a couple of hours, a policeman approaches the cell and opens the door. She is escorted back to the booking…

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The ‘Middle Wife’.

Picture credit – The Telegraph.

By an Anonymous 2nd grade teacher.

I’ve been teaching now for about fifteen years. I have two kids myself, but the best birth story I know is the one I saw in my own second grade classroom a few years back.

When I was a kid, I loved show-and-tell. So I always have a few sessions with my students. It helps them get over shyness and usually, show-and-tell is pretty tame. Kids bring in pet turtles, model airplanes, pictures of fish they catch, stuff like that. And I never, ever place any boundaries or limitations on them. If they want to lug it in to school and talk about it, they’re welcome.

Well, one day this little girl, Erica, a very bright, very outgoing kid, takes her turn and waddles up to the front of the class with a pillow stuffed under her sweater.

She holds up a snapshot of an infant. ‘This is Luke, my baby brother, and I’m going to tell you about his birthday.’

‘First, Mom and Dad made him as a symbol of their love, and then Dad put a seed in my Mom’s stomach, and Luke grew in there. He ate for nine months through an umbrella cord.’

She’s standing there with her hands on the pillow, and I’m trying not to laugh and wishing I had my camcorder with me. The kids are watching her in amazement.

‘Then, about two Saturdays ago, my Mom starts going, ‘Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh!’ Erica puts a hand behind her back and groans. ‘She walked around the house for, like an hour, ‘Oh, oh, oh!’ (Now this kid is doing a hysterical duck walk and groaning.)

‘My Dad called the middle wife. She delivers babies, but she doesn’t have a sign on the car like the Domino’s man. They got my Mom to lie down in bed like this.’ (Then Erica lies down with her back against the wall.)

‘And then, pop! My Mom had this bag of water she kept in there in case he got thirsty, and it just blew up and spilled all over the bed, like psshhheew!’ (This kid has her legs spread with her little hands miming water flowing away. It was too much!)

‘Then the middle wife starts saying ‘push, push,’ and ‘breathe, breathe.
They started counting, but never even got past ten. Then, all of a sudden, out comes my brother. He was covered in yucky stuff that they all said it was from Mom’s play-center, so there must be a lot of toys inside there. When he got out, the middle wife spanked him for crawling up in there in the first place.’

Then Erica stood up, took a big theatrical bow and returned to her seat.

I’m sure I applauded the loudest. Ever since then, when it’s Show-and-tell day, I bring my camcorder, just in case another ‘Middle Wife’ comes along.

Chillaxing Dave

MORNING BRIEFING – By Benedict Brogan (Daily Telegraph).

To judge by the way friends of Vince Cable have briefed the FT (£) this morning, there is going to be an almighty bust up over the Beecroft report, in particular the bit about introducing no fault dismissal.

‘Bonkers’, Vince calls it, even as David Cameron says he’s looking at it. The report is due to be released under FoI by the BiS Secretary on Thursday, but if you can’t wait, we’ve got it already: our story is here , and we have loaded all 20-odd pages onto our website here.

Beecroft in some ways is another Steve Hilton legacy issue, in that the restrictive effect of workplace rights is something that exercised him greatly. It’s also proxy for an intra-coalition row with the Lib Dems. George Parker in the FT maps the fault line here.

It could get nasty: Friends of Vince point out that Adrian Beecroft, one of Britain’s most successful private equity wizards, was a prominent Tory donor.

The FT also reports, en passant, that Vince, a ‘social democrat’, has been having cosy chats with Ed Miliband, which should make the Tories nervous about what might happen in 2015.

In the Telegraph, Andrew Haldenby explains why Beecroft is significant, while the Mail points out Cameron and Lib Dems are at odds over it with a source close to Mr Cable saying: “Some Tories think that Beecroft is a silver bullet or panacea. That is total nonsense.’”

After last week’s row over civil service reform, and Saturday’s Telegraph revelation about Whitehall working conditions (civil servants get extra three days holiday if they work over 36 hours a week), Bruce Anderson, a Cameroon of the first water, has laid in to the departed guru, saying Steve Hilton was: “a whining, egomaniacal perpetual adolescent… [he] was all tension and no creativity.” For the full list of insults, read the Conservative Home article here.


Dave denies he’s too chillaxed – and he’s going to shake things up. We’ve splashed on his promise to “reinvent government.” He cited several programmes where he is pushing for better or faster progress, saying: “Is the Green Deal delivering on time? Are our welfare reforms working? Is the free schools programme going fast enough? Are the changes to the immigration system coming in?”

The picture of Dave punching the air while watching the match on Saturday night ( view here ) is deconstructed across the papers as he insists he works hard.

Ken Clarke then comes to his rescue, saying that leaders were “part of the human race” and deserved a break, adding that life in government can be a “grindstone”.

What I found surprising about the picture was his display of jubilation: isn’t he an Aston Villa ‘fan’? And is he really that interested?

Then there’s the picture of George Osborne in blue tie standing behind Roman Abramovich watching the match in Munich with the German president and Finance Minister (view here ). He’s even written for the Times (£) about it. I recognise that I am the last person entitled to have a view on football, but something ain’t right about these pictures….


It’s worth noting that the Tories are still mixing with NI. Boris’s aide Gutto Harri is off to earn a fortune doing the PR for News International. It’s a good job they’ve bagged someone so good – the company needs the help. Read the Guardian report for more details.


It seems like everyone wants to talk about social mobility at the moment. Ed Miliband is giving a speech about it at 10.20am today at the Royal Society, saying:

“The debate has been too narrowly focussed. We should reject the snobbery that assumes the only route to social mobility runs through university – as if there is only one pathway to success.”

And Nick Clegg is proposing a student premium designed to guarantee financial help for all children on free school meals entering higher education. It is likely to be worth about £2,500 a year.

The idea is part of a new social mobility review due to be published on Tuesday which is billed as central to Clegg’s political thinking. Not sure it’ll be enough to win back the student vote, Nick. More details available in the Guardian .


Everyone’s got some advice for Dave today: the 2020 Tax Commission, CSJ and Growth Factory on tax and the economy.

The 2020 Tax Commission (a TPA and IoD project) are calling for substantial tax cuts for all households and provide a significant boost to economic growth, including the abolition of eight taxes and the creation of just one – a Single Income Tax. For more details on the proposals, see our report.

The CSJ want tax breaks for married couples, calling on the government to end the “tug of war” with the Lib Dems on the issue – more in our report here .

While the Growth Factory (backed by Cisco, Ernst & Young, Airbus and IBM) want Dave to rebalance the economy with a “modern industrial strategy” that encourages the Government and business to work together. Ideas include: a new runway for the south-east of England, a commitment to a high-speed rail link from London to Scotland and greater promotion of enterprise investment schemes and new business start-ups. Our report has more details.


And, of course, eurogeddon continues to escalate. This time with Dave upping the ante, calling on the Greeks to do the ‘making or breaking’. In Chicago, he said:

“We now have to send a very clear message to people in Greece: there is a choice – you can either vote to stay in the euro, with all the commitments you’ve made, or if you vote another way you’re effectively voting to leave.”


Ed Balls was just on the Today programme calling this “dangerous posturing when there isn’t a plan for Italy and Spain.

And accusing the PM of being “all over the place.”

He concludes: “The problem is David Cameron has been supporting the German position opposed to Obama and Hollande’s on jobs and growth.”

Nick Clegg is sticking his oar in too. In an interview with Der Spiegal, he says:

“We are still seeing a lack of clear, comprehensive leadership which sets out a vision for how the Euro Zone is going to be sustainable in the long run…We urgently need a comprehensive solution which talks about the different bits of the whole canvas; structural reform, the single market reforms. […] It’s criminal that [European leaders] are still failing to deliver the jobs and the prosperity that just requires signing a piece of paper”

Politics Home has the interview in full.

At least Boris agrees Dave should be more forceful. In his Telegraph column today, he says:

“It is frankly unbelievable that we should now be urging our neighbours to go for fiscal union. It is like seeing a driver heading full-tilt for a brick wall, and then telling them to hit the accelerator rather than the brake.”

Their solutions may differ though.


Mr Balls was also asked about an EU referendum, of course. He denied that the Labour Party’s ‘consideration’ of a referendum is anything to do with smacking the Tories where it hurts most.

And it could really get ugly for Dave. He’s ruled out EU referendum in the FT (£) – and this is after Ed Miliband’s appearance in Sunday Telegraph, saying:

“[The referendum] is a debate that obviously people will engage in. But I am interested in what needs to happen now, and I’m not so interested in speculating [about] what might happen in the long future.”

The full interview is available here.


Shadow Media Minister Helen Goodman ‏ shows us why it’s important for politicians to ‘chillax’:

“@HelenGoodmanMP: Omg must be going mad: dreamt about twitter!”


Latest YouGov/The Sunday Times results: Conservatives 32%, Labour 43%, Lib Dems 8%, UKIP 9%

Overall government approval rating: -39


In The Telegraph

Boris Johnson: Europe is driving full-tilt, foot on the pedal, into a brick wall

Ed Cummings: David Cameron: a master of the art of chillaxing

Andrew Haldenby: As business suffers, David Cameron retreats

Leader: The story of Megrahi’s release must now be told

Best of the rest

Melanie Phillips in the Daily Mail: This is no time for chillaxing, Dave. Even Labour looks more Tory than you

James Purnell in the Times (£): Comrades, Britain needs an eight-year plan

John Harris in the Guardian: Children with special needs deserve better than a rush to reform

Mary Ann Sieghart in the Independent: How to change the shape of the establishment in one generation


Today: Final day of the Nato Summit, Chicago

Today: Caroline Spelman at Food and Drink Federation ‘Sustainable Food’ event

10am: Tessa Jowell and Lord Mandelson to give evidence to the Leveson Inquiry. The Royal Courts of Justice, The Strand, London

10am: Chris Huhne and his ex-wife Vicky Pryce due in court. Southwark Crown Court, 1 English Grounds, Southwark, London

10.30am: Ed Miliband gives a speech on social mobility to the Sutton Trust, Royal Society 6-9 Carlton House Terrace

2.30pm: Home Office Questions

6pm: Parliamentary Labour Party weekly meeting, Committee Room 14, Houses of Parliament

Europe is driving full-tilt, foot on the pedal, into a brick wall

I see the G8 has a brilliant solution to the problems of the eurozone. President Obama says it’s time for “growth and jobs”. Jolly good. That’s the stuff. Let me show you how to create employment – the Brussels way.

Come with me through the streets of Athens, not far from Syntagma Square, and your mind will reel with the horrified realisation that history is not a one-way ratchet, that human progress is not guaranteed, and that a proud country can be reduced – by years of torture and bullying – to a state verging on total political, economic and moral collapse.

You will see businesses boarded up and windows smashed because no one has the money or the energy to fix them, and on almost every wall a riot of graffiti full of poisonous hatred for politicians. You will see people sitting on cardboard, heads down, hands out, or pushing trolleys full of scrap metal.

Not far from the town hall, I saw a man using the pavement as an operating theatre to eviscerate a mattress for its springs. In the eyes of every politician there is a glassy humiliation, a sense that the fate of the nation is no longer in their hands. Even worse than the humiliation is the dread that things will deteriorate further still. Thous

Read more….

The story of Megrahi’s release must now be told

The death from cancer of the Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, brings to an end a very embarrassing chapter for this country – but we still await the full story of his release from prison in August, 2009. Megrahi was the only person convicted of the murder of 270 people when Pan Am flight 103 crashed near Lockerbie in December 1988. Serving a life sentence in Greenock, he was released by the Scottish Justice Minister, Kenny MacAskill, on the grounds that he was likely to die of prostate cancer within three months. To the discomfiture of the British authorities – but to no one’s surprise – the man found guilty of the worst peacetime atrocity in this country’s history received a hero’s welcome in Tripoli, where he survived for almost three more years.

As the months went by, the medical grounds for “compassionate” release looked increasingly suspect. Relations with America, which lost 189 of its citizens in the bombing, were badly damaged. And the complicity of Gordon Brown’s administration in the freeing of Megrahi became ever more apparent.

Read more….