All entries for Friday 05 May 2006
May 05, 2006
Two pieces of news which shouldn't have been buried today:
1. They're making a movie based on '24'.
2. It's only gonna be shot in bloody London!
Get in. Also, I want one of these t–shirts, but they're £18!
Having a reshuffle the day after the government lost loads of seats in the local elections seems like a clever way of burying bad news. But let's see what else they buried today…
- The number of people being declared insolvent (or bankrupt) is up 73.4% on last year for individuals!
- The number of houses that have been repossessed by mortgage companies has also risen significantly.
Both these figures suggest that the credit boom is causing big problems for consumers, many of whom appear to be getting into more debt than they can handle.
So while the government is playing musical chairs, will any of them try to do anything about this, such as much–needed regulation of the credit industry to prevent them from taking advantage of people in huge amounts of debt.
- The government also announced the final go–ahead for a wind–farm on moorland in Lancashire today, which will see 26 turbines go up on a big hill. Will be highly controversial if the campaign against the wind–farm is anything to go by.
- Also, according to the Guardian the government has announced a climb–down over the Regulatory Reform Bill.
- Mission:Impossible III
I wasn't altogether surprised to read that the Guardian had only given Tom Cruise's latest outing as Ethan Hunt one star out of five. Not only because these film reviewers tend to be fairly conservative sorts, preferring two hours of Y Tu Mama Tambien than a gripping action thriller, but also because I saw the film and at times was inclined to agree.
Tom Cruise is a bit of a batty fool nowadays, following his conversion to the religion of getting poor innocent girls pregnant and spouting crap about aliens and depression. But that shouldn't get in the way of his performance in MI:3.
But sadly it does. I find it hard to believe that someone as nutty as Cruise didn't play a part in scripting this film, as the central plot seems to revolve around a very tenuous assertion that the establishment have got it wrong and the only way to sort things out, promote democracy and generally make a mess is to wear latex masks, torture Cruise's wife and create a convoluted plot which makes little sense.
Despite seeing the film with some individuals who would probably describe themselves as relatively well educated, I think many of us came out wondering what the hell the film was about, or at least what it was getting at.
The stunts were pretty cool, ultimately because they felt realistic (apart from the wind–farm sequence). But the plot devices were either rehashed from the previous two films in the franchise or were so daft as to require a complete suspension of disbelief, not to mention having to remind yourself half–way through the film that it doesn't matter if it makes sense!
The best bit of the film was any scene with Simon Pegg in. He's extremely funny in the film, and his inclusion in the 'happy–happy' scene at the end (ugh…gonna be sick) suggests he might be back if a fourth film gets green–lit.
Overall the film was a very entertaining little yarn, but you might find yourself laughing at the film rather than with it. And there's the inevitable pain inside you which cringes at the idea of feeding the pockets of Cruise and his nutty friends.
Writing about web page http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/05/nyregion/05memorial.html
According to the New York Times, the memorial to the victims of the September 2001 terrorist attacks in New York (and Washington) is set to cost over $1bn, which is what the original World Trade Center cost when it was built in the 1970s.
The memorial will consist of a (largely) underground museum and a massive inscription with the names of the victims.
To compare this with other memorials, the US Memorial to WWII cost $182m, and the memorial to the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing cost a mere $29m.
It would be a bit crude to conduct a cost–per–victim analysis, but the differences in cost suggest Americans (or at least American bureaucrats) haven't got over the emotions of 2001.
You have to wonder whether the families of the victims would particularly want such an extravagant memorial to be built. Much of the money is coming from the New York taxpayer, and while New Yorkers have every right to mourn the terrorist attack, there has to be a time when they begin to question the extravagance being carried out in their name.
The cabinet reshuffle which is under way looks set to be far more sweeping than many would have guessed.
The number of people going into Number 10 to hear news of a job has been very high, and includes a few surprises: Lord Falconer, Jack Straw, Geoff Hoon…
Unfortunately Hazel "the smirk" Blears (who I can't stand) has just gone into Number 10. I hope she gets offered something really insignificant.
EDIT (10:29): Gordon Brown looks to be the only sacred cow in the Cabinet. There's now going to be two Foreign Secretaries (one for Europe, one for the rest). Jack Straw is out of a job. Charles Clarke has definately gone. Ruth Kelly is almost certainly moving. John Prescott's been sat in Downing Street for over three hours (maybe a sit–in protest against his sacking?)
EDIT (10:32): Charles Clarke has been completely sacked, and is going to the back–benches. It's clear who Blair's scapegoat is.
EDIT (10.44): Fantastic news: Margaret Beckett is the new Foreign Secretary. A complete shock, but very well deserved. Her role in trying to get agreement on climate change in 2005 was fundamental, and she seems to be a very good minister. It was speculated she might be moving on from the Cabinet, but to give her such a prominent role is a stroke of genius. Also, John Reid is apparently the new Home Secretary. Not such a good move, in my opinion.
EDIT (10.54): No sign of Patricia Hewitt yet – I think my previous prediction that she'd be safe might be correct. Ruth Kelly still seems to be in No 10 (or has gone out the back–door). Speculation that Alan Johnson might get her job, I still favour Miliband, although he's in the middle of a policy review where he is at the moment. Sky saying Ruth Kelly might get Margaret Beckett's old job at Environment.
EDIT (11.00): Loads of jobs being announced now:
- Des Browne (Defence Secretary)
- Hazel Blears (Party Chair)
- Alan Johnson (Education Secretary)
- Jacqui Smith (Chief Whip)
- Alistair Darling (Trade and Industry)
- Jack Straw (Leader of the Commons)
EDIT (12.15): Reports that David Miliband has the poisoned chalice of rural affairs to deal with (not sure what he did to deserve that), while Ruth Kelly is moving to John Prescott's old department and Douglas Alexander is getting Transport.