How a council might protect a town from a dragon attack is among the most unusual requests for information received by England and Wales councils.
One council was asked how many children were micro-chipped, while another was quizzed on whether it had paid for exorcisms on possessed pets.
They are among the Local Government Association’s top 10 most unusual Freedom of Information requests…
The top 10 include:
What plans are in place to protect the town from a dragon attack? (Wigan Council)…
How many times has the council paid for the services of an exorcist, psychic or religious healer? Were the services performed on an adult, child, pet or building? (Rossendale Council)…
What precautions, preparations, planning and costings have been undertaken in the case an asteroid crashes into Worthing, a meteorite landing in Worthing or solar activity disrupting electromagnetic fields? (Worthing Borough Council)…
How many requests were made to council-run historic public-access buildings (e.g. museums) requesting to bring a team of “ghost investigators” into the building? (Birmingham Council)
How many children in the care of the council have been micro-chipped? (Southend Council)
No doubt the majority of requests are more mainstream than defending against dragons. At least I hope so.
There is a longstanding tradition in the UK investing casual time in tongue-in-cheek inquiries…and answers. I recall a leading census answer from some first responders one year being that their church membership was Jedi.
Thieves have siphoned millions of pounds of fuel from a pipeline which runs under Deputy PM Nick Clegg’s official country residence in Kent.
Esso’s South East pipeline runs from Fawley Refinery, in Hampshire, to Purfleet Fuel Terminal, in Essex.
The company said it discovered a section at Chevening, near Sevenoaks, had been tampered with.
The Sun reported 30,000 litres of fuel a day were stolen over seven months, with a value of £8.3m at the pumps.
Kent Police said thieves had used “highly specialist techniques” to siphon the fuel.
Chevening House Estate is shared by the Deputy Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond…
An Esso spokesman said…”We strongly condemn the highly dangerous criminal action by those involved and are working closely with the police in their criminal investigations.”
Har! Can you imagine any gang in paranoid America even succeeding in splicing into Joe Biden’s cable TV at Observatory Circle?
That’s just under $14 million in fuel stolen from ExxonMobil. Half the members of the Texas delegation to Congress would go into cardiac arrest if that happened here.
A letter sent to pupils at a Lancashire primary school along with their key stage two test results has gone viral on social media sites.
The letter to pupils at Barrowford Primary School in Nelson told them the tests do not always assess what makes them “special and unique”…
Head teacher Rachel Tomlinson said she had been “absolutely astounded” by the reaction in social media and elsewhere.
Mrs Tomlinson said she found the letter on a blog from the US posted on the internet…
Letter to pupils:
Please find enclosed your end of KS2 test results. We are very proud of you as you demonstrated huge amounts of commitment and tried your very best during this tricky week.
However, we are concerned that these tests do not always assess all of what it is that make each of you special and unique. The people who create these tests and score them do not know each of you… the way your teachers do, the way I hope to, and certainly not the way your families do.
They do not know that many of you speak two languages. They do not know that you can play a musical instrument or that you can dance or paint a picture.
They do not know that your friends count on you to be there for them or that your laughter can brighten the dreariest day.
They do not know that you write poetry or songs, play or participate in sports, wonder about the future, or that sometimes you take care of your little brother or sister after school.
They do not know that you have travelled to a really neat place or that you know how to tell a great story or that you really love spending time with special family members and friends.
They do not know that you can be trustworthy, kind or thoughtful, and that you try, every day, to be your very best… the scores you get will tell you something, but they will not tell you everything.
So enjoy your results and be very proud of these but remember there are many ways of being smart.
The head denied the letter was telling pupils that test scores did not matter.
“We never give pupils the message that academic attainment isn’t important – what we do is celebrate that we send really independent, confident, articulate learners on to the next stage of their school career.”
Right on, right on, right on!
Artist Emma Fay transforms a model into a spider using water-based paints. The 27-year-old from Leicester has been body painting for three years and spends about five hours on each creation.
Guarding the door after he delivered his message
A Barclays Bank branch in England was closed temporarily after a man strolled in wearing shorts and flip-flops around lunchtime on Friday and deposited multiple poops on the floor…
Customer Gareth McCarthy saw the determined dumper.
“He didn’t say anything at all, but you can tell from his face he looked angry,” McCarthy said, according to the Daily Star. “I wasn’t really paying attention until I noticed a foul, but unmistakable smell. I looked at the guy and he was just calmly walking around the bank — going to all the areas he could.”
The man also purposefully pooped on the bank stairs.
The branch closed down while bank employees cleaned up the mess.
“I have no idea who that guy is, and why he covered the bank in excrement, but he didn’t look ill – he just looked a bit smug as he walked out,” McCarthy said.
Perhaps he was commenting on Barclays corrupt business practices.
Telecommunications company Vodafone’s report on government surveillance of its customers in 29 countries reveals more than first meets the eye – and is raising questions from Dublin to Delhi about how much spying on email and telephone chats happens in secret.
In Friday’s report Vodafone said most countries required the company’s knowledge and cooperation to hear phone calls or see emails, but at least six governments have given their security agencies the power of direct access.
Vodafone didn’t identify the countries that have tapped into its network, but the report provided some clues. An 88-page appendix reveals that five countries – Albania, Egypt, Hungary, Ireland and Qatar – have provisions that allow authorities to demand unfettered access.
In vague language, the report also indicated similar powers could exist in India and the United Kingdom, too.
In too many cases, Vodafone said, governments kept both the company and wider society in the dark about what was happening, with laws explicitly forbidding government disclosure of any details of its electronic eavesdropping…
Wiretapping of phones and accessing of call records for law-enforcement purposes is a decades-old and accepted practice even in the most open democracies. With backing from courts, police can request cooperation from phone companies to access communications.
But in developing countries such as Congo, Ghana and Lesotho, Vodafone said it cannot support wiretapping, because governments haven’t requested the technology.
Vodafone’s report comes one year after former NSA systems analyst Edward Snowden revealed that U.S. and other countries’ intelligence agencies indiscriminately gathered and stored data from phone calls and Internet communications…
Vodafone’s report is also seen as a response to the company’s embarrassing role in the Egyptian protests that ousted Hosni Mubarak from power in 2011. As those protests raged, the government forced Vodafone to bombard its Egyptian subscribers with propaganda text messages. The company said it had no choice but to comply, but was severely criticized for its actions.
Here’s the Vodafone report at their website.
If you’re not old enough to recall – there was a time in the United States when courts ruled in favor of the privacy of citizens and Congress and the White House didn’t succeed in sucking info from communications without express judicial permission.
I was part of a class action suit that won victory over the city where I lived, the local police department, the regional phone company – and the FBI – for illegal wiretapping. The creeps even tapped my parents’ phone in case I made any subversive calls when I dropped by for Sunday dinner.
Not anymore, man!
Ever wonder what’s in those delicious dumplings? What gives them that special tang? The flavor that cannot quite be named? Wonder no further! For the secret has been revealed. Boneless pork rectums
And the secret is…boneless pork rectums, finely diced. All the hush-hush is over because, through carelessness, these boxes were allowed to be photographed just before they were hustled into a restaurant in Taiwan. But now that their presence has been revealed to the world, the silence surrounding dumpling recipes can be broken.
Take a careful look at the labels. Not only are these rectums boneless—all the best ones are—but they are inverted! Culinary insiders have long known that it is only in the cheapest dumplings that one finds non-inverted rectums.
This is almost certainly because inverting a rectum is a tedious, labor-intensive process, requiring specialized skills and arcane knowledge available to only a few. We can only imagine that the apprenticeship leading to a mastery of inversion is long and grueling.
As a consequence, the non-inverted kind are cheaper. They are usually ground together with the external tissue surrounding the orbicularis oris muscles and processed into hot dogs. The more expensive inverted cuts are saved for export and thus eventually find their way between dumpling skins…
Dawn Pork & Bacon of Ireland is acknowledged to be the best supplier of rectums, with or without crowns (those above are from Tyson Frozen Meats, Inc., a USA company). Dawn even sell the crowns separately. Being a one-stop shop, you can even load up on uteri and spleens while there…
This study in depth by William M. Briggs and originally posted at his blog not only contains a fascinating analysis of the trade in pig offal, he calculates how many packaged rectums travel in a standard 20-foot container [18,500 to 20,000].
RTFA for all the fascinating factoids you might ever wish to know about boneless pork rectums.
The National Security Agency and its UK counterpart GCHQ have been developing capabilities to take advantage of “leaky” smartphone apps, such as the wildly popular Angry Birds game, that transmit users’ private information across the internet, according to top secret documents.
The data pouring onto communication networks from the new generation of iPhone and Android apps ranges from phone model and screen size to personal details such as age, gender and location. Some apps, the documents state, can share users’ most sensitive information such as sexual orientation – and one app recorded in the material even sends specific sexual preferences such as whether or not the user may be a swinger…
Depending on what profile information a user had supplied, the documents suggested, the agency would be able to collect almost every key detail of a user’s life: including home country, current location (through geolocation), age, gender, zip code, martial status – options included “single”, “married”, “divorced”, “swinger” and more – income, ethnicity, sexual orientation, education level, and number of children.
The agencies also made use of their mobile interception capabilities to collect location information in bulk, from Google and other mapping apps. One basic effort by GCHQ and the NSA was to build a database geolocating every mobile phone mast in the world – meaning that just by taking tower ID from a handset, location information could be gleaned…
The NSA said its phone interception techniques are only used against valid targets blah, blah, blah.
GCHQ declined to comment on any of its specific programs, but stressed blah, blah, blah.
Official liars both sides of the pond assure us the protocols in place don’t violate anyone’s rights or privacy. Their patented bobblehead judges have examined the potential for abuse and found nothing to threaten our liberty.
Phew. I need a new pair of Wellies just to stand around in that much bullshit – even offered in irony.
UKIP has suspended an Oxfordshire councillor after he blamed recent flooding on the government’s decision to legalise gay marriage.
In a letter to his local paper, David Silvester said he had warned the PM the legislation would result in “disaster”.
He said David Cameron had acted “arrogantly against the Gospel”…
UKIP leader Nigel Farage said he was entitled to his “strong Baptist view of the world”, but had defied a request not to do further media interviews.
Mr Farage said: “So we suspended him, quite rightly.”
“He’s not a spokesman for the party,” Mr Farage continued, adding: “I’ve never even met him.”
Conservative Business Minister Michael Fallon said UKIP was “the only big protest party at the moment” and still counted “one or two fruitcakes” among its members…
Mr Silvester, from Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire, defected to UKIP from the Conservatives in protest at David Cameron’s support for same-sex unions.
In the letter to the Henley Standard he wrote: “The scriptures make it abundantly clear that a Christian nation that abandons its faith and acts contrary to the Gospel (and in naked breach of a coronation oath) will be beset by natural disasters such as storms, disease, pestilence and war.”
He added: “I wrote to David Cameron in April 2012 to warn him that disasters would accompany the passage of his same-sex marriage bill.
Mr. Silvester should probably emigrate to the Confederate wing of the former colonies where he could join the range of nutballs that infest the Republican Party under the Tea Party umbrella. The family values hypocrites, the constitutionalist hypocrites, libertarian hypocrites or straight-up bigot hypocrites would welcome him with open arms.