Monday, 6 August 2007

Jailhouse Lawyer!

I have just come across an absolutely brilliant blog!

prisonersvoice blogspot

John Hirst, the blog's author, says this about himself:

"John Hirst Hull, East Yorkshire, GB "Who is John Hirst?" the Sun online questioned the day after the UK lost its appeal to the Grand Chamber of the ECHR in the prisoners votes case. The profile was not very informative nor flattering. But, I don't like the Sun either so we are quits. I was born, at 2 I was put into Dr Barnardo's Homes. What they called care, we refer to it as physical and sexual abuse. I drifted into crime, and spent 35 years in prison. In spite of the system, I reformed and rehabilitated myself with the support of some within and outside of the system. I was transformed from a law breaker into a law-maker. I am firmly committed to prisoners rights, and am a campaigner for penal reform. I live in a 3 bedroom terrace house within a cul-de-sac, and have a dog as a companion. My Latvian friend keeps invading my space and telling me I need a wife. She does keep the house clean and tidy, but loves my dog and calls him her boyfriend..."

A brilliant blog!So many subject areas covered! Go have a look! His latest posts on the subject of the Madeleine McCann investigation are particularly worth reading.


SOS Madeleine McCann is a French language journal. This is their headline on Sunday August 5th.

"Madeleine : traces de sang dans l’appartement des parents."

"Traces of blood in the parents' apartment."

Des traces de sang d’une personne morte, probablement de Madeleine, on été découverts dans un des murs de la chambre occupé par le couple McCann. Cette information suggère la possibilité d’un accident plutôt qu’un meurtre, malgré le fait qu’on aura nettoyé les traces. Ce fait, à se confirmer, viendrais situer la mort de Madeleine à l’intérieur de l’appartement de vacances de l’Océan Club, sans toutefois expliquer qui en serait l’auteur."

Traces of the blood of a dead person, probably of Madeleine, have been discovered on the walls of the room occupied by the McCann couple. This information suggests the possibility of an accident more than a murder, in spite of the fact that someone has cleaned away the traces. this fact, to be confirmed, would place the death of Madeleine inside the holiday apartment at the Ocean Club, without explaining who might be the person who caused it.

Les preuves on été découvertes la semaine passé, après l’utilisation des chiens pisteurs venus du Royaume-Uni, mais il n’y a pas encore la confirmation scientifique qu’il s’agit du sang de la petite fille, même si les experts on déjà écarté la possibilité de contamination des vestiges. L’appartement occupé par les McCann – le 5A – à été loué à plusieurs reprises depuis le mois de juin."

The evidence was discovered last week, following the use of sniffer dogs from the United Kingdom, but there is still no scientific confirmation that it is the little girl's blood, even if the experts have excluded the possibility of contamination of the (blood) residue. The apartment occupied by the McCanns, 5A, has been rented many times since the month of June.

Samedi, pendant que l’attention des journalistes se concentré sur les fouilles dans la propriété de Robert Murat, les techniciens de la Police Judiciaire on soumit l’appartement occupé par les McCann à la lumière noire – des scenescope – dans leur recherche de nouvelles traces.

Tout les examens on été enregistré en photo."

On Saturday, while the attention of journalists was focused on the search of Robert Murat's property, technicians from the Police Judiciaire surveyed the apartment occupied by the McCanns with, "Scenoscopes," or, "black light," in their search for new traces.

All of the tests have been photographed.

"Jusqu’au moment, la Police Judiciaire n’a pas voulu commenter les résultats des fouilles et examens effectués, mais une source proche de l’enquête confirme que dans les prochains jours il y aura des nouveaux interrogatoires, notamment parmi les amis du couple McCann. Une possibilité exploité par les enquêteurs, est celle d’une possible liaison entre Robert Murat et les amis du couple McCann car, à se confirmer la mort de Madeleine McCann, il reste à savoir le contexte : un accident, un meurtre ou un enlèvement qui aurais mal tourné."

Until now the PJ have not wanted to comment on the results of the searches and tests carried out, but a source close to the enquiry confirms that in the next (few?) days, there will be days there will be new interrogations, notably amongst the friends of the McCann couple. A possibility being explored (or entertained) by the investigators, is that of a relationship between Robert Murat and friends of the McCann couple because in confirming the death of Madeleine McCann, they need to know the context: an accident, a murder, or an abduction gone wrong.

La même source, avance qu’il y aura encore des fouilles et des examens dans d’autres endroits car la PJ n’a pas encore d’indices à propos de l’endroit ou serait le corps de Madeleine McCann."

The same source states that there will be more searches and tests in other places because the PJ have no further indications about the whereabouts of the body of Madeleine McCann

SOS Madeleine McCann


The Portuguese journal, Sol, apparently carries the same information today, but as I do not read or speak Portuguese, I await a translation! The journal, " Jornal Noticias," also Portuguese seems to carry the same information as SOS Madeleine McCann and I think it may be a translation of the French article, or vice verse.

If all this is true, and the, "sources," are genuine, then the truth of what happened to Madeleine McCann may turn out to be beyond anything which I could have imagined, though not what some posters on the Daily Mirror forum have been speculating since the beginning of the enquiry!

Kate feels a little heaviness!

Kate McCann has been doing her very first solo performance for the media, and what a performance! Her interview, as reported in the Times of London, looked like it was supposed to be a damage limitation exercise. Instead it turned out looking like a self-destruct one. I swear it looks like Kate has been reading the forum at the Daily Mirror because she sure seemed to be addressing all the questions raised there.

Whenever I read Gerry's blog, I find myself thinking, how could you say that, have you no idea how that makes you look? Gerry's mind set is totally alien to me and I cannot find empathy or anything to empathise with.

Now that Kate has done her very first solo performance, I have to say the same about her. From an article in the Mirror today:

"I don't think it's easy to switch off 100 per cent from the situation."

Not easy, Kate? Do you mean you've been able to switch off 100%? I do not comprehend how someone could even think about switching off like that never mind being able to. Ask Gill Osborn, mother of Samantha, the 15 year-old who has been missing since April 3rd this year, if she switches off 100% at any time?

"There's always something hanging there. That little heaviness."

A little heaviness? A little heaviness? WTF!!! Madeleine has been reduced to, "..a little heaviness." Sounds a little bit like the way I feel when I've eaten too much raspberry pavlova! Your daughter, your very small and vulnerable daughter, whom you love very much, has been missing for over three months and you feel, "...a little heaviness." ???

"Even when we're having fun with the twins I can't help thinking how lovely it would be if Madeleine were there."

Good God, woman! She really hasn't, as you told the twins early on, ".....gone on a little trip, back soon." Even when you're having fun with the twins, Madeleine intrudes and spoils the fun? You can't help thinking how lovely it would be if Madeleine were there? Having a lovely time, wish you were here? I had been thinking that maybe your friends and relations were coming over to join you, to help you with the twins, because maybe you found it difficult being with them, playing with them, while you were so full of worry and fear about Madeleine. Now, I read that even when you are having fun with the twins, you are thinking about Madeleine, and thinking how lovely it would be! Lovely? Kate, most caring parents would sob their hearts out thinking of the gap in their lives when they were trying to make things normal and even fun for the other children! Lovely? Kate, the way it's looking, it would be a bloody miracle!

Kate said she must be the unluckiest person on the planet! Kate, do you read the news at all? Around the world, there are famines and floods, there are refugees, there are children dying in war-torn countries and you are the unluckiest person? So, where did luck come into your situation? You chose to leave your children, by your own admission, every night of your holiday. Luck has nothing to do with Madeleine's disappearance. Neglectful parenst have everything to do with it.

Madeleine has to be one of the unluckiest children on the planet because, Kate you must be one of the weirdest mothers!

Daily Mirror Monday August 6th

"Kate, from Rothley, Leics, said yesterday she felt like "the unluckiest person on the planet". The locum GP said she is growing increasingly frustrated as the hunt for Madeleine enters its fourth month."

Sunday, 5 August 2007

Memories of a lost daughter

Kate McCann, mother of Madeleine spoke to a journalist from the Times of London on Wednesday of last week. That interview is published in the Sunday Times today, under the title, "Memories of a lost daughter."

Times Online

Rather an unfortunate title, I would have thought. Not a missing daughter, but a lost daughter. And memories makes it sound like she is definitely not coming back. After all this time, over three months, I guess the chances of finding Madeleine alive and well are diminishing. And if the articles in Portuguese journals are to be relied upon, the Portuguese police are now looking for a body, having brought in British experts with special search, "cadavar dogs."

Anyway, a lot of ground is covered in the interview reported by the Times. Many of the questions seem to focus on areas where Kate and her husband Gerry have been heavily criticised, mostly on various online forums and newspaper, "Have your say," pages. For instance, Kate and Gerry have been criticised for lack of remorse about having left all three children alone in their holiday apartment, while they dined, 100 yards, 50 yards, 40 yards or now, according to the interviews with Kate, 20 yards away at the tapas bar. So, what does Kate say in the interview?

"Then you do go through the guilt phase. Straight away, because we didn't know what had happened. We were just so desperately sorry. "Every hour now, I still question, 'why did I think that was safe?"

Right! Now that sounds rather like remorse, doesn't it? Hold on, though. What Kate gives with one hand, she takes back with the other!

"But it is important not to lose sight of the fact we haven't committed a crime. "Somebody has. Somebody's been there, somebody's been watching.

"They took our daughter away and we can't lose sight of that."

Well, actually, Kate, it is a crime under Portuguese law, from what I can discern, to leave small children unattended. It also seems to amount to neglect under the guidelines of the NSPCC to leave such young children lacking appropriate care. Never mind, though, eh? It was somebody else's fault. Somebody had been watching, you say? Right! So, how did they work out when your children would be on their own? In your own words, Kate!

"That week we had left them alone while we had dinner. There is no way on this planet I would take a risk no matter how small with my children. I do say to myself 'why did I think it was safe?' But it did feel safe and so right.

That week, Kate? Not that night, but that week. So, your kids were left every night that week, while you went out for dinner? Seems like ample time, really for a person with ill-intent to plan to enter your unlocked apartment and harm your children.

Kate you said that there was no way on the planet you would take a risk, no matter how small, with your children. I cannot accept that you did not see any risks in leaving those three small children on their own, even if you did check every half-hour. Parents are constantly assessing the risks involved with small children. That's why they have baby monitors in their homes, why they use car seats,a safety harness in a high chair or a push-chair, don't feed a three month-old baby with lumpy food, and why they don't leave their kids totally on their own and go out for dinner. You did not take small risks with your children, you took huge risks, every night of that holiday, when you departed for the tapas bar and left those children on their own.

You don't expect a predator to break in and take your daughter out the bed

No, you don't expect that to happen, but most parents are aware that it actually does happen and however small that risk, it has to be taken into account. You did say, however small the risk, didn't you? And Kate, I believe there is no actual evidence of a break-in. Didn't the Portuguese police say that the shutters had not been forced or jemmied and the window was intact?

Another point of criticism has been not warning people to learn from their mistake!

"That night runs over and over in my mind and I'm sure people will learn from our mistake, if you want to call it that."

Don't you call it a mistake then Kate? Don't seem to be doing?

Then there was that question some time ago about what message they would send to Madeleine and all Kate said was, "She knows we love her." Now, we have a real message!

"I'd tell her we love her. She knows we love her very much. She knows we're looking for her, that we're doing absolutely everything and we'll never give up."

Actually, is that a real message to Madeleine? What would I say if someone were to ask me to send a message to a missing child? I would probably address the child, directly I think. "Madeleine, your mummy and daddy love you. I hope you remember that we love you. We are looking for you and we will never give up until we find you."

I am going to end this post with a direct message!

Sammy Osborn, your mother and the rest of your family really love you and miss you every minute of every day. If it is possible for you to get in touch, please contact them and let them know you are safe.

Good night, Sammy, wherever you are. Be safe!

Correio da Manha Sunday August 5th

Correio da Manha is a Portuguese language journal. Today, it echoes the Sol report about British police and dogs doing renewed search of the holiday apartment which was rented by the McCanns, the one from which Madeleine disappeared on the night of May 3rd, 2007.

The dogs being used by the British police are apparently very highly trained as, "cadaver," dogs, which can sniff out if a dead body has been in a place. For these dogs to detect the odour of a corpse, the person has to have been dead for at least two hours, which is when the odour changes to that of a dead person, rather than a living person. Both Sol and
Correio da Manha report that the dogs picked up the scent of a body having been in the McCanns holiday apartment. Both journals cite sources with the Portuguese police. (PJ) I will paste a translation of the Correio da Manha in its entirety. It makes very interesting reading.

The home of Robert Murat has been searched again, a search which initially was going to take around 4 days. The BBC News 24 Channel reported today, at around 5pm, BST, that the search had ended and that two vehicles belonging to Mr Murat would be taken for forensic tests.

Translation of Correio da Manha article follows.**********

The PJ is focusing its investigations on the circle close to the McCanns and is trying to reexamine (toward excusion “depistar”) clues that pointed to Robert Murat. The thesis of an abduction is beginning to be discounted, after English dogs detected a scent that points to the existence of a body in the holiday home.

The PJ believes that Madeleine may have been killed in the Algarve apartment where she was spending her holidays with her parents and brothers, in May. The thingyer Spaniel dogs, specially trained by the English police, on the trail of the missing child since Wednesday, detected a scent that points to the presence of a body in the premises.

Yesterday, after having conducted searches on the beach, where the body may have been thrown into the water, the authorities centered their attention on Robert Murat’s home, the only suspect in the case.

The same dogs conducted a search of the entire garden of Casa Liliana - which was subjected to cleaning operations and the uprooting of trees by the Civil Protection - but nothing was found. They left the preimses at 20.00, not having detected any traces of the presence of the girl.

The trail now being followed by the police, revealed yesterday in ‘Sol’ and confirmed by Correi da Manha, complements the other information gathered at the beginning of the investigation and which confused the PJ. A sniffer-dog used by the GNR police picked up a trace of the child between the apartment where Madeleine was sleeping and a second house in the same complex, which led the PJ to never exclude the possibility that the child had been taken by someone who knew her.

The scent detected now in the McCann’s apartment recentres the investigation on the immediate circle of the girl’s parents and friends, although the reasons that may have led to the child’s death remain unknown. The PJ is showing special caution at this phase of the investigation and the names of the principle suspects have not been shared.

Murat may be innocent

The searches that were conducted yesterday at the home of Robert Murat could contribute to clearing the suspect. Nothing of relevance was found at the home of the English translator, who was declared a suspect early in the case. A possibility that is supported by his lawyer Francisco Pagarate, who yesterday reaffirmed to Correio Da Manha the innocence of his client. “”We are leaving the GNR in the house to avoid damage” he said, noting nevertheless that the search continued today and that the presence of the military overnight was to ensure that there would be no damage to the site overnight.

According to Correio da Manha’s inquiries, the investigation has done a U-turn in recent weeks. The arrival of the English dogs and taking them to the holiday apartment was done to confirm this possibility, given that the suspects are now centered in the immediate circles of the McCann famil, the only ones who can explain the alleged death of the child, while still at home.

The theory of an abduction, according to a PJ source contacted by Correi da Manha, appears increasingly unlikely, given that this could only have occurred in a scenario in which the child was alive. Yesterday’s searches, backed by a judicial warrant, began at 0730.

Body at least two hours in the house

A body only has the odour of a cadaver a minimum of two hours after death, until then, it remains warm and transmits, to any dog, the odor of a living person, indicated to Correio da Manha submission Paulo Brisso, former deputy commander of the Grupo Operacoinal Cinotecnico of the PSP.

In other words, for a thingyer Spaniel of the English authorities to have detected Madeleine’s death in the apartment in which she was sleeping, at the Ócean Club’, the girl must have been dead in the location “between two and four hours”.

Paulo Brisso, who was also a trainer of military dogs for the Air Forces, explained that “Portugal does not have dogs with the ability to search for deceased people because the chemical product used to training, simulating the odour of death, is expensive."

Saturday, 4 August 2007

Foot and Mouth Returns to the UK

An outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease has been discovered on a Surrey farm close to Wanborough. Sixty animals at the farm tested positive and they have been slaughtered. Gordon Brown, in an interview for Radio4, said that the mistakes of the previous outbreak in 2001, would not be repeated. In 2001, it took days after the first reported outbreak for there to be a ban placed on the movement of all cloven-hoofed animals in England and Wales. Scottish countryside is still, "open," but farmers are being asked to be vigilant.

Foot and Mouth disease is highly contagious and can be spread by direct contact with an infected animal, by contact with foodstuff or it can be airborne. For this reason,
a 3km protection zone has been put in place around the Surrey farm. There is also a 10km surveillance zone where nearby animals are monitored, as well as an 8km air exclusion zone around the site.

Foot and Mouth disease is rarely fatal for adult animals. It does have serious economic implications for farming and for tourism. In the 2001 outbreak, the worst hit area was Cumbria, where there were over 800 cases of the disease found. There were severe restrictions on access to the countryside, which had huge effects on the Lake District where tourism is a very important industry.

By the time the outbreak had been halted, over 7 million animals had been slaughtered and the cost to Britain was estimated at over £8bn.

Wikipedia 2001 UK Foot and Mouth Crisis

With vaccines, introduced in 1938, and sanitary controls, foot-and-mouth disease has been excluded or eliminated from North and Central America, Australia and New Zealand , Japan, and Ireland. One of the biggest problems with vaccination is that there are at least seven strains of the virus, and vaccination is specific to particular strains. Also, countries which are FMD free without vaccination have the greatest access to export markets and so, many countries like Canada, the USA and Britain attempt to maintain their FMD free without vaccination status.

Because FMD rarely infects humans but spreads rapidly among animals, it is a much greater threat to the agriculture industry than to human health. Farmers around the world can lose huge amounts of money during a foot-and-mouth epidemic, when large numbers of animals are destroyed and revenues from milk and meat production go down."

So, we've had the floods in Britain and now comes the pestilence! Not a good year for British tourism, really; first the rain and now possibly no-go areas in some of the most popular areas for visitors.

The scenes during the 2001 outbreak of FMD are still vivid in the memory. Rural Britain took on a totally uncharacteristic nature. The fields were empty. Driving through countryside where you would have expected to see cattle in the fields and sheep on the hillsides, there was not an animal in sight. Thick, acrid smoke drifting across the fields and roads was choking reminder of what had happened to all those animals. Sheep and cattle were killed, then heaped into enormous piles in the fields, doused with accelerant and incinerated. It was thought by many that the fumes from the pyres contained toxic gases.

I don't think my diet will be affected by the restrictions on the movement of cattle and other farm animals. The lack of animals going to market and then to the slaughterhouses will not make any difference to me, since I have been vegetarian for many years. I do feel sad about the possibility of the culling of thousands of animals, or even millions, as in the 2001 outbreak, the empty fields and the burning of the bodies. Just over 2,000 animals tested positive for FMD in 2001, yet over 7 million were slaughtered. It's about economics, of course, since there have been very few recorded cases world-wide, of humans being affected by FMD. Apparently the virus is killed off by stomach acid in humans.

Perhaps if there is no plan to change intensive farming methods, and let's face it, intensive farming is here to stay, the British government should be considering a vaccination programme. There are definite problems with a vaccination programme; identifying the strains of the virus, having less access to export markets, but surely the cost to animal life and to the livelihood of people who work in farming, tourism and associated industries, would render this a very good option.

Meanwhile, that sighting in Belgium, a missing Swiss girl and renewed search of Robert Murat's house.

Most of the UK daily newspapers, as well as the online news channels, carried carried the story on Friday August 3rd, about that sighting in Belgium. A child therapist is reported to have said that she is 100% sure that she saw Madeleine in a restaurant.

Sky News

She was 100% sure it was Madeleine and is a trusted witness. She works with children and noticed something unusual, that is why we are taking it seriously."

The police have taken a drinks bottle, which the child used, for DNA testing, the results of which will be available next week.

In the journal Typically Spanish, I came across an article about a missing five year-old Swiss girl.

Police check possible links between Madeline McCann and the Swiss girl, Ylenia Lenhard"

Typically Spanish

If you look at the photo of the Swiss child posted to the Typically Spanish article, you will see that there is some resemblance to Madeleine McCann. I am not sure at the moment of the date of the sighting in Belgium, because I seem to have read conflicting reports about dates, but I wonder if the child seen in the Belgian restaurant was the little Swiss girl? Similar in many ways to Madeleine, but probably quite a bit taller as Madeleine's height is reported as being 90cm, small for a four year-old. This may be why the waitress described the child at the restaurant as being aged 5-6 years old.

Meanwhile! The BBC reports that today, Saturday August 4th, there is a renewed search at the home of the chief suspect, Robert Murat.

Police in Portugal investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann have renewed their search of the home of 33-year-old Briton Robert Murat.

Up to 10 officers returned to the home of the only official suspect in the case, in Praia da Luz, in the Algarve."

The investigation appears to be taking on a totally different emphasis this weekend, or maybe it just appears to be so, since the Potuguese police have maintained silence about most of the investigation so far. Kate and Gerry are in Spain, handing out leaflets, the Portuguese police are searching Murat's home and sniffer dogs, according to Sol, have, "marked," the death of the child inside the apartment where the family had been staying on the night Madeleine disappeared. Are Kate and Gerry living in La La Land?

Sol Article August 4th. Madeleine Thought To Be Dead

I have lifted the translation of an article in the journal Sol, straight off the pages of the Daily Mirror forum, with thanks to Astro for the translation. I am copying and pasting the translation in its entirety.

"In Sol on August 4, 2007:

A report by Felicia Cabrita with Margarida Davim
(Translation by astro)

Looking for Maddie’s body

The investigations have returned to their initial course. Portuguese and british police search for the body of the child in the surroundings of Praia da Luz

“There are strong signs” that Madeleine, the english child that disappeared from Praia da Luz almost one hundred days ago, “is dead”, police sources have told Sol.

The 180º turnaround that the investigation by the Policia Judiciaria (PJ) from Portimao seems to have done in the past few days, even led the Attorney General, Pinto Monteiro, to postpone the making of an interview that had been requested by british media chain BBC – an interview that would be focusing on the fact that, so long after Maddie’s disapperance, the authorities still remain without real clues concerning her whereabouts.

Although an official source from the PGR justified the postponing of the interview with “agenda issues”, the moves by the PJ and some elements from the british police during these last days – accompanied by two dogs, in Praia da Luz – seem to indicate that the investigation is now centered on the McCann family and their group of friends.

Sol could find out that the english dogs are trained for different tasks. One, to detect human remains originating from dead flesh, and the other one to detect human blood or fluids. A specialist that was contacted by Sol explains that the technique of these animals rests on scientific bases, and that while “one of the dogs can distinguish between natural death or death by accident that does not involve bloodshed, the other one can diagnose whether someone died a violent death, with bloodshed or other spilled fluids”.

Tuesday night, a black and white cocker spaniel that is trained to detect death, spent several hours in the apartment that the McCann family occupied in the Ocean Club resort, and from where Maddie disappeared on May 3. According to sources within the investigation, the dog marked the death of the child inside the apartment.

On the dogs’ trail

The english dogs do not contradict the clues that were detected by the sniffer dog that GNR sent to the location, on the day following the english girl’s disappearance. It’s an animal that only follows odours, and that “detected the movement of the child from the room to another point inside the apartment”, according to a source with the Guarda.

The same source said that “based on that signal, it was not possible to conclude whether the child was alive or dead – because a sniffer dog will smell both the living and the dead”.

Yet, outside the house, both through the windows that faced the Tapas restaurant – where the McCanns had dinner with their seven friends – and through the main door, “the dog lost the trail, as if the child had exited, for example, rolled up in a blanket”, that source said.

A team from Sol, on the terrain for the last two weeks, could observe the work of the cocker spaniel from the british police, performing several diligences along the water in Praia da Luz and in a nearby valley.

The animal’s path, on Wednesday night, seemed to test the deposition from several witnesses that were heard by the PJ in late May – namely an irish family that have been living in Luz, and who, on the day that Maddie vanished, reportedly crossed ways with a man that carried a child that seemed to be asleep.

According to their deposition to PJ, Martin Smith, his wife and his children, after leaving the Kelly bar, which is located approximately 400 metres from the Ocean Club, around 9.50 / 10.00 p.m., saw an individual described as caucasian, measuring 1.70 – 1.75 m, walking towards the beach.

The irish man told Sol that he knew Robert Murat (the only arguido in the process) visually for years – and also remembered seeing the anglo-portuguese man in a bar that evening, “already a bit intoxicated”. Therefore, the irish dismissed the possibility that the person he saw carrying a child could be Murat: “If it was him, I guarantee to you that I would have recognized him”.

Concerning the clothes the man he saw on that night was wearing, Smith only refers the “beige trousers”, given the fact that his upper body was hidden by the child’s body, which was not covered. It is curious that one of the elements that formed the group of Maddie’s parents’ friends, guaranteed to PJ several days before Smith was heard, that - at a moment when she left the table to check on the group’s children - she had crossed ways with a man that was wearing trousers that fit the description that was also made by the irish man.

That individual was also carrying a sleeping child. And the witness, who even managed to see what pyjamas the child was wearing, just “thought it was strange that the child was barefoot and uncovered”. This witness said it would be 9.15 p.m.

Direct access to the PM

According to the course the PJ from Portimao is now conducting the investigation, and considering the trail that the british police’s cocker spaniel tracked along the sea shore, the individual would have descended to Praia da Luz, where he could have disposed of Maddie’s body. Sol knows that the english team contacted Joao Alveirinho Dias, a professor at the University of Algarve and a specialist in oceanography, in order to collect information about the sea’s dynamics and the beach area where everything may have happened. The investigator, who was not briefed about the context of the police inquiries, told Sol that he was consulted on “the sand movements, where they come from and where they go to”.

The police investigation has therefore, and according to our sources, returned to its initial course, and it becomes increasingly clear, as Sol had reported previously, that there is no proof against Murat.

Yet, the british media continue to point a finger at the anglo-portuguese man, although the criminal investigation has returned to clues that relate to the group of friends of Madeleine’s parents.

A journalist with the Daily Express – who has repeatedly contacted Sol searching for new information on this case – recognized this week that it is “difficult for an english newspaper to adopt a critical tone concerning Madeleine’s parents”.

The Daily Express cited, in one of its last reports, the news that have been published by Sol, describing them as a “hate campaign” against the McCanns. The same journalist ended up confessing that “it’s the only way we can transmit your data”.

Sol knows that Gerry McCann has regular contact with Gordon Brown, the british Prime Minister. Clarence Mitchell – who was the first spokesman for the McCanns and is now in the press cabinet at Nr. 10, Downing Street – confirms those contacts. “I know there is a communication line between Gerry and Gordon Brown. I know they talk. But I don’t know what they talk about, because those are informal conversations”, he clarified, further adding: “The Madeleine case is treated whenever there are bilateral meetings between Portugal and the United Kingdom. Gordon Brown is sensitive to the case and wants it solved quickly”.

The above article reports that one of the specially trained sniffer dogs, "marked," the death of Madeleine inside the apartment. Also, I note that a professor of Oceanography has been asked about the movements of the sand around Praia de Luz and the sniffer dogs have been seen along the edge of the sea.

I have not read this anywhere else and I have no way of knowing how reliable Sol's police contacts are, but this is very worrying news. I really don't feel that I can add anything in the way of comment to the above Sol article. I have remained hopeful that little Madeleine would be found safe and well, but this most recent development, if reported accurately by Sol, does not leave a great deal of room for hope. Maybe, like the hope left in Pandora's box, my hope has been delusional.

On my travels real and virtual!

I love going to Stratford-Upon-Avon, even though nowadays it's becoming like all the other clone towns; all those multi-national chain stores. And the cafes and restaurants! There's one that calls itself a traditional English tea house that looks more like something you'd find on the Boulevard Montparnasse. Then there's Cafe Uno and most of the other chain coffee houses are represented. Could be anywhere, really, except for the signs to Shakespeare's birthplace and the theatres that remind you that you really are in the bard's home town. Thank goodness for the few little specialist shops that are left there, like the wonderful, "Paxton and Whitfield Cheesemonger's."

Well, I was doing my usual trot round the market, looking for bargains on the fruit and veg stalls, when I spied something that even from a distance looked like special food goodies. And let me tell you, it was! I found this delightful Italian man selling the most delectable little cakes, called pasticceria. There's no way I can describe these delights properly and give you an idea of just how enticing they look. There's, Limoncello Cream Bigne, Little Swans Chantilly Cream, Truffle Moka Coffee, Cannoli Siciliani, Panna Cotta Cream Caramel, and lots more wonders. If you live in Solihull you can have these cakes delivered! Unfortunately, the web site is under construction, but as soon as it is up and running, I shall post some pics!

So, onto my virtual travels. In my quest for news items about Madeleine McCann, I have strayed into some really weird (well, I think so!) territory! I found an article on Ben Fairhall's blog about, "The Potter and The Magdalene."

Ben Fairhall Blogspot

"Just what manner of ritual is it, that unites the most powerful energies in the world to its cause? In which mere superstars- Ronaldo, the Beckhams- are dwarfed by the globe-spanning giants of religion and politics; and a writer so effulgently successful as to hold the mind of millions in her capacious grip? The one and only JKR, whose stellar career is forged on lies; and whose greatest feat of characterisation is unquestionably her own self-mythology. Like claiming that the books were all mapped out in her head long before writing the first; which, considering how closely The Half-Blood Prince mirrors 'security' fears propelled by the War On Terror, would require either Nostradamus-like foresight; or else a degree of foreknowledge that even wild-eyed conspiraloons would rightly scoff at."

Fairhall explains later on why he says that JK's career is forged on lies. I'm not sure if he's being serious. Sometimes I am just naive, I suppose.

Looking down the list of links on the right of the page, I found things the like of which, in my naivete you understand, I have not encountered before, all together in one place. There's lots of links to sites about the Freemasons and Freemasonry. I can now do all sorts of secret handshakes and signs. There's links to conspiracy theories, including forums and you can read about David Icke. I learned that the Illuminati are all lizards who want to eat the rest of us. I think I'm alright because I don't think I know any Illuminati, though you never know! How do you tell if someone is really an alien lizard?

I was very brave this evening! Well almost, since I did turn off the volume on my computer before I did the brave thing! I visited the Find Madeleine site to see what Gerry might be saying in today's blag, I mean, blog! None today! No blagging or blogging. Must be still poorly with the, "probable virus."

There's a rumour going around on the Mirror forum tonight that Chair13, she who thinks it would be hilarious if someone's child was abducted, has been made a moderator of the forum. The natives are restless, to say the least! Cat3 is behaving like the cat that got the cream! I guess she thinks it's buddy-buddy time for her with the mods now. Well, I guess it might be that old cliche about being friends with the crocodile in the hope that it will eat you last.

It must be gettin late now, the cats are coming in and choosing their beds, the drunks are beginning to stumble out of the local community club and I will be clearing the McDonald's litter as usual from the garden tomorrow morning!

Good night all, from my big desk!

Thursday, 2 August 2007

It's BIG news! Gerry's poorly!

Good God! The Times reports that around 150,000 people in Kenya are in danger of losing their livelihood if the Soil Association withdraws organic certification because of the air miles the produce travels. According to Sky News, it's BIG news that Gerry has a stomach bug and the campaign is having to be placed on hold. Gerry has produced new posters. Well, the old ones were suffering somewhat from over-exposure, weren't they? And he has made a new film for the campaign. Can't wait! (Eyes to ceiling!)

Kate has been busy. She has a done series of interviews for womens magazines and the Sunday newspapers, which took all afternoon! Cor! Love a duck! She must have been exhausted! Bet the morning was busy too, what with dropping those kids off at the creche and getting her hair done for those interviews.

Another trip to the airport, this time to pick up Kate's parents, who will be staying for a week. Must be a great help with the twins. After all, according to an article in the Daily Mail, Kate is spending more time than ever with those children; she is there at lunch time, dinner time, bath time and bed time. What a mother! Manages to fit in all that time with her children, in spite of a busy schedule of interviews, hair appointments, jogging and by the looks of it, adding to her wardrobe. Can't appear in public in the same clothes too often, my dear, when one is an international celeb!

Sky News

I wrote about Sammy Osborn the other day, the 15 year-old who has been missing from her home in Buckinghamshire since April 3rd this year. Gerry, Sammy's mother is spending a great deal of her time raising money for a charity for missing children. What are you doing, Gerry, to help Madeleine, never mind other missing children? Operating a cab service from the airport, welcoming your friends and relies for a free holiday in the sun, making posters and films and planning your next jaunt, to Spain this time. Turned over any stones lately, Gerry?

Jeez! I never thought I could get this cynical!

Technorati lists my blog!

Technorati Profile

Organic farmers face ruin as rich nations agonise over food miles

The Times of London reports today that the Soil Association, which certifies about 80% of organic produce in the UK, has threatened to remove the organic certification from Kenyan produce because of the concern over, "food miles."

Times Online

"As she proudly surveys a plantation of avocado trees and bananas, surrounded by pools of fresh cow manure, Jane Kimani cuts an unlikely figure as an ecological villain.

Like other farmers in this village, about 15 miles (25km) outside Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, she lives in a modest dwelling of brick walls and a corrugated-iron roof only yards from cow sheds, a new apiary and vegetable plots. She does not own a car and uses little electricity.

She farms organically without knowing it, simply because, like many people in a country where two thirds of the population live on less than 50p a day, she could not afford fertilisers and chemical sprays. Her carbon footprint is insignificant."

It is estimated that 150,000 people are dependent for their livelihood on the production of organic food in Kenya. If the Soil Association withdraws its organic certification, the industry could collapse.

" Su Kahumbu, 43, who pioneered the organic-food industry in Kenya, fears that a collapse in the export market could kill off the domestic market as producers move back to conventional farming. She says that it flies in the face of Gordon Brown’s renewed pledge to eliminate poverty in Africa. “It could signal a return to aid when we have fought to set up this business and want simply the right to trade,” she said."

The UK's major supermarkets have been developing great concern for global warming, have you noticed? In March 2007, representatives from Tesco met in London with Kenya's High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, HE Joseph Muchemi, and a delegation from Kenya led by Matanda Wabuyele, Chief Executive of the Export Promotion Council and Jane Ngige, Chief Executive of the Kenya Flower Council. It was reported that the meeting was called to address concerns that Tesco intended to reduce the quantity of produce that it imports from Kenya. After another meeting on the issue, this time in Nairobi, representatives of Tesco, said they were merely considering the issues!

Report from Fresh

Good old M&S, though, is not considering reducing imports from Kenya, but is focussing on developing greater use of methods of transport other than air freight.

M&S Food Miles From Kenya

We are aware there have been recent discussions in Kenya about the issue of food miles. As part of our wider commitment to make M&S a carbon neutral business, we are looking at ways of reducing our use of air freight. However, I want to emphasise that we aim to do this by using alternative modes of transport, like shipping, and not by reducing our trade with developing countries."

Thinking about the UK's history of trade with food producers in African countries, what has been our relationship with them? Well, Mr Colonial Brit looked at the land and discovered it was a potential gold mine, persuaded owners of small tracts of land to sell out and therefore produce huge farms, capable of mass production of food for export. Of course, the huge chemical companies did quite well out of this; to force ever greater production from the land, non-organic fertilisers and pesticides were needed.

Then came the turnaround. Mr Brit-at-home, with more money at his disposal, and concern for his health and the environment, decided to go organic and noticed the remaining small farmers in countries like Kenya. And Mr Brit-at-home. decided to encourage those small farmers to band together, keep producing the food organically and sell it to him. And just to show how compassionate he was Mr Brit-at-home called for fair trade. Aaaaaah bless! Now, however, Mr Brit-at-home has a concern for global warming and has looked at those pesky Africans and decided that they are using up too much of the earth's resources. Yet, as reported by the BBC,

"IIED research has found that if consumers were to boycott fresh produce air freighted from Africa, UK's total emissions would be reduced by less than 0.1%." (UK's International Institute for Environment and Development)

While the Soil Association is pointing the finger and potentially robbing thousands of Kenyans of their livelihood, maybe they should be starting a little closer to home with their concern. How many of us now order our food shopping online and have it delivered to the door? And what about all those Tesco, ASDA and Sainsbury's trucks I see in the queues of traffic every morning as I inch along at a snail's pace, taking over an hour to drive 19 miles to work?

I shall end this post with a quote from the above-mentioned BBC article about a farmer in Kenya and a few facts and figures from the Times Online.

"Mr Mauthike, 32, like so many of the two million Kenyans who rely on the western world to import their flowers, fruit and vegetables for their livelihoods, has never heard of a carbon footprint either.

He points to the simple gravitational water irrigation system that flows through his smallholding, admitting he has never been in a plane, rarely travels by bus and uses nothing but his hands to grow, fertilise and harvest his top quality green beans, which then appear on a supermarket shelf in Europe.

Yet he and his fellow Kenyan farmers, whose lifelong carbon emissions are negligible compared with their counterparts in the West, are fast becoming the victims of a green campaign that could threaten their livelihoods."

According to World Bank figures, a Briton emits an average 9.4 tonnes of CO2 compared with an African’s 0.3 tonnes.

Food and fuel

£1.6 billion value of retail sales of organic products in Britain in 2005, up 30 per cent on 2004

10.5% the increase in the area of land under organic cultivation — up from 7,711 hectares in 2005 to 8,522 hectares in 2006

50% of organic produce sold in Britain is imported

140% increase in the carbon footprint of air freighted food to Britain since 1992

9.4 tonnes is average amount of CO2 emitted by each Briton a year — 30 times more than the average Kenyan

Sources: The Soil Association; World Bank; Defra

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Is Primavera, Mike Bitchens stupidest troll baby?

Yes, that is the title of a thread on the Daily Mirror forum. A couple of days ago, Mike Hitchen, the Australian journalist and blog-writer, mentioned one of the posters on the Mirror forum, a certain, "Cat3," who does not actually seem to have opinions of her own, but directs personal insults at those posters who seem to think the McCanns should not have left their three children alone.

Joining Cat3, there is Chair13, James33, stuffit and dingledangle. This merry mob do their best to disrupt discussion with semi-literate jibes, but never seem to enter into the dialogue with any kind of thought-out responses to the topic. Let me give you a couple of examples. And yes, I am going to get round to telling you about the title of this post!

Dingledangle, on joining a discussion today, August 1st, made this his first contribution,


And made this very profound reply to a poster who referred to an article in the Daily Star newspaper,

The Star!

A f uckin reliable source if ever I saw one"

Well, Mr Dingly, a very thought-provoking critique of that journal's contents!

Now, what about this from Chair13 in a discussion about why a certain poster had not been seen for a while,

maybe he couldn't be ars*ed listening to you lot going on like you are faultless parents---------------------------will be hilarious when something happens to one of yours tho----it can be disected on here---if u r lucky LM might write hoax theory part 2 and ruin you on the net too"

So, Chair13 thinks it would be hilarious if someone's child were abducted? She hasn't quite grasped, or doesn't wish to grasp, that most people are actually very concerned about Madeleine, but very much disagree with how Kate and Gerry organised their child-care and how they have behaved since, setting up a fund as a business and trotting off round Europe.

The LM to whom Chair13 refers so eloquently, is the famous LogicMan, he of the now famous, "Hoax Theory," but I'm not going to tell you about that! Visit the forum and read it for yourself!

So, you can see the standard of the contributions by those people who set themselves up as McCann supporters. If I were Kate or Gerry I wouldn't be too thrilled if this mob was my support team. After all, Kate and Gerry are very highly educated people, doctors. They can probably read, write and use punctuation properly, which is, as you can see above, more than I can say for the Mirror's Team McCann posse!

Anyway, now to the title of this post! Mike Hitchen has earned great respect from most of the posters on the Daily Mirror forum. Mike must have been one of the first journalists to be openly critical of the McCanns and what was going on over there on the Algarve. While reporters in the UK were failing to ask what seemed to many to be important questions, "Why were those children left on their own," for instance, Mike was tapping away on his keyboard just saying what so many of us were thinking; hey oop! (Well, he wouldn't say that because he's an Aussie, not a Geordie!) If these people weren't well educated doctors, they'd be charged with child neglect. What's more, why aren't they banging on doors, turning over every stone in search of their child, instead of jetting around, shaking hands with various VIPs and kissing the Pope's ring?

Well, Chair13 and her McCann-supporting posse are not too keen on seeing the praise for Mr Hitchen. However, instead of simply responding with reasoned argument disagreeing with what Mike says, they opt for gung-ho insults!

Today, a rather disgruntled, stuffit, started a thread with the above title. He was not too happy about something Primavera wrote yesterday, of which, stuffit, quotes a sample,

After writing on another post about the possibility of Mike Bitchen being a second rate failure, who now sees Madeleine McCann as the goose that lays the golden egg, I received the following post from Primavera....... " (stuffit)

What a load of pusillanimous claptrap! Mike Hitchen was not a failure before the Madeleine case came along. Earlier this year, Mike's blog was nominated for an award under the, "Best Business Blog," category...........” (Primavera)

Now, we have James33's very articulate contribution!

2 pompous t*ats together

I think he means that both Primavera and Mike Hitchen sound intelligent, or maybe just that both use words of more than two syllables, or maybe just that both have got up his nose!

You see, instead of addressing the points in Mike Hitchen's blog with which they disagree, they throw the food off their high chairs! They can't engage with logic, so they spit!!

(It's so stressful being a Virgo and having the burden of being pedantic! I am tortured, well maybe a little, shall I shan't I change it, about my use of, "so," above, as a conjunction! Miss Elizabeth Tait, my English teacher, bless her little black mortar board, has made me what I am today, screwed-up with grammar-guilt!)

Universities Of The Third Age

The Universities of The Third Age aim to publicise and promote opportunities for lifelong learning for third-age learners throughout the world.


In my inbox this morning I was delighted to see the regular mailing of, "Signpost," from Tom Holloway. U3A-Signpost is sent out as a one-page email on the first of every month by the U3A Internetwork Group UK and U3A Online Australia to any and all U3A members.

Signpost aims
to deliver access to educational resources of a (mostly) non-computer nature to be found on the world-wide-web. History, Philosophy, Art and Poetry links are there in profusion.

The latest mailing of Signpost, which I received today from Tom, includes the following goodies!

  • Cooking For Engineers is run for fun by Michael Chu, a computer engineer living in Silicon Valley California.
  • The Science and Development Network aims to provide reliable and authoritative information about science and technology for the developing world. Plenty of material here
    for talks and discussion.

Signpost is edited and distibuted by Tom Holloway, Oxford UK, and Rick Swindell, Brisbane Australia.

Rick Swindell is President of U3A Online Australia and Edits the Australian/New Zealand edition of U3A Signpost from Brisbane, Australia. He also maintains the Australia/New Zealand website.

Tom Holloway is Editor of U3A Signpost (UK) and webmonger of and and many other websites.He coordinates the U3A News Direct Mailing scheme for the Third Age Trust UK. As chairman of he has helped to put more than 50 local U3A Groups onto the World-Wide-Web. He also offers telephone assistance with setting up a 'wiki' for other local groups. He can be reached on SKYPE as tomathollowaysorg