The authorities in Australia are now saying that at least 173 people have been killed in its worst ever forest fires, but the toll seems certain to rise as the emergency services search the more remote areas. Many of those who died were trying to escape the blaze in their cars, but they were outrun by the flames which were whipped along at terrifying speed by powerful winds.
Police report some of the fires were started deliberately – crimes that amount, says Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, to “mass murder”. The revelation comes as a new report from the Australian Institute of Criminology says that every year more than half of the country’s 20,000 forest fires are the result of arson.
Bunch of bankers. Even though they have brought the economy close to destruction by their incompetence and greed they still want to pay themselves huge bonuses. The Royal Bank of Scotland, bailed out by £20 billion of our money wants to hand over £1 billion of it to its staff. Whose achievement was what exactly? To run the bank so incompetently, it is now broke.
Still bankers must be quaking in their boots. Labour has got tough! It’s going to, er, set up an inquiry into bankers’ pay. And this is the really scary bit – the inquiry will be chaired by – wait for it – a banker! Nor is there going to be any hanging about – if all goes well, Sir David Walker will be reporting his findings....by the end of the year. How many billions of our money will have gone down the bonus drain by then?
Not sure how much Labour was planning to spend on Sir David’s inquiry, but I’m prepared to do the job for a fiver, and I can report right now. No bonus of any description should be paid to any person working in any bank bailed out by the taxpayer until all the money has been repaid.
Cricket, lovely cricket. If you’re still smarting from England’s dismissal for 51 at the hands of the West Indies, see my blog of January 28th.