So far Iraq has cost $1000 for every person in the USA

“The Iraq war has already cost the United States $320bn (£180bn), according to an authoritative new report, and even if a troop withdrawal begins this year, the conflict is set to be more expensive in real terms than the Vietnam War, a generation ago…

Iraq will have consumed $101bn in fiscal 2006 alone, almost double the $51bn of 2003…

Even if everything goes relatively smoothly, costs until a phase-out is complete could top $370bn.”

The Independent

Yes, 320 thousand million Dollars so far… Slightly more than one thousand Dollars for every person in the USA.

All for what exactly?

And even more staggering…

‘According to the Treasury Department, the forty-two presidents who held office between 1789 and 2000 borrowed a combined total of $1.01 trillion from foreign governments and financial institutions. But between 2001 and 2005 alone, the Bush White House borrowed $1.05 trillion, more than all of the previous presidencies combined.’

Rolling Stone magazine

 
 

Fireworks on the top of Beetham Tower, but does Manchester really need more city centre apartments for the rich? (VIDEO)

Fireworks from the top of Beetham Tower, Manchester, 26 April 2006

At 9.15pm tonight fireworks erupted from the top of Beetham Tower in Manchester, making it look like an over-sized roman candle firework. A topping out ceremony was taking place, marking the completion of the highest point.

The Tower stands 171m (561ft) and 47 storeys tall, making it the highest residential development in Europe. The first 23 floors will house a four-star Hilton hotel and apartments will fill the upper half.

Some people may wonder if Manchester really needs more apartments for the rich. When so many ordinary people in Britain are absolutely desperate for affordable housing and a large number of relatively well-paid workers are now excluded from ever owning a property of any kind due to high prices.

PFI

At the same time, Manchester City Council is busy trying to force various schemes onto residents of its council (public) housing, some of which is in the city centre. The aim being to pretty much wipe its hands of public housing.

Tenants are being denied a vote on whether housing should be transferred to a PFI (Private Finance Initiative) of the kind that is currently causing disaster in the National Health Service, an Arms Length Management scheme or whether it should remain in Council control.

In other parts of the country, residents have made it clear they want to remain in Council control. Which is something that Tony Blair and his New Labour cronies at Manchester City Council don’t want.

Tony doesn’t like it when people disagree with him and, if residents won’t be sensible and vote the way he wants, the answer is simple… Don’t let them vote at all and leave the decision to people who ‘know better’. In other words, those feeble-minded Labour councillors who have compromised their left-wing principles so much in recent years…

So, the original proposals to give residents a vote on the matter in Manchester are quietly being forgotten about. Instead, local Labour councillors will decide ‘what’s best’.

 
 
 

In search of cheap video lighting

I’m delighted with my Sony DCR-HC22E camcorder. But one thing that has been disappointing is its performance in low-light. It isn’t a patch on my old Canon Hi8, which can pretty much shoot anything the eye can make out and also corrects the colour well — even in street lighting at night.

For indoor shooting, I had equipped myself with several 60 watt spotlights from IKEA, which produced good results with the Canon — even for bluescreen special effects. But these aren’t enough for the Sony. The images are noisy.

So, what’s the solution for my ‘no budget’ film making?

I have a couple of Photax photographic stands and lamp holders that have provided faithful service for 25 years now. They take ordinary screwfitting domestic bulbs or photoflood bulbs (which come in 275 watt or 500 watt versions).

Trouble is, photofloods are expensive (£7 for a 500 watt bulb) and they have a short life.

An alternative is to use 200 watt domestic bulbs. Purists will point out that these change colour with age but, in practice, it isn’t a problem.

What IS a problem is that I can’t find any 200 watt bulbs in central Manchester (the third largest city in England). So I’ll probably have to order the bulbs online.

Work lights from Screwfix

An alternative is work lighting. Screwfix do two 500W tungsten halogen lamps, on a 1.8m telescopic tripod stand, with a 4.5m cable — for just £16.99 and replacement bulbs cost just 76p. You can imagine how much a ‘special video lighting’ version of this set-up would cost from a photo shop!

The lights will work great if bounced from a white wall or ceiling, or shone through some kind of diffuser. So I may order this too.

 

Video blogs could be hit by EU rules

The Times reports that the most popular video blogs may have to comply with new European television regulations, if proposals are adopted by Europe’s member states.

However British ministers and regulators believe that a light touch and selfregulation is the way to go. They plan to lobby their counterparts elsewhere in Europe to force some amendments.