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21 August 2008

Scottish handmade silver jewellery


Joscelin Harden is looking to expand her trade in original handmade Scottish jewellery. This includes earrings, rings, necklaces, chokers etc in copper wire, hallmarked silver, beadwork etc. Unusual one offs from £30-£300+, free repairs, resizing and cleaning. Stock available on sale or return to retail outlets. At seen at the secret room, WL Morrison, Linlithgow. You can also view some of her silver jewelry on flickr. Time to start thinking about unique romantic Christmas presents?

the new site is at http://www.silverandwirejewellery.co.uk/

You'd likely pay a lot more for similar products in Harrods, Jenners or Harvey Nicols ....

Craig

19 August 2008

How Africa can be richer than the Middle East

I was reading about the completion in Dubai of the world's tallest skyscraper. Evidently no shortage of money in Dubai then to build tall or extravagant structures, funded of course by oil. Oil being of course a valuable commodity sold worldwide. Africa has a very valuable commidity, available in almost limitless quantities throughout most of the continent - solar power. Why can't we get our acts together and bring forward schemes for solar power in Africa, this one being even cheaper than oil with the potential to power Europe and 2/3 of the Middle East and North Africa countries. That's just one power station as well and using just 0.3% of the desert space. Why is the EU dragging its feet on this? Surely being able to generate electricty from a green source of energy and sharing the profits in Africa then Africa can not only enjoy the sort of spending power Dubai currently has, we can begin to address issues such as poverty in Africa, famine and disease - none of which seem to be major factors in Dubai.

With such a valuable resource, maybe Africa will become the New Middle East, not only in terms of power and wealth, but also wars and conflict involving the West.

Craig

13 August 2008

Back to work by working together

My idea on the show us a better way government website. £20,000 prize to be won by making better use of government data.

11 August 2008

Gaelic events at the Edinburgh Fringe 2008

Information follows about the Gaelic Partnership’s programme of Gaelic events at The Colmcille Centre this year during the Edinburgh Fringe. Please let your friends and colleagues know about them so that we can ensure reasonable attendances each night. Please note that Sunrise not Secular are appearing on the Monday night and Bannal on the Tuesday night – not as was previously circulated. poster and smaller flyers are available from the Gaelic Community Office in Dundee Street if you are able to circulate some. Look forward to seeing you there.

Fiosrachadh an cois seo mu thachartasan Gaidhlig a bhios againn aig Iomall Feis Dhun Eideann am-bliadhna. Feuch an toir sibh iomradh orra dhar cairdean is luchd-eolais gus am faigh sinn aireamhan math de dhaoine gan frithealadh. Thoiribh an aire gur e Sunrise not Secular a tha againn Diluain agus Bannal Dimairt – chan e an taobh eile mar a chaidh a chuairteachadh roimhe. Tha postair agus tha bileagan beaga rim faighinn san Oifis Choimhearsnachd mas urrainn dhuibh gin a chuairteachadh. Moran taing.


Please prefix numbers with 0131 when dialling from outside Edinburgh/from a mobile:

Tuesday 05.08.08 – 7.30pm Gaelic Conversation Circle –
Tollcross Community Centre, 117 Fountainbridge with Calum Cameron. (Cont:
334 7005)

Saturday 09.08.08 – 7.30pm Colmcille Gaelic Week - concert with
highly-acclaimed Gaelic singer and recording artiste Margaret Stewart, with
Ingrid & Allan Henderson, Colmcille Centre, 2 Newbattle Terrace. (Cont:
07906 318561)

Sunday 10.08.08 – 12.30pm Weekly Gaelic service, Greyfriars
Kirk, Greyfriars Place. (Cont: 225 1900).

Monday 11.08.08 – 7.30pm Colmcille Gaelic Week - concert with
‘Sunrise not Secular’ Lewis-based Celtic Rock group – David ‘The Davinator’
Nicolson, Brian Macleod, Ryan ’Ranjad’ Smith, and Michael ‘The Haggis’
Macdonald, plus local artistes, story-teller/bard, Colmcille Centre, 2
Newbattle Terrace. (Cont: 07906 318561)

Tuesday 12.08.08 – 7.30pm Colmcille Gaelic Week - concert with
‘Bannal’ Luaidh group featuring Kenna Campbell, Chrissie Macinnes, Sineag
MacIntyre, Wilma Kennedy, Margaret Callan, Margaret Anne Campbell, Christine
Grant, Tilly Macmillan & Morag Law & local musicians, story-teller/bard,
Colmcille Centre, 2 Newbattle Terrace. (Cont: 07906 318561)

Tuesday 12.08.08 – 7.30pm Gaelic Conversation Circle –
Tollcross Community Centre, 117 Fountainbridge with Calum Cameron. (Cont:
334 7005)

Tuesday 12.08.08 – 12.45pm National Museum of Scotland,
Hawthornden Court, Chambers Street – music from Skerryvore. Free event.
(Cont: 225 7534).

Wednesday 13.08.08 – 7.30pm Colmcille Gaelic Week – BBC Radio nan
Gaidheal recording of “Mo Roghainn Fhèin” with special guests Dolina
Maclennan & Allan Turner in conversation with Mark Wringe about their
favourite Gaelic poems. Plus local singers/musicians. Free admission. Doors
open 7pm. Recording 7.30pm. Colmcille Centre, 2 Newbattle Terrace. (Cont:
07906 318561)

Thursday 14.08.08 – 7.30pm Colmcille Gaelic Week – National Mod
2008 concert led by Mod Gold Medallist James Graham, with Kenna Campbell,
Arthur Cormack, Mairi Macmillan, Lyle Kennedy, Deans sisters, Cumbernauld
Gaelic Choir, Falkirk Jnr Gaelic Choir & local instrumentalists &
storyteller/bard. Colmcille Centre, 2 Newbattle Terrace. (Cont: 07906
318561)

Friday 15.08.08 – 7.30pm Colmcille Gaelic Week - concert
with ‘Daimh’ featuring Calum A Macmillan, with ‘phenomenal instrumental
arsenal’ of Ross Martin, Angus Mackenzie, Gabe McVarish, Col O’Rua & Seumas
Bremner, along with local entertainers & storytellers/bard. Colmcille
Centre, 2 Newbattle Terrace. (Cont: 07906 318561)

Saturday 16.08.08 – 7.30pm Colmcille Gaelic Week - concert with
Internationally-acclaimed piper ‘Fred Morrison along with Matheu Watson,
local musicians, story-teller & bard, Colmcille Centre, 2 Newbattle Terrace.
(Cont: 07906 318561)

Sunday 17.08.08 – 12.30pm Weekly Gaelic service, Greyfriars
Kirk, Greyfriars Place. (Cont: 225 1900).

Tuesday 19.08.08 – 7.30pm Gaelic Conversation Circle –
Tollcross Community Centre, 117 Fountainbridge with Calum Cameron. (Cont:
334 7005)

Tuesday 19.08.08 – 12.45pm National Museum of Scotland,
Hawthornden Court, Chambers Street – songs & music from Mary Ann Kennedy.
Free event. (Cont: 225 7534).

Wednesday 20.08.08 – 7.30pm Comann na Clarsaich Festival Ceilidh at
St. Andrew & St. George’s Church, George Street, with na Clarsairean, Isobel
Mieras & Jim Ferguson & Lothian Gaelic Choir. (Cont: 07906 318561)

Thursday 21.08.08 – 12.45pm National Museum of Scotland,
Hawthornden Court, Chambers Street – clarsach music from Ailie Robertson.
Free event. (Cont: 225 7534).

Sunday 24.08.08 – 12.30pm Weekly Gaelic service, Greyfriars
Kirk, Greyfriars Place. (Cont: 225 1900).

Sunday 24.08.08 – 2.00pm National Museum of Scotland,
Hawthornden Court, Chambers Street – final ceilidh with ceilidh band. Free
event. (Cont: 225 7534).

Sunday 24.08.08 – 8.30pm Edinburgh International Book
Festival, Peppers Theatre, Charlotte Sq. Gdns. Gaelic book launches with
Martin McIntyre & Ian Finlay Macleod. (Cont: 0845 373 5888)

Tuesday 26.08.08 – 7.30pm Gaelic Conversation Circle –
Tollcross Community Centre, 117 Fountainbridge with Calum Cameron. (Cont:
334 7005)

Sunday 31.08.08 – 12.30pm Weekly Gaelic service, Greyfriars
Kirk, Greyfriars Place. (Cont: 225 1900).

Tuesday 02.09.08 – 7.30pm Gaelic Conversation Circle – SNP
Rooms, North St. Andrew St. with Calum Cameron. (Cont: 334 7005)

Sunday 07.09.08 – 12.30pm Weekly Gaelic service, Greyfriars
Kirk, Greyfriars Place. (Cont: 225 1900).

Tuesday 09.09.08 – 7.30pm Gaelic Conversation Circle – SNP
Rooms, North St. Andrew St. with Calum Cameron. (Cont: 334 7005)

Tuesday 16.09.08 – 7.30pm Gaelic Conversation Circle – SNP
Rooms, North St. Andrew St. with Calum Cameron. (Cont: 334 7005)

Saturday 20.09.08 – 7.30pm Argyll Association ceilidh, St
John’s Church Hall, Princes Street (Cont: 453 5766)

Airson tuilleadh fiosrachaidh mu ghnothaichean Gàidhlig ann an Dùn Èideann,
cur fios gu Iain Macleòid, Oifigear Leasachaidh Coimhearsnachd air 07906
318561 no air post-d gu john@andarach.com


For further information on Gaelic activities in Edinburgh, please contact John Macleod, Gaelic Community Development Officer on 07906 318561 or john@andarach.com If you want your contact details added to the community e-mail circulation list, please send a brief message to the above e-mail address. If you know of other Gaelic events/courses etc that could be added
to this list, please let John know.


Regular weekly updates on Gaelic activities in Edinburgh are now also featured in the Stornoway Gazette (newspaper & website).

08 August 2008

Seeking Senior Project Management / Web opportunities / CTO


Wondering if anyone reading this is hiring a web project manager/ CTO at the moment
You can view my details on my linkedin profile. Looking for contract work UK wide, permanent work in Central Scotland but I would also look at permanent work further afield depending on the opportunity. I'm immediataly available, happy to meet up, chat online before hand. I'll be in London on Tuesday.

thanks

Craig

04 August 2008

UK Government big thinking. National Insurance

The present government is accused by Tony Blair of having no policies.

Here's a policy which someone who has been chancellor for 11 years should be able to sort out.

Simplify the tax system and make it accountable.

Here's an example - look at what National Insurance is for on the direct gov website.

Then use that explanation to explain why EMPLOYERS who derive only a minuscule benefit from National Insurance need to pay more NI than employees. Employers do not get the pension benefit, employers get only a tiny benefit from sick pay. Employers still have to pay the majority of maternity pay and employers get no benefit towards unemployment benefit through this tax. Indeed as a self employed person in a Ltd company, you end up paying approx 24% in National Insurance even though you CANNOT CLAIM UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFIT BETWEEN CONTRACTS because "looking for work" whilst out of work is deemed to be paid employment even though you are not being paid whilst doing it.

This nonsense is little better than the equally bureaucratic mess inherited from the Tories. I took my case in 1996 to my MP who now happens to be Chancellor of the Exchequer (i.e. Alistair Darling). This was around the time of Harriet Harman's "send my kids to private school" story:


Letter in The Herald 5-Feb-96
This was published in full as their main letter of the day
Poverty trap bound by red tape

The disproportionate publicity given to a Labour MP's decision to send her child to a grant maintained school is causing the real issues affecting millions of people to be quietly brushed aside by the Conservatives. Here is an example of a "customers" experience of the disastrous state the Welfare system is in after nearly 17 years of Tory rule. They only have themselves to blame. As a "Customer" my response is that the Welfare state is a mass of red tape and I'd like to shop elsewhere, if I could.

Last year I was made unemployed and I registered as such with the unemployment office. It turns out, that despite a 500 a month mortgage, approx. 100 a month in bills and a requirement to buy food to live, I am not eligible for any state aid. I am disqualified from receiving any unemployment because during the year 93/94 I was on the Government's Employment Training initiative and only being credited with National Insurance, not paying it. My other 7 full years of actual contributions count for nothing. I couldn't even get the Welfare State to pay my £70 train fare for an interview because the initial contract was for less than 12 months.

I am disqualified from Social Security as I live with my fiancée and she works 25 hours a week. It apparently doesn't matter that her monthly wage is the same as my mortgage. It costs about 600 a month minimum plus food for us to exist and every month we are going more overdrawn because of the lack of the welfare state. The government defines "full time employment" as 16 hours or week or over and if one of a couple is working this, the other is not eligible for social security or housing benefit no matter what their income is. This definition of "full time employment" is patently ridiculous. If I put on my job applications that I would work 16 hours full time, I'd get laughed at. If I put I'd only work 16 hours a week on my signing on card, I would not get full unemployment benefit. The Government clearly has it both ways.

The "Employment Service" fully accept this problem and numerous people at the Employment service have said "I shouldn't say this but you would be a lot better off if your fiancée gave up her job or moved out". Is it really the Conservative party which believes in "family values" which has created this appalling system - forcing people out of work or splitting up families so that they can afford to eat?

Taking the Conservative philosophy of choice to its conclusion - I believe my paying National Insurance is like obtaining an insurance policy for myself and for the benefit of others. My experience of this system is that the rules are obscure and complex. It eliminates people who need money whilst giving money to those who may be out of work but well off. I would like to opt out of this mess, as I can with a pension scheme, and pay towards a scheme which has clear, easy to understand rules which pays out when I need it. Looking at private redundancy schemes, this is what they offer.

What this country really needs though is a simple system for the unemployed and low paid of adding your income, subtracting reasonable outgoings and then paying all or some of the difference, at a level which gives a guaranteed minimum income but is an incentive to go back to work. No exclusion clauses based on one person's 16 hours work expected to fund a couple. No exclusion clauses based on what happened in the tax year years ago and no automatic benefit for the wealthy whilst genuinely poor people are trying to make ends meet.

The issues surrounding one child's schooling pale into insignificance next to the millions caught in a poverty trap by Conservative Red Tape.


So over 12 years later we still have a state system which means that people out of work can end up being disqualified from receiving any state aid whatsoever because of red tape. Zero income was the sort of thing that national insurance was supposed to eliminate so that people did not end up in poor houses. Zero income does not pay bills. Zero income fuels the credit crunch. In a credit crunch, we need an accountable and fair tax system which ensures that when someone is out of work they are entitled to a minimum benefit, just as when they are in work they are entitled to a minimum wage.

So no more paying 24% national insurance contributions and then excluding people from the very benefits that national insurance was set up to provide. Have a flat rate of NI for all. Abolish employers NI contributions and if necessary adjust the income tax rate accordingly to ensure no employees are worse off. This would result in a fairer and more open tax system. The present alternative of taking a 24% insurance premium and then refusing to pay out for the benefits of that scheme is little better than state theft.

Craig

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