Monday Matters: James Bamford meets Edward Snowden

James Bamford Edward Snowden

On Monday Matters tonight after 9pm Jason Mccrossan will speak to the best selling author and journalist James Bamford – who flew to Moscow last year to interview former National Security Agency employee Edward Snowden who leaked thousands of top secret documents to newspaper groups in America and the UK.

Our featured artist is Paul Simon – however, we did him last year so have opened it up to you to suggest who you’d like to hear four songs from – in the running is The Carpenters (Kyra’s choice); War of the Worlds (Jason’s choice) – and Chris DeBurgh if no-one comes up with anything better.

After 8pm in our Night-Time News report – Psychologist Jo Hemmings – talks to about a survey by the internet provider Plusnet on the time of the week when we feel unhappiest.

Kyra has this weeks music news including news about Lulu’s 2016 tour, Ed Sheeran and Kanye West’s appearance on USA X-Factor.

After 9pm we have another Downton Abbey update with MC Jezza Fellows.


A Picture Paints A Thousand Words

Posted on Twiter by @davidhepworth

This is my favourite photo of the week.

China State Visit banquet
“…and then I said “Peking? No, officer – just having a look!” Chinese President Xi Jinping attends a lavish banquet in London’s financial district held in honour of his visit. The banquet in a 15th-century hall at was hosted by London’s Lord Mayor and attended by guests including Prince Andrew, to his left.

Dollarydoos – the new Australian currency?


A petition has been launch to help stimulate the Australian economy by changing the name of the currency to “Dollarydoos”.

The campaign which has been started on the website – is directed towards the countries Shadow Minister for Communications & Broadband Malcolm Turnbull MP and has saw it’s support jump from 8,000 to nearly 35,000 signatures in less that 24 hours.


According to the petition – the change to Dollarydoos “will make millions of people around the world want to get their hands on some Australian currency due to the real life Simpsons reference, driving up the value of the Australian currency”.

Fans of the Simpsons will recognise the term from the 1995 Simpsons episode called “Bart vs. Australia,” in which the unnamed father of a boy called Tobias, is tricked into a six-hour collect call with Bart Simpson that cost him “900 Dollarydoos.”

You can add your voice to the campaign here.

Protest Against Fees and Cuts Planned in Dover, Kent


Kent Police are warning drivers of a planned demonstration march today by various groups as part the ‘national campaign against fees and cuts’ in Dover which is highly likely to cause disruption in and around the town.

National Campaign Against Fees & Cuts

It’s thought participants are likely to assemble at Market Square  at 12.30 pm, and then march to the entrance of Dover Eastern Docks via Bench Street and Marine Parade. An assembly will then take place until 3.30pm. The march may then proceed back along the same route. The route may be subject to change.

It is anticipated that this will attract a large numbers of protesters and there will be extra police officers in the town whose main role is to facilitate a peaceful protest, to keep the public safe and minimise the impact on local people going about their daily business.

There is likely to be disruption to local roads and access to parking while the procession passes through and while the protest takes place at the Eastern docks. Access to Dover seafront may be restricted during the afternoon.

Some disruption to businesses in the area of the protests is also possible and advice leaflets have been distributed to relevant areas giving further information.

A spokesperson for Kent police said “We would ask all people, both locals and visitors, to support Kent Police and keep Dover peaceful on Saturday.”
For up to date information during the day, follow Kent Police on Twitter @kentpolicedover

I’m not fighting for Uber – it’s the principle of choice

Uber taxi

I hate being told what to do.  It stems from being a child and constantly being told to “stop poking that” or “don’t lick that, it’s dirty”.  And rather than maturing my way out of it – it is something that has stuck with me.

Which is why I was pleased that the High Court in London ruled today that app-hailing taxi Uber isn’t breaking the law in the way it meters and charges for journeys.  Ok – to be fair – I don’t know what rules were supposedly broken – just that the case was brought by the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association and London Private Hire Car Association who claimed that Uber was circumventing the law in regards to how fares were calculated.

Boris Johnson Exempt uber black cabs

The truth is.  I really don’t care about metering technicalities and no amount of “uber did this” and “uber did that” – stories will dent the fundamental truth. I want the choice to accept or decline either a black cab service, mini-cab or an Uber service.

I have had many happy and prolonged arguments with cabbies and their supporters on twitter who proclaim to know “the truth” about Uber. And I’m happy to live in a place where our arguments can rage on in the cybersphere. And on. And, sometimes, on.  I’m happy to live in a place where they are free to call David Cameron and Boris Johnson all sorts of names – unkindly as they might be.

For, what is the point of living in a democracy if we can’t speak our mind, slag off our politicians and get into arguments over which taxi service is best.  However, that is different from saying – you CAN’T use this service – or I want to deny you this service – because I don’t like it and it competes with mine.  That is what the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association and London Private Hire Car Association are trying to do.  Deny people, like me, the right of choice.

Say No To Uber

This is not a fight for Uber.  This is about the freedom of choice.  There will be other players who come into this market.  It is about the right of the little people to choose how they spend the limited money that they earn in an expensive capital city.

And the issue I have with the black cab brigade is that they don’t want to get rid of Uber because they provide a bad service and are bringing down standards.  But because they are doing a good job, raising standards and taking away their customers.

Black cabs drivers are not only on the wrong side of the argument – they are attacking the wrong people – their customers.  Because I am their customer too.  Yet they try and shout me down and end up make comments about my mother’s performance in bed.  If the comments about my mother were true – she’d earn so much extra kudos from me.  But alas, I doubt they are – considering how these days she struggles to finish off a paragraph of the book she is reading – never mind anything else.

I was told by one cabbie on twitter that I should “educate” myself to what Uber were doing – he then presented some articles about Uber cashing on on people’s travel misery – or screwing a Londoner out of £227 for a journey.

Uber scare stories

Let us not forget that the travel misery was caused by a TFL strike – so the misery of a few Uber customers was nothing compared to the misery of millions at the hands of Transport For London strikers.

And as for research. Well guess what.  My research comes first hand – from using both black cabs and Uber.  In my experience so far: Uber drivers have been great and it’s a little bit like having a personal chauffeur.  There is only one example of a time I was grateful to a black cab driver.  It happened in Edinburgh – I was drunk, lost and freezing cold in minus temperatures.  This cabbie gave me a lift home and didn’t accept a fare.  That was in 1996.  Since then, the only examples have been either just satisfactory or negative.

I once complained to Westminster council about a cab driver who was spouting sexist and homophobic views and the result was… nothing.  I queried with a black cab driver why he was using a particular route – straight into heavy traffic (I used to run a lot through London – so knew the routes) – to be shouted down & told that “if you don’t like it – you can fuck off out ma cab”. One black cab driver presumed to keep my change – and was very arsey when I asked for it back.  A black cab driver once left me stranded on the A4.  I stopped a black cab one cold and rainy night to be told- “I ain’t going that route – try someone else”.   I ask one for directions once – “Is it for a fare? Nah, well bugger ooof’ – ask someone else”.ban Uber

However, I do not for one moment pretend that ALL black cab drivers are rude or aggressive – most are nice and helpful.  Having said that – being told to “fuck, piss or bugger off” by a black cabbie is something that one begins to cherish on London’s streets.  It is one of the few times that someone will tell you exactly what they are thinking – and directly to your face. And if you should engage a black cabbie with a question on a subject they know something or nothing about….they will talk at you until journey’s end.

But, the final reason I have found myself getting into arguments in defence of this new technology is that the anti-Uber mob want to eradicate them from London.  That is their final position.  For people like me – (and I guess Uber – who I don’t speak for) – I don’t want to see an end to black cabs in London – or to be limited to only having Uber as the taxi service of London!  All I ask is to continue to have the choice available to me – which includes hailing black cabs – if and when I choose (and there is one available).  If Uber launched a campaign to get rid of black cabs from London – trust me, I and the whole of London would be arguing just as defensively and loudly in support of black cabs, as I do for Uber.

Because, it’s not about Uber – it’s about the choice that comes through the harnessing new technologies.

I am at least sensitive enough to this issue to realise that what many black cab drivers fear is that they are being squeezed out of the market by unfair competition and over regulation. My point here ties into the attacking of the wrong people.  Don’t shout Londoner’s down.  Encourage them to lobby TFL for less regulation and the ability to also use new technologies.  “Use it or lose it” – make us want to jump into a black cab – because we want to…not have to.  Cabbies are proud, rightly, of “the knowledge” – but as a consumer, I have to tell you – I don’t care whether it’s an iPhone or “the knowledge” that gets me to my destination – I just want to get there in comfort, safety and cheaply (or not depending on the time of month).


TfL is consulting on 25 proposals for private hire companies – several of which could seriously affect Uber and which are deliberately designed to curb their business by introducing draconian measures.  It really is outrageous that in 2015 – a company like TfL – whose Directors are all on 6 figure salaries and who get driven around by chauffeurs – can deny the rest of us the ability to pick who takes us from A to B.  They want to consider rules which will make us wait 5 minutes on a cold winters’ night – for no reason – what-so-ever and also rules to stop the showing of nearby vehicles to passengers.  Again, for what reason could these 6 figure salaried bosses have for putting in these conditions – whilst they are swanning past in their TfL funded Mercedes chauffeur driven car?  It is for one reason and one reason alone – because they are out of touch.

Uber v Taxi

It is important that these measure are not allowed to be brought in – because although Uber might be the first – they are not the only competitor in this market & you just need look to China where there are a number of these start up companies – who are undercutting Uber and creating even more choice in the cities in which they operate.  This is may be the true fear.

Some of the new rules that TfL are considering 

1. Operators “must provide booking confirmation details to the passenger at least five minutes prior to the journey” [Uber matches passengers with the nearest riders, meaning they are picked up in, on average, three minutes]

2. Companies “must not show vehicles being available for immediate hire either visibly or virtually via an app” [Uber’s key feature is a map of available drivers in the area around the passenger]

3. Operators “must offer a facility to pre-book up to seven days in advance” [This option that would create major headaches for Uber, since it does not allow passengers to pre-book rides]

4. Drivers may only work for one operator at a time [many Uber drivers are part-time workers whose main employer is a traditional minicab firm]

5. There should be controls “on ridesharing in public vehicles” [Uber’s chief executive Travis Kalanick has said he wants to bring the UberPool service to London, which allows several customers to share a car and drive down the cost each person pays]

You can find and respond to the review by clicking on the link below

The TfL Private Hire Regulations Review

Star Wars: The FARCE Awakens Trailer 4


Star Wars: The Force Awakens (also known as Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens) is  directed by J. J. Abrams. The seventh instalment in the main Star Wars film series.

In The Night Sky with Greenwich Astronomer Affelia Wibisono

The Peter Harrison Planetarium Greenwich

The Peter Harrison Planetarium was opened in May 2007 at the centre of the Royal Observatory site in Greenwich. It was designed by the award-winning architects Allies and Morrison and it’s cone is one of the single largest uses of bronze in the world. It is made from nearly 250 individual plates welded together and patinated to look like a single piece.

Jason McCrossan spoke to Affelia Wibisono from the planetarium about Mars, Pluto and the new film that’s been released called The Martian.

Sue Lloyd-Roberts: 1952 – 2015

Sue Lloyd-Roberts

Journalist Sue Lloyd-Roberts, died last night after suffering from acute myeloid leukaemia.  Sue received a stem cell transplant over the summer, however, she died following complications from the transplant; Sue was 64.

Here is a collection of her work which covers a variety of subjects that Sue felt passionate about and her broadcasting style and journalistic probing – is matched by very few.  There were no bells and whistles with Sue – she was an investigative journalist – who just wanted to get underneath the skin of the subjects she perused – subjects which you knew she felt passionate about and people she deeply cared for.

Journalist Sue Lloyd roberts
Journalist Sue Lloyd roberts

She kept a video diary for the Victoria Derbyshire programme because of her urgent need of a donor whose tissue type is the same as hers.

Sue was educated at Cheltenham Ladies’ College and St Hilda’s College, Oxford.  She worked as a journalist for ITN before joining the BBC, reporting on issues including human rights abuses around the world.

In 2011, she was the first journalist into Homs – the so-called “capital of the Syrian revolution”.

Also during her career, she was sentenced in her absence in China to seven years in prison for her reporting of protests and self-immolations  against the rule of China on the Tibetan plateau:

Sue Lloyd Roberts

And Sue was one of the first journalists to talk about female genital mutilation:

She was appointed MBE and CBE for her humanitarian journalism. She also received the European Women of Achievement Award and won an Emmy for her reporting from North Korea after Newsnight had been invited for the celebrations marking the birthday of the Great Leader, Kim Il-sung, the founder of the country.

Sue Lloyd-Roberts in Bosnia in 1993
Sue Lloyd-Roberts in Bosnia in 1993

But the invite came with a catch – Sue was only allowed to film model farms, model villages, model schools and model homes.  However, she didn’t stop probing or asking uncomfortable questions – even though it greatly angered her minders.  At points, so forthright are her questions – the translator – refuses to translate; maybe fearing he will be blamed.

In June 2014 it was revealed that a mass grave contained the remains of nearly 800 babies and infants in Ireland. The children died whilst in the care of Catholic nuns at a mother and baby home between 1925 and1961. The mortality rate was five times that of babies born outside the convent walls.