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Bring in The New

Happy New Year everyone and already my first resolution is in full swing, to lose the surprise increase in weight that appeared over the last two weeks. For this purpose I’ve invented the new coffee, salad and sardines diet which I predict will soon take the place of Dr Atkins diet of last year. Whether it actually works or not is another matter!

Top stories I’ve noticed from today’s New Year Sunday papers today are:

How the RAF has 40 air marshals for 36 squadrons. Much the same for the Army and the Navy too and how our armed forces have become a paper-pushing disaster zone that let down the men in the front line.

Why bits fall-off British Airways passenger jets because the engineers can’t be bothered to screw the hatches back on.

99.99 per cent of the population - can only look forward to a year of financial belt-tightening and uncertainty. The economic omens for 2006 are more depressing than at the start of any year so far this century.

As we manufacture less at home but still want the glitter and glamour of consumerism, we have taken to debt as the natural way to finance our spending addiction. Total borrowing in Britain topped £1 trillion last year, just a bit under £5,000 for every man, woman and child in the country.

How to find a shopbot or shopping robots are special websites for finding the cheapest prices. The web is huge; so many people habitually nip straight to a familiar retailer such as Amazon or E-buyer to seek what’s wanted.

Instead head to a shopbot, tell it what’s required, click on compare prices and it searches e-retailers to find the cheapest with and without delivery costs.

In a world where Ferraris are two a penny, your professional footballer needs to go that little bit further to rise above the crowd. So what does Michael Owen do? He spends £2 million on a new helicopter. He hasn’t got a license yet but he plans to learn and on a twin-engined Eurocopter that could take a couple of years at least! I assume he’s up to the written pilot exams too?

In fact that’s cleverer than you might think because he’ll get the lot back against his considerable tax bill if he uses it for business!

The prospect of a further increase in British gas bills grew last night as Ukraine and Russia failed to reach agreement over a crucial gas pricing deal. The bitter energy dispute between the two countries threatens supplies into the European Union, with repercussions for the amount that would reach the UK.

Britain does not receive direct supplies from Russia, but 25 per cent of the EU's supplies comes from the Ukraine. If there is a drop in the supply to Europe, this would mean less gas being pumped through the “interconnector”, the pipeline that links the UK with the continent


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