Best wishes for a healthy and successful 2014.

xmasThe Jokathon again provided an excellent crop of jokers, notably John Richardson, Toni Scriven, Louise Hunter, and of course the eventual winner John Donnelly, who reserved his best moments until the final act then raced past the field to claim the priceless trophy as his own. After 10 years of experimentation to find the winning formula, it could not have gone to a more worthy contestant!

CADS is also experimenting this year. Our first lunch will be on the last Friday of the month, as has been usual in the past, but we plan to experiment with other days as the year unfolds – so stay awake as the demands on your diary change!

On the 31st January Jos Weerts is coming to address us from the Dutch Veterans in Doorn. The CEO of Tesla Netherlands will also be present to hand over the keys of a brand new car to Jan Derwort, who generously paid 500 Euros for a weekend with the car in the Jokathon auction. Jan will present his payment directly to Jos for use by the Veterans Emergency Fund. I do hope you can make it, as Jos has some challenging and hair-raising stories to share about his work.

vetsReviewing 2013 we can see it was a mixed year. The UK regained a hopeful economic outlook, with signs of recovery being led by the private sector, whilst the government continued to attack the mountain of public debt piled up over the past 25 years by squeezing personal incomes and benefits.

Commercial and cultural relations with The Netherlands came to an all-time high, with The Netherlands replacing France as the UK’s third largest trading partner. France, and the EU overall, misperformed under the current outdated and redundant leadership. The European Union must change rapidly to avoid becoming irrelevant, and that needs to start immediately. Fortress Europe has lost again in greentech, imposing punitive 50% import duties on solar panels from China, the world’s largest and most efficient renewables manufacturer.

Although the economic and employment news in the UK is hopeful, social progress remained awful, with more than 200 Metropolitan police personnel arrested and charged with corruption, and large numbers of “celebrities” in court for child sex offences; meanwhile families found their incomes squeezed as wages fell in real terms whilst the government increased personal taxes to record levels on all but the richest members of society. Meanwhile the managers of FTSE 100 companies increased their pay by an average of 14% last year. This cannot continue.

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