Saturday, 28 February 2009

New Dictionary For Cllr Brown – Stat!

She seems not to understand how she can be a racist, when she herself is an ‘ethnic minority’:
Cllr Brown, who is Bristol City Council’s first black Lib Dem councillor, denies the remarks were meant as a racist slur and says they were taken out of context.

She said: ”I’m not aware my comments were interpreted as a racist remark. How can I be a racist when I’m black?

Perhaps she needs a racial awareness course?

The remarks? Oh, they were to an Asian Tory councillor who had pooh-poohed Cllr Brown’s idea (in the teeth of a deepening recession) to spend £750,000 for a project on the slave trade:
...a furious Mrs Brown stood up and stunned the meeting with her outburst.

She said: ”In our culture we have a word for you and before I go into what I want to say and my statement, is that we have a word for you and, which many in this city would understand, is a coconut...”
Which we all know is a remark intended to imply that the person being so described is ‘white on the inside’. I wonder who the 'we' was meant to refer to...?

She desperately tried to defend her words by claiming to have been talking about ‘throwing away coconut water’ instead (Nope, me neither...), and then when that didn’t work, fell back on the ‘Is it ‘cos I is black?’ defence:
“At the end of the day there are 70 councillors in that council yet I’m always the one being picked on. If everyone was so offended why did no one say anything at the time?”
Too flabbergasted, I’d say.

Nice people the Limp Dumbs recruit these days, eh?

Update: Old Holborn's blog has the video!

Raising Wimps...

Today seems to be a day for discovering all those 'problems' you never knew existed.

The 'Guardian', as Tim Worstall notes, is concerned about the increasing propensity for orchestra members to get blind drunk (unlike those quiet, sedate rock stars, one presumes...), while over in the 'Mail', the FA is looking at the important social issue of young footballers losing by too many goals:
But the days of double-digit goal tallies may be numbered.

Some officials want the Football Association to introduce a so-called 'mercy rule' in youth soccer.

An import from the United States, the rule means that if one team achieves a certain goal advantage over another the match is declared over, thus sparing the losers further humiliation.
Newsflash. FA - 'humiliation' is nature's way of telling footballers they aren't trying hard enough, and need to do better next time.
The rule already operates unofficially in Devon's Pioneer youth league. Now both counties want the FA to adopt the idea more widely, saying it will encourage more youngsters to enjoy the game.

But sceptics believe such measures merely provide a politically correct comfort blanket for children against the realities of the wider world.
No doubt the FA brains-trusts that want to bring this in would agree with the parents who believed, last week, that disabled presenters were too much of a reality for their little darlings to face...

What sort of a new generation are we trying to raise, exactly?

"You Don't Work For Us....We Own You"

The NHS Blog Doctor was seething about compulsory fluoridation yesterday. I wonder how he's going to feel about this:
A new report discloses that fewer than one in seven front line NHS staff received a flu vaccine last year despite a recommendation that they do so.
Well, it is only a recommendation. If they don't want the jab, they aren't obliged to have it.

So they want to force them to take it:
Dr George Kassianos, the immunisation spokesman for the Royal College, told The Times: "The only way to boost the effectiveness of the flu vaccine is to immunise the people who are delivering the care – in hospitals, nursing homes, residential homes and GPs' surgeries.

"We are now so hot on infections such as MRSA, so why are we not on influenza? You are placing patients' lives at risk if you give them the flu.

"It may make sense to say that if staff want to work in contact with patients, then they need to be immunised. We have to think of the patient on the hospital bed. They have a right not to contract flu from a carer."
And the carer's rights not to have a compulsory immunisation? Tough...
Michael Summers, the vice-chairman of the Patients' Association, told The Times that the latest figures were "very concerning".

He said: "NHS staff must lead by example. They know that patients are vulnerable to flu if they themselves are infected but also if they fall sick and have to stay at home, which will also affect patient care. They know the risks this is posing to patients."
Here's something you may not have realised, Mike old boy. NHS staff are people too.

If they decide (as so many apparently do) that they don't need a flu vaccination, then they shouldn't need to have one to work. The NHS employs people - it doesn't own them...

Hiding The Evidence...

England's High Streets are in danger of becoming "ghost towns" unless action is taken to fill empty shops hit by the recession, council leaders have warned.
Looks like the LGA isn't swallowing Gordon's optimistic spin on the economy...

And how do they plan to fix it? By stealing property:
The Local Government Association (LGA) says four out of five councils have reported an increase in empty premises.

It is calling for new powers to allow town halls to temporarily use shops as sites for community projects.
Such as?
The LGA wants to make it easier and cheaper to use the premises for libraries, youth clubs, training centres and bring-and-buy sales.

It is asking for new powers to allow councils to take over shops once they have been vacant for three months.
But if we are heading into recession and everyone is tightening their belts and making job cuts, where will councils find the staff to run th...

Oh. Right.
The town of Dursley in Gloucestershire is trying out the idea, with a parade of closed-down shops transformed into an gallery where artists can display their work.
Because in the teeth of a deepening recession, everyone will be buying artwork. Really...?

Friday, 27 February 2009

Losing The Fight Against Worthless Scum...

Back in June last year, I predicted that:
”... when the trial opens there'll be a lot of contrasts between the worthwhile, selfless life of Mr Tripp and the lifestyle of the worthless scum that killed him.”
Well, sadly, I was right:
The full extent of the couple's criminal life can now be revealed for the first after she pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

Virasami - who has a string of convictions for petty theft and handling stolen goods dating back 20 years - was under a curfew and on bail for shoplifting. He was wearing an electronic tag when he launched the unprovoked attack.

Richardson has a 16-year criminal record. She has previously received community orders, conditional discharges and fines, for charges including deception, handling stolen goods and theft.
And her annoyance with another man over a queue-jumping allegation claimed the life of an innocent bystander.

And even the intended target of her ire is no angel:
At the supermarket, she argued with a teenager over queue-jumping, then used a mobile phone to summon Virasami, seeking revenge against the teenager.

Her intended target was 19-year-old Adam Prendergast, a graffiti vandal who lists his favourite sport as "sprinting from the police".
While by contrast, Mr Tripp was the ideal neighbour:
Mr Tripp, a building surveyor, was the father of a five-year-old daughter. He has been described as 'kind, quiet and never remotely likely to be involved in violence.'

Although six foot tall he weighed only nine stone and, after recovering from polio in childhood, had battled for 20 years against the debilitating affliction ME.

Mr Tripp, of Colliers Wood, was a tireless campaigner for a greater understanding of ME, now known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

He wrote a self help group newsletter-for fellow sufferers in West London, always urging them 'never to give up'.
The UK is the poorer today, both for having lost him, and for the inadequate justice system that lets these wastes of oxygen commit crime after crime after crime with no consequence or punishment....

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Watching What They Do, Not What They Say

Train operators are told to reduce their fares due to the recession and rising cost of inflation:
The cost of rail travel has been rising faster than the rate of inflation but operators will today be told that fares must fall as the economy suffers.
Which will, naturally, mean jobs or service cuts.
A spokesman for the Department for Transport said: "RPI will be significantly negative in July, according to independent forecasting. Andrew Adonis will tell the Transport Select Committee that if these predictions prove accurate then the Government intends to allow regulated fares to fall.

"He will dismiss any suggestions that fares might be frozen simply to benefit the train operating companies, as this would be grossly unfair to passengers."
Yet for councils, it’s bonanza time (so long as you aren’t in Scotland). I guess no-one needs to worry about being ‘unfair’ to them::
The average bill is expected to rise by three per cent in April –much higher than the rate of inflation used by most employers to determine pay increases.
And the reason for mentioning Scotland? It seems they have a more practical breed of politician up there:
The increases come as the Scottish Government is freezing council tax bills as a result of the economic downturn.
So, businesses that need to make a profit can survive on less or cut staff, but their feather-bedded public sector equivalent must receive their allotment of taxpayer dosh, or….well, or what?

Presumably, there’ll be fewer Diversity Outreach Enablement Publicity Co-ordinators. And we can’t have that

And note that this news is given the best positive spin by the government’s national propaganda arm:
Council taxes are forecast to rise by an average of 3% in England and Wales this year as local authorities seek to help households hit by the recession.

Such a rise, equivalent to 79p a week on average bills, would be the lowest increase in a decade, according to the Local Government Association (LGA).
Cheers, Beeb!

And it’s not just the economic disjointedness that screams at you out of the headlines, either. Take the privacy concerns, which rumble on, and on, and on….

Privacy is paramount, trumpet the ID card supporters to calm the natural fears of the public, yet that doesn’t filter down to the staff:
A database which is to be used as a model for the proposed ID card scheme has been accessed more than 30 times by council staff without authority.
Expect that to multiply exponentially as we go further down the road of ID cards and massive databases…

And despite this, the march to document each aspect of our lives and put it at the mercy of the State continues in sweet oblivion :
Innocent people's privacy will have to be sacrificed to allow security services greater access to personal information to fight terrorism, a former Whitehall intelligence co-ordinator has said.

"Being able to demonstrate proper legal authorisation and appropriate oversight of the use of such intrusive intelligence activity may become a major future issue for the intelligence community, if the public at large is to be convinced of the desirability of such intelligence capability."
I’m not. And nor are a lot of people, despite the ‘increasing threat of terrorism’.

We take our cue from the politicians, who are keen on openness until such time as it starts to affect them:
Justice Secretary Jack Straw has vetoed the publication of minutes of key Cabinet meetings held in the run-up to the Iraq war in 2003.

He said he would use a clause in the Freedom of Information Act to block the release of details of meetings in which the war's legality was discussed.
But if you’ve got nothing to hide, Jack….

Applying Sticking Plaster To A Gaping Wound…

It appears that there are 7500 addresses in the UK where ambulance staff are told to proceed with caution:
Figures under Freedom of Information legislation uncovered almost 7,500 addresses where ambulance staff required a police escort or are advised to exercise caution because of the potential of violence.
Now, I’m not in favour of anyone being allowed to attack ambulance staff with impunity (or police, or firemen, or gas meter readers…), but what risk do households like this pose to the rest of us?
Risks include people with a history of violence and aggression towards ambulance staff, addresses with dangerous animals or weapons and patients with psychiatric or alcohol-related conditions and mental health disorders.
Who ‘red flags’ them for the unsuspecting public, or their neighbours?

Not to mention unsuspecting delivery men, window cleaners, milkmen, etc…
The Liberal Democrats say some parts of the country have hundreds of addresses that have been flagged - in the North West alone, more than 3,000 addresses are seen as at risk.
No, not ‘at risk’. They are the risk – to others.
Health spokesman Norman Lamb said: "It is unacceptable that such a large number of people are posing a threat to the safety of ambulance crews.

"NHS staff responding to emergencies and trying to save people's lives should be allowed to do their jobs without fear of violence or abuse. Tough action must taken when their safety is threatened.

"Protective body armour should be made available to all frontline ambulance staff, just as it is to the police."
Here’s a thought, Norman, and perhaps it might help more than just calling for body armour for some of the public sector workers who have to deal with these people – don’t leave them free to pose a danger to anyone!

Dangerous dogs and weapons? Remove/destroy them.

Psychiatric conditions? Secure mental treatment facilities.

A history of violence and aggression? Ensure they are jailed or sectioned until they are no longer a threat.

That way, we’ll all be safe.

And if I was a paramedic, I think I’d think twice about paying my union dues to Unison, if this is the best they can come up with:
Ambulance workers union, Unison, says the problem is creating moral dilemmas where staff consider their own safety against the wellbeing of a patient.
Well, fancy..! How terribly unsympathetic of them…!

What exactly do you want them to do – charge in to Stabby McStabberson’s domicile regardless, just to ensure that the ambulance service is considered ‘morally sound’?
Karen Jennings, Unison's head of health, said: "I think there are serious questions to ask about whether ambulance crews should sit outside if somebody inside is having a heart attack."
Why? We are constantly told, by the H&S mavens, that we shouldn’t put ourselves at risk at work – why is this any different for ambulance staff? They aren’t, after all, paid for a dangerous role the way the police and fire crews are.

And they already put up with a hell of a lot of abuse from the mad, the thoughtless and the criminal element of the public, as any glance at their blogs will tell you.
"Having said that, if that household has a history of attacking people when they go in, then it doesn't do anybody any good if they were just to rush in and put themselves at risk."

But we might well ask, why is it not considered better to remove the causes of the problem, rather than try to find new ways to work around it?

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Some See The Writing On The Wall, Some Just See More Publicity For Themselves…

In the ‘Independent’, Mary Dejevsky raises important questions over the case of Binyam Mohamed that won’t make her popular with the chattering classes who habitually read that paper:
The return to Britain of Binyam Mohamed after a prolonged spell at George Bush’s pleasure in Guantanamo Bay is a cause for rejoicing; there can be no two ways about that. So why, amid all the smiles, do I find it hard to stifle some unease?

It has nothing to do with what Mohamed might or might not have done in Pakistan, Afghanistan or anywhere else. Nor do I believe, after all he has endured, that he will present a danger to the state or the British public. No, the reason is different, and not very charitable. But I suspect it might be widely shared.
You suspect correctly, Mary, if the conversations I’ve had (and overheard) on this subject are an example…
Mohamed is an Ethiopian national. After arriving in Britain at the age of 15, he unsuccessfully sought asylum. In 2000, at the age of 22, he received exceptional leave to remain – which remained his status when he was arrested by Pakistan immigration officials two years later. He is not, and never has been, a British citizen.
And there’s the rub.
Hailing his release yesterday, the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, said it was “the result of a number of years of very hard work by officials”. But how much responsibility, legal or moral, does a country really owe to those who have neither been born into citizenship nor sworn allegiance to the Crown?

Granted that the UK gave priority to securing the release from Guantanamo of those who were British citizens, perhaps citizenship demonstrated its advantage. But how many governments would have shown such a duty of care to a “resident” ?
I think the answer is ‘Not many’. And there are good reasons for that – over and above the practical ones of cost:
One view might be that the UK took a good and enlightened stance, fully justified by common humanity. But what were Foreign Office officials not working on, when they were negotiating for the release of these British residents? Is this a reasonable use of staff and taxpayers’ money?
It really is hard to say ‘Yes’, no matter how liberal your views or how much you might believe the UK to be a champion of justice.

She goes on to highlight Brown’s ‘Britishness’ campaign, and the discrepancy between the benefits available to citizens and those merely ‘resident’ here.
But encouragement to take out citizenship, by itself, is unlikely to reduce the ethnic self-segregation and “parallel lives” that have so concerned ministers for a decade. Indeed, by progressively toughening citizenship requirements, the Government sends out a contradictory message.

Nor is it the only one. The other relates to the comparative status and entitlements enjoyed by “residents” and “citizens”. As anyone who has collected the utility bills and council tax statements needed to claim almost everything, including access to the NHS, residency, not citizenship, is the prime qualification.
It’s beginning to resemble a scene familiar to birdwatchers – the fat cuckoo chick, a totally separate species from the nest-owners, yet gaining the benefits of food and protection merely by virtue of ‘residence’:
For some there is actually a downside to seeking citizenship: it is expensive, can be time-consuming, and brings you into contact with an officialdom you might prefer to keep at bay. Nor, for citizens, is there much of an upside. If you spend periods abroad, you disqualify yourself from NHS treatment. Almost the only advantage of citizenship is a vote for your MP.
Simply put, there is no advantage to being a citizen of the UK, versus being a resident (except the ability to choose from a wide range of lying crooks to vote into power, that is…).

And that is a dangerous state of affairs to have drifted into, for all it makes the usual suspects feel good about themselves, and able to trumpet the UK as a ‘tolerant’ place. Because they do not see the growing anger among UK citizens, of all creeds and colours, as the fat, greedy cuckoos in the nest are swallowing more and more of the resources while remaining forever ‘separate’, and allowed to remain that way by increasing legislation to protect their ‘rights’.

And like most roads to Hell, this one has been paved by ‘good intentions’:
There are good reasons why so many entitlements flow from residency. The idea is that there should not be two tiers of legal residents. Barring non-citizens from the NHS could make disease more widespread, for everyone, and the same goes for housing. It is not only morally wrong to leave whole families homeless, but damages the quality of life for all. Solidarity is the mark of a civilised society.
Yet, what we are building here is the antithesis of solidarity.

And if it’s ‘morally wrong’ to leave whole families homeless, how much more ‘morally wrong’ is it to tell people with an allegiance to this country that they must continue to accept people from outside the country, with no allegiance to it and no compulsion to have any allegiance to it?

The parent birds are beginning to realise the damage the cuckoos are doing to their species as a whole:
Yet the question of “fairness” is rising inexorably up the political agenda, and there are hints that ministers are considering a more direct link between citizenship and access to public services. Unwelcome though such a shift might be to many, it is one that this government has brought upon itself. It has allowed the impression to gain hold that citizenship, because it confers little advantage, has no worth. In this respect, the best thing Binyam Mohamed can do, once he regains his strength, is to join a citizenship class and earn his passport.
Will he? Why should he, as you’ve just pointed out?

And the odious ‘human rights’ lawyer Clive Stafford-Smith trails Mohamed’s wake like a hungry jackal:
Speaking from London's RAF Northolt, Mr Mohamed's lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, said he was "100 per cent certain" that the truth about his client's treatment would be made public.

He said that Mr Mohamed would be "very glad" to defend any charges levelled against him at a trial and pledged to pursue the case until those responsible admit their role in his torture.
Of course he did. After all, he’s not paying – we are. And the more taxpayer’s money poured into the cause of Mohamed, the more publicity is gained by self-satisfied Stafford-Smith:
Mr Stafford Smith said: "One thing we can clearly say is that the great British public have the right to know about what was done to someone at the behest of the British government, as does the American people.

"I'm 100 per cent certain that the people will learn the truth in the long run.
"For the last 800 years in Britain we have had a process for dealing with accusations and it's called a trial. In the immortal words of George Bush - 'Bring it on'.

"If people want to charge Binyam Mohamed, we would be very glad to face them in court. Binyam Mohamed has nothing to hide.
Can we do a deal? We’ll take Mohamed in but we get to export Stafford-Smith to a country with real injustices, where he can pontificate to his hearts content. Saudi Arabia will do nicely…
Mr Stafford Smith, of the pressure group Reprieve, added: "What we in Britain need to do is to make up for some of the things in the past and if the British Government was, as I contend, deeply involved in the torture that poor Binyam had to go through, the least we owe to him is to give him his home back.

"He lost his home because of that process."
Except, as Mary points out, it wasn’t his home. Was it, Clive?

And you are just another do-gooder hastening us down the road to the dissolution of the qualities that have made this country, historically, such a great place to live….

Only Some Children’s Safety Is Paramount…

…if you work for Newham social services:
Foster carers have been put at risk by not being told that the babies they are looking after could be HIV positive.

Social workers decided that the human rights of a mother wanting to keep her child's status confidential were more important than protecting foster parents, it is claimed.

In one case a foster mother, with three young children of her own, was given a new-born baby to look after and not told that he could have HIV.

This exposed her, her husband and their children to risk of infection.
And they wonder why there’s a shortage of foster carers…
Midwife Tricia McDaid, who questioned social workers about the practice when she became aware of the case in Newham, East London, said: 'This is appalling. Both the babies, the foster carers and their families were put at risk as they were not told.

'The foster parents were asked to administer anti-viral drugs to combat the baby developing HIV but were not told what they were.'
Although a quick look-up on the net would have rung alarm bells.

And as usual, someone raising ethical queries was treated..well, in the usual fashion:
Mrs McDaid, 47, says that when she raised the issue with social services she was then moved from her job as a midwife in the community.
Yeah, because that’ll convince someone worried about the ethics to keep quiet, right…?

Mrs McDaid said: 'Newham takes the view that the foster parents don't need to know.

'This happens all the time and it's putting foster carers and their children at terrible risk.

'I was also told by the head of child protection at Newham Hospital that if the foster parents asked me what the drugs were for I would have to lie.

'In my opinion that is breaking the law and breaking the midwife and nursing code of conduct. It also puts the baby at risk as anyone administering drugs to a young baby needs to know exactly what they are and what dosage it should be.

'When I raised difficult questions with the council they ostracised me and tried to freeze me out as they didn't want this getting out.'
Grand job, Newham Council! You’ve just ensured that Mrs McDaid has a national forum in the MSM. Cover up - FAIL!

The official statement from Newham’s PR flack hints at more to emerge, as long as the ‘Telegraph’ keeps a focus on this:
A Newham council spokesman said: 'Foster carers would normally be expected to be provided with full information, but we admit that this did not happen in this instance.

'The circumstances in this case are complex and we acknowledge that it could have been handled differently.

'Our procedures and protocols are now subject to revision.
'We are launching an investigation and we do not know if any other cases have occurred.

'The pan-London child protection procedures, which we are signed up to, contain guidelines that are primarily aimed at protecting children and ensuring children and their parents who may be HIV positive are not discriminated against.'
Everybody else…? Tough luck!

No Popcorn…?

They are the national arbiters of taste and decency, sitting through thousands of hours of film and TV footage to decide which films and DVDs are fit for public consumption.

Staff at the British Board of Film Classification are not easily shocked, but they are in revolt over a management plan that would require them to watch hardcore pornographic films alone in a bid to save money.
They have to ask…?
The BBFC employs about 80 examiners, who currently watch explicit films in pairs, but executives want to extend solo viewing, which has already been introduced for less controversial content. Films released at theatres are still watched by more than one examiner, and "sex works" - a BBFC definition for explicit material - are also viewed in pairs because they often contain scenes that many examiners find offensive.

They argue that working in teams make it easier to form a professional judgment about content.
Wouldn’t like to be a fly on the wall at those viewings…
Examiners say films that are refused an R18 certificate often include scenes that many find disturbing, including sadomasochism and sexual violence.

Some are concerned that viewing pornographic content alone will increase the chances of being sexually aroused by the material.
But surely, if you are, that means it ‘working as intended’, doesn’t it…?

Job done!
A spokeswoman for the BBFC, originally called the British Board of Film Censors, said its examiners already view most content alone, although some of it is still watched either by a team or by more senior staff.

She confirmed that sex works are currently examined by teams of two, but added that a final decision on the proposed changes had not been taken.
You mean, the bosses get to watch the really juicy stuff…? Typical.
"The BBFC is currently consulting staff about a proposal that sex works should also be examined by examiners viewing alone, but only on the basis that an appropriate policy is in place for having works which are particularly problematic or unpleasant viewed by teams," she said.

"Difficult or unpleasant issues or material are not confined to sex works."
Well, that covers the next Ben Stiller ‘comedy’ then…

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Not Waving But Drowning…

More signs of the writing on the wall – the way the deepening recession is affecting the earning classes:
In the current climate of fear and uncertainty, it’s little wonder that hopes are on hold and dreams deferred; planning ahead is a luxury few can afford when simply making it through to the next salary slip is as much as many people can manage.

Unlike the recessions of the early Eighties – when manufacturing and manual workers took a hammering – and the Nineties – when the white-collar sector was affected – top earners are among those being worst hit in the current downturn.
And as they are the ones bankrolling the rest of the country, god help us….
According to an analysis by the Office for National Statistics, architects, lawyers, tax advisers and commercial pilots are among the fastest-growing sectors for claims of jobseekers’ allowance. It’s a crushing comedown for those who have worked hard to establish high-flying careers and take pride in their self-sufficiency.

Just under a year ago, this newspaper highlighted how the middle-class, middle-income backbone of Britain was buckling beneath the burden of punitive taxation, high utility bills and council tax rises. With typical stoicism, professionals were quietly labouring away, paying the mortgage, putting teenagers through university and looking after elderly parents.
But stoicism only gets you so far.
We identified them as the Coping Class, and urged the Government to pay heed to their plight. Instead, the squeeze continued, and now, with the economy in freefall, the value of savings plunging with every interest-rate cut, and unemployment set to reach two million any day, and three million by next year, the Coping Class is no longer coping.
And that bodes ill for the three big parties at the polling booth.

This is the kind of situation where a ‘protest vote’ comes into play. We may have already seen that happen in Swanley last week…
“Everyone is suffering, but this is a particularly tough time for the middle class,” says Matthew Elliott, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance.

They’ve been taxed to the hilt, are weighed down by high mortgages, and although there’s been a reduction in food prices since last year, they’re still historically high.

“The coping classes are anxious about losing their jobs, and those that are in work are facing difficulties because employers may not be able to give them a pay rise this year. When they read about banks handing out bonuses and MPs claiming exorbitant expenses they’re quite rightly furious about the double standards at play.”
Will there be ‘poll tax’ type marches and riots? I can’t envision that, somehow, but then, I can’t see how the situation can remain so obviously broken without some kind of action.

Let’s wait and see…

It’s Not Just Opposition, It’s Hatred….

Meanwhile, over in La La Land, failed Katrina rescue ranger Sean Penn was using his Oscar win as an excuse to push the gay marriage agenda yet again:
Stars on their way to the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles had to pass a group of Christian demonstrators outside who protested against gay marriage and attacked the memory of the late Heath Ledger, a favourite target of militant anti-gay protesters since his role in Brokeback Mountain.
As they are quite entitled to do, the US’s free speech laws being far more liberal than our own.

But there are those who can’t see a difference of opinion as simply that, but have to refer to it as ‘hate’ instead:
Referring to the protest, he said: "For those who saw the signs of hatred as our cars drove in tonight, I think that it is a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect and anticipate their great shame and the shame in their grandchildren's eyes if they continue that way of support. We've got to have equal rights for everyone."
‘Go sit on the naughty step, protesters, and think about what you have done!’.

And how, exactly, do they not have ‘equal rights’? They have civil ceremonies in practically every state. It isn’t called ‘marriage’ because anyone ‘hates’ gay partnerships, or civil ceremonies wouldn’t have been created in the first place; it isn’t called ‘marriage’ because it isn’t marriage.

And no end of stamping your feet and whining about it is going to make it so:
Backstage, he dismissed the demonstrators' 'Heath in Hell' placards. "I think if we get used to dismissing these kind of comments rather than commenting on them, we'll be better off. It's meaningless jibberish," he said, expressing his sadness at the "culture of ignorance that has bred this kind of hateful expression, that these people have their signs outside essentially telling you that you're less than human".
And to counter that, you’d prefer no one acknowledge that they have their own opinions and are allowed to express them.

And you’d like to brand expressing your own opinion as ‘hate’, because, well, who would be in favour of ‘hate’….?

I can’t see that working out too well for the future, but who am I to question the political wisdom of a man who dresses up and plays pretend for a living?


Waste collection crews are being issued with devices featuring GPS technology that allow councils to store a history of information about individual rubbish collections, including whether householders are failing to recycle properly.

The system feeds binmen with up-to-the minute information about houses they are visiting.

It also provides local authorities with enough information to issue recycling advice or automated fines to residents who fail to obey bin rules.
Hope those fines will be printed on recyclable paper….
Under the government's pay-as-you-throw plans, councils were offered the chance to give rebates to households producing the least waste or impose penalties of up to £50 on those who failed to recycle.

The trials would have begun in April but the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said not one of 388 councils had volunteered to test the taxes.
Tim Worstall points out that this isn’t a ‘government pay-as-you-throw plan’ at all; it stems, once again, from the EU’s desire to reduce landfill.

But in a sterling example of the fact that technology itself is neutral, the director of the company points out it can be used for ‘pull’ as well as ‘push’ options:
Colin Webb, managing director of Bartec Systems, said: "The technology could be used differently if recycling moves in a different political direction. It could be used for the scheme proposed by Defra for pay-as-you-throw or it could be used for a scheme such as the one proposed by the Conservatives for incentive-based recycling which we would actually prefer. It is up to councils how they use it."
There’s a question to ask your local representatives next time they beg for your vote…

Moral Authority

Parents should not tell their young teenage children that it is wrong to have sex, ministers said yesterday.

They should curb their tongues for fear of discouraging youngsters from 'being open', according to a campaign to involve mothers and fathers in sex education.
Because ‘openness’ is the new buzzword.

If I read one piece at the weekend on how Jade Goody’s public car-crash wedding was being ‘open’ about cervical cancer/dying/how to ensure children cope with loss, I read hundreds
But, while parents are warned against giving moral guidance, they are encouraged to get their children to use condoms and other contraception from the age of 13.

They should offer to go with their teenagers to their GP or a sex advice clinic to get contraceptives, the advice recommended.
So, if parents aren’t supposed to give ‘moral guidance’, who is…?

And is anyone going to point out that the age of consent isn’t 13?
Children's Minister Beverley Hughes said parents should assist teenage children if they are sexually active. 'We want parents to help young people to resist the pressure to have early sex, but also to explain the importance of using contraception if and when they do decide to have sex,' she said.
The governments track record on this is starting to show signs of strain:
The effort to recruit parents to reinforce the Government's failing 'teenage pregnancy strategy' comes as ministers are braced for the release of damning figures on pregnancies among under-18s.

They will show - as disclosed by the Daily Mail in December - that in 2007 the teen pregnancy rate defied Government expectations by going up, not down.

Mrs Hughes and her colleagues have already tried to revamp their strategy - which is based on universal sex education and wide distribution of contraception - by ordering compulsory sex education in primary schools.
So, telling them about sex and contraception isn’t working. So, let’s tell even more of them. That’ll work…
The attempt to recruit parents to give state-approved advice to their children is backed by the production of leaflets, to be available in chemists' shops.

There will also be a £530,000 handout to the fpa - once known as the Family Planning Association - to provide training for parents who want to advise their children on sex.
If you need ‘training’ in this sort of thing, and look to the state to provide it, perhaps you aren’t up to the task of being a parent in the first place?

Just a thought…

Blind Spot

Ranting Stan points to the double standards exposed by the case of schoolboy Henry Webster, and the potential for this to exacerbate racial divisions:
”The British people aren't stupid. They'll see the ease with which any number of Asian or black victims have succeeded in getting a crime against them committed by a white person labelled as "racial" and how hard it is for a white person to do the same and they'll draw the conclusion that there are indeed double standards applied when it comes to racially motivated crime.”
Luckily, his mother has never ceased pressing for an accounting, and has finally got her wish:
A white schoolboy left for dead by a hammer-wielding gang of Asians has insisted the attack was racially motivated.
Who could really doubt it? But it took her two years to force the authorities to act:
The attackers were sentenced to between eight months and eight years last year, but they would likely have got longer if the attack had been proven to be racist.

But only after two years of sustained pressure from Henry's mother, Liz, have the authorities announced a serious case review.
There’s a definite air of ‘wishing it would all go away’ emanating from the reports around the time of the initial attack and the sentencing.
Mrs Webster, 44, also believes the assault - by a gang calling themselves the Asian Invaders - was racist and the result of simmering tensions at the school.

She said: 'I have fought hard to find out all the facts. It has been an excruciating wait. The fact is that the attack on my son was a racial one.

'There have been numerous similar attacks before but nothing was ever done. I feel my son was badly failed by a school that believes racism is only something that is carried out by white pupils.'
It’s the default government belief, Mrs Webster…
The review will also examine why there were no staff present at the scene of the attack at Ridgeway School in Wroughton, Swindon.

The serious case review will not seek to apportion blame but will investigate what happened and evaluate the lessons that can be learned. It will last four months.
Ah, ‘lessons to be learned’…

I wonder if anyone will focus some attention on the wholly inadequate justice system response to the case, as well?
A man convicted of conspiring to assault hammer attack victim Henry Webster has been given one last chance after he failed to turn up for his community service.
He failed to turn up three times. So I can’t see the point in giving him a ‘second chance’, frankly…
Kamran Khan, 20, was given a one-year jail term, suspended for two years, on May 9 after he was convicted of conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm.

During the first year of the suspended sentence he was told he had to complete 150 hours of unpaid work for the community.

But he failed to turn up for his first appointment with probation less than a week after being sentenced.
I think he had the justice system figured out a lot better than the authorities…

And the attitude wasn’t just confined to him, it was mirrored in his familiy’s attitude too:
Marcus Davey, prosecuting, told Swindon crown court that on the second date he was due to do community service, May 22, a probation officer called his address and was told that Khan was asleep and that no one would wake him.
In which case, why were the police not summoned to haul the little waste of skin off to prison?
Deciding not to invoke the jail term, Judge William Hart said Khan was "laughing in the face of the authorities as far as this order is concerned".

"I will give him one further chance," he said.

He added 20 hours to the total Khan must complete.
Well, thanks for ensuring that offenders don’t have the opportunity to laugh in the face of the authorities, Judge Hart…

Monday, 23 February 2009

”Hot town, summer in the city…”*

Police are bracing themselves for a 'summer of rage' against the economic crisis, a senior officer warned today.

Superintendent David Hartshorn, who heads the Metropolitan Police's public order branch, said he feared there could be 'mass protest' at rising unemployment, failing financial institutions and the downturn in the economy.

The officer told The Guardian that 'known activists' were planning returns to the streets, and intelligence revealed that they may be able to call on more protesters than normal due to the unprecedented conditions.
The ‘known activists’ (the likes of the SWP and others) are going to be pushing on an open door if things continue as they are, or - as seems likely - get worse…
He said: 'Those people would be good at motivating people, but they haven't had the "footsoldiers" to actually carry out (protests).

'Obviously the downturn in the economy, unemployment, repossessions, changes that. Suddenly there is the opportunity for people to mass protest.'

Mr Hartshorn, who is regularly briefed on potential causes of civil unrest, singled out April's G20 summit of the leading developed nations in London as one of the events that could kick start a series of protests.

'We've got G20 coming and I think that is being advertised on some of the sites as the highlight of what they see as a "summer of rage",' he said.
Yeah, but I can’t see the average ‘man on the street’ getting out the Molotovs for what is a dry, pointless summit of wining, dining politicians. Only the usual rent-a-mob will be out for this – there will be trouble, no doubt, but it’ll not be any worse than the last time.

What’s more likely is protest over rising prices, or fuel shortages, especially if we get a heatwave:
Other parts of Europe have already seen large-scale protests against the handling of the economy.

Up to 120,000 people marched through Dublin on Saturday in an emotional and angry national demonstration over the Irish Government's handling of the economic crisis.
My memory’s failing me, but wasn’t it a particularly hot summer when the Poll Tax riots were in full flow?

* I guess I have different musical tastes to ’Ranting Stan’… ;)

Safety Down The Drain

A government U-turn has forced scientists to scale back plans to replace the crumbling Surrey laboratory that triggered the foot and mouth outbreak in 2007.
So much for rigourous standards of health and safety. ‘Close enough for government work’ indeed…
The environment department, Defra, has scrapped a pledge to fund a major redevelopment of the Institute for Animal Health (IAH) lab at Pirbright, where a leaky drain allowed the disease to escape. Experts say that the move threatens Britain's ability to combat the rising threat of animal diseases that will arrive with global warming, and goes against a key recommendation of an inquiry set up by ministers into the 2007 outbreak.

Defra says that costs have risen and the project is now too expensive.
Well, if the government are short of money, why not start by axing this non-job?
The Director of Digital Engagement role requires the successful candidate to develop strategies to communicate with people on popular internet sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Bebo and Twitter.

The Senior Civil Service position has a starting salary of £120,000 plus 30 days annual holiday but could rise to £160,000 - more than the Chief Whip, Cabinet Minister and Lord Chancellor get before allowances.
We can afford to risk another outbreak of FMD, but the government just has to have a hugely-expensive ‘Twittercrat’ to pump out even more propaganda across the net?

I Guess It Wasn’t ‘awight, After All….

The Independent Police Complaints Commission's inquiry into the 2001 death of Stuart Lubbock, due to be revealed tomorrow (Tuesday), will say that the first officers to respond to the incident entirely failed to treat it as a crime scene, The Daily Telegraph understands.
What a shocker! I’ve not heard that one before.
Oh. Wait
Instead, they took the word of witnesses that Mr Lubbock had drowned in a tragic accident at Barrymore's £2 million house in Roydon, Essex, and failed to conduct forensic tests.
Well, at least they didn’t actually hide evidence, so far as we know. So they are still just about ahead of Merseyside Police in the morality stakes…
The IPCC report will be critical of individual officers from Essex Police for assuming so quickly that Mr Lubbock had drowned, and failing to treat it as a suspicious death and carry out the necessary procedures, such as sealing off the area for forensic tests and treating it as a crime scene.
No doubt a lengthy and expensive ‘training issue’ has been identified and bid for, when sacking the officers concerned would concentrate minds much more cheaply.
The post mortem did not even take a sample of water from his lungs, which would have helped to determine if he had drowned.
That’s our forensic teams, less Gil Grissom or Mac Taylor, more Inspector Clouseau…
Calls for a second inquest last year were rejected. The Attorney General's Office said that while fresh evidence had been put forward it still did not confirm the cause of death and therefore it was considered that a second inquest "could not result in anything other than an open verdict" – which is the verdict recorded at the original hearing.
Justice denied once again…

Saturday, 21 February 2009

”Yeah... that's right Richard... I don't care. I'm not trying to solve a puzzle here...”

The ‘Times’ appears to have done some of that investigative work that modern journalism graduates shun the way Dracula shuns the sunlight. And what they’ve found doesn’t make pretty reading:
Sixteen years after a man was sentenced to life in prison for murdering his heavily pregnant wife by hanging, The Times has uncovered evidence that throws his conviction into doubt.
Not new evidence, either.

This isn’t a case of ‘Oh, we actually found the one armed man that this chap always claimed committed the crime..’ This is a case where the police have apparently conspired to deny and cover up evidence that the one armed man existed, despite knowing full well that he did:
Long-lost notes of police interviews have emerged that suggest that Eddie Gilfoyle was at work when his 32-year-old wife, Paula, died.

The notes catalogue a series of blunders, including the destruction of evidence before scene-of-crime officers arrived. They also show that those first on the scene were convinced that they were dealing with a tragic suicide.
What changed their minds? We’ll come to that…
The notes were not shown to the jury and not mentioned during Gilfoyle’s trial in 1993. Merseyside Police repeatedly denied that they existed.
Because by then, they were firmly into the ‘murder’ theory, and all that inconvenient evidence wouldn’t go down too well.

So they began ignoring it:
The Times has obtained notes of interviews with the officers called to the house on the day that she died. They state that the doctor who declared Mrs Gilfoyle dead told police that she had died six hours earlier – when her husband was at his workplace.

The 20 pages of notes appear to have been taken during an internal inquiry into police blunders at the scene. Until their disclosure today, there had been no suggestion that the doctor had addressed the question of time of death at the scene. There is no mention of it in his statements to the murder investigation.
Well, once you start down the murder route, introducing evidence that you initially had no reason to suspect it was murder calls into question your reasons for considering it murder now.
Instead, the doctor told the trial jury that Mrs Gilfoyle had been dead for between three and eight hours before being found. This could have given Gilfoyle time to kill her after work.
Is this the same doctor? If so, he has some questions to answer too…
The notes detail a series of mistakes that led to the internal inquiry by Merseyside Police. Mrs Gilfoyle’s body was cut down without any photographs being taken. Evidence was destroyed or tainted. The existence of the inquiry was not disclosed to the defence before trial.

The records also indicate that officers let a mortuary assistant destroy the noose – a vital piece of evidence that could have revealed who tied it.
But perfectly valid if you have no reason to doubt the evidence that you’ve been given by the doctor on the scene:
The notes emphasise that there was no evidence of a struggle. Her body had no marks or defensive injuries. The doctor examined her and decided that there was nothing suspicious. He was “99.9 per cent happy with it being a hanging”.

However, when family, friends and workmates described how happy and optimistic Mrs Gilfoyle had been, the police began to wonder if she might have been murdered.
Aha! And they couldn’t really say to the family ‘Well, there’s no evidence now.’

Because awkward questions might have been asked about why

So, let’s put the husband on trial, and let the chips fall where they may, seems to have been the cynical decision. One that the CPS was happy to go along with:
The evidence at Gilfoyle’s trial was almost all circumstantial. Nearly twenty witnesses said that Mrs Gilfoyle had been making plans for the future. A trial source told The Times: “For two days, friends and relatives and workmates gave evidence in which they said that this girl was vivacious, bubbly, so excited about this new birth. The morning she ‘committed suicide’ she got books about children’s names. After two days of people saying she was happy, the idea that a pregnant woman hanged herself? The jury just looked astonished.”
And presumably the judge’s summing up didn’t put enough emphasis on the weighting they should give to that circumstantial evidence.
Gilfoyle’s family contacted the Police Complaints Authority (PCA), which was so alarmed by its inquiry into the handling of the investigation that it alerted the Crown Prosecution Service to doubts about the conviction.

The criminal profiler David Canter, who worked with police to help to convict him, revealed last year that he had had second thoughts. Writing in The Times, he said that fresh research into suicide notes had persuaded him that Mrs Gilfoyle took her own life.
Well, that’s nice of him…!

But when you read his explanation for his change of heart, you see just how the ‘expert witness’ isn’t necessarily anything of the sort:
All these matters and other factors, most notably the demanding creative imagination, beyond Eddie’s abilities, that would be needed to invent the sequence of notes and letters changed my opinion. I formed the view that my original analysis had been too greatly, if inadvertently, influenced by the story that the police had originally given to me. The reliance on number crunching was also misleading. I therefore wrote a further report for Eddie’s second appeal which argued that there was a psychological logic that made it very likely that Paula had taken her own life.
Yup, instead of approaching the case with the detachment you might expect from an ‘expert’, and asking what the evidence pointed to, he seems to have started out along the line fed him by the police! Still, at least he appears to have been a real qualified professional. That doesn’t always happen, as DumbJon has pointed out!

It’s a very worrying case. I’d like to say that it couldn’t happen today.

But I wonder….

Getting It Right Wrong. Again

Social services separated a mother and her ten-day-old baby for two weeks after doctors misdiagnosed a common medical condition.

Dee Crawford, 19, had her newborn son Michael taken away from her and spent more than a fortnight under suspicion from social workers and police for assault.
The young mother had found a bump on her baby's head and quickly sought advice from her health visitor.

But within hours Michael had been placed into care and she was facing criminal charges.
See, this is the thing – why can’t they act with this kind of speed in other cases? Instead of dragging their heels and prevaricating about ‘uman rights…
Ms Crawford, from Chester-le-Street, Co. Durham, has now been reunited with her baby after doctors eventually realised Michael was suffering from a swelling condition called cephalohematoma, commonly caused by a traumatic birth.
I like the ‘eventually’ there – actually, it was a different doctor that pointed this out…
Michael, who had been placed on the Child Protection Register before his birth because his mother had previously suffered from depression, was born on January 19 by emergency caesarean at the University Hospital of North Durham.

Midwives found a bump on his head at birth but reassured Dee there was nothing to worry about.
And she believed them. Why not? They are professionals after all…
It was ten days later on January 29 that her nightmare began to unfold when Ms Crawford noticed swelling to Michael's head. She told her midwife who advised her to take him to hospital.

Social services and the police were at the hospital where Ms Crawford was told Michael needed scans, X-rays and blood tests. The baby boy was kept in overnight and had more tests the following morning.

But when Ms Crawford arrived at the hospital the following day believing she would be taking Michael home she was confronted with the news that doctors believed the bump was 'recent'.
So, it presumably wasn’t recorded anywhere on her notes? I can see the NHS database folks latching on to this one!
Worse was to come when Dee was arrested on February 9 and questioned on suspicion of assault before being bailed.

Desperate to get her son back, Ms Crawford pushed for a second opinion from another doctor.

On February 13, more than two weeks after Michael had been taken from his mother, a top paediatrician at Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary examined Michael and ruled the bump was 'definitely' cephalohematoma.
So, not a case of ‘doctors eventually realising’ at all, but on one doctor contradicting others.
After relaying his findings to social services Ms Crawford was allowed to take Michael home that night.

She was told in a letter from Durham Police that she would no longer have to answer bail 'as a result of new medical evidence'.

Ms Crawford, who is engaged to Michael's stepfather Gary Smith, 30, is now launching legal action against Social Services and Durham County Council.
Let’s hope she wins…
A Durham County Council spokesperson said: 'For reasons of confidentiality, it is not appropriate for us to comment on individual cases.

'However, we would never consider removing a child from a family in the context of a suspected injury without first taking expert medical advice.'
Or any old medical advice you happen to get, really….

The Biters Bit….

Police have installed a CCTV camera in their own canteen to catch officers who don't wash up.

After numerous complaints from tidy officers, police chiefs finally decided to address the 'abuse' and have arranged for a CCTV camera to be installed above the kitchen sink.
It’d take a heart of stone not to laugh….
Police officers were told about the plan for a camera this week by new police commander Graham Bartlett.

Police chiefs said the CCTV camera was a 'deterrent' to stop officers leaving dirty plates, cups and takeaway wrappers to litter the station kitchen.
And why not? After all, it works so well at deterri…

Oh. Wait.
He said: 'Eight hundred divisional police officers and staff have access to a new kitchen and rest room facility at Brighton police station.

'Unfortunately a small minority of people have been misusing the facilities which were provided by public money.

'I have therefore had to reluctantly take the decision that, in order to protect these facilities, we will use an overt camera to dissuade people from spoiling the facility for others.'
Yup, you read that right – to stop them ‘abusing facilities’ that were purchased with public money, they will be…spending even more public money!
Chief Superintendent Bartlett said damage to the kitchen would waste money meant for policing.

He said: 'I'd much rather be spending our police budget on neighbourhood policing than on any repairs which may arise in the future.

'No additional money was spent on the camera as it was already owned by Sussex Police.'
What ‘damage to the kitchen’, Bartlett? We’re just talking litter here…

And if you had a CCTV camera lying about going spare, why wasn’t it in use, or passed to another force to use?
David Lepper, MP for Brighton Pavilion, said: 'It seems a bit over the top to me. CCTV plays a valuable role in deterring and catching criminals. I'm not sure they need to go as far as CCTV cameras.

'I would think the public conscience of each police officer should be enough.

'Surely they could draw up a rota?'
I think that sort of organisational skill is a bit above Bartlett’s pay grade…
One policeman, who did not want to be named, said: 'This is taking things too far. We use CCTV to catch criminals, not officers who take a quick break from a punishing job.’
No-one’s stopping you from having a break. Just throw your rubbish in the bin, please, and wash your empty dishes.

Is that so hard…?

Friday, 20 February 2009

Holding The Court In Contempt…

A Harry Potter actor who was fatally stabbed did not smash a bottle over the head of his alleged killer, the Old Bailey has been told.

Tarik Ozresberoglu said Rob Knox, 18, was "unarmed" and confronted accused killer Karl Bishop "like a man".
Looks like the killer is planning one of those Harperson-mandated ‘killer in fear’ defences
Giving evidence Mr Ozresberoglu said he had tried to hold his friend back when the row began.

Responding to a suggestion from Ian Bourne, QC, that the actor had smashed a bottle over Mr Bishop's head, he said: "He went over there like a man, with nothing in his hand, not with knives.

"He (Mr Bishop) did everything. Everyone that got stabbed, he did it," Mr Ozresberoglu said.
Mr Ozresberoglu must be the kind of witness prosecutors love. Defence, not so much…
Then turning to Mr Bourne he said: "I don't know how you can defend him, a criminal.

"I'd rather be a dustman, a man's job, than do what you do."

He added: "Look at him there laughing, that clown over there, absolute clown."
Oh, oh! The judge wasn’t about to let that stand – all that stuff about ‘the truth, the whole truth..’ wasn’t meant to apply to the court staff themselves, obviously:
Mr Justice Bean warned Mr Ozresberoglu that he could be taken down to the court cells adding that the barrister was "doing his job".
Well, yes. I rather think that’s the point Mr Ozresberoglu was making.

Modern Witchhunts – Just As Flawed As The Original Kind…

A man accused of shaking an 11-week-old baby and causing severe brain damage has been cleared after a series of hospital blunders was revealed.

Stuart Bailey, 41, insisted he had done nothing to harm the infant and his lawyers claimed the case against him was 'very seriously flawed' and based on mistakes by doctors.
And most people would say ‘Where there’s smoke….’.

But in this case, there wasn’t even heat:
His three-and-a-half-year ordeal ended when a judge halted the trial at Sheffield Crown Court and ordered the jury to find him not guilty of cruelty to a child.
Three and a half years, and it couldn’t pass the judge’s ‘smell test’? What about the evidence?

What, indeed:
Bailey's barrister told the court the injuries, which have left the baby blind, deaf and severely disabled, could have been caused by an infection.

But he said doctors ignored NHS protocol by failing to carry out a lumbar puncture test that would have identified if the baby had an infection.

And a blood sample taken from the baby and sent for analysis was lost and the results never revealed.
In which case, why go ahead? Well, they had the testimony of ‘experts’ to fall back on.

And that’s when their troubles really started….
Dr Christopher Rittey, a consultant paediatric neurologist, concluded from head scans that she had suffered a skull fracture, and soft tissue 'impact' swelling indicated she could have been 'thrown against a brick wall or beaten with a baseball bat', the court heard.

But Mr Smith said the baby did not have a fracture and the swelling Dr Rittey regarded as suspicious was 'old' damage suffered during labour.
Prosecutor Andrew Robertson QC, told the jury the existence of the 'triad' of bleeding above the brain, damage to the brain because of oxygen starvation and bleeding at the back of the eyes amounted to a 'very strong pointer' that the baby was violently shaken.

He rejected the possibility of infection.

But his case collapsed ten days into the trial when one of his own witnesses, Dr Carlos de Souza, from Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital, said under crossexamination that the notes showed retinal bleeding was only discovered on the fourth examination of the child - more than a day after the alleged incident.

In that case he would not be able to say the most likely explanation was shaking, he said.
Whoops again!
His solicitor Tim Gaubert said: 'He's relieved although he was always confident he would be cleared. But his relief is tempered by the fact that the child is seriously ill. There are no winners and losers in this case.'

He said Mr Bailey's prosecution highlighted 'the grave dangers and difficulties in cases of alleged baby shaking.'
Well, yes, and no.

What it illustrates even more is the criminal incompetence of the CPS in deciding to push ahead when they had lost the evidence and their ‘expert witnesses’ were so easily proved wrong on the stand…

” If you didn't want them to think, you shouldn't have given them library cards.”

Librarians are being told to move the Bible to the top shelf to avoid giving offence to followers of Islam.

Muslims have complained of finding the Koran on lower shelves, saying it should be put above commonplace things.
Hey, guys, in your own homes, put it where you wish! In the library, we’ll put it wherever the hell we want, subject to the Dewey system (if they still use that…?).

At least, that’s what they should have said. Sadly, they scrambled to do the bidding of the professionally-aggrieved, as always:
So officials have responded with guidance, backed by ministers, that all holy books should be treated equally and go on the top shelf together.

This means that Christian works, which also have immense historical and literary value, will be kept out of the reach and sight of many readers.
Oh, for the love of….!

Who decided that this would be a good idea? Well, step forward that man of all previous barking mad ideas about libraries:
The guidance was published by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, a quango answering to Culture Secretary Andy Burnham.
And typically, it had no concept of what it was unleashing by rolling over:
It said Muslims in Leicester had moved copies of the Koran to the top shelves of libraries, in keeping with the belief that the Koran is the all-important word of God.

The report said the city’s librarians consulted the Federation of Muslim Organisations and were advised that all religious texts should be kept on the top shelf.

‘This meant that no offence is caused, as the scriptures of all the major faiths are given respect in this way, but none is higher than any other,’ the guidance added.
Since when were libraries in the business of ‘not causing offence’ to religious troublemakers? Are we going to see the Scientology mob request that L Ron’s magnum opus is moved out of ‘science fiction’ and onto the top shelf next? Or the Creationists demand that Charles Darwin is moved to ‘fiction’?
Critics said such a move implied religious works should be treated as objects of veneration rather than as books to be read. Robert Whelan of the Civitas think-tank said: ‘Libraries and museums are not places of worship. They should not be run in accordance with particular religious beliefs.

‘This is violating the principles of librarianship and it is part of an insidious trend.’
It is indeed…

And the usual suspects were quick to praise the authorities for making this decision:
Inayat Bunglawala, of the Engage think tank, which encourages Muslims to play a greater role in public life, said: ‘If Muslims wish to see the Koran placed on a higher shelf, and library rules say it should be there, then that is a welcome and considerate gesture.

‘But one size does not fit all. If Christians do not want to see the Bible treated in the same way, I do not see why it has to be dealt with the same.’
No, you wouldn’t, would you…?

However, some of the other aspects of the report are even more worrying:
The guidelines warned against another decision made in Leicester, in which Islamic material had been bought from local suppliers.

Libraries then found they had put into stock Islamic books that were condoning violence against non- Muslims, the report said.

And if that wasn’t enough to put the cat among the pigeons:
The new guidelines make it clear that pornography can be offered by libraries.

They said that some have stocked the Black Lace series of erotic stories aimed at women, and that others bought and lent Madonna’s Sex.

Hold on! I’ve got a great idea…. ;)

Thursday, 19 February 2009

A Vignette Of Multiculturalism In The UK

A teenage orphan known as 'Baby' pleaded for his life as he was pursued by four knifemen who plunged their weapons into his back, a jury has heard.

Sunday Essiet, 15, was chased, screaming, across a park in broad daylight in front of shocked passers-by who said the teenager "did not stand a chance".
Broad daylight, eh…?
On trial at the Old Bailey are Sikuru Doherty, aged 20, of Swetenham Walk, Woolwich; Miles Maddy and Adeniyi Oloyede, nicknamed 'Knifer', both aged 19, of Corraline Walk, Thamesmead, and Ifedotun Gbadeo-Araoye, also aged 19, of The Heights, Charlton, who all deny murdering Sunday on February 19 last year.
‘Sikuru Doherty’…?
Jurors heard Sunday had arrived with his mother and sister from Nigeria in 2000, two years after his father's death.

But his mother had become seriously ill and returned to Nigeria, where she also died in 2003.

Sunday and his sister went to live with other family members, but there were problems and eventually his sister moved in with her boyfriend.

The teenager was then left to fend for himself, flitting between hostels.

Mr Brown said: "He had no schooling, no structure to his life and no parents.

"Sunday was not immune to the experience of a criminal lifestyle."
But small fish feed bigger fish, and so the cycle goes…
On the day of his death and still angry about an incident that afternoon which had led to the arrest of his cousin, Sunday had armed himself with an imitation gun and went looking for Maddy and his friends.
Hmmm, what’s that quote from ‘The Untouchables’ again?

Something about ‘Isn't that just like a (deleted)? Brings an imitation gun to a knife fight’?

‘Here endeth the lesson’ indeed….

Where Would We Be Without ‘Research’…?

Please tell me he didn’t get a government research grant for this:
Trevor Cox, 42, wants to discover which sounds make us laugh the most and has set up a website to help.
Hmmm, I’d have to say ‘the screams of my victims, Trevor’.

What…? ;)
The acoustics professor, who works at Salford University in Manchester, has a long-running interest in the whoopee cushion and up until recently held the record for having the largest one in the world.

Going Ape II…

The cartoon in Wednesday's edition of the tabloid New York Post, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch, links two prominent US news stories – controversy over Mr Obama's economic stimulus proposals and a recent incident in which Connecticut police had to shoot dead a pet chimp that went berserk and mauled a woman.

In the cartoon, drawn by Sean Delonas, a regular Post cartoonist, two officers are staring gloomily at the blood spattered chimp's corpse after one of them has shot it.

"They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill," says the other officer.
Which is pretty amusing, unless you are a race-baiting demagogue who can rely on your followers being too dumb to understand the legislative procedure in their own country.

Unluckily, there’s too many of those around:
The cartoon drew immediate criticism from Al Sharpton, the black activist and community leader.

In a statement, Mr Sharpton said the cartoon was "troubling at best given the historic racist attacks of African-Americans as being synonymous with monkeys".
He said that it could be asked whether the cartoonist was "making a less than casual reference to this" and could be "inferring that a monkey wrote the last bill".
Except….the President of the United States doesn’t write bills. Congress does. True, some of them are black, but most are not.

Still, the bandwagon’s rolling, so ‘All aboard!’:
David Patterson, the black governor of New York state, later joined Mr Sharpton in asking for an "explanation" from the newspaper.
Hopefully, that explanation was along the lines of ‘You’re too stupid to be attempting to read newspapers. Put them down, before you hurt yourself…’
Col Allan, editor-in-chief of the Post, said: "The cartoon is a clear parody of a current news event, to wit the shooting of a violent chimpanzee in Connecticut.

"It broadly mocks Washington's efforts to revive the economy.

"Again, Al Sharpton reveals himself as nothing more than a publicity opportunist."

Going Ape…

What more can one say about the ‘pet’ chimp shot in the US after attacking a friend of its owner, and the cops who came to rescue them, other than perhaps they should have saved a bullet for her:
"Travis couldn't have been more my son than if I gave birth to him," said Mrs Herold. "It's a horrible thing, but I'm not a horrible person and he's not a horrible chimp."
Well, no. He was a typical adult male chimp.

In other words, a wild animal fully capable of tearing apart a 300lb linebacker in body armour with ease, never mind an unarmed elderly lady.

Hopefully, there’s a lawsuit (or twenty) winging its way to Mrs Herold right about now:
Travis, a usually mild-mannered chimp, had appeared in numerous television commercials for Coca-Cola and Old Navy. Initially, Mrs Herold told the police that she put the anti-anxiety drug Xanax into his tea, but she has since denied it.
I suppose it’s just as well he didn’t advertise that….

And because no story is complete without a ‘No shit, Sherlock!’ comment from an ‘expert’:
According to experts at' chimpanzees do not make good pets.

"Keeping a chimpanzee as a pet is not a rewarding experience for the chimp or the people. Chimp babies soon grow out of their adorable stage and become dangerous and destructive," the website says.
Thanks, ‘experts’.

However, Mrs Herold, who reportedly used to share a glass of wine with her beloved chimp every evening before they bedded down for the night together, has stated that she cannot understand how Travis could have turned violent.
I’ll help you out there – because he was a wild animal! ‘Violent’ is pretty much their default setting.

And is it just me, or is that turn of phrase ‘before they bedded down for the night together’ wrong on so many levels? ‘Telegraph’ editors, behave yourselves!

”This isn’t just any marketing opportunity…”

Billed by the supermarket as the perfect quick fix, credit crunch lunch, it is the ultimate sign of how busy we have become.

Free from the flourishes of many M&S products, the sandwich is exactly as it says on the pack: two slices of white bread with butter and jam.
And how much are they charging for that most simple of ‘meals’?
The simple snack would take just seconds to prepare in a kitchen, but M&S is offering to remove the effort in return for 75 pence.
Ha ha ha ha! Recession, what recession…?

Mind you, having read this, I think I’ll go buy one after all:
While nutritionists and the health-conscious may baulk at its high sugar content and low GI value, M&S are confident it will sell.
Go to hell, alfalfa-munchers…!

Better Than ‘Rocky Three’…

…because this time, it’s really personal!
The Metropolitan Police faces a new inquiry into discrimination in its ranks, ten years after it was accused of institutional racism in the report into the murder of Stephen Lawrence.
And we all remember what a stunning success the first one was….
The Race and Faith Inquiry opens tomorrow to examine why black and ethnic minority officers are more likely to leave the force and are less successful in gaining promotion than their white counterparts.

Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, set up the inquiry in response to a series of high-profile race disputes that undermined the leadership of Sir Ian Blair as Commissioner of the Met.
That clucking sound you hear? Chickens coming home to roost.

Because look who’s appearing:
Tarique Ghaffur, a former assistant commissioner who received a £300,000 payoff after accusing Sir Ian of discrimination, will be the first witness. His testimony, which he will be allowed to give in secret, comes at a time when the Met is trying to make a fresh start under Sir Paul Stephenson. The race inquiry also coincides with the Runnymede Trust’s review of the police service’s progress in tackling racism since Sir William Macpherson published his report into the death of Mr Lawrence.
Doesn’t Ghaffur have some history with the new Met top man?

Why, indeed he does:
Mr Ghaffur was Britain’s highest-ranking Asian police officer when he accused Sir Ian of racism. He said that his case was “to do with my treatment at the highest levels of the Met, in particular discrimination by the Commissioner”. Sir Paul, then Deputy Commissioner, responded tersely: “I think it is long past time that we all shut up, stop making public statements about private disputes and get on with the job we are paid to do.”
Ooooh, regretting that comment now, Sir Paul?
Mr Ghaffur then accused Sir Paul of intimidation and said that he was “extremely concerned for my personal safety”. He settled his claim in November after withdrawing his allegations against Sir Ian and agreeing to a confidentiality clause.
Which presumably won’t apply to his evidence to the inquiry, hence the reason for it to be held in secret?
The Runnymede Trust report contradicted the argument by Trevor Phillips, head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, that the police could no longer be accused of institutional racism. It said that the service had difficulty in recruiting, retaining and progressing officers from black and Asian communities.
Perhaps because, in an effort to concentrate on numbers, they haven’t considered the quality of their recruits?

”I was born in the wagon of a travelling show….”

Cher’d have to update that now to ”I was born in a nice detached three bed council house…” if she re-released it, though I don’t think it’d scan so well:
Gipsies evicted from the site of the London Olympics are being given new homes in a gated development - costing the taxpayer £2million.
Well, so long as it’s not just gypsies, I can’t see a problem (other than the problem of the ginormous money-pit of the Olympics itself…).
Six three-bedroom bungalows, each with a garden and a drive big enough for a caravan, have been built in Millfields Road in Clapton, East London.

Work on the new complex began straight after the traveller families lost a High Court battle against being evicted from their council-owned site in Waterden Crescent in Hackney Wick. Three indoor arenas will be built there to host 2012 events.
Though you do begin to wonder why permanent houses are being built, rather than, say, caravan pitches with hard connections…?
The development has outraged residents.

Patricia Chin, 64, whose terrace home is opposite the new development, said: 'We pay huge sums in council tax but don't get this kind of special treatment.'

Katrina Gorse, 29, a mother of two, said: 'My children have to share a room but they get all that space. I thought the whole idea of being a traveller was that you lived in a caravan.'
Well, quite. It seems that these days, to be classed a ‘traveller’ requires that you don’t travel!

Certainly, they put a lot of effort into staying put:
This scaffold tower marks the start of a bid by travellers to fortify the Dale Farm camp.

Campaigners say the gantry erected last week will act as a viewing platform for human rights monitors in the event of an eviction attempt by Basildon Council.
Perhaps the UN could send some observers…?

Oh, I Think That Ship Has Well And Truly Sailed…

Social workers claim that a media frenzy is damaging the welfare of “father at 13” Alfie Patten, his one-time girlfriend Chantelle Steadman, 15, and her newborn daughter.

Is that even possible, given how dysfunctional both sets of ‘parents’ appear to be?

Ross at Unenlightened Commentary agrees…

But in an effort to shift the growing public anger at this case away from themselves, the CP team are chasing scapegoats:
Child protection officers at East Sussex County Council have written to the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) to complain about harassment of the teenagers. The PCC is already investigating whether or not The Sun and The People broke rules by making payments to the Patten family. News organisations may only do so if there is a “demonstrable public interest” in a story. Both papers will argue that such a public interest is evidenced by wider fears about a “broken society”.
And they’d be right, frankly…
Last Friday, Alfie was shown on the front page of The Sun with Maisie Roxanne, whom he claims to have fathered. Up to six other local youths claim to have slept with Chantelle in the past nine months, but two in particular – Richard Goodsell, 16, and Tyler Barker, 14 – have been forceful in their claims on the child. Alfie is to have a DNA paternity test, his agent Max Clifford confirmed. Contrary to some reports, social services in East Sussex will not pay the £300 cost.
Is there a sadder indictment of the whole affair than reading those words, ‘his agent, Max Clifford’? Because if there is, I can’t tell what it is..
The PCC was forced to defend itself yesterday from accusations that it had failed to act swiftly enough to protect the privacy of the three children. A spokesman said an inquiry would have been launched even if Mr Hendry’s letter had not made its way to the office of the PCC chairman Sir Christopher Meyer. PCC insiders, the spokesman said, had been “sniffing the air” over the weekend and were resolved to conduct an inquiry even before public pressure made it inevitable.
In other words, they were acting, but not publicly enough for the comfort of the harried PR flacks in Child Protection…
Anne Longfield, chief executive of the charity 4Children, said: “I think it’s accurate to call this a feeding frenzy. We’ve got to remember that children are extremely vulnerable under the media spotlight.”
Not half as vulnerable as they are when they grow up amongst the kind of people who make the cast of ‘Shameless’ look like a snapshot of Amish society….

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Well, Since We’re Bringing Back The Seventies…

..why not let the Yorkshire Ripper loose?
The decision is a major step towards 62-year-old Sutcliffe's aim of being freed altogether. He was jailed for life in 1981 after murdering 13 women and trying to kill seven others over a five-year period in the 1970s.
‘Jailed for life’, eh…?

That only lasted until he was found insane and sent to Broadmoor.
If the Ministry of Justice agrees with the doctors' verdict, he will be sent to a medium-secure unit where he could be allowed out on short release for rehabilitation. A source close to Mr Sutcliffe told The Sun he is regarded as a "model patient" at Broadmoor, and medics are more concerned about the risk the public poses to him rather than the risk he poses to the public.

"He is effectively cured as long as he never stops taking his medication," the source said.
In other words, and as we say here on Earth, ‘not cured at all’….
It emerged in 2006 that he is not among the 35 "worst" offenders who have been told that they must spend their entire life behind bars.

Sutcliffe is now represented by human rights lawyer Saimo Chahal. His legal team have fought hard recently to have him declared sane and given a release date.
If he needs to take medication to stay sane, he isn’t sane. Or is that distinction totally lost on a bunch of lawyers?
A source close to the convict said: "Peter was told last month by his lawyers that after detailed discussions with the Broadmoor team he'd been classified as low risk.

"The psychiatrists advised that if the powers-that-be allowed him to be re-categorised and sent to a medium secure unit, he was at low risk of trying to escape or breaking the rules.
Hmm, yeah. Nothing ever goes wrong with those decisions, does it? And right on cue….
"A risk assessment was done as to whether Peter was likely to abscond if allowed out on the streets alone. But Peter told me he was marked as low risk on every aspect of his behaviour," the source said.

"He has been a model patient. He has never caused any aggravation and is liked by the staff.
A man who butchered 13 women is ‘liked by the staff’…? I’d be a bit more worried about the staff walking the streets, frankly!
The source said the main concern was that Sutcliffe might be recognised.

"Peter said the only fly in the ointment was that it was agreed he was at very high risk of being attacked and hurt if people outside recognised he was the Yorkshire Ripper.

"However that was countered by the fact that he is now unrecognisable as the Peter that was locked up. He is bloated up to 19st, his complexion is bad and he shuffles about. Peter's trademark jet black well-groomed beard is now grey and straggly."
Well, if this does go ahead, and Derek Draper lets himself go just a little bit more, the potential for all kinds of comedic confusion is endless….