Friday, 31 July 2009

Do Manners Still Maketh Man?

Jenni Russell in ‘CiF’ thinks so, I’m glad to say:
A headhunter I bumped into last year told me about the difficulty she'd had in finding suitable staff. That week she'd taken a candidate with excellent paper qualifications for a meal. Which was where it all went wrong.

"His manners were just unspeakable. Shovelling food on to his fork with his fingers. Talking with his mouth full, but holding his hand over it. Licking his fingers." And that was that. "My business is done over lunch. That's where you persuade people and do deals. I can't employ someone if people won't want to eat with them."
You’d expect this to cue howls of protest from the usual CiF crowd but surprisingly, it doesn’t (though there are, of course, a few)…

Jenni goes on to explain that exam results aren’t everything:
Social barriers are more complex, as are employers' priorities. Yes, they want qualifications. What they prize most, though, are more elusive social skills: articulacy, tact, team-working. Those words all describe much the same thing – an employee who can get along with, and be understood by, those around them. Employers want people who can understand their business's social codes.
Unfortunately, not only are those qualifications themselves often not worth the paper they are printed on, but the children have been taught precisely the opposite of tact and team working.

The introduction of ‘child centred’ education has turned them into demanding little monsters, never corrected and therefore expecting to be able to ‘express themselves’ whenever and wherever they wish.

For many, the concept that their ideas might be wrong, or not as favourable as someone else’s ideas, will be a new experience. Which should make team meetings a bit of a challenge…
There's much talk of Britain being more egalitarian and multicultural. In reality it remains deeply hierarchical. The dominant culture is that of the white middle class; the elite culture is that of the upper middle. Anyone who hopes to be socially mobile has, by definition, to learn to read a culture that is not the one they grew up with. Otherwise, no matter what their formal qualifications, they will either fail to get in, or fail to progress. In essence, they are emigrating from one kind of life to another, but our pretence that these barriers no longer really exist means they often emigrate without a map.
Ouch! That truism has got to hurt the trendy educationalist that usually hangs out on CiF...
In west London, William Atkinson, the inspiring head of a school with a very deprived intake, says that it's essential that pupils understand the dominant culture. He introduces them all, whether future doctors or gardeners, to great literature, theatre, art. He expects a work ethic. He tells his pupils that street culture is fine for home, but that it's joining the dominant culture that will give them choice.
How far, do you suppose, will those who are told that ‘street culture’ is part of their identity and no-one should ‘stifle their creative expression’ expect to get?

Yeah. Just what I thought…
Teenagers need to spend time with adults outside their social groups as mentors, friends and employers. And we need to find a way to talk about behaviour, manners, codes. Not because one set is better than another, but because it's the way humans recognise their groups. Pretending rules don't exist or matter only has one result – it freezes social mobility, and entrenches elites.
She loses her way a little bit there – we should be able to advance the idea that ‘one set is better than another’.

But the main thrust of her article is bang on the money – the progressives who have hijacked the education system and pushed the ‘no one culture is better than another’ concept have crippled the chances of thousands upon thousands of now almost unemployable youths…

Raedwald also picks up on this and has a hiring anecdote of his own to recount.

"It waved above our infant might, when all ahead seemed dark as night..."

Pudgy columnist Johann Hari is exhorting the proletariat to rise up:
When you are just one person sitting on a warming planet – when you see economies collapsing, wars raging, and reasons for fear on every corner – how should you react? What can you do?
Gosh! I don't know, Johann, what can we do?
The first mood is to feel powerless, and to turn this into a defiant pessimism. You know the script. I can't make any difference. It's all going to happen, whatever I do. The political conversation is remote and boring and has nothing to do with me anyway. I'm going to buy an extra-big lock for my door, hug my kids a little tighter, and sit out the storm.

We all have these moods from time to time, but they have now turned into the default mode of citizens in the supposedly advanced democracies.
You mean, people have rightly surmised that marches, protests and sit ins don't get you anything but scorn, ridicule and corns...?

How surprising...
The second mood seems to be the opposite, but is actually its flipside. It says: what we need is a heroic leader who will save us. Enter Barack Obama. He's clever and articulate and has a conscience. He's the photographic negative of George W Bush. He will sort things out.

Hmm, clever? How can we know?

Articulate? Not with the teleprompter off. And besides, you don't want to yse that particular term when talking about a black man, or your right-on friends and fellow progressives may turn on you!

As for his conscience, well, let's say the jury's still out, shall we?
Both these moods leave you – the ordinary citizen – inert. All you can do is focus on your own personal life and wait, for disaster or salvation. But these twin dispositions leave out the real option that is waiting for you. It is the only one that has ever delivered political change in the past, and it is the only one that will pull us out of the ditch now. It is where ordinary individual citizens – you – come together and raise their voices and offer solutions of their own.
Really, Johann?

Even if what they say is what you don't want to hear?

With Great Power Comes…

…well, great opportunity to run your own little fiefdom, it seems:
It boasts of being the ‘friendliest school in Great Britain’ – thanks to a Friends Reunited survey showing it has the most former pupils still in touch.

But according to angry staff, The Misbourne secondary school should be ranked among the most miserable because of the climate created by the headmaster and his lover, the deputy head.
Sounds like a microcosm of any other small organisation, doesn’t it?
Teachers held a series of clandestine pub meetings with union chiefs and the chairman of governors.

In the dossiers, they complained that the relationship between the two people running the school had for years made it impossible to complain about their ‘dictatorial’ management, which staff claim led to growing numbers of resignations through stress.

Shortly after the dossiers were handed in, Mr Howard-Drake suddenly announced his retirement – and Mrs Bates, who lives with him, last week resigned and left teaching.
How convenient…
Staff said it was obvious they were lovers but nothing was done despite a county council rule banning ‘individuals in a close personal relationship’ from working closely together.
Ah, yes. ‘One rule for them, quite another for us..’

Haven’t we heard that one before?
Among the dossiers’ allegations were claims that:

• ‘The head and deputy live together as man and wife and share the same authoritarian management style’.

• Staff were sometimes ‘refused permission to attend medical appointments and funerals’, but the head and deputy had been known to ‘take half days before a school holiday to facilitate holiday arrangements, and leave early to go away for the weekend’.

• ‘The head and deputy have a strict policy not to meet or talk to parents’.

• The head used ‘foul language’ while the deputy sometimes ‘berates staff in front of colleagues and students’.

• When Ofsted was due to visit, ‘all staff were warned not to speak to the inspectors’.

• Staff were told there was no training budget, but the head allegedly went on a course in America, and the deputy went on one in South Africa.

• The head refused to close the school when there was a rat infestation.
These people were wasted as teachers, anyway. They need to get into politics, quick!

They Shall Not Pass!

It seems the sense of community isn’t as dead as predicted:
In a landmark action to stop the blight that has hit so many communities, residents of a housing estate that now occupies the former RAF Locking have barricaded themselves into the 100-acre site and mounted a 24-hour guard. Every car coming in or out of the estate near Weston-super-Mare was checked.
What ‘blight’ could possibly drive people to these measures?

And what sort of people are we talking about?
All through the night they stood at the gates, ready to repel the invasion.

The old RAF camp had never seen an army like this, not in all its years of proud service.

There was a nurse, a lorry driver, a shopkeeper and ambulanceman, several young mothers with children at their side – and a Staffordshire bull terrier called Kandie.
A real cross-section, then. And their opponents?

Take a wild guess:
But last weekend, after 15 or 20 caravans were evicted from a nearby field, some of the ‘gipsies’ drove around the Locking site and took photographs.

One of them let it be known they had targeted the privately-owned estate and intended to set up camp on some of the open, grassy landscape where children play and people walk their dogs. He reportedly warned residents not to resist, adding: ‘We’ve got guns.’
You’d think warnings of imminent armed invaders to a respectable area would bring the police out in force, would you?

Sadly, you’d be wrong:
What happened next is a depressingly familiar saga that has unfolded in countless towns and villages, where travellers have used human rights legislation to ride roughshod over any laws that apply to ordinary folk.

The police were sympathetic but said they had only limited powers to act, primarily if a breach of the peace was threatened.

The local council – which has a legal duty anyway to provide formal sites for travellers – said it could not intervene at this stage.
When will they both intervene? When it’s too late to do anything about it, of course.

When someone’s been shot, or when the travellers are camped out and entrenched into their stolen land…

And before the usual suspects begin whining about ‘rich home owners NIMBYism and prejudice’, they can just think again:
‘We’ve got nothing against real gipsies or law-abiding travellers – there are already some in the area and they’re no trouble at all.

‘But even the ones that are here now told us this lot were different. They said they were “just a bunch of ****ing pikeys”.

‘They’re certainly not Romanies. They’re just parasites, the dregs of humanity, and we don’t want them here. But it’s the same old story. The law looks after people like this far better than it looks after us. They’ve got their “human rights”. Thanks to the law as it is at the moment, we don’t seem to have any human rights.’
Is he wrong?

He isn’t, is he?
The estate was formed after the Ministry of Defence put the old RAF living quarters and some of the land up for sale. A development company converted 328 homes and sold them to private buyers.

Properties on the estate are now worth between about £150,000 and £320,000. Many have been turned into suburban havens by proud owners, in tranquil roads where hanging baskets and cherry trees abound.

Now some of those same people are doing guard duty for up to 20 hours at a stretch.
Louise Bailey, 31, a part-time supermarket worker and mother of two, told me: ‘We feel totally let down. There doesn’t seem to be any way of protecting our community apart from doing it ourselves.’
Quite. As Obsidian remarked:
”… will we eventually see something over here? Public anger isn't boiling over, is barely palpable - we're British and tend to do the whole Stiff Upper Lip thing, wing mirrors smashed again? Fix them, no point informing the police as they'll do precisely bugger all - but it is rising, like acid reflux, and starting to irritate a little. Before long it'll burn, and all that pent up rage will unwind as the Stiff Upper Lip shifts to Thoughtless Rage.”
Let’s hope we see more of this type of non-violent action instead.

But if we don’t, or if the violence from the other side escalates, who will really be at fault here?
Two miles away, a vision of what they are fighting against was emerging in the morning mist. About a dozen caravans and vehicles set up camp on some grass verges beside the M5 motorway. Other trucks and caravans joined them later.

How long would they be there, I asked one of the men. ‘Not long,’ he said with a smile. ‘Not long.’
The people of Locking have shown the way.

Can others - will others – follow where they lead?

Treating People Like Beasts...

A post on the unfortunate incident of the Aborigine with the Taser over at ‘Angry Exile’s blog came to mind at the weekend.

He writes about the paternalistic attitude of the Aussie authorities to Aborigine communities:
But as annoying as that is the other situation, that of no booze zones because of the amount of alcohol abuse among some indigenous Australians, is if anything even worse. Not only is it paternalistic and borderline racist - I know it's the wrong country but it smacks of White Man's Burden to me - but what effect is it having? Well, since they're going to be hassled by the police for having alcohol some choose to sniff petrol instead, and that brings us full circle to some poor bastard jerking to the rhythm of the Taser while trying to put out the fire on his chest. A further complication is that I'm told that some alcohol bans in and around Aboriginal communities have been brought in at the request of the communities themselves. Now that made me rethink the situation. Isn't it equally patronizing to suggest that the Elders of a community aren't able to decide what should and shouldn't go on there? Isn't it just like a home owner asking people not to smoke in his house, and expecting them to comply or go outside? I can't help but feel that there's probably a middle ground here, and scaling up that home owner example might be roughly the direction to take. But it's a bit of a minefield and all I know for certain is that banning booze in public areas is not an answer. At best you move the problem on to somewhere else and at worst you end up with people abusing more dangerous substances that you can't so easily ban and can't readily police if you try.
The reason it came to mind at the weekend was because I happened to see, in the ‘Telegraph’, the most stunningly racist photo I’ve ever seen.

It was a group of tribesmen clustered round a car, underneath a honking great sign saying (in terms usually reserved for warnings about bears at Yosemite) that tourists should not feed them, offer them rides in cars, etc.

These were people. And yet, the sign treated them as less than human. And apparantly 'for their own good'. Their own good, of course, being defined as what the 'Oh! Native cultures are so wonderful!' crowd decided for them.

I can’t find it in the online edition, but this article describes the situation:
Over the last decade, the number of tourist trips into their jungle reserve has grown so rapidly that critics say it increasingly resembles a human safari park. An array of notices at the entrance to the forest instructs visitors not to stop or allow the Jarawa into their vehicles, not to take photographs - and not to feed the tribesmen or to give them clothing.
Because these people aren’t to be treated as people, capable of deciding for themselves: ‘Sod the loincloth and spears – I want an iPod!’. They are to be treated as pets, or worse than pets – as animals in a reserve, to be forced to maintain their ‘native culture’ whether they like it or not.

Seriously, how is it that anyone who claims to be ‘anti-racist’ isn’t up in arms over this?

Meanwhile, what concerns the right-on union warriors over here in the UK?

Well, according to Pavlov’s Cat, this sort of thing:
Unison took action against its members, including the Greenwich branch's Onay Kasab and Bromley’s Glenn Kelly, after they produced a leaflet showing the three wise monkeys from a Japanese proverb, with the caption "See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil".

The leaflet criticised the union for a lack of debate at its national conference in 2007, but the four were told by union chiefs some people could find the image racially offensive.

Well done, lads. Obviously, we have no more real or pressing problems with race in this country. As Pavlov puts it:
So 'some people could' , but nobody did , did they ? or you could bet these guys feet would not have touched the ground if an actual complaint had been made.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Multiculturalism In Action...

Police said one of the attackers was described as a light-skinned, mixed-race man, about 19 years old, 6ft tall and of an athletic build. He had short, dark-brown hair and was wearing a black, short-sleeved T-shirt and black bottoms.

The second attacker was described as Asian, aged around 14, about 5ft 4in tall and fat. He was wearing black clothing.

The driver of the car, which was possibly a five-door vehicle with tinted rear windows, was described as white, aged 17 to 18, of a wiry build with light-coloured, crew-cut hair.

Another member of the group was a black girl, aged around 14, about 5ft 2in tall, thin and with her hair tied back in a braid.
How diverse! How wonderfully vibrant ...

More Wind Turbines In A Spin…

Things are looking bleaker and bleaker for wind-freaks:
Europe's largest onshore windfarm project has been thrown in severe doubt after the RSPB and official government agencies lodged formal objections to the 150-turbine plan, it emerged today.
Oh, dear…
The RSPB heavily criticised the proposal from Viking Energy after initially indicating it could support the scheme. The RSPB also claims now that installation of the turbines could release significant carbon dioxide from the peat bogs affected, undermining the turbines' potential to combat global warming.

The group's fears have been endorsed by the government's official conservation advisers, Scottish Natural Heritage, and SNH has also objected to the "magnitude" of the scheme, claiming it could kill many of these birds through collisions with the 145-metre-high structures.
Eco-freaks vs twitchers. This could get nasty!
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa), which oversees pollution and waste laws in Scotland, has also formally objected, making it inevitable the scheme will now go to a full public inquiry and intensifying pressure on the developers to alter the scale of the project.
All those government departments joining in the fightback.

This won’t go down well when The Millipede comes back from his hols:
Miliband has said that climate change poses a greater threat to landscapes than windfarms and that opposing them should be "socially unacceptable".

Meanwhile, over on the Isle of Wight, some watermelons are learning a lesson in harsh economic reality:
They were given a slice of pizza, an apple and a can of fizzy drink; then the workers holed up inside a wind turbine plant on the Isle of Wight noticed something nasty lurking inside their food parcels.

More than a week into their wildcat occupation of the Vestas Wind Systems plant 11 workers opened letters from the management telling them they had been sacked with immediate effect and without compensation.
Well, yes, that happens when you go on strike and occupy your employers property. Welcome to the real world…
Lawyers for Vestas, which plans to shift production of turbine blades to the US, are due to seek a repossession order for the factory in court .

Meanwhile, environmental activists are heading to the island to lend their support in a dispute which has become a symbol of the UK's apparent inability to push through a major expansion in wind power despite the government's recently restated support for the technology.

Numbers joining the "red-green" protests could be significantly boosted after 15,000 people who had bought tickets for the Big Green Gathering festival in Somerset this weekend – cancelled at short notice due to licensing problems – were urged by activists to go to the Isle of Wight instead.
Hippies incoming!

The Dave won’t be pleased to hear this either:
Research published this week by Greenpeace showed that Conservative-run local councils had turned down more than three times as many windfarms as they approved between December 2005 and November 2008. Labour-controlled councils approved marginally more projects than they turned down.
Hmm, it seems that ‘green’ pie in the sky is all very well, until the time comes to make those big decisions. The ones that might result in your removal from office by fed-up voters…
In yet another blow to the technology's spread in the UK, the chief executive of BP reiterated today that the energy giant would not invest in windfarms here.

Tony Hayward said the company preferred to focus on the US.
Stick ‘em outside Congress! There’s plenty of wind generated there…

I Can Think Of Plenty Of Better Reasons To Sack BBC Executives...

…’Survivors’ and ‘The One Show’ being just two of them.

But according to new hire Patrick Younge (yes, if that name rings a bell, you’ll see why in a minute), not bowing to the racemongers should be the only one:
One of the BBC’s top black executives has called for TV bosses to be sacked if they fail to meet racial diversity targets.
Patrick Younge, who is set to take over at BBC Vision, the corporation’s programme-making section, claimed there was not enough ‘internal pressure’ for change.

He has said the targets should be treated like financial aims, suggesting that if bosses miss them they should pay the consequences.
‘Not enough internal pressure for change’ means that the bosses demand it, but the people who actually do the job think they are idiots who don’t know what they are talking about.

And they are probably right:
His comments may be particularly embarrassing for the corporation’s top executives – as the BBC has failed to hit its own targets.

This year’s annual report showed it set a figure of 12.5 per cent of staff to come from black and minority backgrounds, but managed 12.1 per cent.

Its record for top staff was worse – it hoped to get 7 per cent of senior managers from this group but ended up with 5.6 per cent.
Someone remind me again what the breakdown is for ethnic minorities in UK society?
It was announced last month that Mr Younge, whose brother Gary writes for the Guardian, was re-joining the BBC after working for the Travel Channel in America since 2005.
Oh, yeah. He’s related to that Gary Younge.


One chippy racemonger in the paper-based MSM, one in the broadcast MSM…
Mr Younge, who will look after shows such as Top Gear and Doctor Who, suggested ITV was one of the worst offenders on the issue.

He told Broadcast magazine: ‘As far as I am aware, ITV doesn’t have one black or Asian commissioning editor and it really shows.’
It does?


Because as Dumb Jon and North Northwester point out, their output isn't exactly that different to the Beeb's exciting, diverse, surprising line up...

Who Are You Going To Believe? Scientists, Or Your Lyin’ Eyes?

Last week, a North East mum was furious after her five-year-old was labelled “overweight” by an NHS measurement programme based on BMI results.

Beth Coates, of Dudley, near Cramlington, claimed BMI was inaccurate for the changing bodies of under-12s, and rubbished figures that placed her son Antonio in the top one per cent of obese children.
My mind conjured up (given that the 'top one per cent' sounds like the very worst example) a mini landwhale, eyes like two raisins in dough, wearing grown man t-shirts and struggling to breathe and walk unaided.

Well, there’s a picture of the lad in the newspaper, and if he’s obese, I’m a banana.

Never mind being in the top one per cent of the obese range, he’s pretty normal for a young boy.
His mother said she feared it could prompt worried parents into starting children on unhealthy and draconian diets.

Ms Coates said: “If wasn’t strong in myself I might start to think I was doing something wrong and start to deny Antonio food. It could give children serious eating disorders. I don’t want Antonio growing up thinking he is obese when he is not.”
Good for you! To hell with the scientists - only someone with an eating disorder themselves could look at this chap and proclaim him even 'chubby'.

Of course, no-one had actually observed the child. This was yet another 'diagnosis by tickbox'.

And when the child's mother had the temerity to question the wisdom of this, she was basically told she didn't know what she was talking about:
But Dr Ashley Adamson, a senior lecturer at the Human Nutrition Research Centre at Newcastle University, warned that our perceptions of what “overweight” means has changed. And while athletes were an extreme case, she said that BMI was still an accurate and reliable measure for the majority of people.

“We did a study of 500 children in the North East, using four of the most sophisticated measures of body fat, and we found that it tallied very well with the simple BMI scores,” Dr Adamson said.
Put down your charts and graphs and figures and take a look at this boy, genius. If he's classed as in the top one per cent of obese children, something's very wrong.
“Parents read the statistics about childhood obesity and say they don’t see that in the playground.

“But scientists have measured them, and 69% of children are overweight or obese. Our perceptions of what ‘fat’ looks like have shifted.”
Oh, please!

Take a look at the photo of the lad. If you maintain that your figures prove him ‘obese’, then you need to relook at your figures.

Any fat on that child is designed to be there. It’s called ‘puppy fat’ and you cannot measure a growing child on the same scale as an adult. One size does NOT fit all.
She added: “What we need is more support for parents. Many don’t have an accurate image of what weight children should be.”
They know if the child can’t run, jump, play or see their toes they are overweight, dangerously so. Everything else will be cured by that most egalitarian of cures – growing up…

Conservatives In ‘Doing Their Job’ Shock!

At least some Conservatives have retained their principles of fair play (though I’m sure the wrath of The Dave will descend soon as he tries to keep in with the in-crowd):
More than a thousand gipsy and traveller children have been given laptop computers to help them with their schoolwork.

The free equipment and wireless internet access is estimated to be worth up to £750 per pupil, and is costing the taxpayer £300,000 a year.
Some children are also being handed printers and digital cameras under a controversial Government-backed scheme aimed at encouraging them to stay in education.
Should that be their parent’s job?

Oh, but we’ll see later that no, it isn’t…
Last night, the Conservatives, who obtained the figures, warned that the scheme risked fuelling resentment among taxpayers. Only days ago it emerged that gipsy and traveller children are being given priority admission to popular state schools.

In addition, gipsy and traveller families are getting priority to see GPs and dentists.
Quite. Nothing annoys ‘Middle England’ so much as unfairness. Particularly when they are expected to pay for it…
Studies have shown that children who relocate regularly quickly become demotivated with learning and disengaged with their school friends and school life. In addition, many traveller parents provide little support for their children's academic learning, with a small number believing that formal education offers little or no value to their children's futures.
So, it’s the fault of their lifestyle? Should they be expected, then, to change their lifestyle, at least while their children as school age?

To do otherwise would be…well, deliberately disadvantaging their children, wouldn’t it?
Tory local government spokesman Bob Neill said: 'However well-meaning, I am concerned the Government's policies on travellers threaten to undermine community cohesion and inflame community tensions.

'The British people believe in fair play - it's not fair that one small group get privileged access to public services, whilst hard-working families who struggle to pay their bills and taxes are pushed to the back of the queue.'
Can’t argue with that…

Judge In ‘Telling The Truth’ Shock!

Hmm, I think someone will be having a word with Judge Ian Trigger in the near future:
Hundreds of thousands of immigrants come to Britain just to get welfare benefits, a senior judge declared yesterday.

Judge Ian Trigger said the cost of the handouts has helped to double the national debt.
Oh, I can hear the screams from the progressives as I type…
He spoke out as he gave a two-year jail sentence to a Jamaican drug minder who disappeared from the notice of immigration authorities after claiming asylum.

He told Lucien McClearley, 31, at Liverpool Crown Court: 'Your case illustrates all too clearly the completely lax immigration policy that exists and has existed over recent years.'

Sentencing McClearley, he added: 'People like you, and there are literally hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people like you, come to these shores to avail themselves of the generous welfare benefits that exist here.

'In the past ten years the national debt of this country has risen to extraordinary heights, largely because central Government has wasted billions of pounds. Much of that has been wasted on welfare payments.

'For every £1 that the decent citizen, who is hard-working, pays in taxes, nearly 10 per cent goes on servicing that national debt. That is twice the amount it was in 1997 when this Government came to power.'

That last one, in particular, may get him into trouble, as it could be said that it was overtly political, which is frowned on in judicial circles, isn’t it?

So, how did this cunning master criminal escape the talons of the Immigration authorities anyway?
McClearley arrived legally in Britain in November 2001 on a visitor's visa.

He was arrested in October 2002 after it ran out but claimed asylum and was released while this was being processed.

He then 'disappeared from the radar of the authorities', the court heard. His application was rejected in 2004 but he was only arrested this February after police stopped a car he was driving and noticed it smelled of cannabis.

By hiding in plain sight, while absolutely no-one bothered to look for him, then?

Never mind ‘disappearing’ from the radar, the authorities never apparently switched the radar system on in the first place!

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Missing The Point Spectacularly

Yes, it’s another one of these stories:
Television and radio presenter Nicky Campbell's mother was banned from taking photographs of his children at a swimming pool.
She’s pretty forthright in her complaint.
'The attendant was adamant that I had to stop. He might have taken away my camera. I must say, it is a sign that we are living in a nanny state.'
It is indeed.

Can you expect some help from your famous son?
Mr Campbell, who presents BBC One's Watchdog and the Breakfast show on Radio 5 Live, said: 'I am sorry.... I don't think my mother looks like a paedophile or a terrorist.

'She is from an era when such things were acceptable.

Newsflash for you, Nicky. It still is acceptable!

And if people told the petty little Hitlers where to get off, and informed them that if they tried to confiscate their camera, they’d see them (and their employers) in court for theft, as they have no legal powers to do so, we could nip this madness in the bud.

Will no-one stand up for themselves any more?
A spokesman for Edinburgh Leisure that runs the swimming pool denied there was a wholesale ban on photography, claiming staff took a 'common sense approach'.
Ah ha ha ha ha!

Who knew Edinburgh Leisure would join in with ‘Silly Week’?

The Police Are Revolting!

But in a good way:
Scores of Scotland Yard officers are in open revolt after being banned from wearing Union Flag badges in support of British troops.

Met chiefs have decreed that the tiny emblems – which cost £1 with proceeds going to charity – must be removed after a complaint that they are offensive.
To whom? And why?

The report doesn’t say, only that ‘a complaint’ was received. So one malicious or ignorant little troublemaker gets to set policy for the Met?
A petition has been launched on the Downing Street website demanding they be allowed to wear the badges, which are to raise funds for the Royal British Legion and the Help for Heroes charity.
Good! I’ll be signing it, and I’ve put the link at the foot of this post.
Peter Smyth, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said: ‘The decision to forbid police officers from joining the rest of the country in showing support for those who are fighting for their country is nothing less than shameful.’
And it looks like some police, at least, have finally had enough.
Officers at Heathrow were also ordered to take down a Union Flag hoisted on June 27 – Armed Forces Day – because it was not an ‘approved ensign’. Strict rules are in place about when the Union Flag can be flown at individual police stations.

Mr Smyth added: ‘These orders from senior officers are legal and must be obeyed. They are, however, also completely crass.’
Not only that, they damage the reputation of the police and increase the number of civilians who no longer view them as ‘our police’ but rather as representatives of an increasingly out-of-touch ruling elite.

Because their double-standards have been noticed…
Mr Smyth said senior officers routinely turn a blind eye to constables wearing gay pride ribbons when they go on marches.
Well, of course they do! Those are favoured causes, and as such, are exempt from ‘the rules’.

More evidence of this is in the flag dispute:
In February, Scotland Yard was hit by another row over political correctness after the Union Flag hanging outside a police station was replaced by a gay rights flag to mark Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) history month.

This is despite Met rules stating that only the Union Flag and its own flag can fly from force buildings.
So, rules are only there until politically inconvenient, and they can then be dispensed with, while maintaining them for causes that are not politically convenient.


The Downing Street petition is here.

Update: They've backed down.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson has made an "exception" to the force's dress code by allowing officers to display union jack badges.

Sir Paul's intervention came after about 2,700 people signed an online petition on the Number 10 website.

"Life clocks are a lie! Carousel is a lie! There is no renewal!"

Mixed feelings about this move:
The Royal College of Nursing is to meet Scottish MP Margo MacDonald to discuss proposals on legalising assisted suicide after the organisation dropped its five-year opposition to the policy.

MacDonald, who has Parkinson's disease, is planning to introduce a bill to legalise assisted suicide in Scotland in the autumn.
It seems there’s a movement afoot to ‘normalise’ this, supported by polls:
The move comes as a poll found that 74% of people want doctors to be allowed to help terminally ill people end their lives.

The survey in today's Times found that six out of 10 people said they wanted friends and relatives to be able to help their dying loved ones to take their own lives, without fear of prosecution.
However, while I can’t say that I think those who take their relatives abroad to Dignitas should be prosecuted (far from it) I’m wary of this becoming the norm. And I’m not alone.
The Christian Nurses and Midwives organisation said today it regretted the RCN's policy shift. Secretary Steve Fouch said it sent out the wrong signals "at a time when there is growing anxiety about how we will care for the elderly and severely disabled in the future".
Their statement will be pooh-poohed as ‘religious scaremongering’. But there’s a grain of truth to it.

Because a glance across the Channel to the continent will show this has already been experienced in the Netherlands:
Euthanasia critics have talked about the "slippery slope" as a possibility; in the Netherlands, it is a fact.

Many old people now fear Dutch hospitals. More than 10% of senior citizens who responded to a recent survey, which did not mention euthanasia, volunteered that they feared being killed by their doctors without their consent. One senior-citizen group printed up wallet cards that tell doctors that the cardholder opposes euthanasia.
Is this just panic and scaremongering? Can it be dismissed as ‘something that can’t happen here’?

Well, we are on the right road to it:
What makes the Dutch comfortable with euthanasia? One factor is that their doctors became comfortable with it. "The Dutch have got so far so fast because right from the beginning, they have had the medical profession on their side," Derek Humphrey, founder of the Hemlock Society, told the Toronto Globe and Mail last September. "Until we get a significant part of the medical profession on our side, we won't get very far."
So, how has this gained such a grip on the doctors?

Glad you asked:
How did Dutch doctors change their thinking so dramatically in the space of one lifetime?

The path to the death culture began when doctors learned to think like accountants. As the cost of socialized medicine in the Netherlands grew, doctors were lectured about the importance of keeping expenses down.

In many hospitals, signs were posted indicating how much old-age treatments cost taxpayers. The result was a growing "social pressure" from doctors and others, says Arno Heltzel, a spokesman for the Catholic Union of the Elderly, the largest Dutch senior-citizen group, which favors voluntary euthanasia. "Old people have to excuse themselves for living. When they say that all of their friends are dead, people say, 'Maybe it is time for you to go too,' rather than, 'You need to find new friends.' "
I bet NICE has some of those posters ready to go to the printers already…

Anyone want to try to argue that this won’t happen here, if the bureaucrats get involved?

Swine Flu Crisis? What Swine Flu Crisis?

One of two new flu centres in the Bromley borough has closed due to a lack of demand for antiviral drugs.

The antiviral collection point at the Beckenham Clinic in The Crescent, Beckenham, opened on Friday (July 24) to coincide with the launch of the National Flu Service.

Another centre at the Bromley North Clinic in Babbacombe Road, Bromley, opened on Saturday (July 25).

But bosses at Bromley Primary Care Trust (PCT) say nurses only handed out 200 courses of Tamiflu drugs over the weekend - not enough to justify keeping the Beckenham centre open.
C'mon MSM, you aren't managing to stoke up the panic! Gordon will be soooo cross....

The Race Card Doesn't Have The Same Effect As It Used To Have, Does It?

Hmmm, large festival can’t go ahead as planned in Rochdale due to money problems with the organisers.

A sign of the times, in the recession?
The multi-cultural festival was called off at the eleventh hour after organisers at the Multi-cultural Arts and Media Centre were unable to come to a compromise with Rochdale Council over a hefty deposit.
Yup, looks like it.

But hark! Is that the cry of the lesser spotted grievance-monger I hear?
But Councillor Robin Parker hit out at Wednesday's meeting of the full council, claiming the cancellation was down to concerns over security.

He said: "The success of the Feel Good Festival was superb, if it's possible to secure an event like that then it's also possible to secure the Mega Mela.

"I believe that we are at risk of moving to a borough that could be accused of institutional racism."
Oh noes! Not ‘institutional racism’!

And all because the organisers of the Mega Mela are being asked to conform to the same standards as everyone else
Andy Zuntz, executive director at Rochdale Council, said: "It is unfortunate that this event has been cancelled despite all our best efforts to make sure that robust plans and arrangements were put in place to ensure its success.

"However, the event organisers decided to withdraw their application because of their inability to place a deposit with the council which is deeply regrettable. A deposit needed to be taken as protection against any potential damage caused to the park and would have been refunded if it was not required."
What does Cllr Parker think Rochdale should do then?

Waive the deposit, and then have all those other festivals clamouring for equitable treatment? Or pay their deposit from council coffers, and face the wrath of the taxpayer?

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

"Who will buy my sweet red roses cut price cauliflower?"

Clacton NHS obviously has money to burn:
Health champions want to get deprived residents eating their greens by taking fruit and veg directly to their doors.

The NHS-sponsored volunteers are targeting two of the most deprived areas in Clacton to turn residents from chip butties to broccoli.

They plan to take the healthy food door-to-door and sell it at cut price.
They’ll have to beat the ‘Pizza Express’ delivery man to the door first. Perhaps they’d better buy a high-performance car for the job?
Sue Felgate, leader for the health trainers, said: “It is not going to be easy, but it is something we would love to see happen. We are really keen to get this going. It is about increasing access to fruit and vegetables in areas that are not very near a supermarket.

“It is a bit brought on from Jamie Oliver, and his project to get people cooking and sharing recipes. It is really about getting people interested in food again.”

She said the scheme would see health trainers pro-actively approaching households, and the cheap produce would be backed-up with recipe suggestions and maybe even cooking clubs and tasting sessions.
And we’ll be paying for it, with our taxes.

Yes, this is where the NI contributions are going, not on heart operations and setting wee kiddiewinks’ broken legs, but on paying for harebrained schemes like this one, and the useless, otherwise-unemployable staff to run them.
The van would initially target Jaywick and Pier Ward in central Clacton, areas where poor health is an issue and life expectancy is low compared to nearby districts.
So, the residents of Jaywick and Pier Ward are dying early purely because they aren’t eating enough cabbage, are they?

Are you sure about that? There aren’t any other factors?
Ms Felgate said: “Everybody always says to eat healthily is terribly expensive.

“Jaywick does not have a supermarket, but it does have a lot of fast food places.

“People have lost their cooking skills and don’t tend to cook for themselves as much as they used to.”
Really, Ms Felgate?

Or is it just that they can’t be bothered, as Leg-Iron pointed out?

Needless to say, this barmy scheme is eagerly lapped up by the people who cling, leech-like, to the state, and those who think the state should provide them a living without them having to lift a finger:
Kevin Colman, chairman of the Pier Ward Interaction Partnership, which represents people in ward, said: “It is a great idea. If it can help, even in a small way, why not?

A member of the Jaywick community forum website wrote: “What a great idea. We can no longer afford our five a day and have had to cut back.”
Anything else we can do for you, anon? Provide a nurse to spoon it into your gaping maw too, save you having to lift your no doubt flabby arms?

Surely, Colin Philpott Will Get A Community Order, If Anything..?

Lots of interest in the case of Colin Philpott, the businessman who was arrested for attempted murder after confronting yobs who were attacking his stepson yesterday.

Well, as long as he has no previous convictions, and maintains how frightened he was, and how the situation got out of control, he should be ok.

At least, by the standards of this case:
A 16-year-old boy has been given a community order for violent disorder following an attack which left a student fighting for his life.
Note, this little thug was the aggressor
On June 25, 2007, 20-year-old Faheem Javaid was stabbed, punched, kicked and hit with a brick and a motorcycle helmet near the McDonalds restaurant in Well Hall Road, Eltham.

Mr Javaid was attacked after his younger brother was robbed by a group of youths on a bus, the Old Bailey heard on July 24.

Charges of attempted murder and robbery against the 16-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were dropped after he pleaded guilty to violent disorder on June 22.

He had said he was “frightened” during the attack and the situation had got “totally out of control” .
Aww, bless. Didn’t fancy the odds then, his mob of thugs against a single unarmed man?

Perhaps he’ll grow up to be another Glen Francis…
Judge David Paget gave the 16-year-old, who had no previous convictions, a 12-month community punishment and rehabilitation order.
That’ll teach him…

Still, sauce for the goose, eh? Can Mr Philpott expect any less?

Awww, Diddums!

Glen Francis fancies himself as a bit of a hard man, it seems. After police tried to arrest his girlfriend, he went a bit ‘Charles Bronson’:
Francis grabbed a female officer and threatened to shoot her, officers claimed.

The 35-year-old later apparently lunged at officers with a 15cm (6in) knife. He was shot twice with a Taser but pulled out the barbs and barricaded himself in, screaming: 'The first copper in here is getting f*****g killed.'
Correctly reasoning that the quickest way to the discerning modern chavette's heart knickers is by an alpha dog display of dominance, Glen made his stand.

Sadly for him, he was a Pomeranian when it came to making good on his threat.
After a two-hour stand-off, armed officers stormed the address in North Shields, Tyne and Wear, Tasered him three more times and arrested him.
He can consider himself lucky he was only shot with a Taser…

But it seems Glen Francis isn’t the rough, tough, brawlin’ son of a gun he appeared to be. He’s complained about his arrest.

Specifically, that he was referred to as a (censored) by one of the police arresting him:
But Francis claimed a sergeant was guilty of misconduct for using a four-letter word, a claim which was upheld after an inquiry.

'I want to take legal action because they just get a telling off for what they did,' said Francis. 'It upset me to hear someone say that.'
Poor, delicate flower!

Still, they won’t take this seriously, surel…

A police sergeant has been ordered to undertake a "management advice course" because he swore while dealing with a violent and abusive criminal who had threatened officers during a two-hour siege.
I wonder what he’ll be taught on it?

Hopefully, how to hang on to the Taser button until scum like this are medium-rare, next time. Dead men make no compensation claims for rude words...
An investigation by Northumbria Police Professional Standards Department (PSD) found the sergeant guilty of misconduct for using the swear word.

A PSD report states that the sergeant was pushed into making an "inappropriate comment" following a tirade of abuse from Francis.
I’m guessing the officers who staff these departments aren’t front-line officers? Have never been in a scuffle with a bad ‘un in their lives? Consensus over at Insp Gadget's is 'No'...
Francis's complaints of being stripped and handcuffed on a cell floor were dismissed.

He says he is discussing legal action with his solicitor and plans to lodge a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights.

Francis, now of Wallsend, North Tyneside, said: "I want to take legal action because they just get a telling off for what they did.

"It was an insult when I heard how the officer who swore at me got off - it upset me to hear someone say that. I've got a hole in my heart and they used a Taser, which could have killed me."
You know how you can avoid being Tasered, even if you don't have a medical condition, Glen?

By not indulging in a two-hour standoff with armed cops and waving a knife at them!

Still, at least he got a good long spell in jail to think abou…

After the incident in February 2008, he was charged with offences of false imprisonment, threats to kill and affray.

He was convicted of affray at Newcastle Crown Court in September and given a 12-month suspended prison sentence.
Yup. That does indeed read ‘suspended’. I had to check it several times just to make sure my eyes weren’t deceiving me…

So, you can indulge in threats to kill, wave knives at the police, need to be Tasered repeatedly to put you down, and you don't even go to jail for it?

What sort of country is this?
Francis, who underwent an operation in January to repair a heart defect from birth, said: "I was a toe-rag when I was younger, but I'm trying to go straight. I'm really scared of the police now - I'm like a bag of nerves."
That’s your idea of ‘trying to go straight’…?


That cop was right - you are indeed a (censored)...

"...then offer me the same thing in a different guise ..."

David Cameron warned yesterday that the better-off must share the pain of repairing public finances.

He said tax credits for households on £50,000 a year or more could no longer be justified.
Good point. Surely no-one could argue with that?

But oh, what's this?
The Tory leader also hinted that his flagship inheritance tax cut may take several years to implement - and raised the prospect of new road tolls.

Mr Cameron said: 'In saying to the country that we need to reduce public spending, we need to get the budget balance under control, we've got to be able to demonstrate to people that this is fair and seen to be fair and that everyone is putting their shoulder to the wheel.

'And that means the wealthy have to pay their fair share.'
Dave, Dave, Dave…

The wealthy are already paying their fair share. Talking about it in these terms isn’t going to earn you any brownie points with anyone other than the idiots who believe wealth is a zero-sum game, and if someone has a lot, there’s less for others.

Do you really want to attract idiots like that?
But he risked angering Right-wing MPs by insisting that the budgets for overseas aid and the NHS would not be touched - and would continue to grow. Insulating those areas will mean deeper cuts elsewhere.
We’ve already discussed how bad an idea this is. And it’s not ‘right-wing MPs’ he should be wary of alienating, but voters.

There’s no point telling everyone they have to ‘put their shoulders to the wheel’ if we are then sending some of the product of that labour to people who aren’t within a mile of the wheel at all, never mind that they aren’t also putting their backs into it…
In his toughest message yet on public finances, Mr Cameron said it was time to 'look the British public in the eye' and make it clear 'we are going to cut public spending'. A Tory government would start at the centre by reducing the number of MPs and having fewer ministers.
Now, this is a good thing.

Providing, that is, that quangos and fakecharities don’t simply spring up to carry on where they left off…
Mr Cameron said voters were 'crying out for someone who's going to say "right, we are all in this together, we've got to take these steps together"'.
No, voters are looking for someone to do those things, not say they will…

We had that with New Labour. Are you Blue Labour instead?

After all, you seem to be backtracking on a lot of promises lately. Just like all those other politicians:
On inheritance tax, Mr Cameron said raising the threshold to £1million was something the Tories 'want to do, obviously, in a Parliament' - suggesting it may not be for be several years.

He also confirmed that Labour's new 50p tax rate on people earning £150,000-plus would not be scrapped in the early days of a Tory government. It was a 'bad tax rise', he said, but 'not in the list of things that we can get rid of quickly'.
If it's a bad tax now, how is it that it won't be such a bad tax when you take the reins, Dave?

So why should anyone vote for you, Dave? What have you got that the others haven’t?

On the basis of this, not a lot….

Monday, 27 July 2009

Maybe Consultants Are Worth Their Hire After All...

At least, according to the joke just emailed to me:
At last Gordon Brown decided to throw the towel in and resign.

His cabinet colleagues decided it would be a worthy gesture to name a railway locomotive after him. So a senior 'Sir Humphrey' went from Whitehall to the National Railway Museum at York, to investigate the possibilities.

"They have a number of locomotives at the NRM without names," a specially-sought consultant told the top civil servant. "Mostly freight locomotives though."

"Oh dear, that's not very fitting for a prime minister," said Sir Humphrey. "How about that big green one, over there?" he said, pointing to 4472.

"That's already got a name" said the consultant. "It's called 'Flying Scotsman'."

"Oh. Couldn't it be renamed?" asked Sir Humphrey. "This is a national museum after all, funded by the taxpayer."

"I suppose it might be considered," said the consultant. "After all, the LNER renamed a number of their locomotives after directors of the company, and even renamed one of them Dwight D Eisenhower."

"That's excellent", said Sir Humphrey, "So that's settled then...let's look at renaming 4472. But how much will it cost? We can't spend too much, given the expenses scandal!"

"Well", said the consultant, "We could always just paint out the 'F'."
Cheers, Ade!

The Wind Changes For The Greens...

Firstly, a wind turbine company gets a cluster of activists and strikers on its doorstep after announcing 625 job cuts:
The firm said it was planning to shut the Newport site as the wind turbine market in the UK was "not big enough".
Secondly, the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth scraps its 50ft high 6kW wind turbines after they discover that not only do they mince the local birdlife...
An aquarium in Devon has taken down two wind turbines after seagulls were killed when they collided with the blades.
...but they also don't provide good power either:
The aquarium also said they had not produced as much electricity as hoped.

Caroline Johnson, of the aquarium, said: "The major problems included where they were positioned.

"The eddying effect of the wind meant they weren't producing as much energy as they potentially could have.
Back to the drawing board, watermelons!

New Labour Have Cause To Curse The FOIA Yet Again...

Former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has suffered a major setback in her legal battle with American 'shock jock' Michael Savage after her officials were accused of banning him from the country on racial grounds.

Emails written by Home Office officials privately acknowledged the ban on Mr Savage would provide 'balance' to a list dominated by Muslims - and linked the decision to Gordon Brown and Foreign Secretary David Miliband.

The officials admitted their action could look 'duplicitous' and cited his 'homophobia' as a reason the move would receive public support.
Oh, dear, how did this get out?

Now, correspondence released under Freedom of Information legislation suggests the banning of Mr Savage, whose real name is Michael Weiner, was based on a party political calculation made at the highest level of Government.

One message, sent by an unidentified Home Office official on November 27 last year, said that 'with Weiner, I can understand that disclosure of the decision would help provide a balance of types of exclusion cases'.
Hoist by their own petard. How delicious..!

Parenting: U R Doin' It Wrong...

A boy of four has been banned from a Tory social club.

Jay Cadwallader - dubbed a ‘gang leader’ by bosses at the Bamber Bridge Conservative Club in Lancashire - stands accused of encouraging ‘disaster’ by climbing on railings, riding his scooter across a bowling green and blocking toilets.
So, why haven't they tried telling the parents of this little hellion to cont...

Yesterday, his mother Natalie Cadwallader, from Bamber Bridge, said: ‘He is not doing anything any other child isn’t doing.

‘He is gutted and was in tears. He is only a baby and doesn’t really understand.’
Well, quite. That's why you, as supposed adults, have a responsibility to instill some discipline.

Not whine to the newspapers when other people take exception. And 'But the other kids do it too!' is the sort of response I'd expect to see from your four year old...
Aubrey Simpson, the club’s treasurer, said he had sent Jay’s parents two warning letters asking them to control their son.

‘Jay comes in and he’s a bit of a gang leader and leads the other children to join in,’ he said.

‘His parents were finally asked not to bring him in because he was climbing on railings and the heating unit in the patio area - it was a disaster waiting to happen.

They have been asked repeatedly but what can you do if they won’t be responsible? We’re liable unfortunately.’
Oh, yeah. The Cadwalladers are raising a monster. Let's hope he's an only child...

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Sunday Funnies...

For all my readers about to jet off on their holidays, a few cautionary airport tales fron Cracked...

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Just What Do You Have To Do To Get A Licence Revoked?

Now, if I committed a heinous road rage offence (against a pregnant woman), was convicted, and at my hearing to detarmine whether my professional body would allow me back to work, made a racist tit of myself by arguing with the chairman and vowing not to work for foreigners, would I get my licence to work back?

No. I don't suppose I would. And I don't do anything quite as vital as a GP!

So, why is the GMC letting this woman loose on the public:
An Iraqi doctor who crushed a pregnant woman with her 4x4 car in a road rage incident has been told she can resume her medical practice.

Dr May Arnaot (corr) formerly of Chandlers Drive, Erith, has twice been convicted of assaulting people and accused of racial abuse.

At a General Medical Council fitness to practice hearing last week, Dr Arnaot angrily interrupted the panel chairman, Professor Kevin Dalton and vowed not to treat British patients.
But hey, we can just brush that off I guess. After all, it's not like she killed anyone.

But the panel decided Dr Arnaot, who has not been allowed to practice since 2005, could go back to work under supervision.

The panel said it thought the decision could be “constructive”.
For whom?

And whoever supervises her has my deepest sympahty...
At her trial, she claimed she was suffering from extreme menopausal symptoms which caused mood swings and irritability.

She told last week’s hearing: “These matters are entirely anger management matters, or it was combined with gynaecology health issues which have now, with time, been surpassed.”
She then proved how wrong that statement was by having a temper tantrum in the middle of her hearing! And yet they still allowed her back.

The panel members should be told they can let her practice so long as they then switch from their existing GPs to her. Fair's fair, right?

Oh, Yeah...

...these guys are getting ganked the minute they log in:
'Of course one problem we're going to have to overcome is that while a psychiatrist may excel in what they do in the real world, they're probably not going to be very good at playing World of Warcraft.

'We may have to work at that if we are going to get through to those who play this game for hours at end.'
Good luck with that, doc...

At Least Dick Turpin Had The Decency To Wear A Mask...

Ahhh, we all remember our first school trip to foreign climes (usually Calais, maybe Boulogne if you were lucky), don't we?

The coach trip to Dover, the delights of the quaint French shops, the extortion by the teachers...

Wait. What?
Staff from Bishop Stortford High School took €5 from each pupil's wallet or purse to put into an alcohol 'kitty' while on a trip to France.

They then bought themselves a selection of alcohol as a 'reward' for looking after the 137 Year Seven pupils.

The 11-year-old boys only realised what had happened when the 12 teachers passed bottles among themselves on the journey home and thanked them for their 'gifts'.
Well, that's probably not what Ed Balls meant when he ordered a survey into whether schools were 'meeting requirements on the moral, social, spiritual and cultural development of their pupils'...
Headteacher Andrew Goulding has now vowed to refund all of the pupils and urged parents to 'draw a line' under the episode.
Or, to translate: 'Oh, God, this is getting in the newspapers now, isn't it?'.
One mum, who did not want to be named, said that spending the money amounted to theft.

She said: 'Some families only sent their kids off with €20 to begin with, so €5 is quite a big chunk out of that.

It's not so much the amount of money as the principle - they took our children's money without their knowledge or consent, and I don't think that's right.'
You are indeed correct. It is theft, and it's not right.

Still, Mr Goulding did the right thing in taking quick acti..

Mr Goulding had previously tried to argue that his teachers 'deserve some recognition for the fact that taking students on trips is beyond the call of duty'.
Who the hell does this guy think he is, Tony Soprano?

If they 'deserve recognition' for this, then dip into your own pocket and buy them the bloody wine yourself!

They're Like Buses...

...they come along in pairs now:
A woman who falsely accused her ex-boyfriend of rape when he broke off their relationship was jailed yesterday for her 'vile lies'.

Louise Johnson, 37, drove Andrew Tutty to the brink of suicide after he was arrested and suspended from his job.
Why, it seems like it was just the other day that...

Oh. It was.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Two Cases Where 'Can't They Both Lose?'... the order of the day.

First, it's police vs car clampers:
A uniformed police officer has been caught on film using a pair of bolt cutters to try to remove a wheel clamp from an unmarked patrol car.

The male officer sprung into action after clampers immobilised the vehicle - being used by a plainclothes female officer - and refused to remove the clamp.

The WPC parked her car illegally near he Pheasant pub in Ashford, Kent, after being called out to investigate a 'minor crime'.

But within minutes of parking her car, it was clamped by workers for Parking Control Services (PCS).
Secondly, it's barristers vs professional victims:
Mr Challenger was in the middle of asking Mr Lacome-Shaw to stop Mr Oraki and his friends from 'threatening' him, or he’ll 'deal with them himself' when Mr Oraki walked towards him pointing his finger, throwing abuse.

The exasperated barrister, who is from Lamb Chambers, got up, walked towards Mr Oraki, allegedly put his hands to the top of his chest and pushed him out the door before bolting it.

His wife, who was still in the room, shouted: 'He’s assaulted my husband' and called the police minutes later.

When police arrived at the scene, in the Thomas More building of the High Court, Mr Challenger tried to walk away.

But a policeman arrested him for common assault and put him in handcuffs, before marching him out of the High Court minutes later.

Getting Your Priorities Straight...

The case of the married Muslim woman who has been warned by police that she could be murdered after her lover was attacked with sulphuric acid is ghastly. Words can't express the revulsion that this should happen in broad daylight on an English street.

But, say 'community leaders', let's not be too hasty!
Community leader Imtiaz Qadir, of the Active Change Foundation, said: ‘Honour crime happens a lot in our community, especially the Pakistani community, but we do try to educate the people.

‘It's a cultural thing from back home. But this type of horrible crime is not exclusive just to Muslims, there have been cases in other religions.’
Way to unequivocally condemn this crime, Imtiaz...

Quote Of The Month

Comes from Leg-Iron on the ineffable ability of Labour to grasp the wrong end of the stick:
You know, when the Idea Light comes on above a Labour minister's head, the room actually gets darker.

Foot In Mouth Time...

A comment from a neighbour on the story of the 13 year old Croydon girl and the high-powered assault rifle:
Joyce Birchington, 48, said: “It’s incredible really. These are the type of guns used by the Army, not 13-year-old girls.
What would you recommend for a 13 year old then, Joyce? A pearl handled .22?

A comment from Det Sgt Claire Harvey on the news that Hertfordshire Police are letting burglars escape a charge if they tell police their methods:
Det Sgt Claire Harvey, who works on the project, says the force also uses offenders like John and Neil as 'security consultants'.

She said: 'If a particular area of Hertfordshire is suffering from a lot of burglaries, we would ask one of the guys to come out in a car, asking how can we target-harden particular properties; which houses they would pick and why.

'They are like evil geniuses. And now they are putting their knowledge to good work.'
Not really, Claire love. After all, you caught them, didn't you?

The statement from the 19 year old police support worker at the centre of a police orgy mystery:
The civilian worker refused to comment on the allegations at her parents’ home in South London. She said: ‘I’m off work with flu. I don’t want to talk.’
Well, it's rude to, with your mouth full...

Post Of The Month

Ross at Unenlightened Commentary sums up the school vetting affair as only he can...

Thursday, 23 July 2009

“All Must Have Prizes!”

Dame Kelly Holmes yesterday launched a stinging attack on the decline of competitive sport in schools and said it risked spawning a generation of bad losers.

The double Olympic champion and former Army physical training instructor blamed a culture of political correctness for making 'competitiveness' a dirty word.
Can’t see the loony PC crowd coming off the blocks too quickly to take on a darling of the sporting world and a Dame to boot, can you?

Odd, that…
Her comments come a year after Gordon Brown admitted Labour had made a 'tragic mistake' by allowing dozens of mainly left-wing councils to scrap competitive sports in schools in the 1980s.
And after that, what happened?

Well, pretty much the same thing that happens every time Gordon makes a promise.

Once the headlines are achieved, nothing:
After the Beijing Olympics in 2008, the Government pledged to end a 'medals for all' culture in which sports days have been cancelled and field sports 'dumbed down'.

But Dame Kelly has criticised established policies that continue to allow health and safety concerns to ride roughshod over sporting rivalry.
See, with the government, it’s never just one hurdle you have to overcome. It’s several, and they get progressively higher…
The 39-year-old former middle distance athlete said: 'Too often, in these politically sensitive times, it seems that competitiveness is seen as a dirty word.

'I was surprised by how many schools I came across where sports day had been abandoned. It's very important to learn how to lose.

'What you should do is pick yourself up, dust yourself down and start all over again. If everyone gets a prize, where on earth is the incentive to push yourself to do better next time?'
But if only one or two people get a prize, it’s not f-a-a-a-i-i-i-r!

Think of the children!

I Guess You’d Have Had More Luck If They Were Morris-Dancing...

…rather than screaming like banshees:
Council inspectors are investigating a Roman Catholic primary school after complaints about the noise levels.

Officials from a noise pollution team were brought in after neighbours claimed they were being confined inside their homes due to the "unbearable" screams of laughter from the youngsters.
Hmmm, surely if you live near a school, you must expect a certain amount of noise?

Still, the response from the head does seem rather dismissive:
Headmaster John Thorpe said his school took all possible steps to be a good neighbour and he had changed the sound of the school bell in a bid to appease the neighbours who have also complained about footballs being kicked against the playground's mesh fence.

He said: "Children have to be educated somewhere and there are obvious good reasons why it should take place in residential areas.

"Bearing that in mind, it is inevitable that there will be a range of different responses to that from residents.

"We have always adopted a good neighbour policy and done whatever we can to mitigate disturbances.

"Some people will say that the sound of children laughing and playing together can be quite uplifting.

"As a teacher, I think it's good to hear children running around and thoroughly enjoying their lives."
And some people will say the noise of children running around and enjoying themselves is pretty intolerable, Johnny boy, particularly since most children’s dials these days go all the way to 11 and stay there, regardless of location.

I was once unfortunate enough to be on a Tube train when a school outing got on, and they proceeded (totally uncorrected by any of the teachers with them) to make such a din that driver and station announcements couldn’t be heard, and you could barely hear yourself think.

So I have a bit of sympathy with the residents:
But neighbour Bill Disley whose house is only a few yards away from the school playground, said: "The noise is unbearable.

"People always say 'oh, well kids have got to make noise'. I've got six grandchildren and I know kids make noise, but this is unbearable.

"We can't sit outside now, we can't open doors and windows. The neighbours feel exactly the same way."
Wouldn’t they have got used to this by now, tho…

The neighbours said the noise problem started in 2007, when the old Moss primary school was extended and merged with two other schools, St Andrew's and St Osmund's.

The site went from housing only a handful of pupils to having more than 380, as well as a nursery. Mr Disley has now spent more than £5,000 trying to block the noise out from his property and hiring expert consultants to measure noise levels.
Well, that puts a different complexion on things, doesn’t it?

This is the equivalent of a pub venue being granted a license for a small amount of live music, over no objections from the neighbours, then promptly expanding this agreement to host a Van Halen concert. Every weekday.

What has the council got to say for itself, since it’s policies have directly led to the situation Mr Disley and his neighbours now find themselves in?
A Bolton council spokesman said: "We have listened to the concerns of Mr Disley and sympathise with his situation.

"The council's pollution control unit has carried out several noise assessments at his property and while we understand the noise is annoying to the individual, it does not constitute a statutory noise nuisance.

"A report on the situation is due to be considered later this month."

It’s different when it’s the council doing it, and not just some of you serfs looking to have a good time

Anything China Can Do, We Can Do Better…

..not trade and manufacturing, of course, but we can sure impose illiberal restrictions on freedom of speech just as well, if not better:
Police have been handed 'Chinese-style' powers to enter private homes and seize political posters during the London 2012 Olympics.

Little-noticed measures passed by the Government will allow officers and Olympics officials to enter homes and shops near official venues to confiscate any protest material.
What?! Why…?

Well, it’s all down to legislation designed to allow the all-important advertisers to be able to swoop on illegal threats to their cashflow. And, as usual, badly drafted and allowing extensive overreach:
The powers were introduced by the Olympics Act of 2006, passed by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, supposedly to preserve the monopoly of official advertisers on the London 2012 site.

They would allow advertising posters or hoardings placed in shop or home to be removed.

But the law has been drawn so widely that it also includes 'non-commercial material' - which could extend its reach to include legitimate campaign literature.
I would say it’s just a mistake and not a plan to allow the police these powers for nefarious intent, but we all remember Walter Wolfgang, don’t we?

And how handy those terrorism powers came in when it came to shutting up dissent at the Labour Conference…
Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling said: 'This is a Government who just doesn't understand civil liberties. They may claim these powers won't be used but the frank truth is no one will believe them.'
They understand them just fine. They simply don’t believe that we should have them…
Liberal Democrat spokesman Chris Huhne said: 'This sort of police action runs the risk of using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. 'We should aim to show the Chinese that you can run a successful Olympics without cracking down on protestors and free speech.'
We should aim to show that we can run a successful Olympics for lots of reasons (if we can’t get rid of the damn thing!) but not just to show up the Chinese, surely…?
Scotland Yard denied it had any plans to use the powers.

Assistant Commissioner Chris Allison said: 'We have no intention of using our powers to go in and take down demonstration posters.'
I’m sure you don’t.

I’m also sure you never had the intention to use the terrorism powers the way you did, but you did, didn’t you?
But critics said that - given the powers were now law - it was impossible to predict what would happen in three years time.

Campaigners said the existence of the powers was 'dreadful'. Peter McNeil, who is against the holding of equestrian events in Greenwich Park said: 'It's bullying taken to another level. It's quite appalling that this should happen in a democracy.'
It’s quite appalling that it should happen anywhere, frankly. It’s just additionally surprising that it should happen here.

Well, it is, if you haven’t been paying attention over the last decade or so….

“My old man’s a dustman…”

“…he carries out vital social research for the council…”:
Nearly 100 town halls ordered secret searches of their residents' rubbish bins last year.

The official aim was to find out who was throwing out what to help councils encourage recycling.

But some staff examining the contents of bins also classified residents as well-off or poor.
Based on what?

Old copies of ‘The Sun’, fast-food cartons, ASDA Smartprice food wrappers = poor?

Old copies of ‘The Guardian’, organic ciabatta wrappers, Waitrose food packaging = not poor?

I guess we’ll never know – they don’t seem to want to show their work:
Eleven councils in Kent allowed the bins from more than 2,000 homes to be scrutinised by officials working for the Kent Waste Partnership.

Waste was dumped into a big pile and sorted into 66 different categories, which included ten types of paper and card, 11 types of plastic, five sorts of glass, six kinds of textiles and a miscellaneous category that included disposable nappies, carpet and sanitary waste.
Not sure how you could possibly ascertain social status from any of that…

Oh, and this is another own-goal for Labour’s FOIA:
The bin trawls, uncovered through Freedom of Information requests, have been criticised as an invasion of privacy and a waste of effort.

One council chief said he strongly objected to the examination of waste unless specific permission is obtained from the householder.

Jeremy Kite, Tory leader of Dartford in Kent, said: 'I do not believe it is right.'
Not many people will.

Or accurate, either…

Obo has some choice words for these literal muckrakers.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

New Definition Of ‘Rare’….

..actually now means ‘pretty frequent’:
A mother was jailed for two years yesterday for crying rape against a man she met on a dating website.

Jennifer Day, 34, who made the false allegation against former boyfriend Andrew Saxby after a row, was told by the judge that she had undermined efforts to treat genuine rape victims fairly and sympathetically.

The court also heard that Mr Saxby was subjected to 'degrading and upsetting' examinations while being held by police for ten hours.
At last, a judge prepared to tell it like it is, and to not be swayed by calls for leniency.

And yet again, this one turns out to have had form for false claims:
During the trial, the court heard how Day had a history of making up stories. The jury was told that while working at Royal London Hospital in East London as a nurse, she suffered stress-related hair loss and led her colleagues to believe it was cancer.
Nice lady, eh…?

Over at Tim Worstall's, johnb is playing possum...

We R Drpg Ths Srvs, K Thnx Bai

It seems that no sooner has Jacqui Smith been kicked to the curb, but they are quietly retiring some of the wackier ideas she oversaw:
A new police text message service has been shelved after it was used just three times a day.

The text number 66101 was launched in March by the-then Home Secretary Jacqui Smith in a £3.5million advertising blitz.

It allowed the public to use a mobile phone to text their postcode and the word 'PLEDGE' to report low-level crime.

However it has now been branded an 'expensive failure' after the Home Office today admitted that the service had attracted just 3,000 messages nationally in its first three months in operation.
The report doesn’t say how many of them were real messages, though. Bit of an oversight, or a deliberate omission?

By May, it sounds like even the pranksters had got bored:
In May it received just 91 text messages - fewer than three a day - and has now been quietly dropped.
Like Jacqui herself…
Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling said: 'Both the police pledge and the new national police target seem to have ended up with forces spending money on PR exercises which could be better spent on frontline policing.'
Yes indeed.

I’m sure you won’t do that though, when you get in.

Will you?
Matthew Sinclair, Research Director at the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: 'The policing pledge always looked like it was going to be an expensive failure but it is incredible that, within just a few months, the new text message service it created is down to just a few users per month.

'It is vital that lessons are learned from this failure and governments stop trying to fix the police through gimmicky initiatives and, instead, make the police accountable to local people who can really see the changes that are needed.'
Hold your hoses. It doesn’t look like they’ve learned this lesson yet.

The Home Office seems to believe that the rumours of the death of this scheme have been greatly exaggerated:
A spokesman for the Home Office said: 'This is a part of the government's Justice Seen, Justice Done campaign which launched in March.

'The public were invited to text "PLEDGE" and their postcode to 66101 to obtain their neighbourhood police team's contact number for people who did not have access to the web.'

He added: 'The next phase of the campaign will launch in the autumn and we plan to resume the text service then, but it will not run in the interim as this is not cost effective.'
Why, if it’s not a success now, do you think it might be in the autumn?

Or are we locked into a contract for this wretched thing that we can’t get out of?

Age Unconcern II: This Time It’s Personal Criminal

It seems a fakecharity has problems in the Borough of Barking and Dagenham.

A few weeks ago, we found out that an unholy row had been triggered by Age Concern’s decision to shut down all of their Active Age centres.

Shortly after that, council leader Liam Smith gave this undertaking that they would not close, saying:
He said: "As leader of the council I will not allow any of those centres to be closed under my watch.

"I'm very disappointed with the way in which they have used older people as blanket shields to hide that they are a business.

"We will not lose any of those centres. This is a guarantee."
Stirring stuff!
Age Concern said they had been hit by the credit crunch, could no longer cover rent and staff costs and that the council had reduced its subsidies.

Cllr Denyer told the meeting that although Age Concern had told club members that the council did not pay for anything, it did in fact pay the rent for the facilities.
And now, in last week’s hardcopy edition of the ‘Post’ (not yet on the online edition) a news item on page three reads:
The Chief Executive of Barking and Dagenham Age Concern has been arrested on suspicion of fraud.

Claire Ramm, 52, of Elm Avenue Upminster will appear at Barking Magistrates’ Court on July 22 accused of financial malpractice.
And she won’t be alone:
She will be joined by four other people who will also appear before magistrates on the same charges.

One of these is the chief executive of The Disablement Association of Barking and Dagenham (DABD) charity...”
Now, I thought fraud cases were notoriously longwinded investigations, so this arrest seems a little quick, assuming it all kicked off from the intended closure of the Active Age centres and Liam Smith's speech to the council.

What has been going on...?