Monday, 30 November 2009

Yet Another Load Of Absolute Balls…

…Ed Balls, that is:
Parents who teach their own children at home must undergo criminal records checks, say Government education inspectors.
Be honest, who didn’t see this coming?
The estimated 40,000 parents who choose not to send their children to school should be vetted, says Ofsted.
More work (and therefore staff and resources and buildings…) for Ofsted! Who could have predicted they’d go for that…?

Apart from everyone, that is.
It said that parents whose records throw up suspicions should be barred from teaching their own children.
‘Suspicions’. That’s all it takes in the UK USSR…
Vetting to root out any record of violence against children would be by the Criminal Records Bureau.

It would reveal to local authorities parents’ criminal convictions, cautions and warnings, and even information that did not lead to a criminal conviction.

It would also show any unproven complaints noted by the controversial new Independent Safeguarding Authority, set up to vet adults working with other people’s children.
And the natural consequence of this is…?

You guessed it:
Parents who fail the checks could also find themselves receiving attention from child protection social workers.
Well done, Balls. You opened the door to this.
The proposal brought fierce protests from family campaigners.

Norman Wells of the Family Education Trust said: ‘It is sheer madness for Ofsted to suggest that parents should be required to undergo CRB checks to be with their children between the hours of 9am and 3pm from Monday to Friday during term-time.

‘If it is deemed unsafe for children to be with their parents during normal school hours, it is equally unsafe for them to be with their parents in the evenings, at weekends and during the school holidays.’
Well, yes. Don’t think this hasn’t occurred to them.
‘If Ofsted are calling for CRB checks for home-educating parents now, how long will it be before they are demanding that all parents are CRB-checked?
About a week, I’d say…
Robert Whelan of the Civitas think-tank said: ‘You can no longer be a parent without a piece of paper from the state. This is a monstrous idea and it shows the danger of taking things to logical extremes.’
There’s a reason they call it a ‘slippery slope’, Robert…

And why am I blaming this Balls-up on Balls, rather than over-zealous civil servants at Ofsted?

Well, here’s the smoking gun:
A Bill from Children’s Secretary Ed Balls already backs the idea of a home-schooling registration scheme where parents must set out a curriculum and allow town hall officials to inspect their homes.
And from that little acorn…

Write Their Name With Pride - In Triplicate…

Civil servants are being awarded the same campaign medals for serving in Afghanistan as soldiers risking their lives on the front line.
Oh, FFS..!
Critics said it was 'offensive' that Ministry of Defence bureaucrats manning desks at the British HQ, Camp Bastion, are handed the Operational Service Medal which is also given to squaddies facing Taliban bullets and bombs.
I’d say perhaps these civil servants could be shamed into not accepting them.

Until I read this:
Penpushers receive the honour from ministers at formal presentation ceremonies, which were introduced after protests that the medals were being posted to them in plastic bags.
Not protests that maybe they shouldn’t have them in the first place, you’ll note. Protests that they weren’t being presented with enough ceremony
One civil servant who recently returned from Afghanistan said: 'We are not on the front line facing the Taliban, but could be blown to pieces at any time. I shall wear my medal with pride inside and outside the office.'
I don’t think you have the slightest idea what ‘pride’ really means…

As Quiet Man puts it:
"There are some things that irritate, there are a few things that annoy and there are some things that get the red mist in front of the eyes."

Accident Waiting To Happen Yet Again?

A four-year-old boy has died after being attacked by a dog, police said today.
The incident happened at a house in Wavertree, Liverpool, in the early hours.
A bolt out of the blue? Some old ladies’ Chihuahua suddenly turning vicious?

Nope:
Neighbours spoke of their complete shock at the death of the boy but complained there had been a problem in the area with so-called dangerous dogs.
Is it me, or do those two statements not really hang together?

Let’s try that with something else: ‘Neighbours spoke of their complete shock at the death of the boy but complained there had been a problem in the area with speeding cars.’

Or: ‘Neighbours spoke of their complete shock at the death of the boy but complained there had been a problem in the area with exposed electrical wiring.’

Hmm. Didn’t think that looked right…
Gillian Watson, 46, said: 'I heard a gunshot at about 2am this morning and I presume that was when they put the dog down.

'It's such a terrible thing to happen to a family.
Well, you live by the sword, Gillian…
'There are lots of dangerous type dogs around here. You always see young lads with pit bull dogs roaming around.

'I have a dog myself and when I take him for a walk sometimes it's quite terrifying because you think your dog is going to be attacked.'
So, has this been raised as a potential problem?

You bet. And ignored:
Another neighbour, who declined to be named, said a number of residents had complained to the local Housing Association about the problem of dogs.

He said: 'About 12 months ago one of them tore a pet cat to pieces in the middle of the street.

' You see them all the time, they're huge animals and it is very threatening.'
Well, the council tax was well spent there, wasn’t it?
Police are now trying to identify the type of dog involved.
A waste of time.

Might as well try to identify the type of human that trains an animal to do this and then put them down…

"Reverse Darwinism - survival of the most idiotic."

Calls to ban cyclists from listening to music intensified as the number of riders killed or seriously injured continues to rise.
Why a ban? Isn't this a self-correcting phenomenon?

Who is calling for yet another pointless ban, then? Which bunch of Righteous is it this time?
Road safety campaigners fear the fashion for cyclists to wear earphones on crowded streets is partly responsible for the recent upsurge in injuries and deaths.
Ahh, I might have known.

And you can always count on someone stepping forward to say yes, this is indeed a big problem, and government should dip a hand into that overflowing bucket of limitless cash we have and chuck some at it:
Edmond King, the president of the AA, called for the Department for Transport to launch a campaign warning cyclists of the risk.
You know what, Edmond? You just have warned them. Well, all those that read the 'Dail Fail' anyway, though maybe they aren't the type that would be stupid eno...

Oh. Wait...
The alarming figures have prompted Youth for Road Safety, a new campaign group, to launch Tune into Traffic under the slogan 'Your earphones could kill you'.
There! You see, Edmond, no need for 'government' to lash out money, a NGO is doing just that. And their money comes from...

Oh. Wait...

And what do the cycling lobby think of this? Not much, though they have their own spokesman making an idiot of himself:
However CTC, the national cycling group, said that riders should be left to make their own judgments.

A spokesman said: 'We encourage deaf people to cycle so we don’t think it’s essential to hear traffic in order to ride. You have to be sensible. The most important thing is that you look around you all the time - especially over your shoulder.'
/headdesk

Why, yes. Being deaf is exactly the same as intentionally blocking out your hearing...

When We Said We Wanted Equality, Err, Well, We Didn't Mean It...

The 'Guardian' seems to have a few problems judging its audience lately.

Following the nurse specialist debacle comes Barbara Ellen's extraordinary column on the Madeleine Martin affair:
...do we seriously think that a female teacher sleeping with a male pupil is on a par with a male teacher sleeping with a girl pupil? I don't. And neither, I'd wager, would most 15-year-old boys.
Say what..? We are letting the 'Phwoar, lucky sod!' contingent decide sentencing now?
Certainly, she has been severely punished for her nine-day tryst with the teenager, who, his mother says, has been mocked by peers. If anything, one would have thought they might be jealous. The internet is awash with sites dealing with "older woman teacher-pupil" fantasies. And there lies the rub – should the law be treating male and female pupil victims equally when male and female teenagers are so different?
Ahh, yes. It's the old 'No, actually, we don't want equality, we need appreciation of our differences and assistance for the designated victim classes' approach that has been creeping in to other issues, most recently race and religion.
In Martin's case, with her hefty prison sentence, and placement on the sex offenders' register, she has effectively been punished exactly the same as a man.
This, Barbara is saying, is a bad thing...

The commenters disagree. Oh, boy, do they disagree!

Sunday, 29 November 2009

A Christmas Present For Baroness Scotland...

Attorney General Baroness Scotland could be ordered to appear in court if her former housekeeper stands trial on fraud and immigration offences next month.

Loloahi Tapui, 27, from Tonga, who was charged on Friday, says she will instruct her legal team to bring Baroness Scotland forward as a witness if the Crown Prosecution Service does not.
Heh..!
A legal expert said: ‘Ms Tapui would be perfectly entitled to call Baroness Scotland as a witness for the defence.

‘If Lady Scotland refused to attend, she would have to provide a statement to the judge detailing why her evidence would not be suitable, although I cannot imagine why that would be the case.’

A spokesman for the CPS said there was ‘currently no witness list’ for the case.
How does she plan to get out of this one, I wonder..?

Remember, These People Are Supposed To Be Our Servants…

…not our masters:
A grandmother has been ordered to rip up shrubs and flowers in her front garden - to make room for new wheelie bins.
And she’s not a council house tenant.

She may own her own home, but the council are determined to tell her what she should do with it regardless.
The medical secretary bought her two-bed terraced house 22 years ago and has since planted an array of conifers, lavender bushes and roses to brighten up the property.

She said: 'My garden is only small but that makes it all the more precious. I spend all my time outside and have spent years getting those shrubs how I want them.

'I appreciate that we do need to recycle and that landfill prices are being hiked up but to issue us with these bins is completely absurd.

'They are a nightmare and nobody likes them. In the recent storms they were blown about all over the place.'
The same argument rages in my local paper pretty much every week. Some houses are simply not equipped to take these bins.

But that doesn’t suit the council’s ‘one size fits all, we’ll tell you what you need’ attitude.
Councillor Tony Hall, chairman of Harlow Council's Environment and Community Committee, suggested Sandra try wheeling the bins through her house.
Well, yes. What a great solution! Who wouldn’t want to wheel a stinking rubbish bin through their living space?

I wonder if Harlow council is one of the ones that will be raising its council tax levels by 3%? As Quiet Man points out, the Mayor of Doncaster is having none of this. Where would you rather live?

Or more to the point, who would you rather elect?

But Tony isn’t finished showing us his empathetic side:
He said: 'It might be an option. I don't know the house but I wheel my bike through my house. Some people are obviously trying to make an issue out of this.

'I don't know the size of her front garden but I am sure somewhere there is room for bins.'
I don’t know the size of your anus, Tony, but I’m sure there is room for a wheelie bin up there. Someone ought to find out...

*sigh*

When will the 'Telegraph' learn...

...to hire some photo editors who can read the story and select an appropriate photo?

Hint: The clue is in the story itself.
The European elk, or moose...

One For ‘The Policeman’s Blog’ Series…

…on mad judges, I think:
A rapist has had his sentence cut after he told judges he could no longer have sex, it was revealed today.

Kevin Stephen had his minimum tariff slashed in the Court of Appeal after insisting a groin injury he suffered in 2007 made it too painful for him to become aroused.
Do you think the use of the words ‘cut’ and ‘slashed’ in that article betrays the writer’s opinion on what he should have got…?
In a move that stunned campaigners, Stephen's term was reduced from six years to five.

This was despite his lawyers using the same argument about the injury, sustained in a road accident, at his original sentencing earlier this year.
*sigh*
Mr Justice Wyn Williams said: 'He has done good work with children, helped the police and is older and more mature.'
Aren’t those things all factors for parole, rather than something that should have any bearing on his original sentence?

Sunday Funnies

Because there really is nothing new under the sun...

Saturday, 28 November 2009

I’m Shocked, Shocked

…to find that dishonesty and manipulation may have been going on:
A traveller and her planning agent are accused of plotting to get permission for a mobile home which is actually used as a base for unofficial paving firms.

Basildon Council believes Mary McCann does not live at a property called Hatchertang in Hovefields Avenue, Wickford, a public inquiry at the Basildon Centre heard yesterday.
And why do they believe this…?
Single mum Miss McCann, 29, gets income support and argues it is a safe haven for four children, aged four to 13.

Yet, several council photographs taken since 2007 show up to 13 vehicles on site, including five caravans, building materials and four trucks used for her family’s driveway business.
Whoops!
This is the second inquiry since April 2008 when her appeal was rejected after the inspector ruled she was no longer a gipsy because she had no intention to travel again due to the “hassle”.

The current hearing was ordered in March after she appealed to the High Court using legal aid.
Well, of course it was…
Miss McCann’s planning agent, Alison Heine, of Heine Planning Consultancy, is a specialist in retrospective approval for travellers.

Since her involvement, Miss McCann’s evidence changed to claim she regularly travels to gipsy fairs and during the summer.
Or as other people understand them, ‘holidays’.

Seriously, is that all it takes to be classed as a ‘traveller’ these days? Some people spend months in Ibiza. Are they too ‘travellers’?
Miss Heine blamed this on Miss McCann not understanding the implications of answers given at the previous inquiry.
‘I didn’t realise I was incriminating myself at my last trial, your honour..’ This is grounds for appeal now?
Neil Costen, council head of enforcement, told the inquiry: “The appellant is saying evidence she gave at the last inquiry was untruthful, because she thought telling untruths would help her.”
Indeed.

But it’s a single line at the end of this report that stood out for me:
He said settled residents, too fearful to attend the inquiry, spoke of similar circumstances.
Welcome to the English justice system. Twinned with the Sicilian justice system…

"Never ask a question to which you don’t already know the answer…"

…is advice often handed out to trainee barristers. There are others who would have benefited from receiving it.

Michael Follan, a ‘a clinical nurse specialist at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Glasgow, and honorary lecturer in child and adolescent mental health at the University of Glasgow’ according to his biography, gets on his high horse in ‘CiF’ over some of Dr Crippin’s articles on nurse specialists and ADHD:
The pseudonymous GP Dr Crippen suggests that diagnosis and treatment by nurse specialists – or nurse "specialists", as he calls them – is a "dumbing down" of services offered by the NHS (Should nurses be prescribing drugs for children?, 17 November).

"Competition to get into medical school is intense," he says. "You need nine or 10 GCSEs, mostly A*s, and three A-grade A-levels." By contrast: "The minimum requirement for entry into a three-year nursing course is five GCSEs, and two A-levels if you want to do the nursing degree. Who do you want to diagnose and treat your child? "
Seems like a fair comment, but it stung Michael into a recitation of his own qualifications (pointless, because he admitted he didn’t prescribe himself), and a defence of the government’s policy:
The principle that underpins the extension of the prescribing role to nurses is that it gives patients quicker access to medicines, making use of experienced nurses' advanced skills.
Nothing to do with cost. Nothing at all.

And if you believe that

He finishes by asking the same question:
Having given your readers the facts, I would ask them: "Who do you want to diagnose and treat your child?"
Sadly for him, he doesn’t get the answer he expected…

Doe Dough D'oh!

Lots of blogosphere discussion of the poor state of education under Labour, from yours truly, from Laban, from Leg-Iron and from Sue.

Which reminded me I needed to scan in this little gem from the 'Barking and Dagenham Post' (no online edition yet):



The ladies in the picture are sixth formers. From Brentwood Ursuline School.

And despite what the sign on the right says, they weren't asking for female deer, but for donations to charity...

Good News For Christmas!

There will be no ‘Sound of Music’ or ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ on TV this year. It has been decided that they may be offensive to families of singing moppets who didn’t make it to Switzerland, or who still languish in the clutches of the Vulgarian authorities.

Oh, and for all you war movie fans, sorry, but no ‘The Great Escape’ either. Well, not everyone got out of German POW camps alive, you know.

And what’s that? What about ‘The Railway Children’…?

You heartless monster! What about all those children who will never see their daddies again? How could you?!
Waitrose has been forced to remove a sequence from its Christmas TV advert following complaints that it was offensive to families of British soldiers.
Say what..?
The one-minute commercial was originally broadcast featuring a scene which depicted British troops returning home to celebrate with their families.

It finishes with the slogan: 'This Christmas, there's only one place to be.'

Waitrose removed the sequence following a flood of complaints from members of the public.
Not from Army families, note. From the professionally offended brigade.

Not that that stopped rentaquote mouthpieces from having their say when contacted by the media:
Colonel Bob Stewart, the chairman of Action for Armed Forces, said: 'I do think this is a bit insensitive, both to the families of those who have been killed and to those troops who are still out there.

'It does seem as though Waitrose are commercially trading on the goodwill the public have for the armed forces.'
Oh, FFS…!

If they provided a large donation to your fund, I bet you’d hold off on those condemnations of the grubby world of commerce, wouldn’t you?

In a flash, I bet…
John Pittman, 66, from Yeovil, Somerset, one of those who lodged a complaint, said he was 'shocked' by the 'upsetting' advert.

He said: 'I was quite shocked by it. I think it's staggeringly insensitive to service families and could especially upset children.

'I had the shock of my life because I know a lot of military families and I thought that it was totally inappropriate.
Did you actually ask any of them what they thought? Or did you just take it on yourself to be offended on their behalf?

What happened to my country? Where did it go? When did it become the exclusive preserve of the thin-skinned, the miserable, the dumb and the self-righteous?

And more to the point, when did we start letting these people dictate what we can see on TV commercials?

Oh, how I wish Waitrose had had the cojones to tell them to go to hell….

Quote Of The Month

From David Thompson, on the Guardian's Charlie Porter and his choice of attire:
Though in fairness, men wishing to look butch might do well to avoid the clutching of an ambiguous burgundy purse. Or describing their latest pair of jeans as “incredibly sombre.” It doesn’t exactly scream masculine gravitas.

Post Of The Month

This month, it's Behind Blue Eyes and his encounter with a Big Issue seller...

Friday, 27 November 2009

Sometimes, You Aren’t Sure…

…if you are really reading ‘The Daily Mash’:
A suspected pimp has told the Gazette he was forced into the sex industry because his bid to open a children’s nursery was rejected.
*boggle*
The Colchester dad, who asked us to refer to him under his professional alias, Donovan Brown, is out on police bail after a seven-bedroom home he bought, in Stanway, was raided by vice cops.
That’s….well, not much of a pimp name, is it?
The former Londoner told how he purchased the property, in Winstree Road, after a planning agent advised him it would be a suitable venue for a nursery.

He borrowed £100,000 against his mother’s London home to buy it, together with a second Colchester home, to share with his wife and 18-month-old son.

Now juggling three mortgages – his mum’s home, his own, and the Winstree Road house – he said he was floored when councillors voted against the nursery scheme.
So, what’s an aspiring businessman to do, but go into the flesh-peddling business?
Mr Brown said: “I needed to use the house for something, and it had to be a business which could possibly raise the same kind of revenue as the nursery.
Well, of course! It all looks so logical laid out like that, doesn’t it?
“It’s not my choice of business. I wouldn’t want to do this.

“I believe we can still pick it up, turn the situation round and make it into a positive thing. A nursery would still benefit the community.”
Oh, absolutely. I’m sure everyone will flock to a nursery run by a brothel owner.
In what used to be a brothel.
Mr Brown explained 65 residents signed a petition against the nursery scheme. He said: “If you don’t want a nursery, you don’t want a brothel.”
Well, I suspect the thought that if they voted against a nursery, that would be the alternative never crossed their minds, ‘Mr Brown’.

Perhaps you should have explained that to them?
The house, in Winstree Road, was one of seven raided in Colchester and Ipswich, as part of a crackdown on human trafficking, on Monday.

A young woman answered the door in her underwear, and a search revealed one room was decorated black and lit by a red lightbulb. There was bondage gear on a mattress with black sheets.
Hmmm. I’m not convinced. What made the cops think this was a brothel, then?
Mr Brown denied involvement in human trafficking and said he was frustrated by the high-profile police raid, as officers had known what he was doing for several months.
Had they really..?

"Do We Call Rentokil, Boss, Or UB40?"

"I`m gonna fix that rat thats what I`m gonna do,
I`m gonna fix that rat"
Staff at the outlet in Newquay, Cornwall, chased after the rat with a broom and a cardboard box as shocked diners looked on.
And it wasn't even a good-looking rat, much to the disgust of one customer:
She said: 'The rat was about a foot long, it looked really mangey and had lost most of its hair.'
I guess its diet didn't agree with it..?
Miss Marston said that there were families and children in the restaurant.
So..?

It was a rat, not a Bengal tiger!
'It wasn't a small rat - it was a full grown adult rat. It makes me heave thinking about it.'
Oh, indeed. Everyone knows the small rats are perfectly fine and OK to have in a fast food shop, but the big ones? They're the real problem..

Don’t You Know There’s A Recession On?

A union has warned a council it is alienating staff, after it became the only one in Essex to impose a pay freeze this year.
Well, it might be ‘alienating staff’, but I bet the council tax payers are pretty happy!

But don’t shed bitter tears of despair for the poor destitute council staff just yet:
Senior officers, who promised to review staff pay and working hours, are due to present their suggestions to the finance and corporate services committee tomorrow.

Among them are closing the council offices in the afternoon on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, giving staff an extra day off, a 1 per cent cost of living allowance increase and backdating any agreed pay rise.
Because none of those cost money (at least, not out of the pay budget anyway).

Or would inconvenience the public who pay these people’s wages.

*sigh*
A spokesman for Unison said: “This makes Maldon Council fall out of step with other local authorities in Essex in terms of salaries, leading to problems with recruitment and retention of staff.

“This will also have a knock-on effect in terms of the economic prosperity of the Maldon district, which has already suffered over the years, as the local population will look outside of the district for employment.”
So? Let ‘em go then.

If we're in a recession, there will be plenty of people willing to take their jobs, won't there?

The Ideal Christmas Present!

Hamish McRae in the ‘Indy’ has some Christmas gift ideas that are, well, a little strange to say the least:
What is true generosity now? This will, for many people, be the toughest economic background to Christmas of their experience.
He sounds almost pleased about that…
Set against this, the very idea of a great festive spending splurge is out of tune with the times. For many people that is not just out of tune; it is out of the question.
It is..?
Even the "haves" feel the need to be cautious, partly no one knows what nasties lurk around the corner but also because this is not the moment for conspicuous consumption. It is offensive, even if you have got the wherewithal to do so, to splash it around.
Says who?

Unless it’s an MP splashing out on a new duck house paid for with our money, I say, good luck to anyone splashing the cash around, so long as they’ve earned it.
But this still the festive season. That is embedded in our human psyche, the long tradition, predating Christianity that there should be some form of celebration at this time of year. So how should we celebrate when the economic and social headwinds are so strong?
Oh, I can just imagine how an ‘Indy’ columnist thinks we should all ‘celebrate’…
There seems to something quite profound happening at the moment in response to economic pressures. Just as difficult times make everyone question their own values, people are giving much more thought to what they are giving and why. The data inevitably is still sketchy and anecdotal but we can glimpse several new trends in the way people spend their money, trends that are evident this season but which will I suggest endure.
I doubt it.

If the changes are as a result of the straitened economic climate, then as soon as the economy picks up, it’ll be laissez les bon temps rouler again. It’s human nature.
The first and most obvious is the shift from giving people things to giving them services. That has been a trend for a while but this year it is more evident than ever before. So imports of the traditional present lines are down and a whole raft of service industries, especially theatres and restaurants, have developed ways of encouraging people to gift their service to someone else.
I really can’t see what he’s getting at here; if you buy someone a gift of a theatre ticket or a restaurant voucher, that’s still a ‘good’ even if it’s a service. I’m not gifting MY services, I’m gifting money to buy someone else’s
There is a sub-section of these service gifts, those that have a charitable element, that have been growing particularly this winter. The most original present on this line I have come across was by a friend who sent a loo as a birthday gift: it was a payment to a charity that would use the money to built (Ed: sic)latrines in rural Africa.
This is hardly new. Trendy lefties have been gifting each other goats for Africa and latrines for Bangladesh for years.

The Christmas glossies from the ‘Observer’, ‘Guardian’ and even the ‘Times’ are always full of ‘em. It’s become as traditionally seasonal for lefties as the first ‘Ronco’ ad of the holiday period used to be in times gone by for everyone else...
But there is another even bigger trend, which is to give time instead of money. Many people, from choice or circumstance, have more time now than they did a year ago but less money. It is of course much more precious because time, unlike money, cannot be replaced. The gift could simply be a grandparent giving a young family some baby-sitting time. Or it could be a younger person taking an older one out for some experience they might not otherwise have.
Now’s the time to take granny Zorbing then…

But Hamish has something really exceptional in mind:
A version of this trend is to give people a service that is in some way exceptional. The economist Fred Hirsch created a new concept in the 1960s, called "positional goods". They were goods that were, by their very nature, in scarce supply. For most goods, even luxury goods, the supply is flexible: you can build more Bentleys. But for some, such as an antique piece of furniture or jewellery, the supply cannot be increased. Fred Hirsch postulated that as the world got richer the price of positional goods would rise relative to other goods, as has indeed been the case.
Hmmm. What do you suggest then, Hamish?
… there are some services where money is not really the issue. What distinguishes these services is that access to them is limited not so much by money but by contacts – something that gives people a glimpse of another world, or an experience, that they could not otherwise have. That is what makes them so special.
Wow! Sounds good. Do tell!
There is a good example of this sort of rare service, which actually has been pioneered by this newspaper: the auctioning of services of people connected with the paper, which we do for charity every year. In this instance you can buy the service – you can buy lunch with the editor or have my fellow columnist (and cookery writer) Yasmin Alibhai-Brown cook you a meal.
Oh, great! Just what I always wanted…

Bet won’t be humble pie, will it?
But the key point is that this is something that most people normally could not buy.
Or more likely, would not buy…
What we buy is more important than how we buy it. And I think that this shift in values will outlast the recession. Just as it won't be back to business as usual for the banks or indeed the government, it won't be back to careers as usual for the rest of us.
Oh, I think it will, Hamish. I think it will….

Thursday, 26 November 2009

And This Woman Is An Animal Advocate..?

Glenys Oogjes, executive director of the national advocacy group Animals Australia, said the plan to kill camels by helicopter was barbaric, and that the community could instead set up barriers to keep out the camels.
Because dying slowly of thirst isn't at all barbaric, of course...

H/T Mark Wadsworth

This Is Why The NHS Needs Matrons

A group of fundraisers have been banned from donating cakes to hospital patients for the first time in over 20 years - for health and safety reasons.
By the hospital, right..?

Well, no:
But this year the Friends of Royston Hospital refused to accept the five trays of cakes because of health and safety concerns about how they might have been prepared.
Not the hospital at all. In fact, the matron showed a goodly amount of backbone in stating:
Royston hospital matron Anne Richmond said the fundraisers should contact the hospital about future donations.

She said: 'Somebody came up with national ruling stating food could not be accepted but we have not really enforced it.

'We can't stop people bringing in cakes or sharing them, and I will happily take the cakes in future.
'
Good for her...

Oh, Do Make Up Your Minds!

From this morning's 'Telegraph':


Is it? I thought it was domestic violence. Well, that was the headline yesterday, anyway.

And 'women'? What, all of them?

No, of course not:
The new cross-Government strategy aimed at tackling violence against women will only be effective if issues that most affect ethnic minority women are properly addressed.
Ah, I see. Each little faction in the Victimhood Poker hand is now fighting for its share of the cake...
The End Violence Against Women Coalition, which includes Amnesty International, said only one in ten local authorities have specialist services designed to deal with the forms of violence that affect ethnic groups.

Holly Dustin, manager of the coalition, said: "I think the response from statutory agencies can be very poor for all women but there can be a particular lack of understanding for ethnic minorities."

On lessons for children, she added: "We would expect that all forms of violence against women, including forced marriages and such, would be dealt with in an age appropriate way for children at primary and secondary school for the strategy to be effective."

Professor Liz Kelly, chair of the EVAW, said: "We know that women still face a postcode lottery when seeking support and much funding for existing services, such as rape crisis centres, refuges and services for ethnic minority women, is increasingly fragile.

"Women across the country will be dismayed if the strategy does not include a coherent plan for secure and sustainable funding for vital front line women's services."

Heather Harvey, campaign manager for Amnesty International UK Stop Violence Against Women campaign, added: “The real test will be whether the government can end postcode lotteries over services and create new, joined-up thinking over combating violence against women.

“This means understanding particular needs in particular communities."
Well, women may be downtrodden, abused creatures all across the land, but you can't help but look at that extract and see one glaring fact, can you?

Some women are making out like bandits!

Cmdr Bob Broadhurst: The Next ‘Sir Iain Blair’..?

It certainly looks like it – he has the same unmistakable talent for lying, then when caught out, claiming ignorance:
A Scotland Yard commander was accused of misleading parliament tonight after an inquiry found that undercover police were secretly deployed at the G20 protests to spy on activists, contrary to the police chief's denials.
Whoops!

Mind you, given the frequency of politicians lying to us, it’s a bit rich of them to complain when it’s done to them, isn’t it?
Commander Bob Broadhurst, who had overall command of the G20 policing operation, told the home affairs select committee in May that "no plain clothes officers [were] deployed at all" during the demonstrations in the City of London.
And that, it turned out, was a lie. Or rather, an ‘inadvertantly misleading statement’ as we are apparently now calling them:
It has emerged that 25 undercover City of London police were stationed around the Bank of England to gather "intelligence" on protesters on 1 and 2 April. Broadhurst stands by the evidence he gave to MPs, claiming the deployment of undercover officers was unknown to him.
Wasn’t that pretty much the same line Blair used when he stood accused of parroting the line about De Menezes jumping barriers?

These goons aren’t even smart with their lies, are they?
Brake said Broadhurst had "inadvertently misled" parliament, thus revealing a "startling lack of co-ordination" in the top ranks.
Actually, I think it shows a lot of co-ordination; when cornered, they all fall back on what they know works.

So, who are the fools here?

Libby Brooks: Worse Than Jane Andrews?

After all, she killed a man.

But Libby is intent on using the 'Guardian' to trash his reputation as well, in the gleeful knowledge that he can't sue:
Over the next two years, through letters, visits, and the audio cassette tapes she would record for me in the long hours after bang-up, I tried to piece together a more nuanced portrait of this tabloid-constructed harpy and heard far more detail about Andrews's early life and her relationship with Cressman than had been revealed at trial. In essence, she told me that she had been sexually abused by a close family member as a child, and that her boyfriend was a dominating individual whose sexual demands – including anal sex, bondage and role-play – she found degrading but acquiesced to.
You mean, the murderess blamed her victim, secure in the knowledge that he wasn't around to contradict her?

Surely only an idiot would swallow that whole and...

Oh. Right.
It soon became clear to me that Andrews's experience of domestic abuse could not be neatly compartmentalised. Domestic violence is not only about black eyes and split lips, and victims are not always nice. Cressman's abuse manifested itself in far more subtle forms of control. Colleagues would remark upon how sweet it was that her boyfriend picked her up from work each evening. For Andrews, such solicitous behaviour had a more sinister meaning – it was to ensure that she was never alone with anyone else but him.
No equivocation there, Libby? No 'Hang on a minute, perhaps I should wonder if maybe this isn't the whole truth'?

Nope:
Last month, BBC1's estimable Criminal Justice strand told the story of a fictional victim of domestic sexual abuse who finally snapped, which I felt sure must have been inspired by the Andrews case. Juliet was a comfortably middle-class housewife, with a beautiful daughter and an attentive husband who brought her home white roses at the end of another high-earning day. He also took camera phone snaps of her makeup drawer morning and evening to check what she had used, and buggered her nightly.
Why, yes. A piece of fiction told by a murderess matched a piece of fiction told by the BBC. It all makes sense!
As a society, we have advanced hugely in our attitudes to domestic violence over the past few decades. But it remains the case that only specific types of abuse and specific types of victim are believed by juries. Andrews had no physical scars to parade. But she had scars nevertheless.
So would Thomas Cressman. Had he lived...

Jane Andrews is a murderess. But I think there must be a special place in hell reserved for the likes of Libby Brooks too.

No Sex Generosity Please, We're British Bureaucrats...

Every year, the pensioners band together and have a Christmas whip-around for the woman who helps make their daily lives more bearable.

With some in their 90s and too frail to go out shopping, it has become their way of thanking Debbie Morgan for all her hard work.
And that can't be allowed to continue, can it?
The Somer Community Housing Trust has written to each resident to say staff cannot take cash or cheques as gifts and that they should buy cards or chocolate instead.
Who the hell are they to tell elderly residents what they can and can't do with their own money? Have they forgotten who the customers are here?
The whip-round ban comes after a long line of restrictions on the relationship between the tenants and Ms Morgan that have been imposed by the Trust.

She has already been banned from making dinner for residents and arranging coffee mornings, quiz nights and entertainment events.

The warden has also been told she cannot organise a Christmas party for the residents or attend funerals when they die.
As long as she does this in her own time, why not? Since when did employers decide that having their staff go the extra mile for their customers was a bad thing?

And meanwhile, the state is busy institutionalising this bizarre attitude...
Members of the public are being urged not to send unsolicited Christmas presents to troops in Afghanistan.
Apparently, it makes the job of the pencil pushers too difficult:
Capt Charlie Malcolm, who is in charge of post at Camp Bastion in Helmand province, said: "For personnel deployed overseas, personal mail from loved ones is very important.

"But the system can be completely overwhelmed by the public's generous donations, which results in mail from family and friends being delayed.

"The main cause of this is the huge and unmanageable number of welfare parcels, sent by well-meaning members of the public, to recipients not personally known to the sender."
The state: slowly crushing and stifling every generous gesture and private act of charity.

The better to reinforce the view that all largesse comes from the state. Not from individuals.

Take It Away, Boys...!



H/T Diplodocus Rex in the comments at Obo's

” You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me? Then who the hell else are you talkin' to? You talkin' to me?”

It appears former ‘Harry Potter’ actor Ian Hart is a shoo-in should anyone decide to remake ‘Taxi Driver’:
"John Simm was trying to hold him back but he pushed past him and ran off the side into the stalls and hit him."

The blow landed on the head or shoulder, he said.

"Two of the ushers grabbed him and pulled him away. He was shouting that the guy had been talking through the performance and trying to put him off."
Although maybe a remake of ‘The Godfather’ might be more appropriate:
He went on: "He [Hart] was shouting at this point that he wasn't giving him the proper respect as an actor.
Oh, I don't know...

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Alan Johnson: I’m Right, Everyone Else Is Wrong

Postman Pat is in CiF pontificating on why the ECHR is wrong, and NuLab’s authoritarian instincts are bang on the money:
Today, on DNA retention, the government must balance several factors. First, there's the scientific evidence, which is still sparse.
And will be ignored if you choose to do so for political purposes, as Professor Nutt will tell everyone who wants to listen…
The most recent research supports the case for the retention of DNA profiles of those arrested but not convicted.
And it’s linked to in this article so we can all judge for oursel….

Oh, my mistake. It isn’t. We just have to take Postman Pat’s word for it.
. I reject the claim by the Human Genetics Commission yesterday that large numbers of people are being arrested simply to collect their DNA. There is no substantive evidence to suggest this is so.
Best you lay of the ‘substantive evidence’ line, Pat. We have all seen through that one…
No one can have their DNA taken unless arrested for a recordable offence.
And the list of recordable offences has grown massively under the auspices of….which political party, again?
As the Association of Chief Police Officers has said, arresting someone is a major step, never taken lightly.
Oh, really?
It is unlikely that Mark Dixie, the murderer of Sally Anne Bowman, would ever have been found had his DNA profile not been recorded following his involvement in a pub brawl, after which he had been released without charge.
You mean, you’ve no faith in the police to track people down without this overarching database? Better sack them all then, Pat…
Take also the case of Abdul Azad, arrested for violent disorder in Birmingham in February 2005. He had a DNA sample taken and was released without charge. In July 2005, a stranger rape occurred in Stafford, 25 miles away. DNA evidence was found to match Azad's. The senior officer said he would otherwise never have been caught.
Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he? Far easier just to tap a key and find the suspect rather than do all that tedious detecting
It has also helped protect the innocent. Sean Hodgson, who was wrongfully convicted of murdering and raping Teresa de Simone in 1982, would probably not have been cleared without DNA analysis showing he was not the killer.
Err, what? How would having his DNA on a database prevent this?
Under proposals soon to be considered by parliament, the DNA profiles of all those convicted of crimes – irrespective of the offence – will continue to be held indefinitely.
The ECHR can go take a flying one, can they, Pat?
The bill will also give police the power to take samples from those convicted of serious violent and sexual offences in the past, before DNA was routinely taken…
So, it’s retroactive as well? Fantastic. How long before we are routinely tagged and numbered at birth like livestock?
It seems there is all-party consensus on these two measures.
Except in the next paragraph you state:
The Guardian has joined the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats in arguing for the Scottish system of three years' retention
Some ‘consensus’…
The Scottish model is said to be a success, but by whose standards, and by what evidence?
By the standards of the ECHR, which measured the English system against it, and found it wanting. That good enough for you?
This is a classic home secretary dilemma.
Pity we don’t have a classic home secretary then, isn’t it? Sadly, we are stuck with you.

For the time being, anyway…
It is not a clear-cut choice between liberty and security – between siding with the civil liberties lobby or the forces of law and order.
Yes. It is, actually.
The far less headline-friendly reality…
Ah, here we have it. NuLabour’s policy is driven by the tabloids.
… is the need to balance all these factors – protecting the public, but in a way that's proportionate to the threat.
You have as much idea about what is ‘propotionate’ as the cop in that linked story.

But ok, then. Let’s see all MPs and their families go first, eh?
I believe that the government's proposals do precisely that but I also welcome the debate as a necessary part of implementing such sensitive measures.
Typical NuLab. You welcome a debate, but you’ll ignore it.

We can’t get rid of this shower fast enough for me.

”…’not fit for work’…”

Millions of school and college leavers are 'not fit for work', the boss of Marks & Spencer warned yesterday.

Chairman Sir Stuart Rose said too many didn't even have a basic grasp of the three Rs.
We’ve heard this all before, of course. In fact, we heard it from the Tesco chairman only a month or so ago…
A major poll by the charity of around 2,000 business leaders over 18 months found the education black hole was their second biggest headache after the recession.
I wonder how many of those 2,000 business leaders also figure on the ‘Supporters’ list of ‘Teach First’?

And the government’s response?

Deny, deny, deny…
Last night Schools Minister Iain Wright hit back at his claims, saying: 'Employers rightly have higher expectations of workers because there are fewer low-skill jobs in the economy - but it's unfair and wrong to make sweeping generalisations that distort the true picture.

'Our school leavers work hard for their qualifications and are better equipped for the world of work than they have ever been - with English and maths results at their highest ever levels and the consistency of those standards rigorously scrutinised by our independent exam regulator.'
‘We have always been at war with East Asia.’

And All Because The Burgled Housewife Loves ‘Milk Tray’…

Shoplifters, vandals and burglars are being told by police to say sorry with a bunch of flowers to avoid prosecution.
Another undermining of the justice system to ‘save money’...
Offences including common assault, theft, burglary, criminal damage and vandalism which would ordinarily mean a jail sentence, fine or caution are instead being resolved by a gift to the victim such as bunch of flowers or a box of chocolates to make amends.
So, the police still get their DNA for the database (because they are presumably arrested?), and the courts don’t need to bother with all that sentencing stuff.

What’s not to like?
Police say the 'common-sense community resolution' to anti-social behaviour and low-level crime saves police time and could save forces and the criminal courts millions of pounds.
Except…we have a system of criminal justice in this country. It’s worked well for many, many years.

Why subvert it now, for the sake of money?
But critics have accused police of undermining the criminal justice system, saying crimes should be dealt with by magistrates rather than ad-hoc penalties devised by individual officers.
Quite…
There are also concerns that an offender can escape having a criminal record if they agree to apologise and repair any damage or refund what was stolen.
So, this throws the DNA database question into doubt, then, doesn’t it?

If they get their DNA taken on arrest, then they will be on a database despite having no conviction.

No-one will be surprised that this is the WMP again:
The officer leading the experiment, Chris Sims, Chief Constable of West Midlands Police, said yesterday his officers were administering 'a moral clip round the ear' to offenders.
Err, no. That’s precisely not what you are doing...

What you are doing is driving a coach and horses through the British Justice system.

When ‘Emergency Care Proceedings’ Doesn’t Mean What One Might Assume It Means...

A boy of two was allowed to remain in the care of a blind 82-year-old widow by the council involved in the tragedy of Baby P.

Social workers from Haringey said the child was 'thriving' with the frail pensioner, who had once fostered his mother.
Oh, Haringey again. Is anyone surprised?
But the widow's family accuse the North London council of ignoring a series of warnings that she was too old to cope.

They claim it failed to act even when the tiny, six-stone great-grandmother collapsed from exhaustion after caring for the child for almost two months.
In fact, it was the death of her.
She died this month after falling down stairs at her home, where she lived alone with the child.
Well done, Haringey!

You’ve obviously filled your quota of dead children and you think you’d better start reducing the population from the opposite end of the age range this time...
The council says it wanted to take the child away from the widow and instigated emergency care proceedings.

However, the child was under its supervision for 18 months before the case came to court and the family feel that Haringey is guilty of dragging its feet.
18 months is an ‘emergency’ in Haringey, is it?

Well, I suppose it is when you are just dealing with trifles like vulnerable children and the frail elderly.

But they certainly moved pretty damn sharpish when the story looked like leaking out and some SS might be in the frame for some harsh words from the press:
… when the Daily Mail contacted the under-fire council over the death of the pensioner, its officials sought an emergency court order to stop details of the case being made public.
Luckily, they lost.

And as the ‘Mail’ points out, this case highlights the extraordinary actions of Haringey in this case when compared to other decisions made by the SS elsewhere:
The tragic case is made all the more extraordinary by the plight of countless grandparents who have been told they are too old to foster their own grandchildren.

This year social workers decided to rehome two children with a gay couple after their mother's parents were judged 'too old' to care for them.
And in that case, ‘too old’ meant 49 and 56, even though there was a family link. What gives?
Haringey refused to confirm or deny whether Baby K was on its Child Protection Register - the 'at risk' list on which Baby P was placed eight months before his death.
Which either means he wasn’t (and should have been) or he was (and action moved at the usual glacial pace of Haringey SS).

Either way, it’s hard to see how they are going to escape censure for this one.

Well, until you realise that they always do. Or at least, escape the expected results of such censure in any other organisation.

Well, Sometimes The Spirit Just Moves You…

A spiritualist 'ghost-buster' lost his job as a police law trainer because he got sexually aroused during a role play, a tribunal heard yesterday.
That must have been some role play!
A sergeant from Merseyside Police who witnessed the scene vowed never to use him again, and Cheshire Constabulary made the same decision because of his 'inappropriate behaviour'.
Sadly, it seems the incident was soon forgotten, as they later hired him as a specialist trainer!
The information only came to light in October 2008 after Mr Power secured a job as a specialist trainer and a co-ordinator with Greater Manchester Police.

He was fired three weeks later on October 24, with the force citing his 'current work in the psychic field' as a reason.
Which was a bit of an error, given the increasingly-surreal nature of the UK’s employment laws.

Yup, you guessed it – he’s suing them for wrongful dismissal:
Mr Power, of Birkenhead, Merseyside, denied the allegations.

He is seeking compensation for hurt feelings and wants redress after a judge ruled his spiritualism should be afforded the same protection as religion under equality laws.
Well, why not? If global warming belief is now afforded the same protection, I guess it’s only right the table-rappers get to fill their boots too…

CCTV – Keeping Us All Safe From…

…pub band members who might have possibly had a gun, or at any rate a gun-shaped object, well, be fair, it was dark out and the resolution on those things isn’t great, and hey, if you pay peanuts you get…
A band who had just performed in a Staffordshire pub spent the night at a police station over allegations a firearm had been seen in their van.
You’d think that wouldn’t take a night to clear up, would you? How big was this van?
Band manager Kingsley Slater said they were eventually released but had been "totally shocked" by it all.
Only ‘shocked’? I’d be furious
The men were later released and their cars were driven over to the police station so they could drive back and pick up their equipment.

"I feel a bit let down," Mr Kingsley said.

"It was a blunder."
Hmm, was it?

Or was it an attempt to harvest a bit more DNA for that database?
Staffordshire police said they had had a call from CCTV operators who saw two vehicles and people acting suspiciously in a car park in High Street, Chasetown.

They also believed they had seen a firearm in one of the vehicles.
Note the ‘believed’. If they’d believed they’d seen a nuclear bomb, would the Army have been called out?

Did no one think to check the recordings first, or at least immediately afterward?
"Armed officers were deployed and six men were arrested outside the Oak pub in Burntwood," a spokesman said.

"After further investigation and viewing of the CCTV footage, the six men were released without charge.

"No firearm was found."
Because no firearm was there, you dolt!
Insp Dave Challinor said the six men faced no further action but that police had responded "appropriately and proportionately."
‘No further action’..? Well, how bloody magnanimous of you!

You can’t take any ‘further action’ because they didn’t do anything wrong.

You could, however, take ‘further action’ against the minimum-pay drones monitoring the CCTV, to prevent six other innocent men having the living daylights frightened out of them and their DNA stored on the database the next time you decide you really haven’t the faintest clue what the words ‘appropriately and proportionally’ actually mean

Is Gordon Aiming For The Loony Feminist Vote?

How, exactly, do you square:
From 2011, lessons in gender equality and preventing violence in relationships will be included in the statutory personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education curriculum.
with:
Prime Minister Gordon Brown said violence against women and girls was "an obscenity".
So, violence against men and boys is perfectly fine..?

I’ve an idea – how about we elect a party who has a Prime Minister who can condemn violence no matter to whom it is applied?

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Because The Kids Just Aren’t Getting Dumb Enough Quickly Enough For Some…

Setting and streaming should be abolished in state schools amid fears weaker pupils are being left behind, ministers have been told.
Well, just fantastic
All children should be taught in mixed-ability classes to boost standards and self-esteem among all students, according to a report.
You know, if you stopped a few people in the street and asked them what the problem with children was, I very much doubt ‘low self esteem’ would be high on the list.

Indeed, most of them have far too much (totally unwarranted) self esteem…
Researchers said that setting pupils was often done purely for the “benefit of teachers”.
You mean so they don’t have to teach three different ways in the same lesson? How surprising!
The study, by Teach First, which recruits top graduates as trainee teachers in tough inner-city schools, also called for a shake-up of admissions to stop the best comprehensives being filled with bright, middle-class children.
Because that would be terrible, wouldn’t it? Bright children in schools? Madness!
Don’t ask why. It just would
It said schools should introduce a system of “fair banding” in which all children are given an entrance test and equal numbers of bright, average and poor-performing pupils are given places.
And presumably placed in the same classes. Otherwise, schools would simply band within themselves.

They do get something right though:
In a further conclusion, it called for the scrapping of league tables amid claims teachers are routinely forced to enter pupils for easier courses to boost their ranking.
Well, of course they do.
But the recommendations sparked anger among head teachers and educationalists who said it would be a recipe for “mediocrity” .
Mediocrity is what we’ve got now. What we’d get if we were insane enough to accept these recommendations is anyone’s guess…
Ralph Tabberer, the Government’s former director general of schools, said little time was spent protecting “scholarship, genuinely high quality study and its importance."
True enough. And if this bunch get their way, there will be even less time spent.

What did they base this study on, then?
In the latest study, Teach First collected views from 500 graduates who spent two years working in schools in deprived communities.
Ah. It’s a totally self-selecting sample, then. Only people who have already drunk the Teach First kool-aid are being consulted on this.

So, who are Teach First? Well, their website says they are:
…an independent charity launched in 2002…
And their mission statement says they are dedicated to:
… a powerful social change initiative aimed at tackling educational disadvantage in challenging schools around the UK…
So, where are they getting their money from?

Would you believe only half comes from other than governmental sources?
Approximately half of Teach First's annual budget is raised from private sources through one-off and sustainable grants from businesses, charitable foundations and individual giving.
The main culprits here are the Training and Development Agency and the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

Oddly, their website shows that their corporate supporters are precisely the sort of businesses you’d think would run a mile from socialist claptrap.

So, what gives?

Time Of The Month, Yasmin?

She has a truly spectacular rant in the ‘Indy’:
Boorish, brutish sexism has broken out again. Yet again. And, as usual, here come lady cheerleaders, handmaidens to men who have never accepted that half of God's people are fully human and entitled to all that the world has to offer.
Calm down, dear, it’s only a EU appointment…
How these tongues burned and lashed out when Cathy Ashton got the top foreign policy job in the EU. She got it 'cos she is a flippin' woman. Obvious, innit?
Well, it certainly wasn’t down to her high profile, was it?

And as Obo reports, it really does appear to have been the case too...

Now how much of a token does she look?
A Sunday newspaper cartoonist calls Ashton "whatsherface?" Such wit.
It’s funny because it’s true. If it had been an unknown man, there’d be the same reaction.

Had you ever heard of this woman before, then?
Baroness Ashton and I are slightly acquainted, no more, if you need to know that.
Ah…
The world only feels right when women are removed from the public space. We know that is what the Taliban believes.
Yes, because wondering who the hell gave a complete unknown a top-level post in the EU and, more importantly, why, is tantamount to stoning women in the street for showing a bit of ankle. Apparently.

But there’s no stopping her, she’s really off on one now:
Was I the only person in the world to notice that when the US met China in Beijing, along the long table with Hu Jintao and Barack Obama were all men in dull suits?
I think you were probably the only person in the world who cared enough to watch in the first place…
Everyday I watch British TV (including the BBC which gets substantial licence fee money from those of us with the XX chromosome) and all intrepid travel programme presenters are white and male, most TV chefs and judges too, history, design and games show hosts and so on and on.
Perhaps you’re watching a bit too much TV then, Yasmin?
Jeremy Clarkson and Russell Brand and even coarser creatures cleverly debase women, including our women politicians. They are the "it" boys. They turn their chauvinism into gold.
They ‘pick on those women politicians’ because they are so bloody awful, Yasmin. And people tune in to see it because they are so bloody awful. It’s not simply because they are women.
The world's economy was brought down by careless, greedy men.
Only one sex is responsible for the problems? Only one sex, Yasmin? Are you serious?
Women, said authors of a report on the crisis by the Cranfield School of Management, were not more risk averse but more risk aware. Just what we need. Do we see any sign that that quality is being valued in the financial sector? Do let me know if there is. All I see is still wretchedly low representation of women in our top echelons and progress, compared with say the Scandinavian nations, snail slow.
Oh, give me strength…
The Pope invites anti-women Anglicans to join his properly male church, and they threaten to, encouraged by the now blonde Ann Widdecombe; the adorable Sir Alan Sugar arrives in the Lords, he with his admired retro views on foolish young women who want to work and have a family; a high-achieving scientist reveals she was the upmarket prostitute and blogger Belle De Jour (what does that mean? That you let rich strangers deep into your body and not factory workers? So you make more dough opening your legs? And that makes you more classy?).
And you make a hell of a lot of money opening your mouth without apparently engaging your brain. Who’s serving society’s needs best between you?
Now they are talking here and in the US of the paradox of "declining female happiness". The more powerful we get, the less happy we are. What's more, men are getting happier and women are getting gloomier.
Oh, cheer up love! Go buy yourself a new frock, or something…
The brilliant US columnist Maureen Dowd (Ed: sic, unbelievable as that reads…)deconstructs the findings and suggests that the feminist revolution may have benefited men more than women who have only taken on added burdens – the impossible balance between work and life, time poverty, pressures to be always young and beautiful. Then there is derision and subversion from reactionary men and women which makes the glittering prizes feel both heavy and pointless. Exhausting and debilitating it may be, but the fight must go on.
How selfless and noble of you…
Feminism will get us there one day because we are worth it. And I am not swishing my extensions or pouting my lips as I write that.
Well, thank god for the lack of that mental image…

This has to be one of her worst columns ever. And that’s saying a lot!

Monday, 23 November 2009

It's Not A Clown Car, Sweetie...

A mum-of-13 who costs taxpayers £50,000 a YEAR has said she won't stop having kids until she gives birth to twins.

Baby machine Sara Foss, 39, is due to give birth to her 14TH child in April but will try to get pregnant again as soon as possible to realise her dream.
And as if that wasn’t enough, check out the chavtastic names they chose for their brood…
Her mammoth brood now comprises Patrick, 23, Stephen, 13, Malachai, 12, Peppermint, 11, Echo, 10, Eli, nine, Rogue, eight, Frodo, seven, Morpheus, five, Artemis, four, Blackbird, three, Baudelaire, two, and nine-month-old Voorhees.
It seems Ms Foss (or her sperm donor) is a bit of a film fan.

You wonder when they found the time to watch them, don’t you?

Because The NHS Has Money To Burn...

Couples are to be offered marriage guidance counselling for free on the NHS...
*speechless*

That, after this, makes me think if we could only hook up the corpse of Nye Bevan with some copper wire and a generator, we could solve all our energy needs, with the rate it must be spinning...

Al Jahom points out that there's a fakecharity waiting in the wings to rub handfuls of taxpayer's cash all over their bodies and giggle with glee.

When You Absolutely, Positively...

...want to make sure of your murder victim:
A teenager murdered on a trip to the local shops was stabbed and then run over by a car, police said tonight.
Ouch!
Officers were called to the incident shortly after 11pm on Thursday, and found a man suffering from stab wounds, a spokesman said.
The tyre tread marks on his body were, presumably, an extra clue...

Sunday, 22 November 2009

"English, mother******, do you speak it?"

From Friday's BBC News website: That penultimate story is dreadful, isn't it? Imagine a refugee minister sending hate mail!

It isn't until you click on the link that you realise that the minister actually received hate mail.

And he isn't a refugee who happens to be a minister either...

*sigh*

Tie Me Kangaroo Hippopotamus Down, Sport…

Over at TetZoo Blog, in the comments to a story about the amazing photos of a crocodile killed by hippos, comes this extraordinary story from Down Under.

Some pig hunters bagged a very unusual trophy – a pigmy hippo!
Nico Courtney, 27, was out spotlighting for pigs with his mate Rusty on a station in the Douglas Daly district on Saturday night.

"It was about 1am and running away from us - from the tail end it just looked like a big pig," the station worker said.

"We got out, had a look at it, and thought 'that's not a pig, it's a hippo'.

"Then we thought 'you don't get hippos in Australia'."
It seems the animal is thought to have been living wild for about five years since escaping from Tipperary Station, a former exotic wildlife sanctuary founded by millionaire Warren Anderson.

Whereas anyone else would be freaking out at this discovery, the intrepid pig hunters were somewhat phlegmatic:
Mr Courtney said he rang a few mates to tell them what happened.

"They told me to go to bed," he said. "So I thought I'd better call the boss, and he said 'no it couldn't be'."

They both decided to get some shuteye and "reassess the situation in the morning".

But it was still a hippo come daylight.
Isn’t that just quintessentially Australian?

I doubt if anyone bagging the Bodmin Big Cat or netting Nessie would be able to contain themselves from contacting the media and negotiating the film rights there and then…

Sunday Funnies...

Real life Reggie Perrins...

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Protecting Your Children: Yr Doin It Wrong...

A mother who struck her 12-year-old daughter with a computer cable, a broom, a wooden spoon and her fists has been given a suspended jail sentence.
Eh..?
The judge said sentencing of such cases was difficult.
Really? What's difficult about it?
The 37-year-old asylum seeker...
Ah. Now it all becomes clear.
Judith McCullough, defending, said the woman had come to the UK in 2005 to escape an abusive relationship with her ex-partner in order to protect her children.
What a bang up job she did too! Mother of the year, I'd say...
The relationship between the mother and her eldest child deteriorated because of cultural differences between the pair.

The girl told police that her mother thought she could treat her like she had been as a child. Children of her age in her home country were expected "to do everything", she complained.
So, we can chalk up another success story to 'diversity', can't we?

Barking, Hugh? I’ll Say You Are….

Hugh Muir is at it again:
The evening rush outside the Vicarage Fields shopping centre in Barking has the skin tones of many of our major cities. A white English woman in a shiny black raincoat hurries to a cash machine. Another woman of Chinese extraction walks by, her neck protected by a fake-fur lining. Two Asian men in jogging gear chat behind her. A black man folds his newspaper and hurries home.
Oh, what a wonderful multicultural Garden of Eden (despite the hideous carbuncle that is Barking Train Station), eh, Hugh? How pleased you must be to see this, in the, ooh, let’s be generous and say three hours, four tops, you might have spent in Barking before fleeing back to the safety of Grauniad HQ.

Did you think to enquire if the ‘white English woman’ was happy with the way Barking has changed? Or didn’t it occur to you?

But it seems there’s a serpent whispering to the inhabitants of Barking, and Hugh cannot let that go without challenge:
Many people from different parts of the world have alighted here in Barking and this week Nick Griffin of the British National party announced that, come the next election, he plans to be their MP.
Which is unlikely, as it’s a Labour stronghold, though admittedly the BNP have done well there in the past.
The far right already forms the official opposition to Labour in Barking and Griffin sees easy pickings from the corpse of an old Labour fiefdom. He might be right. But Darren Rodwell tells me he may have to think again.
Oh, really? And what does Darren Rodwell (who he? We’ll find out) plan to do about it?
For things have been happening on the ground, things that might help Labour make up years of neglect that left estates vulnerable to the appeal of the BNP. It's not based on morality or political philosophy, he tells me. Those aren't the key drivers of opinion. It's practical. It has to be.
So, what’s the magic formula that will turn the Barking voter away from the BNP?

Please tell me it isn't the useless UAF, who decided to support the RMT in a demo against the BNP on Thursday, and all assembled outside Upney Tube Station, with a BBC reporter filming them...while Griffin went to Barking Town Hall!
The response, says Rodwell, born and bred in the area, must also be about the nuts and bolts, reconnecting with erstwhile supporters, showing empathy.
And they plan to do this by resolving the pressing issues with immigration, lack of housing and crime?

Oh:
That is why this year, Rodwell, 39, a tenants association leader and a Labour agent, has helped Margaret Hodge, his much-maligned MP, and other volunteers, deliver more than 150,000 letters and leaflets. They have knocked on 22,000 doors; made around 9,000 contacts; delivered 20,000 questionnaires. The politics of shoe leather.
They knocked on 22,000 doors and made 9,000 ‘contacts’. That’s just half.

And how many of those 9,000 told them they’d happily vote Labour as a result? How many told them something else?
Griffin will inevitably work hard – unlike some of his councillors in the town hall – for he sees the opportunity of a lifetime here. But Rodwell tells me that Labour, having realised where it went so wrong in its heartland, is ready to work harder.
Yeah. It’s ready to…well, spin. And avoid the issues. And send out leaflets.

That’ll do the trick, I’m sure.

And I can’t leave this post without uploading a screengrab of this article this morning, showing that the Grauniad’s reputation for poor editing is still intact:

They've fixed it now, sadly...

‘Learning Lessons’? Yeah. Right

Police and social workers have been criticised after a little girl was put back into the care of her abusive stepmother.
Yeah, you didn’t misread that; ‘back into the care of…’
The little girl was born in Portugal in 2002 before being moved to the UK at the age of three.

She lived in an overcrowded house in Lewisham and was subjected to a catalogue of abuse at the hands of her father's new girlfriend.
So she moved here in 2005; when did the abuse begin?

Pretty much immediately:
The first signs of harm came in November 2005 when someone living with the child reported a case of domestic abuse. A few months later a health visitor noticed a bruise on the child's face.
In October 2006 Ms G hit the child and was cautioned for common assault. This prompted Children's Social Care to move the three-year-old to live with "a family friend" where she was said to have "flourished".
And here’s the ‘But…’ that you know was coming:
However, a social worker "apparently without the authority of a manager" began planning overnight stays at the step-mum's house.

By early February 2007 the youngster was back living with Ms G and only months later she was telling a school teacher her step-mum had been hitting her.
And the authorities moved with the glacial speed we are now all familiar with:
After a further complaint of punching was made in November 2007, police investigated but took no action.
Huh..?
Following further incidents of "slapping" and claims from the child to social workers that "she slept on the floor", she was transferred into the care of her natural mother.
And now the report is out:
The report, published by the council's local safeguarding children board, said "poor" decision-making by social workers contributed to the blunders.
Oh, no s***, Sherlocks..!
It also stated: "A failure of communication within the Police Service meant the investigating officer remained unaware Ms G had previously been cautioned for an assault against child J."
And, presumably, also unaware that the child had been removed from the stepmother’s care on a previous occasion?

The paper doesn’t report what action is being taken against the people involved. I wonder why..?

Meet The New Tories...

...not quite the same as the old Tories:
A councillor has been suspended from the Conservative Party after sending emails ranting that prospective parliamentary candidates do not have “normal" English names.
And if that was the sum of it, it'd just be another excuse for the hard-of-thinking to drag out their 'racist' banners and swamp all forums.

Oh, what am I saying? They will anyway.

They certainly won't wonder why selected prospective Tory candidates are this bone-ignorant:
“The candidates department are simply rushing these names through.

“They have absolutely no idea about how Associations are organised and have ZERO experience of political campaigning.

“Their emails are PATHETIC.”
Well, they sound like ideal candidates, don't they? I wonder why they were picked?
Less than 40 minutes later a second email to John Esler and other Bromley councillors criticised the prospective candidates for asking him questions about how to plan a speech, tips on canvassing and what to do if they can’t answer a question.

Cllr Hobbins also says in the email that prospective candidates have asked him where Orpington is and how to get there.
Say what...?

They can use email to send these questions, but they can't find the TfL page or GoogleMaps?

Now, I've never harboured any desire to run for election, but if I did, I hope I wouldn't be dumb enough to admit to a councillor for my prospective party that I didn't know where the place I was standing for was, not how to get there.

I wonder, just why are these names being rushed through?

Welcoming: Yr Doin It Wrong…

So, the BNP has signed up its first non-white member:
An elderly Sikh who describes Islam as a "beast" and once provided a character reference for Nick Griffin during his racial hatred trial is set to become the British National Party's first non-white member.
And how does the membership react to this newcomer, this first-of-many to their fold?
A BNP spokesman said last night: "He is perhaps the kind of immigrant you want if you are going to have them."
/facepalm

There’s ‘damning with faint praise’, and then there’s whatever the hell that is…

Over at Blognor Regis, it is noted that anyone who would proclaim surprise at the BNP's choice has never studied history.