Sunday, 31 January 2010

Next Time They Complain About 'Lack Of Resources', Remember This...

Following last week's shenanigans as reported by 'Harry's Place', yet another case of a frivolous complaint being treated with undue solemnity by the police:
"Imagine my surprise when I found a little yellow note, an 'MP19' Police Message, with a business card attached, pushed through my letterbox. On scrutiny it appeared that a Sergeant would like me to help him with an 'Enquiry'; two wrongly routed telephone calls through the astonishingly incompetent police call centre later I eventually managed to make contact with the elusive Sergeant via email.

The reason for his visit?

A blogger, based locally, had complained repeatedly to the police about me - alleging that I had embarked on some kind of campaign, threatened him and that I was involved in a sophisticated high level viral marketing campaign backed by the, I feel ill just typing it, Scottish Labour party."
Now, wouldn't you have thought that that could be cleared up by, say, looking at the aforesaid blog from the comfort of his own office?

I mean, you'd think the police had enough to do sorting out the baseless claims made by their own officers...

Question: How Fast Can A Bear Run?

Answer: Luckily, on this occasion, not as fast as these Polish vets...

You Must Suffer, So He Feels Good About Himself...

MR Hall has a truly repellent argument on CiF, about suffering and the right to die:
Campaigners, including Evan Harris of the Liberal Democrats, claim the current law is clumsy and unable to accommodate vastly differing circumstances, with the same blanket law of murder applying to Myra Hindley and the Kay Gilderdales of this world. Harris and pressure groups such as Dignity in Dying would like a new law that would somehow accommodate "mercy killers", but it's a desire I find abhorrent; downright offensive in fact.
Why so? How can someone else's decision in this possibly affect you?
Those of a religious persuasion (and I count myself among them) talk about the sacredness of life, non-believers of its inviolability. The Christian view is that life simply isn't ours to take – it's God-given, and his alone to end.
Except when one wants to terminate an abortionist, of course…
The moment a terminally ill person is granted the legal right to kill herself, the instant corollary is that other feeble forms of life – the late-term foetus with spina bifida, the senile bed-ridden old woman whose interminable lingering is a torment to her family – are seen as of lesser value than that of a healthy person's and become easier to let go.
Yes, but that's what we have laws for. Are you really saying that you believe God gave us all free will, but not the smarts to use it?
But what about the sufferers, don't they have a right to escape their pain? No, not if we believe that life is sacred. We've become so used to the idea that suffering is to be avoided at all costs, that the very notion that we might have to bear it is seen as a violation of some emerging right to a minimum level of comfort. But suffering has a positive purpose.
OK, well, that's just about the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard...
Of course it's tough for the sufferer, but it's only through witnessing the pain and agony of others that we properly develop empathy and compassion.
Except it clearly hasn’t worked with you, Hall….
Many of us will suffer at our end, and for years beforehand; but, I would maintain, we have a duty to tolerate our suffering as a sacrifice for the respect our society has learned to accord to life generally: only through coping with and witnessing our suffering will rising generations gain true respect for the miracle of conception and all that follows it.
What utter rot! If you feel you have such a duty, go right ahead.

But you don't speak for me, or for anyone else...

Sunday Funnies...

Some animal magic from 'Cracked'.

Black magic...

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Can Someone Tell Me Why This Is Regarded As A ‘Tragedy’?

A teenager who died after being shot at a friend's house was a member of a notorious gun gang, it emerged today.

Police are investigating whether Lewis O'Brien was intentionally killed or died while playing with the gun with friends.
Does it really matter? I imagine the neighbours are throwing a party right about now…
The tragedy happened at a round 4pm yesterday afternoon at a terraced property on a housing estate in Huyton, Liverpool.
The what..?
One woman, who refused to be named for fear of reprisals, said a petrol bomb had been thrown at the house where Lewis died just last week.

'There has been trouble between youths here for months,' she said.
Savour that. Even with the little scumbag cooling on a slab, this woman is too frightened to give her name to the press.
Another added: 'We have a problem with a gang of yobs around here. They take potshots, cause trouble and terrorise pensioners.'
One won’t be doing so any more. Mind you, probably plenty more where he came from.

So, who is broken up about this?
Yesterday it emerged that Lewis was a troubled youngster who had had difficulties at school.

He was a former student of the Newstead Vocational Educational Centre, in Kirkby, a special school for children removed from mainstream classes due to their persistent behavioural difficulties.
Looks like that school should have concentrated less on the three ‘R’s and more on the ‘This is the end the bullets come out…’ safety lessons…
Mike Marshall, headteacher, said: 'We are saddened by the news of Lewis's tragic death and the fact that he died at such a young age.

'Lewis was a former student at Newstead and our thoughts and condolences go out to his family and friends.'
I wonder if his tongue was in his cheek when he wrote that little eulogy?

Even the police were stifling sobs at this cruel twist of fate:
Detective Chief Inspector Richard Carr, who is leading the inquiry for Merseyside police, said officers were still trying to piece together exactly what happened in the run up to the tragedy.
What exactly was this tragedy then?
'I would like to appeal to anyone with any information about the incident or events leading up to it to come forward,' he said.

'This incident has resulted in a young man's life being needlessly cut short.'
Or needfully, you might say….

Yeah, But No, But Yeah….

...we’d rather persecute the slightly dim, right?
A mother killed her four-year-old son as a religious sacrifice just days after being freed from a hospital and allowed to look after him.
She smothered him to death with a pillow four days after being released from a mental hospital and hours after warning her family that she wanted to kill them all.

She then stabbed her own mother five times as she tried to resuscitate the boy, an inquest heard today.
Another sterling success from the mental health authorities, I see…
Ryan Manser was on the child protection register and has been supervised by social workers since he was born.

A Serious Case Review carried out after Ryan was killed in April 2007 made 20 recommendations and the boy’s family have complained that more could have been done to protect him.
They are almost certainly right.

And for once, the authorities don’t share all the blame…
Mother-of-four Mrs Richards, aged 56, sobbed as she told the inquest Emma had threatened to kill all the family but she had not taken it seriously.
I expect you’ve changed your mind now, though?
'I don’t know why it happened. She had slept like that with Ryan quite a few times and nothing untoward had happened. I didn’t think she was a risk to Ryan. I didn’t think she would hurt him.'
I suppose one shouldn’t be too hard on her, after all, they were mental health professionals and she was family, but, good lord…
'I think they let her out too early. I told the social workers she should not be out so early. She still came out with lots of stupid things and I could tell she was not right. You could tell it from her eyes.

'It was hard because it was left to me whether to let her see Ryan or not. I could not turn her away because she was his mum.

'She had threatened to harm him, but she threatened to kill all of us. It was something she would say.'
Well, no. It clearly wasn’t ‘just something she would say’, was it?

And turning her away, even though she was ‘his mum’, was exactly what you should have done…

And can anyone tell me how it is that poor Kerry Robertson gets chased all the way across the Irish Sea because she could probably only double David Lammy’s score at ‘Mastermind’ at the most, yet right under the very noses of the SS, the winner of the Most Naive Person in Honiton competition for the last 15 years running is letting her drug addicted just-out-of-the-booby-hatch daughter play house with her child within reach of a kitchen full of Sabatier’s finest?

The inquest continues, so there’s still time for our perennial favourite, ‘Lessons must be learned’, to make an appearance…

Update: And just this morning, here it is:
In a narrative verdict, coroner Darren Salter said lessons could be learned and procedures should be reviewed.

Where Do You Think The Money Comes From, Dummies?

The government has "significantly underestimated" the cost of delivering free social care, council chiefs say.
The government's going to pay for this then? I rather thought we were.

So it isn't 'free', is it?
...ministers want to see English councils provide it free to an estimated 280,000 people, mostly the elderly although some have disabilities, to mirror the package available in Scotland.

They estimate that people who fall into the most critical bracket need six and a half hours of care, but the evidence provided by the survey suggests it is double that.

It means councils would have to find more than £500m a year - on top of the £420m provided by government - to fund the scheme if it comes into place in the autumn as forecast.
So, once again, government estimations are proved to be about as reliable as those given by dodgy plumbers and mechanics, albeit without the teeth-sucking and sorrowful headshaking.

And faced with this potential shortfall, not one council has said "I know! We can scrap our bin inspectors/anti-smoking team/community relations outreach surveyors/internal statistics assessment group to pay for this...!"

What a shocker...

Friday, 29 January 2010

And They Thought This Fruitcake Shouldn’t Be Allowed This Defence…

When asked about his views on abortion, Roeder, 51, said he believes it amounts to murder.

‘From conception forward it is murder… It is not a man's job to take life. It is our heavenly father's. He is our creator,’ Roeder, from Kansas City, Missouri, told the court in Wichita, Kansas.
That ‘thwack’ sound you just heard was his defence team’s mass /facepalming…

Backgrounds Can Only Be Examined In Some Communities…

A Tory MP was plunged into a race row after he accused some ethnic communities of importing 'barbaric and medieval' views about women into Britain.

David Davies, a member of the Home Affairs select committee, was accused of a 'crass misunderstanding' of the issues after his comments over a rape by 14-year-old Asian Balal Khan.
Oh, dear. What, exactly, did he say then?
The MP for Monmouth told BBC Radio 5 Live: 'What is it about this young man's upbringing... his community or his parental upbringing, that led him to think that women are second-class people whose rights can be trampled over like this?
Well, what’s so wrong with that?

I asked much the same question myself and frankly, the longer it goes unanswered, the more suspicious it is that the usual suspects were so keen to examine the Edlington creatures’ backgrounds (to excuse them, of course!) and yet so desperate to avoid a call to dig into this creature’s background…

However, it seems that screaming ‘racist!’ is the preferred method of deflection.

And of course, every intellectually-challenged MP in the UK promptly opened their mouths to insert both feet and curry a bit of political favour:
Let's focus on what TC was really saying in his question. Which, put crudely, was that the boy raped because he comes from a community - the Muslim community - which doesn't respect women's rights. That was what he was saying, wasn't it?

But thanks for playing, Kerry!

Something For Judge Morris Cooper To Bear In Mind…

As Al Jahom pointed out, this sets a precedent:
A security firm worker who allowed a dog to die of heatstroke in a van has been jailed for three months, the RSPCA said tonight.
A mistake? Well, yes.

But one which shouldn’t have been made:
Commenting on the outcome of the court case, Ms Lyons said: 'Although I am sure Mr Ellerton never intended his dogs to suffer in this way, I found this whole situation to be wholly unacceptable.

'Mr Ellerton is a professional dog-handler and should not under any circumstances have left the dogs in the van. '
People wondering what this has to do with Judge Morris Cooper will have forgotten this case last year…
A pre-trial review has been set for December 17, which PC Johnson was told he does not have to attend. The trial is set for February 22 to 25 next year at Nottingham Magistrates, in front of district judge Morris Cooper.
A date for the diary, I think…

Post Of The Month

And a truly inspired one it is from NNW...

Quote Of The Month

From Laban, on the case of the Somali shot in the act of attacking Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard:
The Telegraph say the intruder was a Somali and he had an axe. The BBC say he was 'a man' and had a hammer (whether he intended to bring about love between the brothers and the sisters all over this land - or any other land - is unclear).

Thursday, 28 January 2010

What The Hell Is Wrong With Leicestershire..?

Is it twinned with Bedlam, or something?
A terrified woman made two 999 calls before she was battered to death, but police were too busy to respond, a damning report said yesterday.
And it gets better:
Joanne Butler, who had mental problems, was attacked by her neighbour Sean Wilson and his 13-year-old son, who described her as the 'psycho woman' in the flat above.

They used a sock filled with rocks to beat her about the head before butchering her with an axe.
Savour the irony there for a second…
The police force involved, Leicestershire, was the same one criticised last year after its officers missed dozens of opportunities to tackle yobs who drove Fiona Pilkington to kill herself and her teenage daughter.
Is the place under some kind of curse? Is this town built on an ancient burial site, or something?

Just when you think things couldn’t get any worse for the police, this was disclosed:
Yesterday's report also revealed that Wilson also called 999 within minutes of his victim.
Wilson, a labourer, was told to call back later if he was still having problems with the woman.
Well, great advice, chaps, but no need to rush or anything, he already took care of it…

Now, it does seem that the police do spend an awful amount of time sorting out the problems of the underclass, as any glance at the police blogs will tell you.
But there’s irritating, and there’s downright dangerous, and it shouldn’t take Sherlock Holmes to tell you which category this fell into:
Police had dealt with Miss Butler 20 times in the ten months before she died. Wilson, now 41, was also known to them as a violent alcoholic who once held a hacksaw to his exwife's throat.
So you’d expect them to respond with something resembling alacrity, wouldn’t you, lack of resources or not?

After all, in other forces, there’s obviously priority for officers to attend a blogger’s house at the request of people who make frivolous complaints and insist that the blogger deletes his blog…

Oh, and in case you were wondering about that mysterious 13 year old:
. Wilson was jailed for life in November 2006 for the killing in January that year.
His son Ashlea, who can be named after an Appeal Court ruling, was ordered to be detained for at least nine years.
Talk about keeping it in the family…
Miss Butler's parents, Garry, 64, and Pauline, 62, of Markfield, Leicestershire, said they were planning to take legal action over the authorities' handling of the case.
Good luck with that.

Now Even The Judges Are Beginning To Voice Concerns…

Following the recent trial where Judge Meredith was exposed to some of NuLabour’s finest generation, it seems his patience is just about to snap:
A teenager who apparently branded a disabled girl found dead in a burnt-out car as 'Frankenstein' walked free from court today after the main prosecution witness collapsed during her testimony.

Indeed, like the witness, incredible as that may sound:
… as Mrs Smith was giving evidence, she appeared to collapse in a fit and paramedics had to be called.

District Judge David Meredith said he was unhappy about the decision by the Crown Prosecution Service to abort the trial.
Now, I’d say that if a witness is so traumatised that she collapses while giving evidence in a safe public courtroom, there’s a good chance that justice wouldn’t be done unless the trial was adjourned, but I obviously never went to law school:
Prosecutor Mark Williams said it was in the 'public interest' to end the trial and not adjourn it until another date.
Really..? Did he ask any of the public?
Calling the trial off, the judge said: 'I am backed into a corner from which I have no escape.

'There are particular aspects of this case that have caused me grave concern by the alleged response to Fiona Pilkington and her daughter's death.

'The alleged comment that Fiona Pilkington deserved what she got is a matter I would view as significant. I view the (CPS) decision not to proceed as a little hasty.

'I should also add that the suggestion that a person (Mrs Smith) who is involved in neighbourhood watch is somehow an irritant to society is something I view as reprehensible.'
Strong words.
James Bide-Thomas, defending, was congratulated outside court by the boy's father.

The barrister told the court: 'I don't want the suggestion to be that (my client) was bang to rights and as a result of the poor misfortune of Mrs Smith while giving evidence has escaped scot-free.'
What you want, and what will happen, are two quite different things, I think you’ll find…

The Tories – Can’t Even Get A Clock To Work…

…as noted here by the ex-mayor:
Lib Dem leader Graham Longley, who was mayor at the millennium, said: “It’s outrageous.

“That’s part of our history, but it has to be pulled down because we can’t get it to work.

“As the millennium mayor, I’m sad and disappointed.

“A little girl designed the clock face in a competition which was held at the time. I wonder how she might feel?”
Well, I guess she might feel a bit aggrieved that the brains trust that built the thing didn’t think to make it waterproof, given that it was going to stand out in the elements.

The Tory cabinet member for tourism knows exactly who was to blame, however.

That little girl:
Mr John Lamb said: “We would expect Graham Longley to criticise the decision.

“It is a shame. No one would like to see the clock removed, but it doesn’t operate in the weather and it costs a fortune to keep it going.

The design of the clock doesn’t allow it to be waterproof.”
Seems a bit harsh to blame poor little Nicola Whale. After all, she didn’t approve the money, or build it. That was down to Southend council and Hawkins Clocks.

Did no-one stop to think that it ought to be waterproof? And that if the design really did mean that it couldn’t be made waterproof, then maybe they’d chosen the wrong design?

Still, who cares? The taxpayer’s paying, right?

Remember that, next time one of Cameroon's little gang is telling everyone how much better life would be under a Conservative council.

Update: It appears, from the comments, that at the time of the clock's commissioning, it was a LibDem/Lab coalition that ran the council, and therefore commissioned the clock. So, they are all utter incompetents!

John Cunningham Is A Disgusting Waste Of Oxygen…

…but I’m not sure his defence solicitor is all that much better:
In mitigation, defence counsel Jeffrey Samuels said: 'The punch itself was not capable of causing death and neither did it. It was the impact on the ground which caused death.

'That said we recognise that the harm caused is high at a time when the public is concerned about incidents of this nature in town centres at night.

'Whether that punch would have fell him (sic) if he was sober is a different matter. He and his party (sic) has taken in copious amounts of alcohol.'
Say what?

Now, you can take this one of two ways, depending on whether you think the ‘Fail’ has garbled his words. Either it was the usual ‘the drink did it, he’s very nice when sober’ excuse, or he’s saying that the victim wouldn’t have fallen over unless he too was drunk…

Still, at least justice was done. Wasn’t it?
Passing sentence Judge Elgan Edwards told Cunningham: 'You were looking for trouble and then landed a blow on the unfortunate Neil MacDonald. Far from feeling guilty for what you had done you went off laughing.

'In my judgement you are dangerous and there is a significant risk to members of the public of serious harm being caused by you.'
Sounds impressive.

But the reality is far from impressive:
He is expected to serve just half his sentence as he has already spent five months on remand and could be free as early as February 2012.

Still, maybe the judges hands were tied, maybe he’s a first offender?
Cunningham had convictions for six other violent offences from street robberies as a youth, to affray, possession of a firearm and making threats to kill in 2000 for which he got seven years.

In 2008 he was given 17months in jail after he was convicted of assaulting his ex-girlfriend by dragging her and punching her to the floor.

So, how does the government plan to keep us safe?
Following his release from jail, Cunningham will be monitored until 2019.
Well, that should do it…

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

The NuLabour Generation

Billy-Joe Kenney, 19, and two brothers aged 16 and 17 are accused of harassing disabled grandmother Carol Sainsbury, 48.

They openly giggled and laughed as the court heard how they subjected Miss Sainsbury and partner Dean Porter, 45, to six months of 'unbearable' torment.

The youths even answered back when District Judge David Meredith reprimanded them at Hinkley Magistrates Court, Leicestershire.

He asked them: 'Which bit do you find funny,' to which the 17-year-old replied, 'Everything really'.
Undaunted, the judge persevered, unable to quite believe his eyes at what was standing in his dock:
Judge Meredith then said: 'I have listened to it and I don't find it funny,' to which the lad replied: 'She's not talking about you though, is she?'
You see, the judge seems to believe that what he has in the dock is a normal human being, someone who has possibly done wrong, but who will, no matter how poor his demeanour outside court, quake when confronted with authority.

But this isn’t just any yob; this is a NuLabour yob…

He’s grown up totally unaffected by any kind of authority, either at home or at school. If he has had other run-ins with the law, they will have been dismissed or amounted to little more than a caution or a fine (which the State will pay from their own, or their parent’s, unemployment benefits). Or, of course, will be paid for from the proceeds of petty crime.

In fact, far from curbing their behaviour, the authorities will actually protect them from the decent families that have had too much of this kind of behaviour:
The harassment of Miss Sainsbury and Mr Porter allegedly began when Kenney moved into the area last June.

Mark Williams, prosecuting, said the bullying got steadily worse until it happened daily and was 'unbearable and antagonising'.

Miss Sainsbury sobbed as she told the court how she and Mr Porter were bullied up to eight hours every day between June and December last year.

She said the yobs played loud thumping music until the early hours of the morning despite repeated requests for it to be turned down.

They then 'screamed and shouted' from inside their house, which was next door, until 3am on some nights.

On other occasions Kenney and the two youths hung out of windows and shouted obscenities at the couple.

The court was also told that up to ten youths gathered outside the couple's house and swore at them 'almost every day'.
And, of course, when the distress got too much to bear, the inevitable happened:
However, it was Mr Porter who ended up getting arrested when he confronted them on October 3 when his son Royston and two-year-old grandson came to visit.

He was driven to a station, where he received a caution for threatening behaviour.
So, we can see that the police have helped to reinforce these thugs’ opinion of themselves as untouchable.
Carol's neighbour, Linda Pegg, told the court residents were powerless to stop the two brothers making their lives a misery, and claimed the police didn't help 'because they were too busy'.
No, not too busy to arrest the victim, were they?
She said: 'The two brothers had been fine up until six months ago when problems started.

'There were loads of children in the street when the Fiona Pilkington case was on going. Other neighbours complained about then loitering in the street.

'They gather on the street every weekend with others who are making a racket all night. The language they use to people is appalling.

'Carol Sainsbury would come out when the youths were shouting and ask them to stop. Her partner would ask as well.

'The police didn't do anything because they were too busy. What's the point in calling them because they never came.'
Well, they came soon enough when the complainant was the yob, didn’t they?

I suppose arresting an essentially law abiding man who they knew wasn’t likely to spit, swear and be an obnoxious pain in the backside proved too tempting…

Naturally enough, the defence is in full on blame-the-victim mode:
Cross-examining Miss Sainsbury, John Hallissey, defending, said: 'I suggest that the complaints you describe are an exaggeration.

'Is it possible that your description of the music is another exaggeration. Not only have you exaggerated you don't have any idea who has played it.

'Another of your complaints is that a group of youths were playing with their bikes, that's about the size of it.

'Do you think that you might be a little over sensitive to this?'
I tell you what, Hallissey.

Why don’t you move in to this estate, stay a few months, and then you’ll know, won’t you? In fact, take Judge Meredith with you. It’d be nice for him to see a bit of the world…

" ain't just a question of misunderstood, deep down inside him, he's no good! ..."

OK, so, last week, we had the Edlington circus, and the usual suspects fell all over themselves to excuse the junior monsters by calling upon their awful home life; you can guess the kind of thing, mother a she wolf, father a minotaur, well, gosh, it's no wonder the kids were screwed up! They never had a chance, after all...

So, what about this kid's home background?
A boy of 13 who overpowered a woman then raped her in front of his two friends will spend just three years locked away for his crimes.

Balal Khan - thought to be one of the youngest convicted rapists in Britain - targeted the 20-year-old as she walked home.

He subjected her to a severe beating then screamed at her 'Do what I say or I'll kill you', before putting her through the ordeal of a terrifying sex attack.

Then he stole her bag and phone and even took a call from his victim's boyfriend to whom he bragged about what he had done.
And any mention of his home life?

Zip. Nada. Nothing. In fact, for all the mention they get, this kid might have no parents...

Why the discrepancy?

The NuLabour Alternative To Policing

A judge has slammed the 'ethos of sexual banter and impropriety' among community support officers at a London police station.
Never present in any real police station, I suppose?

Mind you, when you look at what can get a job as PCSO nowadays…
John Parker, who was barely 18 at the time, was accused of grabbing a woman's bottom while out on patrol and telling her she had a 'nice a***'.

He allegedly asked the woman to come back to the prayer room at Belgravia Police Station 'for a shag', Southwark Crown Court heard.

Parker admitted to the jury that the 29-year-old kneed him in the groin after he accidentally touched her bottom in 'a bit of banter'.
So, too young to buy a bottle of gin unchallenged by a cashier in Tesco, but perfectly ok to put on a uniform and stop people in the street?

Even the judge shied a bit at that:
But Judge Michael Gledhill expressed his shock at the 'torrid atmosphere' among young officers.

He said: 'In the absence of the jury during the course of this trial I have expressed fairly strong views about the lack of professionalism that persisted within the team of PCSOs at Belgravia Police Station at the end of 2008 and 2009.

'The officer in charge of the case, who was not in any way responsible for the PCSOs at the time and probably is not today, only became aware of the ethos of sexual banter and impropriety when he was investigating this case.

'My assessment of what happened in the days that the jury have been dealing with it, is that a 19-year-old, immature young man, having been placed into the uniform of a community support officer, was thrown into the torrid atmosphere of other PCSOs working within the team at that time.'
Which, I think, is judge-speak for ‘What the hell was the government thinking..?!?’
Judge Gledhill said Parker was 'unable to distinguish between the boundaries of professional behaviour and unprofessional behaviour, of sexually appropriate and sexually inappropriate behaviour.

'I was shocked at what I had heard and the lack of supervision of any of those officers.

'They trained at Hendon, no doubt appropriately. They then seem to be thrown onto the streets without any proper supervision. '
Yup, got it in one, your honour. All to save the cost of employing more real police.

Not that some of them are any better, mind you…
During the three-day trial the judge had warned the Crown Prosecution Service to consider dropping the case against Parker.

He added: 'The defendant himself has been suspended for a year and awaits disciplinary proceedings that were rightly adjourned until the end of this trial.

'As far as the disciplinary proceedings are concerned, I do not believe that it would be appropriate for me to say anything now that the defendant has been acquitted of each of these charges.'
Because, yes, he was acquitted.

NuLabour, working for you…

Cllr. Terry Kelly’s Rule Of Holes…

…when you’re in one, dig faster! Dig for victory defeat!

How does someone that dim remember to breathe in and out at regular intervals?

And how dim must the voters be that put a cross against his name!

Update: A Kelly fan comments that "I read your obscenely abusive comments on HP so thought I would pay you back in kind."

For the benefit of any readers who may be wondering if I’ve become a swearblogger, and have suggested at ‘Harry’s Place’ that Cllr Terry Kelly is surely the product of a ****** ****** crossed with a spavined ****** and should be taken out into the streets of Renfrewshire and ****** with a rusty spoon until his ***** glow, I haven’t. Though I did think about it briefly.

In fact, a quick glance at the page in question will show people that ‘anon’ here is clearly an even dimmer bulb than the aforementioned councillor if he thinks that amounts to ‘obscenely abusive’ comment.

The poor delicate little flower…

It’s The People That Are Out Of Step!

The ‘Indy’ editorial board struggles to make sense of the disastrous annual British Social Attitudes study, published yesterday (they should have read David Hadley’s post).

First, the ‘good’ news:
In 1983, when the first British Social Attitudes survey was conducted, 62 per cent of those questioned regarded homosexuality as "wrong".

Today, the proportion of the public who admit to disapproving has declined to 33 per cent.

There has been a marked liberalisation of attitudes towards marriage too. Today, 14 per cent of people strongly believe that couples who have children ought to get married. In 1989, that view was held by 25 per cent of the public.
Hurrah! We are all getting more tolerant, right? Truly, the moon is in the seventh house, and Jupiter will align with Mars any day now...

Now, the bad news (for ‘Indy’ readers, that is):
Attitudes on drugs have followed a less linear path. In 1993, 67 per cent thought cannabis ought to be illegal. In 2001, that had fallen to 46 per cent. But it has since climbed to 58 per cent today. And only 4 per cent presently believe the drug should be legalised.
Hmmm, how come?
Another interesting finding of the survey is that more people are willing to describe themselves as "Conservative".

What could explain this? It can’t possibly be because people are getting less tolerant, we’ve just seen that they are becoming more tolerant, haven’t we?
So, something must have changed.

I know, it must be the Conservatives!
This is perhaps a reflection of the achievement of David Cameron in changing public perceptions of his party, which, before his leadership, tended to be associated with social intolerance.
I like the ‘perhaps’, that covers a multitude of sins…

So, how do attitudes change?
It is important to understand how attitudes change. The authors of this survey suggest that people in their 60s appear to have become more tolerant about cohabitation because of their personal experience of becoming a grandparent to a child born outside of marriage. Their attitudes are shaped by what they see and experience in their daily lives.
Hmm, we get more tolerant when we see that changes are not so bad, and do not affect us as we expected them to.

So, surely it follows that, if we see changes as a result of the proliferation of drugs that we don’t like, then it’s right to get less tolerant of them. Yes?

Ah, no. Thought not…

The ‘Indy’ has a suggestion for how we could accelerate the progressive agenda, though:
In the end, confident and successful politicians lead, rather than simply follow, public opinion. They are not bound by prevailing social attitudes when devising policies, but help to shape them.
It’s not the politicians who are out of step, it’s the people
The social reforms of the Home Secretary, Roy Jenkins, in the 1960s were not popular at the time, but they helped change attitudes towards divorce and abortion over the decades. It has been a similar tale with New Labour's record on promoting homosexual rights, from the age of consent to civil partnerships. This programme has coincided with a general increase in tolerance towards gay people.
So forget all that guff about tolerating what we no longer see as a threat (and ignore the fact that certain sectors of society are getting less tolerant that the mainstream), it’s the politicians wot dun it after all!
What this survey helps to show is that a nation's social attitudes are a journey, not a destination. Political leaders need to be prepared to chart a course, rather than merely be carried by the tide.
You forget who votes in those politicians, don’t you?

If they advance too progressive a platform at election time, then they won't get the necessary votes to form that parliament. Well, unless they are just a pack of lying bas...

Oh. Right.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Education For The YouTube Generation…

Hundreds of schools and 30 local authorities are in talks to buy a piece of software that filters out comments on videos and related films.

The software costs between £2,500 and £10,000 a year depending on the number of computers being used.
This is so teachers (should that be ‘teachers’, I wonder?) can use that peer-reviewed, quality-assured resource that is YouTube…
Up to now most schools have blocked access to the video-sharing website because of concerns about exposing pupils to violent or sexual content.

But teachers say that such a ban restricts their teaching and prevents them from accessing educational material on the website.
I suspect ‘restricts their teaching’ is code for ‘doesn’t allow them the option to sod off to the break room and have a cup of tea’…
Teachers say that they would use YouTube to access videos of scientific experiments, scenes from Shakespeare’s plays and footage of other cultures or foreign landscapes, according to The Times.
Sure they would. Suuuure they would…

I Wonder What The Answer To This Problem Is..?

A Somali gang is running a ruthless drugs ring in Southend and Westcliff, it has been claimed.

The thugs are believed to be moving into rented properties in Westcliff to sell Class A drugs and then move on after a few months.
Sounds like a job for the police, then.
The fears have been raised by councillors and residents groups after a thief who appeared in court said he had been forced into crime because of threats from a gang of Somalis.
Hmmm, but habitual criminals have all kinds of excuses for their behaviour, don’t they?

Case in point:
Martin Terry, Independent councillor for Westborough, highlighted the case last year of a prostitute who had to be given a change of identity after she was threatened by the dealers.
So what’s the answer? Police crackdown? Deportation?

Nope. Would you believe, more regulation?
He is now calling for all private landlords to be registered.

This is because dealers often have the money to pay a deposit on a house, live in it for three months, and then move on.
How, exactly, is this proposed register supposed to stop this then?

Yasmin And The Sack Question

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown joins the burka ban controversy:
It is gratifying that so many white British liberals have come out to defend shrouded Muslim women. Their generosity of spirit and messianic belief in liberty makes them recoil from a state ban on the burka.
Ooooh, is that sarcasm I detect, Yazza?
Here, we are reassured, such a ban would be impossible. OK, the bonkers UKIP lot and rabid BNP bang on about it; noisy nuisances, easily ignored. Liberals say it just isn't British to prohibit and limit the personal choices of freeborn citizens.
Well, it never used to be. But that hasn’t been true for some time now, as even Yasmin can’t have failed to notice.
Really? The British never accept any curtailment of individual preferences? So how has it come to pass that in this green and free land, we have more state surveillance and imposed restrictions and regulations than any other EU country ?
Beats me, Yasmin. Because enough of us voted in a supine bunch of troughing scum eager to suck up to every pressure group and EU policy body going, and not enough of us turned up to outvote them?
Why, we can't even take snaps in the streets without a hand of authority falling on the shoulder.
Well, no, actually, that’s not correct as a bunch of people gathered in Trafalgar Square this weekend to demonstrate, albeit without any media attention. And frankly, a professional journalist with integrity should know better than to perpetuate…

Oh, right. You don’t meet those criteria, do you?
Could it be that authoritarianism is not resisted because the British are naturally obedient, following social rules and legal sanctions? From queuing, to drink-drive laws, most of us do what is expected. We surrender personal autonomy, sometimes for reasons that are clearly for the greater good – the anti-smoking laws – and sometimes because our rulers, like all rulers, wish to grab more power.
Actually, plenty of us disagree with those laws and hold those rallies to prove it.

But they are as invisible to you (when they demonstrate about something that doesn’t conform to your views) as those burka-clad women, aren’t they?
Naturists would love, I'm sure, to wander down Oxford Street, just window-shopping of course. They can't, because for most people that would be too much out there. Women in the full burka are the other side of that same coin. They give too little out there and, using passive violence, disconnect from the humanity around them.
Wearing a sack is ‘violent’, now?
You people who support the "freedom" to wear the burka, do you think anorexics and drug addicts have the right to choose what they do?
Yes, frankly.

Not because I wish them to die (I’ve nothing against anorexics) but because the consequences of stopping them are worse than what we have now.
This covering makes women invisible, invalidates their participatory rights and confirms them as evil temptresses. Does it stop men from raping them? Does it mean they have more respect in the home and enclaves? Like hell it does. I feel the same fury when I see Orthodox Jewish women in wigs, with their many children, living tightly proscribed lives.
I couldn’t care less what anyone wears. It’s none of my business.
On Thursday a woman in the cloak of darkness got off the Tube train and stepped on some toes as she rushed. The looks that followed, pure hatred, and then the mutters, some from other Asians: "Stupid women, giving us all a bad name. They should send them back."
Oh, wow…

Can anyone imagine how loud the screams would be should any of those comments have issued from the white passengers?

Still, it’s nice to se she’s using public transport again, isn’t it?

But the main reason for Yazza to leap aboard the Banning Train is that, yes, you guessed it, she fears the inevitable backlash:
I felt for her and against her for living in darkness, and for her effect on the easily destabilised social environment and on the faith I hold dear.
Now, which is it, Yazza?

We can’t be timid little mice, afraid to put up a fight against authoritarianism andbarely-concealed savages just waiting for a change to riot in the streets and burn out the undesirables, can we?

Does Hemp Have No Feelings, Then?

…if you pluck it, does it not bleed (sap)?

This being Southend, I suspect the local druggies will be along to tear this notice down and smoke it…

Monday, 25 January 2010

This’ll Please Rod Liddle…

She was the forgotten heroine of the Crimean War, a black nurse from Jamaica who tended the wounds of injured and dying soldiers and whose reputation at the time rivalled that of Florence Nightingale.

But while Britain's collective memory of the "Lady the lamp" has endured for more than 150 years, Mary Seacole was only a historical footnote. Her real status was revealed only after her story was included in the national curriculum and taught to primary-school children to give them a better understanding of racial attitudes and the contributions made by ethnic minority women to British society.
So now the kiddiewinks have been suitably re-educated, what’s next?
In 2005 – the same year that she was voted the greatest black Briton – a campaign was launched to ensure her place in history was secure by erecting a permanent memorial to her in the grounds of Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital in London, on the south bank of the Thames.

Now, five years down the line, the Mary Seacole Memorial Statue Appeal is still struggling for money. The fundraising total is £50,000, a long way short of the estimated £400,000 it will cost to complete the project.
Oh, dear.
Organisers have so far relied on small donations from individuals and schools, but are now looking at ways of raising much larger sums.
Luckily, they are going down the concert route rather than holding out their hands for taxpayer’s money.

But it does beg the question, just how much of an icon can she be, if people won’t stump up the money for this..?

Funniest bit of this story? The Greater Smirking Tit eagerly jumped on this as an example of 'Indy' journalists sending coded messages to welcome their new (possible) overlord.

Quite why even left-wing journalists would be so dim as to suppose pinning a 'Kick Me (Out of My Job)' sign on their own backs was a good idea in the event Liddle does get the job is a mystery...

Please, Big Nanny Government...

...raise my kids for me:
Donna Gayle, of New Cross, said: “One of my sons is 16 and I am concerned with him always going to the chicken and chip shop.”

The mother-of-five added: “I would like the zones to work but I don’t know if they would. I’d prefer healthy places to open up near schools instead of takeway shops.”
Oh, where to start...

Look, sweetie, he's 16. If he can't find junk food near his school, he'll still find it a mere bus ride away. And this policy will only affect new shops, not the ones already there anyway.

Have you considered not giving him the money to buy the food you consider unhealthy? No, of course not. Far better to whine that someone else ought to do something about it.

And so step forward, 'someone else':
Green Party councillor Ute Michel said: “Our children’s health actually gets far worse, not better, during their school careers.

“During that time they are in the care of the council and schools, so we cannot pretend it is not our problem."
Your kind never, ever pretend that something isn't your problem. Oh, you never quite manage to fix it, but you do manage to screw up everyone else's choices while you flounder about, banning this and restricting that, and then moving on to the next target...
The Greens say the restricted zones should be combined with a drive to help existing takeaways reduce the salt, fat and sugar content of their food.

Cllr Michel added: “Despite progress in making school meals healthier and teaching about healthy diets, takeaways are fuelling junk food culture just outside the school gate and undoing much of that good work.”
Isn't that nice? They are going to 'help' local takeaways reduce the amount of salt, fat and sugar in their meals.

Whether they want to, or not...

Censorship Is The New Black!

Sherri Clarke, from Canvey, lost two babies to stillbirth. A tragedy, no doubt. To compound her woes, she has a friend so lacking in tact that she pointed Sherri to a website on Facebook full of dead baby jokes.

Shaking their heads at what some people find amusing, the two women vowed never to visit such a site again and...

Oh, of course they didn't! They immediately wrote to Facebook to urge that it be taken down:
Sherri Clarke, 30, who suffered two traumatic stillbirths, is campaigning to get the site “dead baby jokes” removed from the social networking website, but Facebook bosses flatly refuse to act.
Note the wording: 'flatly refuse to act', as if the mere whisper of 'offense' should be taken as a sign for them to do something.
Sophy Silver, spokesman for the social networking site, said: “While some kinds of comments and content may be upsetting, such as criticism of a certain culture, country, religion, lifestyle, or political ideology, it is not alone a reason to remove the discussion.

“The unfortunate reality is ignorance still exists, both on and off Facebook, and we believe such ignorance won’t be defeated simply by covering up the fact it exists, but rather by confronting it head on.

We have reviewed the group in question. Unfortunately, it does not violate our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, so it will remain on the site.”
Well, three cheers for Facebook!

But of course, it doesn't end there. Not in 2010, where the merest suggestion that your right never to ever see something that troubles you (even if you have to go looking for it) isn't sacrosanct is enough to enrage the mob...
Sherri is now urging people to join a Facebook campaign site to get the offending page removed. This site has more than 14,000 supporters.

She added: “So many people are outraged about this and a campaign has started to get it taken down.

“I am asking people to join it so we can get this page banned.”
We are doomed as a country, if people so lacking in intelligence are allowed to breed. And vote.

Still, at least we can reply on our parliamentarians to uphold the rights of people not to...

Castle Point MP Bob Spink pledged to raise the issue in the Commons.

He said: “I totally agree and sympathise with Sherri.

“It’s not just offensive and bad taste, it’s extremely disruptive.

I will raise this matter in Parliament by putting down a motion calling for Facebook to clean up its act.”
'Disruptive'..? What, exactly, is it disrupting? And how?

Do you need a new dictionary, Bob? Because that word you're using, I don't think it means what you think it means.

And eager not to be left behind as the Outrage Express pulls out of the station with all those lovely potential votes on board...
Basildon and East Thurrock MP Angela Smith said: “I find it difficult to understand how anyone can be amused by jokes about dead babies. It sickens me.

It is appalling Facebook can’t see it is so offensive and distressing to people.”
Did you not read their statement, you dozy mare? They do see that it's offensive, they just politely point out that that's not a reason to remove it.

It looks like the intelligence of some of this country's voters is amply matcherd by the intelligence of some of the people they send to Parliament, isn't it?

And let's hope these two don't think to get the police involved, as there's always some uniformed cretin only too happy to get a quick tick in the box on behalf of a complainant, no matter how spurious the complaint...

Sad News About The Split…

What? No, not the Brad and Angelina split, which may not even be true.

This one:
Swans usually mate for life but Sarindi arrived in Britain this winter with a new female known as Sarind.

Staff at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust in Slimbridge, Gloucestershire, feared the worst and assumed his former partner had died.

But Saruni then arrived at the reserve with a new male called Surune.

It is only the second time in 40 years that a separation has been recorded among the population of 8,000 swans who winter at Slimbridge.
Cameron will be quick to blame ‘broken Britain’, no doubt…

Even An Open And Shut Case...

...doesn't attract a proper sentence:
...after an appeal on national television, Mackay was shopped to police by a colleague at delivery firm Hi Speed.

He was arrested but denied attacking the girl, instead claiming she had approached him in the lane.

But when he was shown the CCTV footage of the attack he refused to answer any more questions and eventually pleaded guilty to kidnap and kidnap with intent to commit a sexual offence.
And for this, he gets...

Go on, guess...
Sentencing Mackay to five years in prison, with a further two years to be spent on licence, Judge Ruth Downing said the abduction was both “chilling and frightening”.
Wow! That'll show him...
Defence lawyers argued Mackay only attacked the girl because he was suffering a breakdown after the death of his son and sister, and the break-up of his 26-year marriage.

Mackay’s current partner was in court today and he exchanged smiles with her across the courtroom.
Well, the schoolgirls of England can sleep safe in their beds for another five years, I suppose. Or will it be less?

Sunday, 24 January 2010

When Will We Three Meet Again..?

...round the back of the stables at 10:30 ok for you two?
At least ten horse-owners in Sussex have reported finding plaits in their horses’ manes over the last two months.

Police have received reports from places as far apart as Westergate in Chichester, Rother and East Grinstead - reflecting similar reports across the country.
And here's where it gets...well, read on:
Officers in Dorset have been contacted by a warlock, or male witch, who claimed the plaits are used in rituals by followers of “knot magick”, also known as “cord magick”.

But Kevin Carlyon, the Hastings-based self-proclaimed High Priest of British White Witches, told The Argus some plaits or knots could be evidence of devil-worship or black magic.
Fantastic! The police can indulge in a real witch hunt for once!

Let's hope they let the SS know too, so they can join in the fun...
PC Peter Child said the possibility of witchcraft has not previously been considered as part of the Sussex Police investigation.
Well, gosh...

Someone Remind These Judges What Country They Are In...

...and which public it is they are selected to protect:
An immigration tribunal decided that Laith Alani, a paranoid schizophrenic, should not be deported to Iraq because it would breach his human rights and put people there at risk.
Alternatively, if he must stay here, let's put him up at the home of the cretin who made the decision:
The Home Office wanted to deport him on his release to protect the British public, but he appealed to the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal (AIT) where a panel led by Lance Waumsley, a senior immigration judge, ruled that he could remain in the UK.
How about it, Lance?

How about you take the risk, instead of the poor bloody long-suffering public? Maybe he can help you with your crosswords...

Because We Mustn't Forget The Real Victims...

No sooner have the prison cozy youth offenders centre doors clanged shut on the two Edlington junior psychopaths when lo! a great clamouring was heard in the land, and many personal hobby horses were mounted and ridden furiously hither and thither:

Paul Vallely:
The public wants violent criminals to be locked up. When the criminal is a child who has perpetrated a coldly sadistic act, many people's first instinct is to want that evil banished from the public gaze for a very long time, if not indefinitely.

But when our heads overrule our hearts we want something more. We want children – like the two young brothers from Edlington, near Doncaster, who were sentenced yesterday to indefinite detention for shocking acts of gratuitous violence against two young children – to understand and acknowledge the impact of their actions. We want them to demonstrate genuine contrition. We want them to be changed.
David Wilson:
As for thinking of them as "evil" this might bring some form of temporary comfort to many. Labelling them in this way absolves us from having to acknowledge that no child is born "evil" but any child can quickly become socialised into doing awful things – and seeing such behaviour as "normal" – if the only thing that has characterised their upbringing has been abuse and neglect...So, given the relative youth of these two boys, an indeterminate sentence with at least five years is probably about right, and already we have been advised that – removed from the toxic world they were being brought up in – they are responding well. However, we should not expect any quick fixes, nor pander to any knee-jerk demands that their identity should be revealed, or that they should spend the rest of their lives locked up.
Loretta Loach:
Some might go so far as to say that it is inappropriate to subject these children to a hearing in a criminal court, let alone issue them with a custodial sentence. Again, like the Bulger case, this raises the question of whether children so young should receive punishment for such crimes when the evidence shows they are profoundly disturbed.
Barbara Ellen:
...the "feral underclass" become the human equivalent of toxic waste – people don't care how or where they dump it, so long as it's nowhere near them. However, if we accept this culture of learnt indifference, and that it helps create and sustain social deprivation ghettos, don't we also have to accept the consequences?

Indeed, while this case is appalling, it is even more sickening that those who live by "them and us" are the first to make a noise when the trouble starts. Enter Cameron. "Broken Britain"?

Tell the people who've had to live in these areas (some since the Tories were in power) something they don't know.
Who knew a disgusting crime could be the personal springboard for all kinds of social theories?

Well, Yes, I Suppose It's An Achievement... be so good at the ukulele while in primary school that you get invited to play at the Tower Ballroom in Blackpool, but how is it diverse?

How does it compare to the musical oeuvre of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber? Can you play 'Smack My Bitch Up' on it?
...according to a special report by Ofsted: "Music lessons and the curriculum do not provide sufficient challenge and, as a result, pupils do not make adequate progress. Achievement in music is inadequate."
What would be 'adequate', I wonder, to an Ofsted musical inspector?

Sunday Funnies...

Never mind 'Eureka!', you idiots..!

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Maybe I’m Losing My Sense Of Wonder…

…but I’m struggling to see the mystery here:
The death of leading international UFO expert, Paul Vigay, is a mystery, a coroner has admitted…
Hmmm, let’s see:

In debt? Check.
Personal life issues? Check.
Evidence of despair/depression noted by close friends? Check.
No evidence of foul play? Check.

So, apart from his career in strange lights in the sky, what on earth makes this a ‘mystery’ and not a run of the mill suicide?

Well, Andy, Maybe Some Of Them Shouldn’t Take The Opportunity To Behave That Way…

Andy Kershaw in the ‘Indy’ asks that we stop treating Haitians like savages:
There has now solidified a consensus among aid organisations that the relief they are bringing is itself a liability; that distributing what Haitians are dying for – literally – will bring on a second nightmare. So, supplies pile up at the airport because, apparently, the Haitians need to be fed and watered at gunpoint.
Do they?

Well, as an infamous picture earlier in the week showed, yes, they do:

But Andy is the typical armchair general, convinced he can do better.

He does have some good points to make:
The crisis, for more than a week now, has been not about the shortage of donated food, water, fuel and medicines but the distribution of those essentials that are piling up, obscenely, at Port-au-Prince airport. On Monday evening's Channel 4 News, Jon Snow, at that same airport, interviewed the head of Oxfam in Haiti. Snow remarked that he and his team had been to areas around the capital that had not had any NGO visits, never mind material aid. The Oxfam woman spoke authoritatively, but emptily, about how her teams were all over the city conducting "assessments".
Sounds a lot like any local council or major government department to me. All they are missing is the PowerPoint seminars…

Andy, from the comfort of his air-conditioned office in the UK, decries the aid agencies for thinking of their own safety:
The alarmingly unanimous priorities of the spokesmen and women of aid organisations and the military, have been with "issues" (for they love that word) of "security", "procedures", and "logistics" (what we used to call "transport" or "trucks"). These obsessions indicate not only a self-serving and self-important careerist culture among some, though not all, aid workers (although wide experience of the profession in Haiti and across Africa tells me it is more common than donors would like to think), but that the magnitude of the crisis has paralysed them into a gibbering strike force of box-tickers.
And what are you doing to help alleviate the crisis, Andy?

Oh. That’s right. Nothing. Just suggesting that they be left to sort it out themselves…
This self-imposed blockade by bureaucracy is a scandal but could be easily overcome. The NGOs and the military should recognise the hysteria over "security" for what it is and make use of Haiti's best resource and its most efficient distribution network: the Haitians themselves. Stop treating them as children. Or worse. Hand over to them immediately what they need at the airport. They will find the means to collect it.
And if they don’t?

If the strong rise to the top, and the weak go without, as happens in every single disaster known to man where discipline isn’t enforced, what then? Will Andy be screaming from the safety of his newspaper that the West should ‘do something!’ again?

Of course he will…

And I’m struck by the difference in this article (which basically claims that Haitians are pure, noble souls beset by evil circumstance) and all those articles on the film ‘The Road’, which was lauded by many for the way it ‘showed the true reality’ of global warming and how it’d turn us all into ravening cannibals scrambling for survival…

And oh, look what's in the news today...

The US - Leading The World In Innovation...

...such as the 'Prostidude', the only legal gigolo in Nevada:
Ladies, meet Markus - a burly former US marine who is ready to assume the unique position as America's first legal male prostitute.
I suppose it would have to be a Marine.

No point hiring someone from Covert Ops, trained to get in and out without anyone noticing...

Today's 'Errr...' Story From The MSM

An obese mother killed her much smaller boyfriend after she sat on him during an argument.

Mia Landingham, who weighs more than 21 stone, squashed Mikal Middlestone-Bey to death after they had a fight last August.

During her trial, Landingham apologised for killing eight-stone Mikal - the father of her three children.
Words fail me...

The kicker? She waddled free, because:
Her attorney said there was a long history of domestic abuse in the relationship and asked the judge for leniency.
I'm not one to make fun of domestic abuse, but assuming (because it fed the pleas for leniency) that it was male on female domestic abuse, I'm reminded of that climatic biplane assault in 'King Kong'...

Friday, 22 January 2010

Identity Politics

Diane Abbott is getting in her play for special treatment for her identity group:
Hard upon John Denham's speech last week (which seemed to imply that the battle against racism had been won and we now needed to turn to issues about class) come the Office for National Statistics figures which show that almost half of young black people are unemployed – despite overall unemployment falling slightly in the three months to November 2009.
Oh, so I guess we need to look harder at these groups to find out why they…

Oh, what am I saying. Of course not. What’s needed here is quotas, targets, and special treatment…
But even in the dying days of this administration there are things that the government could do, if it had the will.
Nice of you to admit this administration is dying, Diane. Many of us are looking forward to the opportunity to administer the coup-de-grace!
Successive schemes to promote youth employment and "apprentice" style training have shown that the private sector employers take fewer ethnic minority young people than white young people. The government should, long ago, have put pressure on private sector employers (in those geographic areas where it is relevant) to take a proportionate number of qualified ethnic minority trainees, interns etc. Setting targets would be the easiest way to do it.
They want guaranteed jobs? In the middle of a recession? Are you on the BNP’s payroll, Diane. Because it’s hard to see why not, given you are doing their jobs for them.

And I suppose they want guaranteed money as we…
Small business provides many jobs in the inner city. But the figures produced by the 57 varieties of business support schemes funded by the government show that ethnic minority business does not get its proportionate share of funding. (Although local authorities and public sector organisations are all too happy to "trouser" extra money on the basis of the number of ethnic minorities in their area.)
Last but not least, over half of Britain's ethnic minorities live in the Greater London area. By far the biggest regeneration and job creation activity in London is the Olympic park. Yet the number of local people employed on the Olympic park is disproportionately small.
‘British jobs for British workers’, eh..?

Heard that one before…
And within that, the number of ethnic minorities is even tinier relatively. Yet all the Olympic boroughs have large minority populations. If the government had the courage to insist on higher levels of local labour being employed on the Olympic park, that in itself would raise ethnic minority employment levels in London.
But hang on, you just claimed that the eeeeviill racist employers wouldn’t employ minorities, so won’t they just take more white local staff?

You can’t keep your story straight, can you? Just who do you represent, Diane, your constituents? Or some small sub-set of your constituents?

So, Let’s See If I Can Sum Up...

If you are a little bit slow, even though you have no other issues, can hold down a job, etc, have never been convicted (or even suspected) of a crime, social workers from Fife will pursue you to Ireland to remove your baby the moment you’ve given birth:
Stephen Moore, executive director of social work at Fife Council, said: ‘I can confirm that although the Robertson family are not presently within Fife, we are committed to working closely with professional colleagues elsewhere to ensure safety and welfare of the child and indeed the whole family as this is of paramount concern to us.

‘I would urge Kerry to use all the support that is being made available to her and her baby and to get appropriate help should she need it.’
In fact, if this allegation proves to be true, it seems you don’t even need to bother with the niceties of the legal system:
Mr McDougall claimed the care order had the wrong baby’s name on it and the wrong date of birth.
On the other hand, if you are a drunken, drug abusing wastrel, in a relationship with an equally-useless violent man and with several kids already in trouble with the law for offences including unprovoked violence, what will happen?
Nothing. You can continue your life (if it can be dignified with such a name) untroubled by police and social workers:
Mr Kelson revealed how the children's father repeatedly beat up, burnt and suffocated their mother.
On one occasion he told his partner he would 'take a knife to her and slice her face to bits'.

The father, who was a heavy drinker, would rain blows on the boys if they attempted to step in to protect their mother, the court heard.

The boys would imitate what they had seen at home, assaulting adults and children they came across in their daily life.

On one occasion the older brother was convicted of battery for attacking a mother and threatening to kill her eight-year-old son.

The younger brother was reprimanded for headbutting a 53-year-old male teacher who tried to stop him punching a female teacher.

Mr Kelson said the elder brother smoked ten cigarettes a day and regularly drank cider and vodka from the age of nine.

The boy also smoked marijuana which his father grew on his allotment.
In fact, your problems (which are all either entirely of your own making or within your purview to change), will actually be offered as an excuse for the actions of the wretched spawn that have issued from your loins:
The younger brother sobbed in Sheffield Crown Court as details of their violent and 'toxic' family life were given as mitigation for the appalling crimes.
Maybe Harriet Harman in onto something after all.

There doesn’t seem to be a great deal of ‘equality’ in the UK, does there?

Sometimes, The Magistrates Do Get It Right…

Council chiefs are fuming after a fly-tipper who dumped an old carpet in a street avoided a custodial sentence.
You wanted him sent to jail for littering…?!? And a single example of littering at that..?

Get a sense of proportion, you idiots!
Rodney Fisher, 28, could have been jailed for up to 12 months or been fined £50,000, after being caught fly-tipping in Clacton.

But he was given a conditional discharge and ordered to pay £250 costs at Colchester Magistrates’ Court.
Magistrates gone rogue?

Or perhaps they were a little irritated at the desire to hound a man for a comparatively small offence, when central government won’t let them lock up persistent thieves and people who assault others at will.

Maybe they'd seen a succession of people that day who had been charged with draconian offences for the most trivial of reasons, and had had enough?

Maybe they themselves had been in receipt of the snottily-worded council warning for leaving the bin lid an inch out of true, and just snapped?

Whatever it was, they weren't having any. The council, needless to say, threw an almighty tantrum:
Tendring Council took Fisher to court, and said it was “bitterly disappointed and let down” by the sentence.

Lynda McWilliams, councillor responsible for the environment, said: “This council takes fly-tipping very seriously and has recently appointed an officer in an attempt to investigate and prosecute those who are blighting our district by illegally dumping waste wherever they choose.

“I feel a conditional discharge is a very light sentence for this serious offence and is much less than we would have hoped for.”
What would you have hoped for, Lynda-with-a-y? Boiling in oil? The slaughter of his firstborn?
Acting head of environmental services, Chris Kitcher, said: “I feel bitterly disappointed over the sentence and feel we have been badly let down.”

It is the second time the council has brought a prosecution for fly-tipping.

On the previous occasion, a conditional discharge was also given, meaning the defendant isn’t punished unless they commit another offence.
And that didn’t teach you a lesson?
Mr Kitcher added: “We are putting considerable resources into investigating and prosecuting such cases, but we do not appear to be backed up by the courts in terms of sentencing.”
Well, perhaps you should reconsider how you deploy your resources in future…

Now, How Could He Have Known They Were Dodgy?

Counterfeit Ralph Lauren T-shirts, Juicy Couture tracksuits and Ugg boots were among the items police found in the back of Steven Fitzgerald’s lorry in March 2008.

Fitzgerald, 28, told jurors he bought the goods in good faith from a man known only as “Gypo John” and never pushed him about their origin or authenticity.
Truly, one of the mysteries of the ages, that one…

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Age Unconcern Update: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back...

I drew attention last year to the strange goings-on around Age Concern in Barking and Dagenham.

A commenter to that thread noted that Claire Ramm has had the charges against her dismissed, though it looks as though the trial of the other defendants is proceding, and will go ahead in September.

Any jubilation is likely to be shortlived, however, as the Barking and Dagenham Post reports (story not yet online, only in hard copy) that the council is giving Age Concern the heave-ho as the main provider of elderly services in the borough. Their contract will not be renewed in March.

Council leader Liam Smith is reported by the 'Post' as saying:
"The workers and carers do a fantastic job. But I have concerns about their management structure" he said."

"It has always felt like a one way street to me."

"We give to them and they don't deliver on their promises. Just look at the Active Age centres."
A bit ironic to hear a council member saying this about a supplier, when it's usually a long-suffering taxpayer saying it about the council..!

And for 'A', who seemed unduly distressed at my description of them as 'a fake charity', well, here's a clue...

But You Can Trust The Government With Your Data, Honest!

Magistrates have been left ‘terrified’ after their personal details were accidentally sent to a prison workshop.

Computer Gaming And Real Life Applications…

There’s a pretty good article in the ‘Indy’ about the uses to which computer game technology and theory could be put in the future:
Nobody could argue that the £30bn video gaming isn't by definition a serious business. But can games themselves ever be put to "serious" use? Could the same medium that offers us so much fun and entertainment also be a tool for raising political and social awareness?
He describes a typical ‘worthy’ game, though not in terms that make it seem like a fun way to spend a few hours…
Playing Darfur is Dying couldn't be easier, so long as you have a computer and an internet connection. Visiting the game's website, you are instantly thrown into the fray: a window in the centre of your screen asks you to "choose a Darfurian to represent your camp". A family of two parents and six children are your charges: displaced by conflict, the game asks you to perform such tasks as foraging for water, irrigating crops, and generally trying to survive the appalling rigours of life as one of the 2.5 million refugees in the Darfur region of Sudan (a context that's clearly explained in a couple of sentences underneath the game window onscreen).
Sounds awfully right-on, but I think I’ll stick to ‘World of Warcraft’ and Cabelas’ hunting games, if it’s all the same to you.

Well, unless the graphics and gameplay improve in the no-doubt already planned sequel, ‘Haiti is Collapsing!’…
Ethically, Darfur is Dying is hard to fault. As a game, however, its limitations are painfully obvious. It's a little confusing, and "fun" has been rather too scrupulously avoided; or, a little more generously, its idea of "engagement" is somewhat dour and limited.
A game devised by progressives to make us all feel guilty and donate money is ‘dour and limited’? Say it ain’t so!
Suzanne Seggerman is the New York-based founder of the organisation Games for Change, a group founded in 2004 that promotes the use of video games as tools for raising political and social awareness. As she sees it, "fun" is an inadequate description of what video games do in the first place. "I don't think the word is really right, I don't think a game has to be 'fun'. It has to be engaging, it has to be well-designed: what makes a game good is the balance of challenge and reward, and that is about learning."
I wouldn’t do them myself if they weren’t fun, though, and I’m not alone in that, as we’ll see…
At every step of a well designed game, you are engaged – but not necessarily entertained. It's a process she believes is fundamentally akin to some of the most serious issues in the world today. "More and more we are recognising in the 21st century that the kind of problems we face globally are genuinely complex. They involve many interrelated variables: things relating to climate change or international trade, for example. Games are systems, and they offer a good way to explore complex systems, a way that we simply didn't have before." There is, in other words, no better way to understand a complex system than by experiencing it: by role-playing, shifting variables, and seeing how the outcomes are affected.
But, Susan, you have to want to explore those systems in the first place. If your game isn’t fun, then you aren’t going to get people playing it.
There is tremendous enthusiasm for politically and ethically engaged gaming within much of the industry, but not – yet – the level of support from major developers and publishers that would be needed for the phenomenon to gain critical mass in terms of design and production values.
That’s because they know what sells. And so far, it isn’t ‘worthy’ games.
. The idea that I might have been really entertained by Darfur is Dying is a somewhat uncomfortable one. Wouldn't the fact that I really enjoyed running a virtual refugee camp be, in some ways, inherently trivialising the issues involved?
I guess that’s probably why there isn’t a ‘Sim Concentration Camp’ amongst the plethora of ‘Sim City’ and ‘Theme Park’ derivatives…
Seggerman rejects this idea, pointing to rapidly expanding array of titles that her organisation is already linked to from their website, titles that model everything from Third World farming to spotting signs of addiction in others to developing sustainable energy resources for cities.
But are they outselling ‘Call of Duty’, Susan?

They aren’t, are they. They are the sort of things that people have to be forced to play.

The rest of the article is very good, however, looking at the way gaming technology has been used by the army, what doctors could learn from it, and how it is gradually becoming the norm in schools.

The Great British Justice System….

Assault an 82 year old pensioner and then set your dog on hers, killing it, because she interrupted your pleasurable afternoon’s hard work drinking whisky in the park and what do you get?
Humphreys, of Ambrook Road, Belvedere, was given a six-month prison sentence suspended for 18 months and banned from owning or caring for dogs for five years.
Just great

Still, at least neutering and muzzling was ordered, albeit for the wrong party:
Humphreys has been ordered to pay £500 compensation to Mrs Flint and will be supervised by probation officers for six months.

Magistrates ruled the dog be neutered and muzzled and on a lead at all times when out.

Humphreys must also pay £100 court costs.
Anyone want to guess who’ll be paying that money..? I don’t think it’s going to be the 25 year old jobless waster, is it?

Oh, and why no charges for this?
Police were called to the scene and PC Colin Bassett found Mrs Flint sitting on a bench cradling Evie’s body.

Humphreys was still at the scene, intoxicated and unsteady on his feet.

When PC Bassett tried to arrest Humphreys he was bitten by Bullseye on his right elbow.
Let’s hope the next person it bites is a magistrate…

But I can't help reading this and wondering why I'm bothering to work, and pay taxes, simply in order to keep this vile creature in whisky and idleness, its even fouler 'pet' in Bonio, and a bunch of pointless wastes of spaces on the bench handing out 'punishment' designed to do little but keep yet another bunch of public sector workers gainfully employed.

Perhaps I'm the one who's out of step?

There’s Always One…

Actually, scratch that. There’s usually thousands….
Briggs has even been able to start a relationship with Chrissy Foster, the young student in this photo.
She didn’t know about his history? Well, now she does, perhaps she…

She is said to believe that he was given an 'unfair' trial.
Don’t they all?

So, any doubt here? Anything to feed that belief?
Briggs was jailed in July 2006 after being convicted of manslaughter for his role in planning the killing of 16-year-old Carolyn with his friend Lee Smith.

The previous December he helped Smith - who had recently been jilted by the teenager - to get a shotgun and saw off the barrel.

He then drove with Smith and Carolyn and another girl to woodland near Sheffield.

Smith, 20, shot Carolyn in the head before killing himself. The other girl was able to run off. When police arrived at the scene the next morning, they found Briggs asleep in the car.
Hmm, guess not…
The revelation has horrified her parents, who did not know about Briggs.

Her father, Chris Foster, who runs his own IT firm, yesterday described his daughter as 'vulnerable' and 'gullible', but said he was 'ashamed' she was seeing the young man.

'Everyone has the chance to rehabilitate, but not so soon after helping to kill someone,' he added.

A friend of Miss Foster said: 'She's been brainwashed into believing he's innocent and it was a miscarriage of justice, which just isn't true.'
Why do some women do this? Is the lure of the ‘bad boy’ really that potent as to overrule all instinct for self-preservation?

Update: Woman on a Raft provides some illumination in the comments: