Wednesday, 30 June 2010

"You've got to pick a pocket or two..."

Colchester Council is set to use £250,000 of taxpayers’ money to increase its pensions contribution as it battles against a £51million blackhole.
In other words, rather than face up to the deficit, it's going to steal from its council taxpayers...
As staff contributions do not cover the cost, the rise is roughly the equivalent of an annual 2.5 per cent council tax hike for residents.

Which would bring the hammer of central government down on them. So they won't do that, they'll do this instead.

How's that for sleight of hand?

Paul Smith, councillor responsible for resources and diversity, said: “We are having to look at the pensions fund every year, and how the blackhole looks depends every year on different things.”

Such as how profligate you've been with our cash?
“For instance, if it has been a good year, and we have had people retire and not so many new staff arriving, then it will not affect it too badly. ”
But the recent years have been a bit of a boom time for local council leeches, haven't they?
“It also depends on how our investments have done. Last year, the deficit was £51.939million and I think that was quite good because we had a good year with investments.”
Ah. Right. We're back to the Iceland debacle again...
The shortfall this year for Braintree Council increased by £14.736million and now stands at £61.311million.

Maldon District Council’s pension fund deficit has increased by more than £5million.
And they will go on raiding the coffers until nothing is left...

Men: Been Sexually Assaulted?

Hey, it wasn’t so bad, was it? Not ‘a horror’ or anything?
Rape victims are not given enough support because the majority are women, a councillor has claimed.
It'll come as no surprise, I'm sure, to hear this is a Green...
Green councillor Alex Phillips said more money would be made available to tackle the issue if men suffered the horrors that women do from sexual violence.
Men, you see, it's like getting a splinter, or something. A few beers with their mates, and they'll get over it...

God, I'm ashamed to share a gender with this creature.
Coun Phillips asked for the council's chief executive to write to the Government and ask for the funding to be ring-fenced so it could only be used to help victims.

But fellow councillors rejected the request and criticised her for using the issue to try to score political points.
When even your fellow ratepayer parasites think you've gone too far, you've gone too far!
The panel, which heard evidence from victims and charities, estimates 4,235 women and girls aged between 16 and 59 - or more than 11 a day - were victims of a sexual assault in the city in the past year.

The report estimates the social cost of sex offences - including lost work time and costs of treating long-term health issues - at £60 million between April 2007 and March 2008, making it the most expensive crime to afflict the city.
I wonder if they are classing as 'sexual assault' wolf-whistling and complimenting a female on her appearance?

Because I cannot see how they reach those figures otherwise. Even in Brighton....

More Fakecharities That Need Slapping Down…

One in three children who should be taken into care are being left with neglectful parents - only for the state to intervene at a later date, the head of Barnardo’s said.
Oh, OK. Not that he's angling for a cut of that action, right?
Mr Narey, who formerly worked as director general of the Prison Service, said there are currently 62,000 ‘looked-after’ children in Britain.

‘Twenty-five years ago this was nearer 90,000. We were determined to reduce this because we thought care damages children. We need to return to a care population of 90,000.’
Care does damage children. That's a given.
Mr Narey said the conventional wisdom of social services was outdated and placed ‘too much premium on keeping the birth family together’.
Unless that family is a bit dim. Or a bit too uppity with the medicos.

But don't take my word for it, Martin, why not take the word of a bunch of high court judges...
He said that once the decision had been made to take a child away from their family, there should be greater use of residential care as an alternative to fostering.
Residential care, eh? I wonder who'll be contracting for that...
Mr Narey believes there is an urgent need to ‘destigmatise care’.

He points out that in Germany, children leaving care homes performed better academically than those in untroubled families.
This isn't Germany. I bet the Germans do all sorts of things that we don't.

For starters, they probably don't run their care homes like we do...
A report commissioned for Barnardo's by the thinktank Demos is published today backing Narey's call for greater early intervention, fewer family placements and longer stays in care.

The thinktank also said the age of leaving care should be raised to 18 from 16. Nearly four-fifths of young people leave care before their 18th birthday.

Demos says the state needs to offer a ‘right to return’ to care up to the age of 24 – the average age of young people leaving home in the general population.
How's that work again? 'We're crap at raising kids, but if you just give us two more years...'

Blogging Advice

Well, I think Ross says it all, really.

Clearly, Squarespace is NOT for all your blogging needs....

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

So Unlike The Home Life Of Our Own Dear Queen…

So, we have a man and his son going to beat up a pregnant daughter who has had several relationships with different men (all of a somewhat ‘exotic’ nature, shall we say?), watched by one of those spawn (whose sperm-donor is currently in jail). The son urinates on his sisters front doorstep, headbutts her, and bites her face, all the while her father yells racial abuse at her.

I think we’ve found out why the nations football team isn’t really much use, if it contains ‘men’ such as these…

I did rather like the prosecution’s description of the current sperm-donor, though:

'The father of the child she was carrying is also a mixed race gentleman.'
He later went round to stab the son in the legs, so ‘gentleman’ wouldn’t have been my preferred term…

Hey, We Tried This Before And It Failed! Let’s Try It Again, Only Worse!

Britain should stop its obsession with getting single mothers into work and pursue unemployed fathers, David Cameron's poverty adviser said last night.

Hmm, tried that before, didn’t you, iDave?

You remember the CSA. Whatever happened to it, eh?

Oh, yeah. That’s right. It didn’t work. In fact, it did so poorly, it was taken over.

And it mostly targeted people in work, so you can imagine how well targeting the unemployed is going to work.

So what's the plan, Frank?

Speaking at a lecture to the Attlee Foundation, a charity working in disadvantaged areas, he claimed the debate about poverty had been 'feminised', letting feckless fathers off the hook for living off benefits and failing to support their families.

He said men who refused to take a job offered to them should have their benefits cut altogether.

Well, yes, they should.

But if you think you can get that through Parliament, you’ve taken leave of your senses…

Treat Prisoners Like This, And There’d Be A Riot…

…so why do people let them get away with treating patients and their families like it?

Health chiefs are to ban sugar in tea and coffee in hospitals because it poses a health risk.
Actually, we'd be better off if they WERE prisons. They'd probably be cleaner, for a start...
The NHS in Wales is to stop the sale of hot drinks containing sugar from vending machines.

Hospital bosses say they are being ordered to enforce the ban because sweetened tea and coffee offer no nutritional benefit and can have a detrimental effect on dental hygiene.
It's not up to the NHS whether visitors and outpatients take sugar. It's up to them.
Documents published by the Welsh Assembly recommend the sale of water and juice as alternatives.

They also encourage the availability of healthier snacks including seeds, dried fruit, sandwiches and low fat cakes.
They aren't enouraging 'the availability' of sugar, are they? Or does 'encouraging the availability of healthier snacks' really mean they are all banned too?
The Welsh Assembly said in a statement: 'Hospitals are visited by a very broad cross-section of society and, as such, the whole hospital environment should reflect the importance of healthy living.'
No, it should concentrate on killing far less of its patients than it currently does...

But as Leg-Iron predicts, until people stand up and say 'No more! This is not what we pay you to do!' they will probably keep doing this.

Lying About Rape: Special Down Under Edition

It seems the Aussie police have the same problems as ours do, with regards to mad women using the law as a club to beat random male strangers with.

Angry Exile notes this case of a lying female claiming sexual assault. And yes, when caught out, she falls back on the 'Oh, I'm mad, me! Pity me...' defence.
When contacted on Friday by the Sunday Herald Sun, the woman, who is receiving counselling, said she was sorry for lying.

"I haven't meant to upset anyone," she said.
Not really going the right way about that, are you?

Naturally, women campaigners are angry and calling for her head, saying that these false accusations are affecting innocent strangers and...

Oh, no, of course they aren't:
Centre Against Sexual Assault spokeswoman Carolyn Worth said false reports, while rare, were a "tricky issue".

"It makes everybody slightly wary when there is a similar allegation, which we cannot afford," she said.
Typically, her first thoughts are for how this'll fly in the news and how it'll affect her 'cause'...

Quote Of The Month

From Angry Exile, on the subject of expectant mothers and alcohol:
"I suspect the long and short of it is that getting completely off your dial every night to the point that you hospitalise yourself with alcohol poisoning is very likely to be a bad thing for unborn babies, which is obvious enough to be somewhere in the fucking Saville Report. But the good news is that a few vinos is not going to ensure that your baby will be born unable to stand, incapable of speech and with no control of it's bodily functions beyond a tendency to sit screaming in its own filth. The bad news is that you know that's going to happen anyway, so you might as well enjoy a nice red and spend the next few months making up cravings to send your other half up the wall."

Post Of The Month

...comes from Simon Cooke (The View From Cullingworth), on the subject of differential pricing.

I Think We'll Live With 'Unsustainability' If It Leads To Less Of This...

Current police numbers are not "sustainable" in the face of budget cuts, a senior officer will warn later.

President of the Association of Chief Police Officers Sir Hugh Orde will tell a conference it is "misleading in the extreme" to claim otherwise.
Oh, 'misleading', is it, Sir Hugh Ordure?

Well, your officers know a thing or two about being misleading, don't they?
Two police officers stopped a teenage photographer from taking pictures of an Armed Forces Day parade - and then claimed they did not need a law to detain him.

Jules Mattsson, a 16-year-old freelancer from Hackney, east London, was photographing police cadets on Saturday when he was ordered to stop and give his personal details by an adult cadet officer who claimed he needed parental permission to capture images of the cadets.
Sadly for the uniformed bullies, this was one photographer who knew his rights and wasn't about to be cowed into giving them.
The student, who works as a freelance photojournalist in his spare time, decided to record his confrontation on his mobile phone, providing an insight into the legal arguments that the officers were using to justify stopping him from taking photographs.
And surprise surprise! Just as in this infamous video, the officers concerned prioved to be talking out of...well, not their mouths, that's for sure...
After arguing his rights in a series of protracted legal debates with officers, the sixth former says he was pushed down a set of stairs and detained for breaching the peace until the parade passed.
He's now said to be thinking of taking action. I hope he does, because police who behave like this should be drummed out of the force:
The audio recording begins minutes later with an officer initially arguing that it is illegal to take photographs of children. He then claims that it is illegal to take images of army members and police officers.

Under laws that guarantee the freedom of press in Britain, there is no restriction on photography of children, police or armed forces in a public space.
Indeed, the dim, lying little bullies will be in hot water with a bit of luck, because they've been told time and time again that this is not to be done - it's already cost them money:
The incident in Romford came just 24 hours after the force was forced to pay compensation to two photojournalists for a similar incident. Marc Vallee and Jason Parkinson took civil action against the Met after they had their camera equipment grabbed by officers in December 2008 while reporting on a protest outside the Greek Embassy.

In a public apology the Met admitted that its officers had “failed to respect press freedom” of the two journalists and agreed to pay them each £3,500 plus legal costs.
So let's hope this chap presses his case and gets treble that.

Maybe then, they'll get the message...

Monday, 28 June 2010

Cyberspace: The Last Untamed Frontier

Sirena Bergman (freelance writer & journalism student at Kingston University) uses CiF to whine about ‘online etiquette’ (because we can never read too many articles about that, can we?):

If you walk past a school at playtime you can usually pick out the child that is being bullied. When I was at school, that child would get home every evening and find a safe haven from the insults.
But now, they can’t.

Because their computer, Xbox and mobile phone all turn themselves on and attach themselves like an Alien facehugger, forcing them to read every message, Tweet and blogpost….
But things are changing, and online bullying is becoming an epidemic that not only floods primary schools but also universities and workplaces.
Oh, noes!

I suspect, like the ‘obesity epidemic’ that this’ll prove to be a major overestimate.
I get excited every time I refresh Twitter and find I have one more follower.
Well, whatever floats your boat, sweetie…
I can only imagine how it must feel to gain 400 in a matter of hours. Unfortunately, blogger Blair On A Budget had to put up with a stream of abuse for days before arriving at this level of notoriety.
After a moment of feminist outrage, Blair tweeted her reaction to last week's issue of More! magazine, which included an "inside men's minds" special. Blair's tweets were potentially defamatory and More! magazine could have demanded she delete them or risk the threat of a lawsuit. But they didn't. Instead, they retweeted her insults, cashing in on the free publicity.
Those fiends!
Almost instantly, a tirade of indignant readers updated their status with vicious remarks
Oh, dear. This is going to be difficult to summarize, as I can’t have that sort of language on my blo…

… claiming Blair was a "twat", a "silly cow" and should "calm down and buy a book".
Wow! That’s so harsh! So vicious!
Although it seems that the outcome was positive for Blair, who used the situation to astutely publicise her blog, I know that sitting in your room watching comments towards you move further from informative and closer to bullying is not a pleasant experience.
So stop watching. Simples!
I, like the majority of journalism students, write a blog. On one occasion, I published a post, a single paragraph of which arguably implied that many students nowadays seem to be lacking passion and interest in their chosen subject.
And then what happened?
In contrast to what I was expecting, those who replied did not use the opportunity to fiercely defend their active interest in journalism. Instead, I was bombarded with comments from a group of people on my course that all shared an unnecessarily defensive and aggressive theme: "You are arrogant and big-headed, and we don't like you".
Oh, dear! Sounds like they had you pegged, doesn't it?
The most shocking aspect of the ordeal was that I arrived at my lecture the following day, expecting a discussion or explanation of some kind – we are all adults, after all. And yet my colleagues, who had spent the previous day furiously typing about my patronising and offensive behaviour, had not a word to say in person.
And there might be all sorts of reasons for that. They might have considered that they’d said what they needed to say, today was another day, why continue?

But of course, for Sirena, there’s only one possible explanation…
The nature of online communication allows one to hide behind a screen, to play a character, have fun with the facelessness of what is written. But if adults are very often indulging in this kind of childish and abusive behaviour, I can only imagine what could go on in places such as secondary schools.
But, you clearly identified them as being your colleagues. So, in what sense were they ‘hiding’ or playing a chracter?
If a vulnerable and self-conscious 13-year-old were to become the target of even less restrained abuse it could create a terrible situation that may never have arisen in a face-to-face confrontation.
It might, it could, it may…and yet, it might not, perhaps won’t, could have the opposite effect.

And I can’t see why online 'bullying', which can be turned off, and provides evidence of the crime in electronic format, is somehow worse than real-life bullying, which often takes place out of sight and leaves no undeniable traces pointing to the culprit.
I am a defender of social networks, chatrooms, forums and blogs. I am convinced that they encourage interaction and communication, and that online communities are of great benefit to a democratic society. However, I have realised that there exists within these communities the potential to abuse our privileges.
There exists within everything the potential for misuse. The Internet is no different.
Users can remain relatively anonymous in order to deceive, defame, insult, bully, and – in extreme circumstances – commit violent and deplorable crimes against innocent users.
All things they can do – and do indeed do – in ‘meatspace’. So what?
Perhaps we need to decide just how far we want an online community to bleed into our real, flesh-and-blood daily lives.
Given that we can flick it off with the press of a button, how could it?

"This surely cannot be allowed..."

What can't?

Bear baiting? Dwarf tossing? The rendering down for spare parts of the entire England football team?*

No. It appears that expressing an opinion that contradicts perceived wisdom can't be allowed:
On the pro-breastfeeding website Lactivist, one woman wrote: "This surely cannot be allowed, for a woman in her position to be so unapologetically negative regarding breastfeeding and generally spreading misinformation."
Poor Kathryn Blundell, deputy editor of 'Mother & Baby' magazine, thought this was a free country.

Many vested interests now seem intent on showing her how wrong she is.
Blundell's piece has electrified parenting websites and six people have complained to the PCC. Many are furious at the anti-breastfeeding message being sent out by a journalist in a senior position at a magazine read by new mothers. Others are more angry at the tone of the article and the reasons the author cites for not breastfeeding, rather than the fact that it is pro-bottle feeding.
Luckily, she has an editor who isn't (so far) backing down:
Miranda Levy, the magazine's editor, said: "Mother & Baby is a constant and vocal supporter of breastfeeding."

Of Blundell's article, she said: "This was her personal experience, and has a place in the debate. We have been inundated by emails applauding her 'refreshing' point of view: we have made readers feel 'normal' and less of a 'failure' for not managing to breastfeed – a situation which is incredibly common.

"The way you feed your baby is not a moral issue and at Mother & Baby we seek to support all new parents in what is a glorious, but often difficult and emotional, time."
Which, I suspect, will not go down too well with the harridens and 'lactivists'...

*OK, I'll give you that last one probably should be allowed...

If He's Such A 'Dangerous Man'...

...what was he doing out of prison in the first place?
Detective Inspector Guy Shimmons from Dorset Police said: “Rennie is a dangerous man and because he poses a threat to the public due to the crimes he has committed, he must be caught as a matter of urgency.”
Can't have been that dangerous, or our hotshot prison authorities would never have released him to a 'treatment centre', surely?
Community safety spokesman for Weymouth and Portland Borough Council Ian James said that he hoped Rennie could be found as quickly as possible.

He said: “I really feel awful at the moment because the crime figures in Weymouth are going down but we suffer with the fear of crime and obviously when we have something like this we want to get him back in custody as soon as possible.

“I just hope the police can catch up with him.”

He added: “Weymouth is a very safe place to live.”
'Was', Ian. Was...

Sunday, 27 June 2010

The Empire Populace Strikes Back…

So, it seems that Labour politicians don’t like it up ‘em. Quelle surprise…

There’s quite a bit of this going around lately. Richard Adams in the Guardian’s blog is quite happy to carry water for all kinds of bad behaviour by politicians, so long as they are on the right political side:
As seen in the video above: someone, we don't know who, approaches North Carolina Democratic representative Bob Etheridge and shouts a question: "Do you fully support the Obama agenda?" Etheridge then grabs one of the anonymous camera persons and demands to know who they are. The encounter lasts about 30 seconds and no harm appears to have been done to persons or cameras.
It’s still assault, though.

Etheridge, who should know better, has apologised in a statement:
"I deeply and profoundly regret my reaction and I apologise to all involved. No matter how intrusive and partisan our politics can become, this does not justify a poor response."

Quite so. But questions remain about who the pair of videographers were, and why they were filming Etheridge. On the footage the faces of those involved are blanked out to hide their identity.

Oh, here we go…
Obviously, Etheridge was a fool to boorishly manhandle someone in the street, especially if they were filming it. But the deliberate anonymity of the film-makers makes one wonder what their motivation was. They were people who know enough about politics to recognise an obscure Tar Heel state congressman on the street.
And now, thanks to the video, so do a lot of people!
The key fact may be that Etheridge was filmed outside a fundraising event for Speaker Nancy Pelosi – so the video-kiddies could have been "trackers" for the Republican party or its allies, filming footage to record the fact or were looking for a reaction
Ah, the usual cry of the person defending those caught out behaving badly: “We were set up!”
The video was uploaded to Youtube last week but only started getting attention after it was posted on conservative activist Andrew Breitbart's website.
And now, by linking to it on the Guardian’s site, you’ve given it an even bigger audience.

So even more people can see what happens when you try to hold a leftist politician to account.

Good job, Richard!

The Definition Of Insanity…

…is said to be doing something the same way over and over, hoping for a different result:

The authority has already won a court victory against Vaf construction firm Banner Holdings, but fears it will not get the money after Banner appealed and then went into administration.

The original plan was to put some of the millions of pounds claimed from Banner towards suing Turner and Townsend.

But with the Banner cash in serious doubt, officials are now looking to use residents’ tax money instead.

Why not? Nothing better for a compulsive gambler than to be given someone else’s credit card, after all…

Paul Smith, councillor with responsibility for the Vaf, said: “It was always anticipated we would have to take legal action against more than one party involved.

“Initially we were hoping to get compensation from Banner which would have funded action against Turner and Townsend, but due to Banner’s administration, we may not recover all our costs.”

No reason not to roll those dice again, eh, Paul?

The plan to put aside £500,000 for the claim comes as councils across the country face huge budget pressures. It also comes after the council has already poured millions into the Vaf.

If the scheme is passed by the cabinet, the whole council will have to approve it as it involves taking cash from reserves and spending money that would normally go on services.

Which I imagine will go down like a cold cup of sick with your taxpayers, but what are they going to do, throw you out of office?

Hey, that’s not a bad idea…

Still, it’s one more thing to bear in mind when the left start their inevitable whining about vital services being cut ‘because of the Budget!’, isn’t it?
Mr Smith said the legal action was a calculated risk as the council might lose and could even be made to pay costs. He added: “Our legal advice is we have got a good case.”
Well, sure they did. They get paid anyway, so they’ve nothing to lose!

Unlike the poor council taxpayer…

Sunday Funnies

Because Nature really is red in tooth and claw...

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Guardian Writer In ‘Let’s All Take Up Smoking’ Shock!

Sholto Byrnes thinks that there’s a problem with the smoking ban.

But not the one you might think. Certainly, not the ones that Leg-Iron and Dick Puddlcote, among others, have identified:
When a statue of Isambard Kingdom Brunel was unveiled at the London college bearing his name three years ago, some commented on the absence of the cigar that Brunel was rarely seen without. (He got through 40 a day.) The worry was, apparently, that Brunel's vile habit had fallen victim to the disapproval of drinking, smoking, violence and gambling in public spaces.
And it’d be a valid concern. It’s happened, after all, to other historical figures.
Brunel University and the sculptor both denied this. It was a matter of aesthetics, they said.
And like the excuses proffered in the Churchill furore, it rang just as hollow…
But news comes of a much greater threat to the cigar industry than moralisers – a threat so grave it leads one to question whether a stogie would even be available to a late 21st century or 22nd century Brunel. Cuban cigar exports have dropped by two thirds in three years, according to a report this morning, falling victim to a combination of the recession, a drop in airline passenger numbers (a quarter of sales are in duty free), and the smoking bans that have already driven puffers out of taxi cabs, offices and restaurants – and perhaps soon will shoo the huddled masses from the doorways, awnings, public parks and private vehicles in which they are now forced to take a pleasure known to mankind for centuries.
Which, you’ll be surprised to find, isn’t viewed with pleasure by this Guardianista.
This is a tragedy...
Indeed! But why?
… more than that, it is pretty serious for Cubans, who have 70% of the world market in cigars. Stubbing out this source of revenue would be a heavy blow for an economy that is already in a critical condition and which has long laboured under an American embargo imposed when the cold war was at its chilliest but which makes no sense today.
Ah. Right. It’s a tragedy because it’s hurting a socialist paradise.

Sod all the poor smokers, eh, Sholto?
So there are two options available to those concerned about the plight of Cubans in these hard times. One is to write to Barack Obama urging him to end the embargo…
And the other is to repeal the smoking ban, right?
The other – and I realise this would be an unpalatable choice for many – would be to support the Cuban economy by following the example of Brunel and taking up cigars

You’re calling on people to sit outdoors, huddle in doorways, be treated like pariahs by the Righteous and also pay more for that privilege…?

All so that Castro’s little gulag-on-the-high-seas doesn’t get unduly affected?

It Seems That The Latest Bugbear For The NuPuritans... 'raunch'.

First up, the Brighton 'Echo' leads the charge (helpfully illustrated with a picture of...well, I wouldn't exactly call it 'raunch'..):
A crackdown on sex and raunchy behaviour has been unveiled.

Brighton and Hove City Council is looking to introduce strict quotas to ban any more sex shops and lap dancing clubs within the city’s boundaries.
You know, I don't think people go to Brighton for the climate. Or the tea dances. So I rather think they are cutting their own throats here...

Next, Mumsnet campaign co-ordinator Kate Williams has this CiF article on the latest 'raunch culture' for kids (illustrated by a picture of not-a-kid Miley Cyrus...):
We may instinctively recoil from products like these; but we may also think twice about criticising them too loudly. Raunch culture has been extraordinarily successful at rebranding all criticism as prudishness – allowing it to march to the heart of mainstream culture, almost unchallenged.
Are you kidding me? We never stop hearing from people complaining about every aspect of modern culture!
So, who can turn back the creeping tide? Parents – absolutely.
Hallelujah! She's seen the light!

Retailers, too, must step up to the plate. Some will argue that it is not their job to make judgments on parents' behalf. But as a general rule, we don't allow the market a free rein if its imperatives conflict with the well-being of children. We self-regulate – and if that doesn't work, we legislate.
In other words, if we allow people the choices and they STILL make the wrong choices, we have to bring in the banhammer. For their own good.

Same as it ever was...

Friday, 25 June 2010

What If You Threw A Strike And Nobody Came..?

London Underground insisted there was no disruption to Tube services again today despite a strike by maintenance workers which union leaders said had caused problems.

It’s a strange way of phrasing it – does the ‘Indy’ have no workers they could have consulted over whether LUL were being disingenuous?

Could they have maybe sent a reporter out to check, rather than implying that LUL may be being economical with the truth?

Transport for London (TfL) said Tube services were operating as normal with no significant disruption, with the 48-hour walkout by Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) union members due to end tonight.
You just know that if there had been film or copy to be had of fed-up commuters, the MSM would have been all over it. Yet nothing.
The company yesterday refuted claims by the RMT that the industrial action had caused delays on the District, Piccadilly and Bakerloo lines because signal faults were left unrepaired and drivers were refusing to move trains due to safety reasons.

I can vouch for that – yes, there were signal failures, but no more so than any other day. Most lines seemed unaffected.

Of course, the union isn’t going to let a little thing like abject failure stop them…

Another 48-hour strike is planned next month unless the dispute is resolved.
I bet it has the same effect as this one…
RMT leader Bob Crow said: "Rather than wasting money on bogus legal challenges and an army of PR runners and strike-breakers it would make far more sense for the mayor and his managers to get back round the table with RMT and resolve this dispute."

Why should they?

‘Stop, or I’ll cut my own throat!’ isn’t much of a threat, when most of your employer’s customers would cheerfully hold your coat for you…

You Know You’re Getting Older When Policemen Look Younger..

…and playground bullies have children themselves:
Two young mums brutally attacked a 13-year-old girl as she played on swings in a park.

The schoolgirl was playing alone in Gainsborough Park, Westcliff, when the women demanded she get off the swings immediately.
And when she didn’t, they set a sterling lesson in conflict negotiation for their own offspring:
One then grabbed her hair and the other punched her in the face, making her fall to the ground.

They then repeatedly kicked her in the face in front of their own children, who they had left playing nearby.

I don’t know what’s worse – that creatures like this are breeding, or that some of the comments to the article are of the opinion that a gobby 13 year old deserves to be beaten to the ground and kicked in the face:
straights, basildon says...

there is so much gobby scum out there that think its ok to upset people and that they can get away with it because of their age, its those that really do deserve a good hiding, if she was one of them, GOOD if she wasn't then i hope they catch the 2 mothers and lock them up, but i bet she got exactly what she deserved.
Good grief

Can't we go back to ordinary playground scraps between kids, even if that means the police get involved?

Because You Should Never Let A Crisis Go To Waste...

...and the crisis in the public spending deficit can be put to good use by the 'Oh, please don't be beastly to poor womanhood by locking them up!' crowd, as represented here by Yvonne Roberts:
Aware of the shrinking public purse and the £4bn prison-building programme, prison governors are calling on the government to invest in community orders as a way of saving money and cutting reoffending.
And in the spirit of feminism and modern attitudes to the sexes and equality, she calls on this to be gender neutral so as to...

Oh, what am I saying:
As happens too often, any discussion around penal reform acts as if it's gender neutral, while actually focusing on the male prison estate and overlooking what happens to women. Three years ago, a government-commissioned review on female offenders – the Corston report – tried to rectify this. It bravely suggested that prison should be abolished for all but a tiny minority of female prisoners who present a threat to the public or who have committed exceptionally serious crimes.
So all the shoplifters and violent attackers and fraudsters and habitual druggies and drunks, you get a get out of jail free card! You can make your neighbours/families/friends lives hell, because you get the pussy pass!

Aren't we progressive?
Corston made over 40 recommendations underlining the need for a greater awareness of the differences in the way men and women offend and the causes; community-based punishments outside of jail; geographically dispersed, small, multifunctional custodial centres phased in over 10 years and – crucially – much more intensive holistic support to put a break on female recidivism.
Apparantly, this load of old flannel is because offendors have rotten childhoods. She might as well just sing 'Gee Officer Krupke!' and be done with it...
"Vulnerable women who are not a danger to society should not be going to prison," Home Office minister Baroness Scotland said at the time.
Baroness Scotland, eh? That name rings a be...

Oh. Right.

I expect she was thinking of her own future when she said that...

Oh, Well, They Can Always Have Another...

The 'Daily Fail' does love their 'Child survives horrific accident!' stories.

And the tale of little Cain Byrne is no exception:
A boy of five cycling near his home was hit head-on by a bus - and survived completely unscathed.
Whew! What a relief!

His parents must have been beside themselves to see that. It's easily done, one minute they are under supervision with mum and dad and the next they are...

Oh. Wait:
Father Roger, 35, said: 'It's a miracle Cain is alive, he is tiny for his age and he is the luckiest boy in the world.


He added: 'Cain had only been gone five minutes on his bike and my wife and I were sitting inside the house when a woman came up the drive screaming saying he had been hit by a bus.'
Little Cain is five years old.

And his parents let him cycle on the pavement unattended...
Brandon Jones, deputy managing director of bus company First South Yorkshire said the vehicle was being driven slowly at the time.

He added: 'The driver was left shaken by what happened. He has been spoken to by police but has not been arrested . We are working closely with the police in terms of the investigation.

'We understand the driver was proceeding through a bus gate, going at a slow speed and the boy unfortunately came out in front of the bus.

'We have CCTV cameras on the bus and we will be looking very closely ay the footage to see if it shows what happened. We have witnesses who say the driver did everything he could to avoid a collision.'
Pity the parents didn't do everything they could to avoid leaving a five year old on a pedal cycle near a road, eh?

Pardon Me For Asking, But...

"At that point I knew I couldn't wait any longer, I thought my son was going to die."
...why did you wait that long in the first place..?

Good grief, are people totally unable to help themselves? Is it always the done thing to call the emergency services to sort out your problems?

Thursday, 24 June 2010


When my father died, many people (because he was a regular church-goer) offered to pray for my father, and told me he was in heaven. They arranged a service of rememberance, which I was invited to attend.

And as a committed atheist, I told them I took great offence at that, and I would be complaining to the authorities.

No, of course I didn't! I took their condolences in the spirit in which they'd been offered. As any normally-balanced person would.

But I can understand the actions of these midwives:
Senior midwife Jenny Collins, from Colchester Hospital University NHS Trust, said: 'We are not happy about the use of the word "angel" on a card in the bag giving information about Whisperer because we suspect that it has the potential to offend some parents at what is an extraordinarily difficult and sensitive time for them.

'Not all religions believe in angels and secular people certainly do not.'
What they are worried about, of course, is not the fear of offending anyone.

They are worried about the legions of busybodies and professional grievance-mongers taking them to court. Them. Not the well-meaning Whisperers group. But the NHS.

Which is why passing useless and sledgehammer legislation causes more problems down the line, by encouraging the 'You have a right never to be offended, and if you are, it's someone's fault, and they should pay!' attitude.

So it would be nice to see the ConDems repealing it, wouldn't it?

You Know How A Snake Keeps Wriggling Long After You’ve Cut Off Its Head..?

Well that seems to hold true for Labour appointees too. Here’s Vera Baird yet again, once more stepping in the smelly stuff:

The former Labour Solicitor General tried to dodge a driving ban yesterday by claiming 'hardship' after being kicked out as an MP at the General election.
Yes, I’d imagine that caused a fair few titters in court…
Barrister Vera Baird - who occupied the £125,000-a-year post for Gordon Brown until last month - was caught on camera speeding at 98mph.

But she claimed a ban would cause her 'excessive hardship' because she needed her car to wind up her affairs after losing her seat in Redcar, Cleveland.

And she told magistrates the punishment would cost taxpayers more money, as she is still eligible to claim MPs' expenses and would have to file a bill for taxi fares for the delivery of her paperwork.
There’s chutzpah, and then there’s chutzpah squared

It didn’t do her any good, luckily:
But magistrates banned her for six months for the offence on the M4 near Cardiff.
This wasn’t, naturally, her first offence.
The barrister already had seven points on her licence and was given a further five, which earned her the driving ban under the totting-up procedure.
And the reason for her attept to set a land-speed record?
The court heard she was driving to visit an elderly female friend who had been injured in a fall.

She said: 'I had driven from Redcar to London, then on to Limeslade Bay west of Swansea. I was visiting my 67-year-old friend who had fallen and we were due to go on holiday the next week.

'She was hurt and feeling guilty about the holiday and depressed. I was uniquely the person to go and cheer her up.

'I can only imagine that somewhere toward the end of my journey unfortunately I went too fast.'
I don’t know who to feel sorrier for – the magistrates who had to sit and listen to this pile of old flannel with straight faces, or the poor woman whose only chance of being cheered up was a visit from this ghastly NuLab harridan…

Update: Anna Raccoon warns those taking the train to mind where they step...

Post Of The Month: Budget Edition

Tim Worstall strays from his own blog to give us a detailed breakdown of the Budget and some of the likely economic thinking behind it here at the Register.

Quote Of The Month: Budget Edition

Mr Eugenides on the televised budget:
"Vince Cable looks like he's swallowed a shit-flavoured landmine."

So, Let Me Get This Straight...

...when travellers move onto private (or public) land, breaking the planning regulations with impunity, the council response is, well, let's say lacking, to be charitable.

'Nothing we can do', they say, 'it's too late, we're shut, we can't muster the lawyers on a Bank Holiday'.

In fact, they positively encourage them!

Yet when a council taxpayer decides to sell his own land to travellers to 'get back' at the council, the speed at which they move is positively supersonic:
...the Conservative-run local authority last night took out a temporary High Court injunction, which means Mr Finnigan faces a fine or even prison if he fulfils his threat.

Council leader Matt Colledge said: 'I will not allow residents of Trafford, and in particular the neighbouring community, to be held to ransom in this way.'
The moral of this being that it's only when the travellers do it that the council is prepared to turn a blind eye.

Now, personally, I feel his actions aren't likely to hurt the council one bit, but rather his neighbours. But it's his land. How can they prevent him selling it?

And why can they not do the same when others plan to sell to the travellers?

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

The Ultimate 'Tick Box' Exercise

Dr Ikwueke accepted that with hindsight it was unwise to trust Ms Connelly, but said she had always kept appointments.

Another Day, Another Call For A Register...

A senior police officer today called for the naming and shaming of a vicious thug who attacked seven different girlfriends in just two years.
He didn't stand up and name him himself, oh, no. He just 'called for it'...

But he has a bigger agenda:
The Chief Constable of Wiltshire Police, Brian Moore, wants to see the introduction of a domestic abuse register to identify yobs who beat their partners.
Fantastic! Who'd administer it, I wonder..?

And what use would it be put to?
Citing the case of the offender who beat seven partners, Mr Moore said: 'Shouldn't the public have a right to know when such information is in our possession?

'Then victim number eight can ensure she is not a victim.'
Can't victim number eight do that by, well, being a bit more choosy who she sleeps with?

I mean, unless this chap is moving from town to town, chances are good he's fishing in a local pool, so to speak. What are the odds that victims 2 - 7 didn't know anything about his history?

Maybe they simply thought it wouldn't happen to them.

And if Moore has his way, the police will be a lot busier in future:
Mr Moore, who did not name the offender, said that each police force should compile a list of the 'top 10' possible victims of domestic violence - and visit them every day to make sure they are safe if they are living with a known offender.
Won't that leave them no time to do anything else? What about all the other sorts of cri...

The chief constable also said that police forces around the UK should focus less on robberies and thefts and target the estimated 25,000 serial domestic abusers in the UK.
Well, that's going to go down well with the locals, isn't it?

"What's that, Mr Jones? A burglary in progress? Well, we would come out, but you see, we have these priorities. By the way, are you beating your wife?"
He said that he wanted to see domestic crime take priority over other crimes such as theft, adding: 'We have to cut some slack about chasing numbers around acquisitive crime.

'I am saying that we crush this thing (domestic violence) and if it is to the detriment of other things, then so be it - this is saving people's lives and saving them from untold misery.'
This man's insane. He actually believes he can 'crush' domestic violence. That's about as impossible as Save The Children's pledge to 'stop violence against children'.

And the phrasing! If you want to 'save people', perhaps you should have taken up the priesthood?

Or, hey, maybe you should put on a mask and become a night-time vigilante, DV Man, perhaps?

Don't these people have a duty to maybe help themselves?
One officer from Kent Police said one of the main problems was that victims of domestic abuse often do not press charges against their attacker - leaving them free to attack their next partner and continue the cycle of violence.

He said: 'A lot of the calls we have to deal with are domestic violence incidents and more often than not charges are not supported by the victim or it is simply not reported to us.

'We need to make a stand to stop this cycle of violence among the men - and occasionally women - who think they can go from relationship to relationship abusing their partners.'
Looks like Moore has a lot of converts in his nick. Perhaps they could get tax-exempt stature like other religious cults...

Pity The Poor Police Spokesman…

…who has to memorise rubbish like this and regurgitate it with a straight face:
Investigating officer PC Mike Hillis, of Basildon police, said: “This was a great result, and I must thank Echo readers for coming forward with information, which helped us with our investigation.

“Time and time again, the readers have helped us out. Thanks to them, this man admitted the offences and justice has been served.

“This proves by working together with the local community, we can make sure those committing crime are caught and are made to face up to their negative actions.”
Sounds good?

Well, let’s examine the story, shall we?
A man who attacked a store security guard has handed himself in to police after he was named by Echo readers.

The Echo reported how the man had stolen items from Debenhams, at the Eastgate Centre, in Basildon, on April 12.

He was chased by one of the shop’s guards. When the pair got to Southernhay, the crook turned on the guard, hitting him with his skateboard.
So we have theft and assault.
The Echo ran a still of the man, taken from CCTV, in Monday’s paper in a bid to help police identify and catch him.

The suspect was named by readers on the Echo’s website, and the 21-year-old man, from Basildon, handed himself in to police on Wednesday.
Oh, well, there’s iDave’s ‘Big Society’ at work! Excellent!

And I’m sure the police and justice system combined to match the efforts of the media and the citizens, and justify Mike Hillis’ fulsome praise, yes?

Well, what do you think?
He was arrested on suspicion of assault by beating and shoplifting, and was later cautioned for both offences.
Words used to mean something. It seems, increasingly, they do so no longer…

Oh, Well, That’s All Right Then…

Firefighters kept their cool after rescuing the same man twice in just one hour.

They said he had fallen asleep while cooking - and then dozed off again with a second meal on the hob.
Boy, I bet they were annoyed! They have enough to do with real fires, never mind idiots who…

But firefighters refused to condemn the man, who lives in Newick Road, Brighton, saying he was just very tired.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010


Traveller families have set up camp on land earmarked for a new £20million police headquarters.
Ah, hahahahahahahaha...
A 63-year-old man, who lives opposite the field and did not want to be named, said: 'It is quite ironic they have moved to a site where the police want to build their headquarters'.
Good job no-one asked me, I'd have been too busy laughing to give them a qu...

Oh, sorry, I just...

Ah, hahahahahahahaha...
Peter Lightfoot, chairman of Bishop's Cleeve Parish Council, said: 'I'm a bit surprised the police weren't more conscious of the security there in terms of preventing unauthorised access.'
Indeed! Someone should break in to their HQ or their cars and leave a 'crime prevention' leaflet for them.

Q.E.D, - 'Daily Fail' Style

So screams the 'Mail' headline. You'd think it was a foregone conclusion, yes?

Lynda Mitchell, 52, is dying from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, but has always despised tobacco.

The mother of one blames the illness on her parents who each puffed 60 cigarettes a day.
She blames the illness. Not doctors. Who'd be able to claim, with 100% scientific accuracy, that it was the smoking that did it?

Especially when...
Lynda suffered a severe bout of pneumonia at the ageof one and went on to develop serious asthma.
So, that's not what led to her COPD, then?
She added: 'I'm proof that second hand smoking can kill.

My parents both smoked, in the car and out of it. Am I proof that second-hand smoke doesn't lead to COPD, then, since I'm not affected? Is a friend of the family, who has never smoked and whose parents never smoked either, yet has it?
'Your lungs aren't fully formed until you're 25. People are killing their children with second hand smoke.

'They know absolutely and categorically - the evidence is out there - that they're killing their children.

'One cigarette in your car, even with the window down, is like forcing a child to spend an evening in a nightclub full of smokers.'
Oh, wow! Nice hyperbole there. Who is responsible for this woman's appearance in the 'Fail', anyway?

Would you believe...
Lynda is now backing a campaign by the British Lung Foundation to ban smoking in cars where passengers are under 18.
Of course she is. Of course they are...

CiF Quote Of The Month

Following yet another article by the Open Borders Bunch, this one entitled 'Immigration Officers are failing victims of domestic violence' by Colin Yeo, commenter Get27 nails it with:
"I'm confused.

After a week of articles informing the public what decent people asylum seekers are and what a rich cultural and linguistic heritage they possess. Am I to take it they are wife-beating sadists?"

The Wisdom Of Christina Patterson... basically a paraphrase of Col Jessep from 'A Few Good Men': "The choice? You CAN'T HANDLE THE CHOICE!"
"This Government wants to ease the pressure on parents," wrote Nick Clegg in a newspaper article on Thursday. It would do it, he said, "not by meddling in people's private business, but by giving families the freedom to make the right choices for themselves".

It sounds great. Great in Putney, great in Kensington, but perhaps not so great on the sink estates of Dewsbury, where freedom tends to take a different form.
In essence, because of the poor parenting skills of Karen Matthews (and numerous others like her), it's far, far too dangerous to give everyone any choice. They might make the wrong choices, you see, and that would be expensive.

And we might have to go back to being judgemental, and that would never do.

No, far better that no-one has any choice. That's fair. That's equal.

"I don’t understand our legal system."

Me neither, chum:
One car owner, who works as a chauffeur, but asked not to be named, was appalled by the lack of punishment for the boys.

His BMW suffered £2,800 damage and he lost three days work while it was fixed.

He said: “They have been caught, but there’s no punishment.

“It seems any boy or girl can go out and cause damage for the first or second time and get away with it.”
No, it doesn't 'seem' that way. It IS that way...
The car owners were told the boys had each given a final warning by police, which means they must have committed an offence in the past and been let off with an even lighter reprimand.

The system means if they commit a third offence, they will be taken to court.
Where they will face...what?

Naturally, the police sprang into action to try to justify this:
Essex Police spokesman Julia Pack said: “Final warnings are part of restorative justice and are a fully-researched system.

“A very significant percentage of people who go through that system never reoffend.”
FAIL!, Ms Pack. These have obviously not learned their lesson.

And where does the 'restorative' part of this come in?
“It gives youngsters the chance to rehabilitate without having a criminal record preventing them from leading a law-abiding life as an adult.
A criminal record prevents that, does it? Once a crim, always a crim?

What more can be said? Lock 'em all up!

But I still struggle to see the 'restorative' part of this so-called justice. Any clarity from the mouthpiece?
The police take criminal damage extremely seriously and victims can obtain details of the boys involved from us, should they wish to pursue civil action to seek compensation for the damage from the boys’ guardians.”
Ah, of course.

Do-it-yourself 'justice', naturally. With a shrug of their shoulders and a wave of their hand, it's all downgraded and passed on to the lawyers and insurance companies to sort out. If you can be bothered with the hassle, that is...

Monday, 21 June 2010

MONA On The Loose Again…

A man was being questioned today after gangs of youths attacked police officers following an anti-racist march, Scotland Yard said.

Gangs of youths, eh? At an anti-racist demo?

Must be the racists, right?

Cordons were set up to stop people going up Whitechapel Road, in east London, because officers feared random attacks on members of the public.
Yup, definitely the racists. Which bunch?

The scenes followed a rally, organised by Unite Against Fascism, that attracted several thousand people.

It was organised in response to another rally planned by the far-right English Defence League (EDL) which was called off earlier this week.

Oh, typical, it wa…

Hang on, ’called off’? As in, they didn’t show up? But the UAF did?

So, it was them that attacked the police and passers by?
A police spokesman said yesterday's UAF rally was "well organised and well stewarded" but a group of young men gathered outside the nearby East London Mosque in response to rumours the EDL were planning a protest.

He said: "The group numbered up to 300, who were very volatile. Despite continued excellent attempts by stewards and representatives from the East London Mosque to control the crowds, even placing themselves in danger, there was the risk of serious disorder.

"Police officers were attacked by the crowd at points throughout the afternoon. One member of the public was attacked at random by members of the crowd as those gathered surged up and down the Whitechapel Road."
Ah. A light begins to dawn…
"In order to prevent injuries to the public and officers, and serious disorder, police withdrew from the immediate area and a series of filter cordons were put in place. The cordons were used to prevent access to parts of Whitechapel Road due to concerted efforts by the crowd to attack people at random."
Note how these aggressors are very carefully not identified. And how the police response to serious disorder is to retreat.

And what about the UAF? They must be embarrassed by…

Yeah. As I figured:
A spokesman for Unite Against Fascism said around 5,000 took part in the march from Stepney to Whitechapel.

He said: "I heard there were a few nasty scuffles between local youths and police but certainly the demo was very positive and a really good vibe."
Why not just say 'We're all right, Jack'..?

"This is appalling to a degree almost beyond words."

So says blogger Darleen Click at 'Protein Wisdom', about a concept I really, really hope we don't import over here:
...increasingly, some educators and other professionals who work with children are asking a question that might surprise their parents: Should a child really have a best friend?

Most children naturally seek close friends. In a survey of nearly 3,000 Americans ages 8 to 24 conducted last year by Harris Interactive, 94 percent said they had at least one close friend. But the classic best-friend bond — the two special pals who share secrets and exploits, who gravitate to each other on the playground and who head out the door together every day after school — signals potential trouble for school officials intent on discouraging anything that hints of exclusivity, in part because of concerns about cliques and bullying.
Read the rest. It's frightening.

And I wouldn't put money on it not rearing its head over here, either.

Update: And from the same source, this:
The Department of Education wants to ban both cyber bullying and sexting in New York City’s public schools at all times, even outside of school hours.

“We’ve always been respectful of first amendment rights. I think we’ll get the right balance here,” said Schools Chancellor Joel Klein.
Logic FAIL!

Sometimes A 'Daily Fail' Headline Makes You...

...breathe a sigh of relief:

Sorry, my misanthropy got the better of me for a moment.

I blame the fact that it appeared almost next to this story:
A green-fingered businessman was stunned when he was hit with a £100 fine for fly-tipping - when he left flowers in parking space for a work colleague.

Financial adviser Stephen Mayes, 56, brought two plants from his garden and left them in a colleague's parking space so she could load them into the boot of her car when she arrived at work a few minutes after him.

But within moments of unloading the plants a council warden pounced on Mr Mayes, cautioned him 'like a policeman' and slapped a £100 fine on him for fly-tipping.
Well, you'll say, this is just a case of an over-zealous local government official, and I'm sure it was all sorted out amicably in the end, and everyone had a good laugh about it?

'I explained they were plants for a lady in the office he said it was fly-tipping. He started cautioning me, like a police officer would do, I honestly couldn't believe it I thought it was a wind up.'
Sadly for Mr Mayes, Jeremy Beadle wasn't lurking in the shrubbery. This was a deadly serious affair, as demanding money with menaces and blackmail always is...
Mr Mayes, who lives with his wife Suzanne, 55, who is a priest, wrote to Havering Council to explain what had happened but his pleas fell on deaf ears.

A hand delivered letter from the council said they had sufficient evidence to prosecute him and he could be fined £2,000 and ordered to pay magistrates court costs.

He added: 'I spoke to my wife about it and decided I didn't want it hanging over me so I paid up. That is not an admission of guilt, I didn't do anything wrong but I didn't want it hanging over me any more.

'I think the council are just picking on easy targets.'
Read the letter in the 'Mail' article.

It isn't composed of snipped-out individual letters glued to a sheet of writing paper and wrapped round a brick thrown through his window, but that's the ONLY way in which it differs from your standard TV-drama blackmail note.

The blackmailers, though, when caught, do at least usually have the nous to sound contrite, in hopes of a lighter sentence.

Not this mob:
Councillor Barry Tebbut, cabinet member for the environment on Havering Borough Council, said: 'Mr Mayes admitted to littering when he paid the fine.

'If he did not think he committed an offence, then he could have appealed to magistrates.

'This was explained when the notice was issued and in later correspondence.'
The comments under the item make a point of noting that iDave got their votes because this was the sort of thing they expected him to stamp out.

Well, that should be easy; Tebbutt is one of his, after all.

I wonder if he's feeling a bit sheepish at the antics of one of his own?

Update: Witterings from Witney notes that:
"... it is interesting that, reading between the lines, the litter warden got his 'wrists slapped' for not issuing a ticket for fly-tipping, but instead one for the lesser offence of 'littering' - a factor which once again speaks volumes about local authority mentality!"

Something Missing In Translation..?

Judge Michael Brooke said that because the altercation was started by Mr Green pushing Robbins, he would sentence on the basis that it was “over-the-top self-defence”. But he said the extreme nature of the attack meant Robbins would be assessed to determine if he was a danger to the public.

The judge said: “This was a sad case, and not a very easy one. Clearly it was an assault where he broke a bottle over the victim’s head and, in the ensuing struggle, stabbed his body with the broken glass. But it should be noted that it was fortuitous he had the bottle because it was one he had been drinking from.”

Incidentally, I’m shocked, shocked, to find out that drink played a part in this…

Is the young man contrite?
Charlie Robbins says his only crime was to protect himself.

The 19-year-old, who could be jailed for a long time if he is assessed to be dangerous, is dismayed to be found guilty of deliberately wounding William Green, who he says was the aggressor.

He said: “Today has just been my worst nightmare and now I just hope a sensible decision is made when it comes to my sentence and it will not ruin the rest of my life.”
I'm not sure there's much of your life left to ruin, is there?

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Dear Francis Davis...

...sod off!

If the charidees need money, they should stop lashing it out on lawyers, and cozying up to the regulators against the interests of their own supposed 'members'.

They certainly need to stop thinking they can dig into my pockets if they just get the government onside first.

Respectfully yours,


Coming Over Here, Taking Our Non-Jobs…

Surely there's a home-grown example of the Washington-based Advocacy Project that could supply a whining do-gooder for this cause?
The human rights organisation sends representatives across the globe to work with what it sees as vulnerable people whose rights are under threat.
And it's chosen....don't laugh, now...
Susan Craig-Green is the third American visitor since 2007 to spend time at Dale Farm on behalf of the Washington-based Advocacy Project.

Ms Craig-Green is working with about 90 families at Crays Hill, helping them to mount legal challenges and improve their literacy levels.

Ms Craig-Green, don't you realise you are preventing one of our own band of bleeding hearts from making a dishonest living? Shame on you!
A keen photographer, she is posting pictures of Dale Farm residents online as part of a blog about her time with the travellers.
The 'Echo' doesn't link to it, but you can see it via the link here.
In her latest post, earlier this week, she suggests the travellers’ only hope of avoiding eviction is for them to engage with villagers living nearby.

She writes: “There may be no protection from eviction while they pursue other legal avenues unless their neighbours can be encouraged to engage with the travellers, recognise their humanity, and the fundamental rights that go with it, and support their residence at Dale Farm.”
Well, given how long they've been fighting to get them off that site, if you somehow manage that, Ms Craig-Green, might I suggest you try Israel/Palestine afterwards?

And after that, perhaps the cat/dog enmity?
She adds: “I fear, as the travellers do, the traveller community will be scattered across the country, separating families and creating yet more obstacles to them exercising their traditional way of life. ”
Now, I'm no International Relations graduate, but isn't being 'scattered across the country' exactly what they claim to be their 'traditional lifestyle'?

Isn't it, in fact, why they are known as 'travellers'?

But it seems Ms Craig-Green has much rosier spectacles than her photo would imply. That, or she knows nothing about travellers at all:
“They are uncertain every night whether or not they will be evicted from their homes in the morning, which causes them much worry and strain.

Due to this uncertain situation, they have therefore not developed any sort of permanent relationship with their environment and much of the site is dilapidated and in disarray.”
Yes, quite unlike all other traveller encampments, eh..?
“The travellers at Dale Farm remain strong and dignified, despite their precarious living situation, overt prejudice from their neighbours and their ongoing struggle to preserve their way of life in a society designed for settled, literate people.”
If literacy is such a part of their culture that they consider it one of the things that sets them apart, why are you trying to teach them to read?

"The subordination of individual liberties to 'the common good' has turned (...) into a nation of scolds and hypocrites"

Their dirty tactics are well known, yet few see anything wrong with them. No one sees this as a violation of these couples' individual liberties, since they deserve what happens to them, and more, for behaving in such an immoral fashion. Even more distressing is that the couples themselves believe they are doing something wrong and accept being judged by society as a natural consequence. They don't feel that their personal freedom has been trampled upon by the police. It would be more accurate to say that the concept of personal freedom is unknown to them.
No, Baher Ibrahim isn't talking about England or about smokers.

But he might as well be, mightn't he?

"....a "wonderful father"..."

...according to his wife.

He failed to check it was loaded before asking Lewis Bailey to put the weapon against his head for the pictures.

Still, anyone can have a moment of utter, near-lethal stupidity, no matter how otherwise responsible. It's what you do afterwards that counts.

So what did this 'wonderful father' do?
Hole, a father-of-four, saw his stepson having a fit on the bedroom floor and dialled an ambulance.

The court heard he told the operator: "A little boy has shot himself in the head. Hurry up - he's dying."

He then fled the family home before paramedics arrived...
Hole visited family to change his clothes before putting the gun in a drain and destroying his phone.

The court heard that he was found nine hours later by police when he was arrested for attempted murder.
Luckily for him, he's married to a woman with either an extraordinarily forgiving nature, or a room-temperature IQ:
Lewis's mother Edwina, who married Hole four years ago, was in court to support her husband.

In a letter to the judge, she appealed for leniency and described Hole as a "wonderful father."

She said: "We've been through difficult times and sometimes it has been almost impossible to cope. But Michael had been the glue that holds this family together.

"Michael has an excellent relationship with Lewis and he misses Michael and does not wish him to go to prison."
Now I might just, just, bring myself to forgive a man who makes a single, utterly stupid error. But I don't think I could bring myself to forgive a man who fails to deal with the consequences of that mistake as a man should.

Which either makes her a better woman than me, or a liability.

And note, for this offence, he got five years. That sentence ring a bell?

Sunday Funnies

Better not read this one just before breakfast...

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Modern Man

When I was growing up, I loved nothing more than thrilling tales of men facing death to protect the helpless, and especially if there was a natural history tie in.

So Jim Corbett's books on maneaters, and Kenneth Anderson's adventures with rogue elephants and bears, were always on my preferred reading list. Good books, well written, conjuring up a sense of what life was like for colonist and native alike.

Which brings me to their modern counterpart - the urban journalist. So the screaming headline "The terrifying night I, too, was attacked by a fox in my home" drew my attention straight off.

But oh dear, it doesn't really live up to its billing:
...nor should we be blind to the threat posed by increasingly brazen urban foxes. I should know, having nearly broken my neck when a fox attacked me in my own home.
Oooh! *gets popcorn*
And as for those who insist foxes will run away at the first opportunity, perhaps they could explain why it took me two full hours to eject this terrifyingly bold male from my house?
*hugs cushion as it gets scarier*
The experience, which unfolded in my Richmond home after midnight last autumn, was so unsettling that I eventually moved house to escape the memories.
*begins to wonder if she hasn't picked up a spoof article*
Before anybody jumps to conclusions, allow me to explain a little about myself. At 6ft 1in I am not a small man and at 30 years old a lifetime of dance training means I am light on my feet.
I can remember that night as clearly as if it was yesterday.

Arriving home after a jolly supper, I pulled up outside my house with a boot full of shopping. Stepping over the threshold laden with bags, I switched the light on and left the front door open while I made two more trips to and from the car.

The entire process took under five minutes, yet as I closed the door I had a feeling of unease. I started to climb the stairs, feeling even more unsettled, almost as if somebody was watching me.
The phone call is coming from INSIDE THE HOUSE!

Oh, sorry. Wrong genre...
Suddenly, with terrifying ferocity, a screaming ball of fur and teeth came flying towards my face. The impact - and sheer terror - sent me flying backwards on to the banister, which I only just managed to grab.
Ah. Right.

I was wondering how an animal the size of a large cat could possibly pose a threat of the neck-breaking kind...
As I flailed backwards, I realised that a fox was crouching on the stairs, wailing like a screaming child. All I could see were a pair of yellow eyes, fixed on mine, and a row of teeth.

Suddenly the fox - a rather mangy-looking male - shot down the stairs and into the sitting room. I hauled myself up and sat on the stairs, shaking uncontrollably.
As any fright would do to anyone. But then our hero picks himself up and goes off to do battle with his nemesis...
It was so late at night that I didn't know what to do, so I went to fetch a broom and slowly crept into the sitting room. The first thing which hit me was the stench.

Every surface, even the highest shelves, had been swept clear by the rampaging fox - and there he was, squatting on my sofa and soiling it. When I switched the light on he simply sat there, staring at me and baring his teeth.
And now we get to the meat of the story, as Ben battles heroically with the crazed animal, using the broom to keep the slavering jaws from his throa...

I opened the front and back doors and attempted to chase him out with the broom, but he strolled past me and headed upstairs again to explore the rest of the house.

This cocky intruder then proceeded to enter every single room in turn as I pursued him with the broom - the bedrooms, bathrooms, study and kitchen were all marked in the same way, with his incredibly pungent odour.

And still he refused to leave via the open doors.
At one stage, he even crept under my bed and appeared to be trying to sleep there. My attempts to prod him out with the broom only provoked him into biting - he nearly snapped the handle and left a row of vicious-looking tooth marks.
Oh no! Now you're helpless!

Well, admittedly, not much more helpless, but still...
In retrospect, perhaps I should have called the RSPCA or even the police. But it was late and I felt faintly ridiculous - how could I, a grown man, not get rid of a fox no bigger than a springer spaniel?
Oh, man up, for the love of god!
It was only after two hours of cajoling that he finally left. All of a sudden he simply turned around and padded calmly out into the night.

Exhausted, I set about cleaning the house, but barely managed to make a dent in the carnage. Eventually, I fell into bed, still unable to escape the vile stench left by its droppings around the house, and lay there sleepless until dawn broke.
Can it get any better? Oh, yes:
But, silly though it may sound, nothing could shift the conviction that I was no longer safe in my own home.
Over the following weeks, I saw him dozens of times - sunbathing on a shed roof here, trotting down the pavement there.

He has a tuft of hair on his head and a distinctive strut - there was no mistaking the identity of my night intruder.
At this stage, I'm rather expecting to hear the scrape of nails on a blackboard...
As I drove home one night, he crossed the road in front of me and stopped, staring directly at my car. Shamefully, I considered for a moment pressing the accelerator and getting rid of my tormentor - but I couldn't do it and he lived to scavenge another day.

In the end, I was the one who moved on, away from Richmond and into an apartment - safe from visiting foxes.
It's a wonder he didn't install a panic room...
When I saw the damage that fox did to my broom - when I remember how close I came to breaking my neck when I was knocked down the stairs - I am left with the conviction that the closer we get to urban foxes the more incidents we will see.
Well, we will if people like you continue to prove themselves incapable of dealing with them!
They have a right to live alongside us, but this is getting far too close for comfort. The animal rights activists who attack Pauline Koupparis are woefully misguided. Two little girls' lives have been threatened and any self-respecting mother would do everything in her power to protect them.
I bet she'd do a lot better in such a crisis, too.

But more to the point, and while this is a very amusing article to ridicule, who, in their right mind, would write a column like this, oblivious to how it makes him appear?

Update: This was written on Thursday. And on Friday, what does Pavlov's Cat bring to my attention, but this story of a school apparently intent on turning out not just the next Ben Douglas, but an entire generation of them.

We're doomed, aren't we?

Update 2: Some people are totally unable to see a bandwagon go by without jumping aboard, and local newspapers tend to encourage this...