Friday, 31 December 2010

Happy New Year, All!

And here's to 2011!

Absent Friends, And New Ones...

So, as 2010 draws to a close, time to look at the blogroll.

Sadly, this year some huge blogs decided to throw in the towel. Letters from a Tory was the first, followed by Constantly Furious and then Mr Eugenides, who is still commenting and Tweeting.

To Miss With Love closed down when Katharine Birbalsingh outed herself in a storming performance at the Tory party conference, but happily, she now blogs for the Telegraph under her own name.

Other blogs went quiet, hardly updated at all since the supposed 'change of government'. Others considered throwing in the towel, but reconsidered.

And then we had new blogs springing up or coming to prominence to re-inflate my sadly depleted blogroll; long-time commenter Woman on a Raft, Fuel Injected Moose, The Grim Reaper and Going Fast, Getting Nowhere.

So the toast, as we see out 2010, is 'Absent friends! And new ones...'

A Glimpse Into The Den...

I've been tagged by Manwiddecombe (gosh, remember this tagging meme? It feels so 2009...) to describe my habitual blogging lair.

And since a picture paints a thousand words:

Yes, I have a pretty messy desk and room (out of shot - bwahahaha!), apart from the actual workspace itself, and the desk's a remarkably cheap one. But it's outlived not one, not two, but THREE computers. One of which still lies forlornly on the floor, awaiting a collection to see if my brother can cannibalise it for useful parts.

The rest is the usual clutter and detritus - game cases from games I've installed recently (hello again, 'World of Warcraft'! Haven't you changed..?), spare mouse, modem, phone, the essential pen and paper.

Below and above and around, it's clutter, clutter, clutter. Spare cartridges for the printer, paper for same (enough to paper the entire house), USB drives, batteries, trinkets and toys (a preponderance of sabre tooth cats, oddly enough) and more spare cables (what have they all come from? God only knows!) than anyone could ever need.

The spare bedroom (now study) is the repository for every book, box, ornament, picture that can't fit anywhere else, or can't yet be shoehorned into the loft or the garage. And I promised myself I'd tidy it up over the Christmas break. Well, so much for that....

In return, I tag The Raft Journal, Subrosa and Make It Stop!.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Don't Make Our Mistake, Uganda!

British charity ChildHope (hey, maybe one of those you'll be hectored at the cashpoint, by government decree, to support in future?) is on a mission. A mission to make Ugandan schools like UK schools.

No, not ensuring they have the latest equipment. This isn't that sort of charity...
"The idea is to get parents, teachers and communities talking and to get them to listen to their children," said ChildHope's partnerships and programme manager Allan Kiwanuka.

"At first when we spoke to teachers they all said they didn't beat children, but when we spoke to the children they told us that they were regularly being caned. When we asked them, teachers would say they had no choice but to use the cane as the children were too hard to manage."
Yup, they are out to ensure the death of corporal punishment and strict discipline and to bring about 'child-centered learning'.
The programme aims to show teachers that there are more effective ways of controlling classes than the cane. By making children's rights part of the schooling process, improving school inspections, getting police to act in serious incidents of violence and giving children a voice at schools, the charity hopes to demonstrate that there's a better way of doing things.
Maybe some of those Ugandan teachers should come over to the UK - we've had this system for years, and as a result, our schools are paradises of polite, well-mannered schoolchildren eager to learn and succeed.

Aren't they?

This Can't End Well...

...for exasperated drivers, help may be at hand in the shape of a satnav system that understands a driver’s emotions and adjusts its behaviour accordingly.
Bad move, scientists!

This is the brainchild of one Professor Peter Robinson, who got irritated with his sat-nav:
‘The problem is computers don’t react to how I feel – if I’m pleased or annoyed they just ignore me. We’re building emotionally intelligent computers that can read my mind and know how I feel.

‘Computers are really good at understanding what someone is typing or saying. But they need to understand not just what I’m saying, but how I’m saying it.’

His team hopes to develop a robot that can communicate with humans.
Can Skynet be far behind?

And as Manwiddecombe points out, could this be a way of getting yet another type of monitoring equipment into as many cars as possible?

The Year In Review: Part IV


This was the month that eco-schemes continued their hard-won tradition of benefiting absolutely nobody – except for the people getting rich on the proceedes.


This was the month that Obama faced his worst nightmare.


This was the month that snow returned to prove that we’d learned absolutely none of the lessons from the last time it happened. And suddenly, everyone was begging for assistance from owners of four-wheel-drive Gaia-raping death machines...

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Post Title Of The Month

From 'Fuel Injected Moose' on the news that the government was considering an 'opt in' for Internet pornography (for the sake of the children, naturally):

Quote Of The Month

Longrider on 'respect':
"... when I see people being accused of being in contempt of court, my reaction is all too often that the courts are deserving of contempt. Respect has to be earned, it is not a gift given freely – or, at least, it shouldn’t be. I do not expect people to automatically respect me, just as I do not expect them to respect my views or beliefs. Likewise, I do not expect them to demand that I respect theirs. I will always respect and defend robustly, peoples’ right to freely hold their beliefs and opinions and to voice them openly, no matter how much I may disagree with them, but I do not have to respect the opinions themselves and will not be coerced into assuming a patina of such."

Post Of The Month

Behind Blue Eyes asks a topical question for the coming period of excess.

The Year In Review: Part III


And then we come to July, and another loser decided that ‘Indiana Wants Me’ wasn’t just a cool record from the 70s, but a code to live by.


This was the month that loony liberals were still hard at work justifying their tag.


This was the month that posts were light, because my Dell went to PC heaven! And Obama’s continued bid to become the Jimmy Carter of the Noughties began to worry the ‘Guardian’.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

If You Go Down In The Woods Today...

...better stay out of this guy's garden!
Mark Cothren shot the animal as it walked into his front yard because he did not recognise it.
Let's hope he never gets Altzheimers, or the postman will need to start wearing a bulletproof vest...
He told 'I was like "every animal has hair, especially this time of year!".

'What puzzled me is how something like that could survive through a winter with no hair.'
Maybe by staying well away from you?

" The message has got to be..."

"...Tam Fry, go forth and multiply!"
Tam Fry, of the National Obesity Forum, described the rising tide of obesity among pensioners as ‘dramatic’.

He said: ‘This statistic should really make the NHS sit up and think. When we think about pensioners and health, we tend to think of the little old lady starving in a hospital bed because no one is feeding her.
‘But now we are starting to see that it’s about fat elderly women as well. And the sad conclusion is that pensioners really need to take more responsibility for their health.’
Really? I've reached a different conclusion.

It's that we need to stop allowing this ghastly little homunculus to gorge himself on our taxes...
Mr Fry said obesity was so high among the elderly because they tend to be poorer than working-age people, as they have to rely on meagre pensions.
‘If you have less disposable income, you rely on cheaper foods; and these tend to be processed with high levels of sugar and salt,’ he said. ‘They are also less likely to do exercise.

‘The bigger you become, the weaker you are, making exercise more difficult, quite apart from their increasing age. The message has got to be: pensioners, you have got to try harder to keep yourself in shape. It’s a clarion call.
I fear for little Fry should he ever advance that policy at my mother's active elderly club. Most of the ladies there (and a fair few of the men) are built like sparrows, but they wield a mean handbag...

The Year In Review: Part II


This was the month that started the avalanche of ‘celebrities’ using Twitter as a brand new way to stick their foot firmly in their mouths


This was the month that the weather started getting warmer, and the underclass showed off the critical thinking skills instilled by the comprehensive education system…

Oh, and there was an election, and the government changed. Or, did it?


This was the month that we joined the US in seeing spree killing used as a panacea for the woes of inadequates.

Monday, 27 December 2010

New Definition Of 'Addressing The Problem'...

...the problem being Luton:
“There were problems in the sixth form when I was there,” she says. She has not long left and is training to be a primary school teacher, giving swimming lessons part-time. “The place self-segregated into different factions. It sometimes got unpleasant.”

It is when other communities are seen as favoured that the resentment begins. “I taught in an all-boys school,” says the oldest of the group. “ By the time I left there were only four white pupils. It was a state school but the timetable had been altered to accommodate Ramadan – which I didn’t object to – but the council told us we couldn’t have a Christmas tree – which I did find offensive. What you do for one you should do for everyone. That’s a real issue.”
Seems pretty clear to me. So, how are these problems to be addressed?

Well, errrr, ummm....
It’s the issue that Paul Anderson, whose ethnicity is Western African and Estonian, sees his Winter Wonderland parade as addressing. “Christmas is a really important part of the year but we don’t stress Christmas because that goes against what we are trying to do,” he says. “Luton is a community of communities – we need to break that up and create an opportunity for them to share”.
Ah. Right. This is the new definition of addressing a problem - ignoring it in the hopes it'll go away.

So, just who is Paul Anderson, anyway?
By ‘we’ he means the UK Centre for Carnival Arts. The organisation now works nationally and internationally, to promote the carnival as an art form...
Artists! Is there nothing they can't do?

Well, it seems they can't 'do' addressing the problem.

Because here's the solution.

Are you ready for this?
Paul Anderson stands in front of a range of extravagant costumes from the parade – a Chinese dragon, Ghanaian drums, a giant flower from the local Samaritans and an image of Shiva from the Gujarati community which is fighting to preserve the Bengali tongue. “If we went for the usual connotations of Christmas, Santa and elves and all the rest, many people would say: ‘That’s not for me but for some other group’. We’d relegate the centre in the minds of the many. We wanted something that connects more,” he says.

“When you get the different Muslim groups wanting floats, it all ends up with people shouting and waving rival national flags and sometimes with violence. We want to avoid religion and getting into fights with mullahs and priests about how we have represented Jesus and all that. We look for ideas that can bring people together. Anyone can see the importance of the Robin.”
I'm not even religious (far from it) but that kind of muddled thinking is enough to make me weep for the future we'll have if the likes of Paul Anderson ever gain power....

The Year In Review: Part I


This was the month that Labour unveiled their election plans for May’s showdown. Went well, didn’t it?


This was the month that ‘Bullygate’ made most of the headlines, and we can now see that it really does get you nowhere. Gordon who?


This was the month the government ran into yet more problems as it floundered over its drugs policy, and advisers started to decide this ‘Titanic’ was heading for a large iceberg labelled ‘election’…

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Errr, No, You Didn't, Actually....

The blazing headline in the 'Daily Fail' says it all:

Except, no, he didn't warn them that a 'giant, killer dog' would one day turn on its owner's lodger and tear out her throat.

In his own words:
Minicab driver Burhan Yanbolu said he told the police and the local council about the animal after it tried to break down his fence and get into his garden.

Neighbours said police had even visited the address where the dog lived in October last year but said they were unable to do anything because no one had been injured.
The neighbour's daughter's chihuahua got through the fence into our garden yesterday. Now, OK, this is a beast the size of a cat (actually, smaller than one of our cats!) and I could probably drop-kick it the full 100 feet length of the garden, should it have been vicious, and should I have feared for my toes, but still, same point.

But hey, this is clearly thre fault of the almighty State (in the form of the police, for not having a Canine Precrime Department, or the council, for not having draconian pet-size regulations to 'keep us all safe') and not the fault of the individual owner, right?

I can't wait to see if Kit Malthouse seizes on this tragedy to advance his pet policy...

Waddle Forward, Nauru!

...and take first place in the race for 'fattest nation':
According to the latest data from the World Health Organisation (WHO), Pacific island nations occupy the top seven places in the global obesity rankings.
Oh, well, at leasat we won't hear any rubbish about capitalism and unhealthy Western diets from the usual susp...

Clive Moore, a South Pacific expert at the University of Queensland, says that in Polynesian countries generous proportions are seen as a sign of prosperity. In the past, only chiefs achieved a large girth; nowadays, with higher incomes and Western diets, it has become far more common to be fat.
At the Pacific Food Summit in Vanuatu this year, Temo Waqanivalu, a senior WHO official, bemoaned the decline of traditional foods. "They are unable to compete with the glamour and flashiness of imported food," he said.
It's all our fault. Again.

Boxing Day Funnies...

'Order in the court!'

Friday, 24 December 2010

"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"

Here's hoping everyone is having a great Christmas!

Normal service will resume on Boxing Day!

Buddhism FAIL!

Ethan Race, 20, an award-winning film-maker who was given a £3,000 bursary by the BBC (Ed: Yeah, shocker, right..?), was among suspects pictured in a police line-up this week.

He is one of at least seven wanted for questioning over the disorder at the tuition fees protest on December 9.

Speaking to the Standard, Mr Race, 20, a Middlesex University film student, said he was amused that police wanted to talk to him, describing himself as a peace-loving Buddhist.
Oh, clearly, this must be all a horrible mistake then, because Buddhists don't believe in aggression, right?
He said he found himself pushed to the front line after a police horse charge near Parliament Square, where officers “lashed out” at him several times with batons. “I was perfectly happy with that,” he said. “I feel I need to be at the front to take their s**t. I like to be antagonistic towards them because I disagree with the fascistic system by which the police are managed.
Ah. Better read up on Buddhism again on Wikipedia, Ethan...

"This Is A Stick-Up!"

"Give me all your haddock!"
Police are searching for a man with a knife who approached three fishermen on a beach during the night.

The fishermen were at Coney Beach, Porthcawl, at 0130 GMT on Saturday when they were approached by a "suspicious" man who then ran off.

No-one was hurt but police want to find the man, said to be 25-30, about 6ft (1.83m) tall, and of Asian appearance.

They warned the man, who was in a white hoodie, black jogging bottoms, and dark trainers, should not be approached.
It's that 'Asian' appearance thing again!

You Know That Nagging Feeling You Get...

...when you've forgotten something vital, but can't quite remember what it is?
A practice forced landing is an exercise carried out regularly by pilots, to prepare themselves for the eventuality of an unexpected engine failure.

The pilot simulates an engine failure by throttling back the aircraft so it is virtually gliding, picks a field considered suitable to land in and then attempts to line it up for a glide landing approach.

At about 500ft, the pilot will decide whether he could achieve a safe landing and will put the power back on and fly away again.
Seems pretty straightforward. What could go wr...
The report says on returning from a local flight the pilot decided to carry out one from about 2,500ft above the airfield. He chose the airfield as the selected landing area for the test exercise.

However, because he was on the approach to the runway, he believed he could make a safe landing. So instead of continuing the emergency practice and flying away, he decided to make a proper landing.

The report said: “He elected to continue the approach to land and in doing so omitted to select the undercarriage down.

“The aircraft sustained damage but the pilot was uninjured.

“The pilot attributed the accident to his last-minute decision to land, rather than go around.”
Oh. Yeah. That could go wrong...

Thursday, 23 December 2010

A Story That Poses As Many Questions As It Answers...

Trials are usually about 'closure'. Here's the crime, here's who did it, here's what the justice department deems their 'punishment', should they be conviccted

Not this one:
A St John Ambulance volunteer who stabbed her ex-fiance four times at the wheel, during an “outburst of aggression”, has avoided jail.
Vicky Caskey, 29, plunged her Swiss Army knife into Paul Lawrence’s arm and hand after he rebuffed her pleas for a “hug”.

The pair, who had called off their engagement, but had remained friends, had been for a drink at the Hawk pub, Battlesbridge and were on their way home when Caskey “snapped” and pulled out the knife, yelling “you hurt me!
A clear case, you'd think, that should attract a hefty prison sentence. So, why didn't it?
Sentencing her at Basildon Crown Court yesterday, Judge Christopher Mitchell said he was sparing Caskey instant jail because of her history of depression and physical disabilities.
Note that neither was considered sufficient to prevent her from becoming a St John's Ambulance volunteer. In fact, the knife she used was part of her work kit!
The court heard Caskey, of Mirimar Close, Canvey, has below average intelligence and mobility problems.
Is that 'below average intelligence' or the UK? Or just for Canvey?
The stabbing took place as the car neared Sadlers Farm roundabout.
I know it well. It's one of those 'big roundabout with little roundabouts attached' type - hard enough to navigate when a madwoman isn't stabbing you...
Caskey pulled the knife out of her bag after she “pictured Mr Lawrence with another woman”.

She stabbed him so hard the tendons in his hand severed.

Mr Lawrence managed to pull his 4x4 over and flag down a motorist who then dialled 999.

Outside the car Caskey continued punching and kicking Mr Lawrence and told a witness: “I’m very obsessive of him”.
Ummmm. Yeah...

Still, no permanent harm done, to explain the unaccountable leniency?
Mr Lawrence, a gardener, of Cranleigh Drive, Leigh, had to undergo two operations, spent five months off work and has lost the use of part of his hand as a result of the attack.
Judge Mitchell told Caskey although she had inflicted multiple stab wounds, he accepted she was deeply remorseful.

He said: “This was an exceptional case and one which a suspended sentence can be passed.”
I don't think you're going to get another case with the exact same circumstances, Judge, not for a long time. But I wouldn't say this was 'exceptional', at least, not in the sense you probably mean...
She was also banned from making contact with Mr Lawrence and from entering Southend borough.

She now plans to relocate to Clacton with her family.
So, she's someone else's problem now!

Oh It Is, Mayor, It Is...

"This is no laughing matter," Jean-Pierre Delord, the mayor, told The Daily Telegraph.
What isn't?

This: the past few months, the quiet village has been inundated by groups of esoteric outsiders who believe the peak is an "alien garage".

According to them, extraterrestrials are quietly waiting in a massive cavity beneath the rock for the world to end, at which point they will leave, taking, it is hoped, a lucky few humans with them.

Most believe Armageddon will take place on December 21, 2012, the end date of the ancient Maya calendar, at which point they predict human civilisation will come to an end. Another favourite date mentioned is 12, December, 2012. They see Bugarach as one of perhaps several "sacred mountains" sheltered from the cataclysm.

Still, the mayor has contingency plans:
"If tomorrow 10,000 people turn up, as a village of 200 people we will not be able to cope. I have informed the regional authorities of our concerns and want the army to be at hand if necessary come December 2012."
The army!?

Bidisha: The Gift That Keeps On Giving....

CiF has unaccountably allowed Bidisha the option of gracing us with her 'Thought for the Day' recently (and yes, it's likely she really only does have the one per day...).

Here she is on the plans to make a movie about the life of Aung San Suu Kyi. Good news, yes?

Well, no:
Yes, that's what we need. Not electoral transparency, the rule of law and international political accountability. We need Yeoh, star of Ang Lee's balletic fightfest Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, in a thigh-toning allegorical tribute with great costumes. No doubt, in the film, as soon as those daft BBC World news cameras are done briefly reporting her plight, she'll toss aside her dull tomes of history and law. Then she'll take off most of her clothes and meditate exotically for a moment (watered-down Buddhism plays well with a western audience) before kicking and chopping her way around the house in Rocky-like anticipation of the final confrontation with her jailers. Which will be filmed, of course, outside, in the rain, in slow motion.

This bizarre diatribe prompts commenter tomper2 to note:
"It seems that Bidisha has honed her skills as a critic to such a supernatural level that she's able to review films that haven't even been made yet."

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

No, It Really Isn't A Good Year For British 'Justice'

Two robbers who were jailed for the brutal murder of a Colchester man have had their minimum jail terms reduced.
New evidence? Well, no. The facts of the case are pretty clear:
Graham Reeve, 55, was beaten, tied up and strangled at his flat in Charles Pell Road in July last year as his robbers tried to get him to tell them his bank card PIN.

In May, after being convicted of murder at Chelmsford Crown Court, Jon Richard Williams, 23, and Danny Howsego, 37, were jailed for at least 32 years each.
Some might say that wasn't long enough. But they don't get elevated to judgehood, clearly.
But, after an appeal by their lawyers, Lord Justice Thomas, Mr Justice Silber and Mrs Justice Sharp, sitting at London’s Court of Appeal, said the terms were too long and cut them to 29 years.

Lord Justice Thomas said the case was different from those in which victims were truly tortured by their attackers, wielding weapons, cutting off body parts and burning with cigarettes.
Wait, what?

We are constantly told that having the prison cell lights on for too long, the air con turned down too low, a barking dog (safely leashed) at your feet or a threat to release your name to your former terrorist chums is 'torture', according to the lawyers dealing with the extraordinary rendition cases at Gitmo.

So how, in the name of all that's holy, could being tied to a chair and beaten not be torture?

Well, the reasoning is...interesting. Let's hear from the panel:
Lord Justice Thomas said: “It is unfortunate that, in today’s society, these courts see what one might properly describe as torture, of the kind people would be more accustomed to seeing in the cinema or in history books.

“This is not that case. Although it is clear he was subjected, over a period of time, to a number of blows and was tied up, he was not tortured in the sense we have described.

“Secondly, it seems to us that, although it is true they must have sat down and planned to kill him to prevent detection, nonetheless this was not a premeditated murder in the sense of having been carefully planned ahead of time.”
Unless you cut bits off people, it's not torture. Are you listening, interrogators at Gitmo?

And if you decide to kill someone on the spur of the moment because you realise the consequences of letting them live after you've tortu - sorry, after you've applied 'forceful persuasion', that's not premeditated enough, so we'll take three years off your tariff...

Still, don't worry! The State isn't about to take risks with any more innocent lives:
Neither will be released after serving their minimum terms unless they can convince the Parole Board they are no longer a public danger.
Whew! That's all right th...

He idolised Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe and repeatedly admitted his horrific bloodlust to psychiatrists, yet he was not locked up to protect the public because he was seen as ‘bad’ rather than ‘mentally ill’.

He even told a probation officer he would kill when he reached his 30s – and he did.

Vigilantism II

A ‘supermum’ turned detective to track down her daughter’s muggers after becoming frustrated with the police’s response.

And it is believed Kelly Scott’s efforts have led to two teenage girls being charged with a string of other offences.

Sounds promising!
Ms Scott, of Bromley Road, Downham, said she was forced to act after 12-year-old daughter Blue (Ed: !!!) had her phone stolen at knifepoint in New Cross Gate bus station.
Ah. Ummm…
She said: “The police stuck us in the car, and drove us around for five minutes looking for them before they got bored of it.
OK, ‘supermum’, first, it’s ‘bored with it’ and secondly, how much time do you think they can spare, knowing that the perpetrators are likely to have gone to ground?
Ms Scott claims Blue was left traumatised by the incident and calls to police from her and ward councillor Duwayne Brooks were getting nowhere.
Duwayne Brooks, eh? That name seems a bit famil…

Oh. Right.
She said: “I felt pretty hopeless as a mother. ”
SNORK! No comment…
She quickly found out the girls’ names and one of their numbers from a shared friend and got contacts in the area to ask around, including her sister who works at a nearby beauty salon.

The 33-year-old amateur detective picked up leads taking her to Hilly Fields and a hostel, all while “terrorising” one of the girls with calls and texts.
Hmmm, I’m beginning to wonder why ‘supermum’ isn’t being charged with something…
"I said ‘I’m not a mum to be messed about with. I’m not going to let you upset my daughter’s life.’

“I said ‘this is the wrong family to be messing with.’
Sounds like a bit of a threat.
"I told her she was going to prison and pretended I’d been to prison myself and it wasn’t a very nice place. "
You were plainly quite convincing…

But this and the last post (should that turn out to be connected to the drug death, and not simply a drug-dealer dispute) show a worrying lack of interest in the established legal system and it's ability to mediate disputes, don't they?

And as Richard at 'Going Fast, Getting Nowhere' points out, this waning support for the law has the potential to put us all on a very, very slippery slope indeed...

Vigilantism I

A man found hacked to death in his home yesterday may have been killed in revenge for fatally poisoning a teenager with ecstasy at a drug-fuelled party four years ago.
He held her down and poured drugs down her throat?
Miss Deary, 18, died after taking a cocktail of drugs supplied by McGinty at a party in West Croydon.
Ah. Clearly not.
Croydon Coroner Roy Palmer recorded an open verdict on the death but agreed she had died after possibly unknowingly taking MDMA or ecstasy.
So, it was disguised in her drink, or something? She didn’t realise what sort of party she was attending?
At the trial, guest Paul Vickers, said: “Everyone else was taking drugs at the party. There was a powder and tablets.

They were just open on the side.” Another guest, Danny Lane, told the court: “Carla came outside to talk to me and that’s when she told me she had taken MDMA.

“She kept asking me if she was going to be all right.”

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Yes, And..?

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said Education Secretary Michael Gove's idea of allowing successful headteachers to take over failing schools implied many teachers were not doing their job properly.
Surely not?!?
Mr Gove told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the Government planned to introduce another test for youngsters to make sure they could decode words by the age of six.

He said his department would prefer schools to use synthetic phonics, which links sounds to letters to teach children to read, in an effort to target an "unbudgable" group of children who were failing to make the grade.
Ooooh, that's not going to go down well! And sure enough, here are the teaching unions in full 'tractor stats' mode:
But Ms Keates said teachers should be praised and standards were far higher than they were 15 years ago. Then only 49% of children reached the required level 4 when they took SATS at 11, while today that figure had topped 80%.

She said many children targeted by the Government in this latest initiative were either learning English as a foreign language or suffered severe medical conditions that held them back.
'Don't pick on them! They're foreign/ill..!'
Kevin Courtney, deputy general secretary of the NUT, said the last Government concentrated on helping pupils who attained level 3 in their SATS to reach the higher grade at the expense of a small minority of youngsters who were stuck on level 2.

He claimed many specialist teachers, responsible for helping children who were learning English as a second language, were facing redundancy as a result of Government cuts.

Mr Courtney added: "If the line Gove goes down is blaming teachers, then he is missing the point. It's not about poor schools, poor headteachers or poor teachers. It's about schools with poor intake."
A poor workman always blames his tools, Kevin, not his material. Do keep up...

I think Gove is going to have to rethink this first line; sackings may well be required:
"I don't want to be in the business of sacking anyone but I do want to be in the business of saying to all schools and local authorities 'I'm sorry, it's unacceptable if children leave school (unable to read). You have seven years, you have ample resources, you have the full support of the department for education in tackling illiteracy'."
If Gove is wondering how those seven years can be utterly wasted, I'm sure this lady could tell him...

I...I Just...

From an account of a fight at a boot sale that left one woman with two black eyes and another with stab wounds to the stomach:
'I don’t think I can hit that hard. I’m a lady.'
Our survey says...

Graphic Design FAIL!

Seen on the Tube, aimed at commuters, an advert for a company that insures you against loss of your precious gadget:

So, OK, I can clearly make out an iPod, iPad, mobile phone, laptop, camera, and...

OK, I'm stumped. What's the one second from the left supposed to be? It looks like a controller for an X-Box or Playstation, but surely no-one's taking TVs on the Tube with them, are they?

And if it's meant to be a hand-held console, someone needs to look a bit more closely at the 'Argos' catalogue before putting pen to paper (or mouse to Photoshop)...

Monday, 20 December 2010

You Better Call Him MISTER Tibbs...

...or else:
A disabled farmer who took a potshot at a fox described yesterday how his house was stormed by armed police after he unwittingly hit two burglars.
Edward Tibbs, 63, went out on his mobility scooter in the dead of night when he heard his geese becoming distressed.
After spotting the fox and firing at it, he returned to his home at Elm Farm in Crays Hill, near Basildon in Essex, and went to bed.
It was only when 16 armed officers arrived hours later as a police helicopter hovered overhead that he learned two people had been treated at hospital for gunshot wounds to their backs and legs.
Naturally, they weren't coming to congratulate him on his 'pest control' methods:
During the police investigation it emerged that, unknown to Mr Tibbs, a cannabis factory had been set up in an outbuilding he was renting to tenants on his 650-acre farm. Firearms were also found in the outbuilding.
The injured men, both from Basildon and aged 27 and 30, were arrested on suspicion of possessing a firearm. They were later released without charge. It is understood they are not connected with the notorious illegal travellers’ camp at Crays Hill, which is a short distance from Elm Farm.
A police insider said they refused to make formal complaints about Mr Tibbs, meaning that there was no evidence to disprove his version of events. Two women, aged 39 and 63, were arrested in connection with the 50 cannabis plants found on the farm but they, too, were not charged.
Well, that was a success all round, eh, Essex Police?
Essex Police said inquiries were continuing into who was responsible for the cannabis factory.
It's a total mystery, I'm sure. Still, at least you can rest secure that Mr Tibbs is doing your job for you, eh?

They also confirmed that two firearms licences held by Mr Tibbs for 20 years had been revoked because he was ‘unfit to be entrusted with a firearm and may present a danger to public safety and peace’.
Seems to me he's doing a far better job of keeping the peace than you are! Perhaps you'd like to give him his guns back and give him shooting lesso..

Ah. Right. Maybe not...

H/T: TheHonLady via Twitter

Hyperbole Alert!

Labour councillors likened the mass evictions of travellers to “ethnic cleansing” and branded the development of Dale Farm – Europe’s biggest illegal camp – a “misdemeanour”.
Well, naturally. They don't live next door, do they?
Mr Rackley said he apologised if he caused offence, but made no retraction, adding: “The whole point is this is about removing people from their homes.”
Removing people from the homes they have built and occupied illegally. I think you missed that bit out, didn't you? And funnily enough, I don't remember any Labour MPs speaking out in defence of Robert Fidler, does anyone else?

Because it seems to me that that was just as much his home, and he broke the law too (albeit without the associated mess and petty thievery that accompanies traveller sites, so maybe that's where he went wrong?)...
Lynda Gordon, who was accused of subscribing to anarchy, stood by her comments, arguing the £13million potential cost could not be justified against what was simply a planning breach.
Well, itr wouldn't have soared to £13 million if you'd taken action sooner...
Both accepted their views could cost Labour votes at the next local elections, but said their principles were more important.
Ah, ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha…

Sorry, must. try. not. to…

Ah, ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!
Geoff Williams, Lib Dem group leader, said his party believed the illegal camp should be tolerated until alternative sites could be found.
How long does it take?!?


A man had to be subdued with a police stun gun after wielding knives in an Oxford pub.
He brought the knives with him?

Paul Udall had been drinking at the Holly Bush, in Osney Island, when he went into the kitchen and grabbed a pair of blades.

Oxford Crown Court heard yesterday the 25-year-old waved the knives at barman Dutch Harris before putting them to his own throat.
That must have been a bit of a dilemma for the cops, eh?

Just a moment of madness?
Udall, who has two previous convictions for six offences, earlier admitted affray and common assault.
Lucy Tapper, defending, said her client had been drinking heavily and smoking cannabis on the day and did not have a clear recollection of events.
Astonishingly, that’s considered a mitigation, instead of an aggravation
Judge Gordon Risius said: “It appears you now genuinely wish to address your drug and alcohol problems.”
Translation: ‘You’ve been caught bang (or even Zzaapp!!) to rights and your defence is employing the time-honoured method of ensuring leniency from the bench…‘

Did it work?

Well, what do you think?
Udall, a father of two, from Burton on Trent, was given a 12-month jail term, suspended for two years, ordered to do 150 hours’ unpaid work, undertake a six-month drug-rehabilitation course and pay £100 compensation and £250 costs.
Guess who’ll really be paying that, in the totally-likely event that a convicted violent druggie won’t have a high-paying job.

Or any job…

So, Who's Leant On Andrew Heaney?

Because what else explains these two apparent contradictory statements?
Andrew Heaney, TalkTalk's executive director of strategy and regulation, said: 'Our objective was not to do what the politicians want us but to do what is right for our customers.'

'If other companies aren't going to do it of their own volition, then maybe they should be leant on.'

Does that make sense to anyone else, because it sure doesn't to me? So, Andrew, what makes YOUR customers representative of every other company's customers, then? It seems, as Dick Puddlecote points out, that public opinion isn't with you so far.

I won't go into what's wrong with the proposals, because that's been more than adequately covered by Longrider, MummyLongLegs, Quiet Man, Leg-Iron, Manwiddecombe and The Moose. And these are currently just proposals, and I'm in agreement with The Grim Reaper in the ability of those with the know how to breach these safeguards with ease.

But it's yet another sign to anyone still wondering if we really got a new government back in May, or just different faces on the same old control-freak mentality, isn't it?

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Well, This Weather Girl Has News For Us...

...sadly, it's the same old story:
A New York weather girl was arrested for perpetrating the ultimate snow job -- falsely claiming to cops that a man tried to rape her while she was jogging in Central Park, the New York Post reported Wednesday.
Ah. This is apparently a 'Class A misdemeanour', which doesn't sound too serious, until you look at the possible consequences:
If convicted, she could face up to a year in jail or a $1,000 fine.
She won't - of course - get anything like that. And her reasons for doing this?
Jones said she concocted the tale in a plea for sympathy to counter some unknown setback she was experiencing in her personal life, the source added.

H/T: Anonymouslemming in the comments

‘Turning Your Life Around’ FAIL!

A widow whose husband was stabbed to death just months after being released from prison says he had “turned his life around” before he was killed.
Oh, it’s terrible when something like that happens, I mean, I’m all for rehabilitation second chances and…

Oh. Wait.
Lenny Kempley died aged 54 on July 17 after being stabbed 12 times by Ross Flynn in Downham Way, Downham, following a brawl between the two in a pub car park earlier in the evening.

Martin Heslop, representing Flynn, told the court Mr Kempley had returned to the pub after the fight to look for Flynn before finding him in Downham Way and stabbing him twice before Flynn stabbed him.
Ah. OK. Well, clearly, ‘turning your life around’ means something quite different in Downham…
Mr Kempley had been released from prison eight months before he was killed, after serving an 18 year sentence for attempted robbery and making use of a firearm with intent to resist arrest.
Well, I suppose since he didn’t try to shoot Flynn, it’s technically correct…

Sunday Funnies

Not really surprising there are no red-nosed reindeer in this one...

Saturday, 18 December 2010

An Elegant Compromise..?

So, since we don't have anyone with the backbone to tell the ECHR to shove it, I guess this is the best we can hope for (and is a lot better than we could have had from Labour, or that worst of all possibilities, a Lab-Lib coalition):
Criminals sentenced to four years or more will be automatically excluded from the right to vote when it is extended to prisoners.
And in addition:
And sentencing judges will be given the discretion to stop those handed down a jail term of less than four years from casting a ballot while they are behind bars.
And to quell the fears of Inspector Gadget:
New legislation - due to be tabled in Parliament next year - will grant prisoners the right to vote only in elections to Westminster and the European Parliament, meaning that they will not have a voice in ballots for directly elected police chiefs.
Whoever said that 'politics was the art of the possible' wasn't wrong, and it remains to be seen whether this will mass muster with our real political overlords in Brussels (and it'll certainly be challenged by the hordes of do-gooders), but it's certainly better than it could have been.

If you doubt that, just take a look at the reaction of those pushing for it:
"I will criticise this when I get the full judgment. However, Chivers (solicitos) and Hugh Southey (Tooks Chambers) should never, ever, be allowed anywhere near a prisoners rights case again. They are both so incompetent they should be struck off! As for LLJs Law and Carnwath, and Lord Neuberger MR, you would be hard pressed to find 3 more corrupt judges in totalitarian regimes worse than the one we have in this country."
Awww, don't go away mad, Hirst, just... well, you get the picture.

And can I just add something?

Heartless And Soulless….

When Anthony Cotter’s last dog Scrappy died in 2008, he got permission from Oxford City Council to have a dog from Oxfordshire Animal Sanctuary, provided it did not annoy or intimidate neighbours.

But now the council has said Charlie, a doberman-German Shepherd cross, is too large for Mr Cotter’s first-floor flat. It wants him to swap the dog for a smaller breed.

It wants him to swap his pet? Like it was a too-large TV, or faulty microwave oven?
Oxford City Council spokesman Louisa Dean said: “We gave this tenant permission to have a dog which was suitable for the property.

“This would have been a small or medium-sized dog.”
Oh, really? Because the only conditions he claims you placed on his choice were behavioural ones, not size-related ones…

Still, I’m sure you’ve got a record of your instructions to him to prove him wrong.

Haven’t you?
“However, the tenant decided to get a large dog which has caused problems for his neighbours.

“He was asked to exchange the dog for a smaller, more manageable breed, but refused.”
Dear god, just imagine the utter carbon-dense piece of shrivelled coal that must occupy the space in Louisa Dean’s chest cavity, where any normal person’s heart would be, that she could even consider suggesting such a thing…

This is why local councils are held in such contempt by most of the population. They either attract creatures like Dean, or they convert normal people into creatures like Dean after a period of time.

Their Contempt For You Is Bottomless…

Pity poor Northamptonshire County Council, deep in the financial mire:
About 600 people are set to lose their jobs at the council as part of plans to save £68m in 2011 following a cut in government funding.
Well, you won’t need that ‘Recruitment & Training’ post you’re advertising then, will you? And probably not the ones in ‘Customer Service’ either.

Because your idea of ‘customer service’ is…well, let’s hear it from one of your councillor’s own mouths, shall we, when she was asked about dirty road signs?
Heather Smith, responsible for transport and highways, was speaking on BBC radio.

She said residents should go out with a bucket and sponge.

"Is it too much to ask for somebody to go out with a bucket and a sponge in their hands and clean that sign?," she said.
Yes, Heather. Yes it is, actually.

You see, it’s what the people of Northamptonshire pay their council tax, business rates, road tax and fuel tax for, not to mention income tax and VAT.

And if you send out crews to clean road signs, well, what’s the betting there’s all sorts of regulations, safety clothing, risk assessments involved. Yet you expect the residents to do this for you, for nothing, with none of that, and presumably no corresponding cut in the money they pay, should they be stupid enough to take up your kind offer?

So yeah, on the subject of those job cuts, I'm with The Moose.

Luckily, because Bob Ainsworth has opened his trap about legalising drugs, your own little faux-pas is likely to go unnoticed. Otherwise I might wonder if it’s ‘too much to ask’ that the voters toss you out on your spoiled little rear…

H/T: Old Holborn via Twitter

Friday, 17 December 2010

Ban Everything!

The grieving parents of a young woman who died after taking a “legal high” drug say Government plans for a temporary ban on such substances will not be enough.
I can understand why they feel this way. But shouldn't this be a question for the scientists and legal experts to decide?
Sarah Forsyth, 35, died in August after taking the substance, Ivory Wave, to lose weight.

An inquest has yet to be held into her death but her parents, Margaret and Robin Moyle, of Cant Way, Braintree, say they are sure the substance killed Sarah.

They and are now campaigning for a total ban on the sale of such drugs and for greater public awareness of the damage they can cause.
Hang on, to 'lose weight'? So it wasn't a 'legal high', then?
The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill, currently being discussed by MPs, proposes temporary bans on legal highs while their effects are investigated and tough penalties for those caught dealing in them.

Mr Moyle said: “It needs to be a complete ban. The Government should totally ban these substances.”
And if they have other uses, legitimate ones? I guess that's just tough, is it?
Braintree MP Brooks Newmark has written to the minister responsible for internet matters, Ed Vaizey, about the fact the drug is still available online.

He said: “I agree if the Home Office deems something to be unsafe and bans it, it should remain banned unless there is scientific evidence to the contrary.

One year is not good enough. I would like to see legal highs no longer legal.”
He must realise that if one substance is banned, then they'll just move on to another? Where will all this end?

Kier Starmer Must Go…

…because he’s part of the problem, not part of the solution:
Rape is a cruel and degrading crime, and victims are entitled to have their cases thoroughly investigated and properly prosecuted. The role of the Crown Prosecution Service is crucial in meeting these entitlements. Whenever we fall short we have a duty to review our conduct and make necessary changes to ensure we improve in future.
Sounds promising, doesn’t it? Sounds like he’s finally got the message that…

In one we made a serious mistake in offering no evidence at a retrial. I publicly apologised to the victim. In another, a woman was prosecuted for perverting the course of justice after making a rape allegation, retracting it and then withdrawing that retraction. In both cases the CPS was criticised, and the Guardian raised legitimate questions about the way we handled them.
Because if the ‘Guardian’ doesn’t criticise it, coming as it does from impeccable left-wing sources, it isn’t worth worrying about, right?

You’ll take no notice of any other criticism coming your way, about the rise in false rape reports and the effect on the accused men of the routine arrest on even the flimsiest accounts.
I believe the CPS should be measured by how it responds to justifiable criticism.
Ah. Right. I see now.
Any other criticism you get you’ll just classify as ‘unjustified’, and then you are free to ignore it!
Prosecuting rape is very challenging: public expectations are high, sometimes unrealistic; cases often turn on the word of an individual; and rape often occurs in private with the victim the only witness.
Which is precisely why the conviction rate is so low, particularly in comparison to other crimes. It isn’t like other crimes.
Usually the victim has to give evidence in court to establish the basis for a prosecution.
So what are we going to do? As prosecutors we need to reinforce the so-called 'merits-based approach to rape cases. They should be judged entirely on the merits of the evidence
Oh oh.
myths and stereotypes have no place in a criminal justice system underpinned by basic human rights. We can and should challenge them wherever we encounter them, whether that is during an investigation, among our fellow professionals or in court.
Good! Start with the ‘women never lie about rape!’ myth, will you?

No. Of course you won’t:
We must measure our performance more closely too: I have recently introduced core quality standards throughout the CPS setting out the level of service that the public are entitled to expect from prosecutors.
What wonderful managerial bullshit and waffle! Anyone have an English translation?
And from January we are introducing a new quality assurance scheme for offences involving violence against women.
Fantastic! More targets, more pressure on prosecutors to get a result, regardless of whether it’s the right one!

Because, blimey, that never lead to problems in the police force, did it?
We also need to work on our approach in retraction cases. From now, my approval for charging will be needed in these cases, and we will monitor them closely. If the complainant has decided to withdraw an allegation, we must explore the issues behind that, particularly if the complainant is under pressure or frightened.
Or a known, proven liar?
Those who are raped must be confident that their case will be thoroughly investigated and properly prosecuted. Those who rape should know of our resolve to ensure that justice is done.
And those who are falsely accused of rape should just shut up and accept they are the casualties in your ideological war?

What was the point of getting shot of lunatics like Harman and Baird, when Starmer sits there still, waging their war on half the population?

As Mark Wadsworth points out on email, 'the CPS prosecuted 110 of these cases (retractions) this year and got a conviction in 61 cases' which I think is a substantially better result than in ACTUAL rape cases, is it not?

And that doesn't even begin to touch the numbers of false rape claims, because I only tend to get the ones reported in the MSM. How many are quietly shelved by the CPS when they realise they are on to a loser?

Starmer is right, the whole issue of rape needs looking at, but I somehow sense he isn't the man for the job...

Slippery Slope In Preparation

Dame Judi Dench joined calls last night for a ban on smoking in cars, citing the dangers to the health of youngsters.
If you've got something to say about acting, or the film industry, I'm all ears, but why...

Dame Judi, whose husband Michael Williams died of lung cancer in 2001, is vice president of the British Lung Foundation, which is calling for a ban.
And naturally, she's being used by the usual suspects:
Deborah Arnott, the chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health, called on the Govenment to continue campaigns discouraging parents from smoking in front of their children. She said: "While we can't pass legislation to prohibit smoking in the home, smoking in cars can and should be prohibited by law."
You can't, but you want to. As Longrider points out, flats are the first target, but after that, it'll be terraced housing, then semi-detatched, then detached.

And then you'll move on to the streets....
Simon Clark, the director of the smokers' group Forest, conceded: "It's reasonable to encourage people not to light up in a small confined space if children are present," but he dismissed calls for a ban as "unnecessarily heavy-handed". He added: "It's a small step to far more illiberal measures like banning smoking in all private vehicles or, worse, banning smoking in the home. Enough is enough."
Enough is never enough with these people. They will push and push and push....
A ban cannot happen quickly enough for Lynda Mitchell. The 53-year-old, from Bristol, has never smoked but is dying of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. "I found being exposed to passive smoke in the car the worst because there was no escape. I want parents to know that what happened to me could happen to their children if they continue to smoke near them."
That's terribly sad, but the key word there is 'could', isn't it?

'Metro' Staff Christmas Party Must Have Been A Good One...

...because the very next morning:

Needs an 'are', I think...

Still, at least they got 'planet' right, which was more than they could manage a few pages further on:

Bet the headache was worth it though.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Oh, Let Me Guess, It’s ‘The West’ Again, Right. .?

So, a terrible tragedy in the Indian Ocean claims the life of who knows how many attempted immigrants. Who to blame?

The immigrants, for attempting such a perilous crossing?

The people smugglers who persuade them that this is a viable method of getting into the West?

The countries who turn a blind eye to the boats (some little more than motorised fishing smacks) leaving their shores, because then these people are someone else’s problem?

Don’t be silly
Australia's hardline refugee policies were blamed yesterday for the deaths of at least 28 asylum-seekers…
Well, of course they were....
The rickety fishing boat, believed to have been carrying mainly Iranians and Iraqis, had sailed from Indonesia – a route plied by the majority of refugees heading for Australia.
So we aren't even talking about Australia's close neighbours, FFS..!
Yesterday's disaster shocked Australians, with some denouncing the "people smugglers" who had set out in treacherous cyclonic conditions.
Only some...?
Refugee advocates, meanwhile, claimed the government's hostility to illegal immigrants had played a part. "The fact there isn't a welcome refugee policy... [makes] it less likely that people on boats are willing to contact Australian authorities and to rendezvous [safely] ," said Ian Rintoul, of the Refugee Action Coalition.
In other words, because they have to try illegal and stupidly dangerous things to get there, Australia's really the one to blame, not Iraq or Iran.

Pamela Curr, from the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, said Australian border officials must have known the vessel was on its way. "They allowed this boat to head towards Christmas Island, knowing there's a three to five-metre swell which would make it impossible for such a fragile fishing boat to land safely."
Indonesia must have been in an even better position to know this, Pam. Why not be a dear and tell them, eh?

The Perfect 'CiF' Column?

Because it really has everything. Jackie Kay (poet) outlines her heroes, as part of the Guardian's 'Heroes and Villains of 2010' series:
I went to do a reading in Holloway women's prison the other day.
*fetches popcorn*
When I found myself waiting at a bus stop on the wrong side of the road afterwards, I knew the prisoners had made a profound impact.
Blimey! Did she get a bang on the head?
Weirdly, I felt I'd been through some massive therapy session; they were the most perceptive and participatory audience I've ever had.
Well, they couldn't exactly leave if they didn't like it, could they?
In the prison's library, I read from my memoir about tracing my birth parents. The women were mostly black and Asian. One pretty woman said to me quietly: "Why you not angry with your father, why not expose the man?" Another one replied, as if for me: "Because she doesn't want to feel bitterness in her heart," while a third shouted: "Revenge the muthafucka!"
Prison is clearly working for them...
"Can you bring us a love poem if you come again?" someone said. "Yes," I said, as the prison librarian unlocked, locked, unlocked, locked doors and doors and doors between the library and the exit. I'd forgotten my pass so I wasn't allowed out. One of the prisoners in the library could use it to escape, the librarian told me. So somebody was sent back to the library to hunt for my visitor's pass, and eventually I was let out into the nippy November air…
Pity they found it, really...
I've picked the women at Holloway prison as my heroes of the year because of their empathy: their understanding of the way lives can revolve around rejection, revenge and redemption when what we really want is love.
See what I mean? Just perfect...

No wonder when I first clicked onto this column, a little message read:
This article will be opened to comments at 9am
Clearly, the mods had to have time to gird their loins for this one....

Yasmin: Freedom Is What I Say It Is!

Freedom: a word laden with meaning, that turns the heads of billions, moves the world, holds more power than tanks and guns, is imbued with poetic resonance and romantic spirit, a spark that fires up the human soul. The course of history is changed by its restless demands and always for the better.
Really? I suspect you are about to repudiate that in your own column.

And I’m right:
But freedom has never been as free and simple as the songs of freedom that serenade it. Nor is it always the small, good guy, taking on the dark forces. The WikiLeaks drama supposedly embodies that struggle. It doesn't. True, Assange and his web warriors have opened up the labyrinthine crypts and vaults holding official US secrets and conspiracies, and thereby have exposed the lies governments tell and harm they wilfully cause. Diplomatic niceties sound even more fraudulent than once they did; the communiqués about and between various states reveal such dirty politicking their leaders will never again be believed. They deserve no better.
There’s a ‘but’ coming, isn’t there?
However, the widespread cynicism will now burn all before it. Without trust between rulers and the ruled, governance is impossible. (That is what Mr Clegg and co need to understand.) Assange's freedom to publish, while vital, cannot be the only consideration. What happens next? Who deals with the ensuing disarray?
Ummm, perhaps the people who created it? And I’m not referring to Assange…
We journalists must interrogate our own motives too as we relish the endless revelations. We have no means of validating what is going out – and some of the material must be inaccurate or incomplete. The freeing up of so much untested information makes folk swallow and gorge on it, surely very unhealthy.
Well, it never bothers you journalists when you are happily regurgitating the latest statement of ‘research’ from some fakecharity or government quango, so why worry here?
A harder, though equally incontrovertible, truth is that even in the most developed of democracies, where freedoms are guaranteed by constitutions and cumulative wisdom, there are legal and also unspoken, generally understood limits to what is acceptable in the public space. These are indeed frequently and necessarily contested. However, in the last decade, an unprecedented resistance has being mounted by those who cannot compromise, who truly believe anything goes and that restraint is a form of censorship. These freedom fighters have brought down political correctness and delivered the dubious benefits of loose tongues and careless thoughts.
Political correctness has been ‘brought down’..?!?

Truly, proof that Yasmin inhabits her own little world…
And so now we have the abominable Frankie Boyle making filthy jokes on TV about disabled children while people roll about laughing I presume.
You ‘presume’? Shouldn’t you find out, you being one of those fearless, fact-seeking journalists?

But wait, Yaz is in full-on ‘It’s all about meeeeeeee!’ mode:
The hitherto lawless and feral internet world is having to becoming more self- aware and conscious of the effects of words and images on real lives. Legal constraints are creeping in too. Good. It's time the space was civilised. Freedom has given licence to cowards to abuse, threaten, intimidate, cruelly demean, give vent to racism, sexism, paedophilia and the most wicked emotions of which humans are capable. Even more nauseating are their claims of high virtue and democratic valour. (This will set them off, the demented bloggers, the bulldogs who go after me week after week.)

Her conclusion, however, isn’t quite so amusing:
Some information can provoke such devastating consequences, it does need to be kept from the wider public.
Who’s going to decide that, Yaz? You?

A Tip, Ken Clarke, Because It's Christmas And I'm Feeling Generous... remember, if approached by the meejah for a quote on this incident (and if he really does turn out to be a parolee who breached his conditions you WILL be), to think at least once before you open your big fat trap:
The man, who was being held by police last night, had been convicted of causing death by dangerous driving and was supposed to return to prison after apparently breaching parole conditions.
Not that I'd be crying in my mulled wine if you did finally give iDave the excuse he needs to give you the push, mind...

I can well understand how this has invigorated the police in their calls to be routinely armed, or for changes in policy such as the routine handcuffing of all stop and searches, but it's to the justice system that we need to look - why was this man given parole in the first place? Why, when a breach of his parole conditions came to light, was he not immediately arrested, assuming his whereabouts were known?

But then, judges, solicitors and probation officers don't get stabbed almost to death on the streets, do they?

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

‘…intellectual underpinning or historical understanding of the kind of national compact between the UK police and its public…’

‘Sir’ Ian Blair is not in favour of elected sheriffs. What a shocker, eh?
Even leader writers seem to have taken their cue from the coalition's approach to policing, which appears, in contrast to its approach to defence or health, to be determinedly not to look for the big picture.
The ‘Big Picture’ being whatever Blair believes, of course…
And then there is the announcement of the introduction of elected police commissioners, apparently drawn from the US model of elected sheriffs, without any intellectual underpinning or historical understanding of the kind of national compact between the UK police and its public.
And you do? ACPO do?

Living With Predators

Suzanne Goldenberg writes approvingly of the scheme to bring back the wolf in the mid-west.

But then, as a Guardian environmental correspondent based in Washington DC, she can afford to be:
There have been mornings when Jim Stone has woken up to the sight of wolves within 100 yards of his front door. And there have been afternoons, many of them, when the wolves have prowled along the thin electrified cable that delineates the southern boundaries of his cattle ranch, just watching and waiting.

Stone says he can live with that: "They are a part of the chain of life. They were here before we came so it probably makes sense that they are here [now]."
If you hadn't gained the upper hand with modern firearms and organisation, you wouldn't be here now, idiot!
Locals say that the wolves are threatening elk and other wildlife, and harassing their cattle, and they want to declare open season on the predators.
But Stone and other landowners involved in the Blackfoot Challenge, a conservation alliance of ranchers, environmentalists and government officials, want to make up for the first white settlers, who drove the animals almost to extinction, by finding a way to live with wolves.
Whether you like it or not...
"When ranchers and miners first came into the area we were kings. If we wanted to get rid of wolves, we did," Stone says. But, he adds: "This isn't the 1880s any more. We have to figure out a way of co-existence."
Have you negotiated a peace treaty with the wolves? Do they know they are required to 'co-exist'?
"We have had fairly rapid growth in the wolf population since they were re-introduced in the 1990s," says Seth Wilson, the wildlife co-ordinator for the Blackfoot Challenge. "The big challenge is can we co-exist? Can we live with large carnivores? That is the next chapter that we are writing."
Unfortunately, in Alaska, that next chapter is turning out to be a bit of a horror story:
Mayor Scott Anderson doesn't travel around his small town of Port Heiden unarmed. Neither do his neighbors.

That's because hungry wolves have been wandering into town in search of food, sneaking into yards and snatching dogs and cats.
It puts some of our complaints into stark perspective, doesn't it?
It is hunger that is bringing the wolves to this town of about 100 people. While wolves have sneaked into Port Heiden for food before, it is usually just one or two of the animals, and they arrive at night.

This is different. These wolves are bold and hard to scare off. Sometimes they just sit and stare.

Now, the wolves are showing up during the day.
Because hunger has meant they've lost their fear of man. This is the other side of living amongst 'noble predators' that the tourist guides and conservationists don't tell you...

After all, all fears about wolves were calmed with the fact that 'historical accounts' showed that wolves rarely attacked man.

Except, of course, when hungry:
Wolves coming into Port Heiden have residents thinking about what occurred in the village of Chignik Lake last March: A teacher out jogging was killed by two hungry wolves.
This is what all the Disneyfied nature documentaries and approving conservation schemes would like to brush under the carpet. Yes, they usually are more scared of you than you are of them, yes, they usually won't attack unless provoked, yes, they are the 'noble spirit of the wild', and we really would be worse off if they were no longer around.

But when the chips are down, they aren't going to reciprocate that respect and admiration. We are just meat to them.

Your Data, Safe In Their Hands!

The personal details of hundreds of elderly and vulnerable people have been found discarded in a street.

A 133-page document with the names, date of birth, address and social security numbers of around 800 people, being looked after by Carewatch Essex, was found on a pavement in Vicarage Close, Canvey.
Whoops! Bit of a problem for a company that '...prides itself on the quality of its services to people in South East Essex'...
The resident who found the book contacted Carewatch using an e-mail address on the firm’s website, as soon as she found the document on Saturday.

But the primary school teacher, 41, who asked not to be named, handed over the file to the Echo on Monday, after hearing nothing from the company.
Ah. That must be why they are advertising on their website for 'reliable caring individuals with good communication skills'.
Jan Reed, general manager of the Hadleigh-based branch of Carewatch, which cares for people throughout south-east Essex, initially said she was unaware of the lost document.

She later confirmed an employee had reported the loss on Sunday.
It doesn't pay to lie to the press...
She said: “This is being dealt with internally.

“All I can say is thank you to the person who handed it in.

“We can only assume, if it was found on the street, the care worker slipped, but we are continuing our investigations.”
Hey, aren't there other people skilled in investigation who could help?
The loss was not reported to police.

I Don't Want To See The Unruly Bitch Punished Too Harshly...

...after all, at seven months old, she's just a puppy!

Her mistress, however, deserves a lot more than a smack on the nose with a rolled up newspaper, and an electro-shock collar:
A judge swore and stormed out of court today when she was convicted of failing to control her dangerous dog.

Judge Beatrice Bolton, of Rothbury, Northumberland, strode out when the verdict was announced, branding the decision "a f****** travesty".
Oh, dear. A muzzle might have been in order?
Judge Bolton was heard yelling "I'll never set foot in a court again" from outside the courtroom.
Well, let's hope so!
Judge Bolton, who was asked by the court usher during the two-day-trial to stop chewing gum...
Hmm, it's not often it's the judge who displays such contempt for a court, is it? Her behaviour is rather reminiscent of the unlamented ex-Labour MP & legal beagle (arf!) Vera Baird.

What is it with law women and dogs and that unshakable sense of entitlement and belief that the rules they are supposed to uphold don't apply to them?

I said on Twitter that the MSM would probably now dig into her case load and see if she'd made any embarrassing faux pas. So, to save them the trouble:

On sentencing a woman for breaking an ASBO over loud sex:
"In addition it's quite clear from the small extract I heard that you made no attempt to silence yourself."
On allowing an appeal for a young man convicted of 'barking at a woman to cause her distress':
"Are you going to be convicted every time you do something someone else doesn't like?..the law is not an ass."
What do you think of the law now, judge?

H/T Charonqc via Twitter yesterday

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

It’s Hardly A Surprise: We’ve Seen Where The Money Goes…

Only a quarter of people believe more money should be spent on benefits compared with more than half in the mid-1980s, it was disclosed.
Is it really any wonder?
A large-scale analysis of social attitudes over three decades also found fewer adults wanted the Government to redistribute income and many believed inequality was down to “individual laziness on the one hand and hard work on the other” .
I suspect the key word there is ‘adults’…
The disclosure, in the annual British Social Attitudes report, is being seen as evidence that public opinion is “far closer” to many of Lady Thatcher’s core beliefs than it was when she left office in 1990.
No doubt the wailing and gnashing of teeth at the 'Guardian' will be illuminating.
After 13 years of a Labour government, the study found more people were against disproportionately taxing the better off.

It’s Amazing What Four Pints Of Stella Can Do…

I mean, it gives me a bit of a buzz, but mostly an overwhelming urge to run to the loo every five minutes.

So you wouldn’t think it’d have this effect on a great big burly chap, would you?
Miss Pickering said at this point Fodderie was becoming 'more aggressive' and was standing very close to the medic and pointing his finger in his face.

At this point he said: 'I'm a chef. If you ever come to Jamie Oliver's restaurant I'll poison your food.' He then said: 'I will f***ing knock you out.'

Miss Pickering said Dr Grant felt threatened and called security who then contacted the police.
Remind me not to send any dishes back to the kitchen if I ever eat there!

Still, abusing the front-line NHS staff is a big no-no, and rightly so, so I hope chummy knows how to cook porridge, because…

Oh, FFS!
District Judge Quentin Purdy said he saw it as a 'classic case of people on the front line being abused' but he was persuaded to suspend the cook's prison sentence.
Well, that’s how you get more and more ‘classic cases of people on the front line being abused’, moron!
Judge Purdy ordered that he carry out 150 hours of unpaid work and was banned from entering the City of Westminster for six months unless on work related activities.

He was also ordered to pay Dr Grant £200 in compensation.
Still, maybe it was his first offe…

Oh, why pretend?
The 23-year-old, who has a previous conviction for robbery

The sainted Oliver needs to select his protégés a little better, I think:
It is not the first time a Fifteen apprentice has found himself on the wrong side of the law.

Trainee chef Christopher Murray, 22, from south London, was jailed for two years in 2009 after sexually assaulting two women on the London Underground.
Or he could always take over that famous vegetarian restaurant in Covent Garden, and rename it ‘Crooks’….

Not Helping To Dispel The Myth…

…of social workers as naïve, credulous fools who lap up every sob story they are given by their ‘clients’, is it?
A senior social worker heaped praise on Baby P’s mother after interviewing her about the toddler’s injuries four months before his death.
Sue Gilmore thanked Tracey Connelly for being ‘really open and completely honest’.
Boy, was her face red, eh? Mind you, she was luckier than Baby P, as it wasn’t blood…
Throughout the tape, Mrs Gilmore, a senior team manager in the social work department at Haringey, north London, appears eager to accept Connelly’s explanations for her son’s injuries.

And when Connelly says she wishes social workers would ‘back off and leave me alone’ she sympathises, saying that is a ‘straightforward thing to want’.
*grinds teeth*
Mrs Gilmore left Haringey Council in January 2008 and has never faced disciplinary proceedings.

She recorded the hour-long interview as part of a course in new social work methods aimed at encouraging parents to cooperate with the authorities.

She failed the training assignment and did not complete the course.
I think the only thing to do with Haringey Social Services is to sack the lot, and start over again…
Through her solicitor, Mrs Gilmore said the interview was not ‘investigative’, and that she co-operated with police and answered all their questions.
It might not have been ‘investigative’, but we certainly discovered a lot, didn’t we?