Monday, 31 January 2011

‘…confident within the surety of the regulations …’

Airport officials ordered a holidaymaker carrying a toy soldier onto a plane to remove its three-inch gun - because it was a safety threat.
Officials declared the moulded gun could not go on the plane and Mr Lloyd had to snap off the model weapon and then post it back to his home in Ontario.

He said: 'As the figurine's SA80 rifle was pulled from the box, the security search officer contacted her supervisor. The moulded SA80 could not pass.'
So this isn’t just one cretin who thinks ‘rules iz rules!’. She checked with her supervisor, who should have told her not to be such a cretin.

But no:
'My wife asked for a "reality check", explaining how this offending piece of sculptured moulding is a 9 inch painted model with a moulded and painted rifle that is part of the figure.

'The supervisor was confident within the surety of the regulations and said a "firearm" is a firearm and cannot pass.'
Unless it's disassembled into its component parts, of course, as Angry Exile points out. Then, no problem!

Still, now it’s in the open, fulsome apologies and retraining for…

A spokeswoman for Gatwick Airport said: 'Items including firearms and items with the appearance of firearms are prohibited.
'There are lots of other reasons an item could be prevented from going through security, such as large items that do not fit in overhead lockers on the aircraft.'
This item is three inches long. Try again, love…

Headline May Not Be All That Accurate…

You mean, he’s still alive?

An American prisoner in Georgia was executed with British drugs despite testimony from defence lawyers and a medical expert that one of the chemicals might have been ineffective and beyond its shelf life.
It seems to have been pretty effective to me…
In a series of last-minute appeals, lawyers for Mr Hammond presented evidence from Dr Mark Heath, a clinical anaesthesiologist at Columbia University Medical Centre, who said evidence from a previous execution of a Georgia prisoner suggested Dream Pharma's sodium thiopental may not have worked properly.
And the reason for thinking this is..?
Brandon Rhode was executed using Dream Pharma's sodium thiopental on 27 September 2010. During the execution, numerous reporters and witnesses noticed that his eyes remained open throughout the procedure, an event Dr Heath described as "highly atypical" as the drug normally ensures an executed inmate's eyes remain closed.
They’re closed now, aren’t they?

So, did the same thing happen to…

It is not yet known whether Hammond, who spent 23 years on death row for murder, showed similar symptoms during his execution.
Not that that’ll stop ubiquitous bandwagon-jumper Stafford-Smith from whinging to the press…
Reprieve, a British group that campaigns against the death penalty, said the Government should have done more to make sure British drugs were not used in executions.
"It is shocking that Britain has allowed a fly-by-night company in the back of a driving academy to export these drugs," said Clive Stafford-Smith, Reprieve's director. "The British Government must initiate an immediate inquiry into how this can happen."
Sorry, chum. Cutbacks, doncherknow?

Shock! Horror! Filth!

A mum was horrified after finding two obscene video messages on a new mobile phone she bought for her 12-year-old son.
She said: “I turned on the phone, and started to play around with it, when suddenly I saw two pornographic video clips.”
Oh noes!

Dare she even try to describe the filthy stuff in a family newspaper?
“One had a woman running around with no top on, and the other was of a cuddly children’s toy hamster, swearing and using profane language.”


Well, that’s probably disappointed more than a few readers…
“I’m worried someone else will buy the same make and model and they will find the disgusting content.

“They need to sort this out and carry out better checks before selling equipment like this. Customers shouldn’t have to find this sort of thing on their phones.”
Quite right, love, it’s appalling, innit? You need to go somewhere where you are guaranteed you won’t get mildly saucy clips pre-installed on your…

Mrs Greenwood has since visited the store to get a replacement phone.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Thanks For That, Ed, But...'s not like we needed any more evidence that Labour is utterly unfit for office, is it?
Ed Balls revealed yesterday how he speed-read crime novels after Ed Miliband made him Shadow Home Secretary last year.
W...T...F....F...? Is this a joke? Is it April 1st already?

Good god, I've read everything Val McDermid, Kathy Reichs, Thomas Harris and Jonathan Kellerman have ever written; what's more, I often guess the killer before the penultimate chapter. So when's someone going to make me Shadow Home Sec? I'm vastly more qualified, if that's all that's needed....
The admission by Mr Balls, finally promoted to Shadow Chancellor this month after Alan Johnson’s resignation, has echoes of Mr Johnson’s confession that he consulted an economics primer after he was surprisingly given the Treasury brief in September.
Well, no, actually, nothing like it. If Balls had requested a few Scotland Yard case files or, hell, even a few non-fiction crime case studies, it'd be a lot closer.

Alan Johnson at least didn't bone up on the novels of Linda Davies, did he?

Always On The Outside, Looking In…

Oh, dear old Yasmin. No sooner does she do something amazing, she’s back a few days later doing something more typical:
Week in, week out, plain-speaking natives out there notify me that I will always be an unwelcome alien, never properly British. They are right. We immigrants are destined to be insider-outsiders.
Well, that’s a cheery thought. And clearly, it goes for all immigrants, everywhere.

Because, as far as Yaz is concerned, all immigrants are the same, clearly…
The hope is that our children will belong – but their birthright too is often contested. It's all very exhausting and hurtful, yet there are advantages too. Incomers can never share the smug patriotism of the true-born.
Are you sure?
Some of Britain's achievements are awesome
Only some?
… especially for those of us who fled autocratic nations run by bandits. But tyrannies make you sceptical and less gullible than those who take democracy for granted. You mistrust the powerful, question their versions of history and their motives, messages and policies.
And bang on and on and on and on about racism and make a tidy living from it. It’s a hard life…
The late Anthony Sampson, an exceptionally astute writer on the workings of the British state, wrote in 2004: "The British political establishment has always tended towards a single social plateau firmly based in London... The old pattern keeps reasserting itself with a different cast, still forming a narrow circle at the top."
This is the circle that tells us what to think and believe. They determine judgements, and even the language we may use. If Britons could free their minds and tongues they would see a much more disturbing picture of their beloved land than they ever allow themselves to.
Aren’t you one of the progressive figures who has spent the last 20 years agitating for Britons to hold their tongues and keep their thoughts to themselves?

It seems the sight of Blair’s grinning mug prompted this dyspeptic outburst:
Blair's dubious record has led to staggering personal enrichment. His coterie has done just as fabulously. Peter Mandelson, our erstwhile business secretary, has just taken up a lucrative job as consultant for Lazard, the American investment bank that advised Kraft on its controversial takeover of Cadbury last year.
So? That doesn’t come as a surprise, surely? Did you think they weren’t all in it for what they could get?
British police too are believed to be unimpeachable. What a shock it is for the public to hear about undercover infiltrators, and (we must assume) agents provocateurs, who have gained the trust of and entry into campaign groups – most of them legitimate and exercising their right to oppose official policies.
And if that’s all they ever do – legally protest – then there will be nothing to find out.
But if it isn’t…
In Kenya, meanwhile, policemen were photographed shooting dead three unarmed suspects – a horrifying story. Rob Macaire, our man in Nairobi, condemned the officers and others who frequently use violence against the people they are meant to protect. But we too have our law-and-order thugs. Ian Tomlinson died after being struck by a police baton. Jean Charles de Menezes was shot because officers thought he was a terrorist, and there have been many more down the years.
Yes, because a mistaken identity incident and a bit of rough treatment leading to an accidental death is exactly the same as a deliberate extra-judicial execution in a third world hellhole…
I am not suggesting this country is devoid of probity and is as corrupt and opaque as Tunisia and similar regimes.
No, perish the thought, Yaz!
But believing their country is the best blinds citizens to the steady erosion of values and principles that should be sacrosanct. Britain is losing the moral authority to lecture other nations on good governance and justice.
Well, no. No, we’re not.
The powerful don't understand that a national reputation needs to be constantly renewed. Those of us who came to stay, who left behind lands of chaos and institutionalised barbarism, who have always admired this democracy, are apprehensive.
You’re always apprehensive, Yaz. It’s a paying gig, after all.

Not Quite, ‘Telegraph’, Not Quite…

The driver of a mobility scooter who killed a 90-year old pedestrian escaped prosecution because no law existed to enable police to take action, an inquest heard.
Well, it’s true that the law proved inadequate for this case.

But there’s actually another reason why he ‘escaped’ prosecution:
The inquest was told Mrs Macey sustained serious leg injuries after being hit as she stepped onto the pavement after crossing the road on July 21 2009.

Mrs Macey was rushed to nearby St Mary's Hospital, in Newport, and was then transferred to Salisbury District Hospital where she died two days later.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, the coroner condemned the behaviour Mr Cousins, who died of prostate cancer in September 2009.
That’s right. He himself died two months later!

Hardly enough time to mount a prosecution if the law had allowed it…
Blood was seen gushing from her leg and her bone was exposed, witnesses said. But Mr Cousins, who was known locally as a "scooter menace" drove off at 4mph, after remarking 'It looks like she's OK."

He was later found shopping at a Somerfield supermarket, where he was breathalysed after a member of the public said they believed he had been drinking.

Mr Cousins registered a reading of 27 micrograms per 100 millilitres of breath, below the legal limit of 35.
However, while his goose would have been cooked if he’d been behind the wheel of a car or a motorbike and was over the limit, he wasn’t. Either over the limit, or behind the wheel of a car.

And so could not be charged anyway.
But police, who investigated the accident at Sandown, Isle of Wight, found that they were unable to bring charges against Mr Cousins under the Road Traffic Act.
Naturally, people are now calling for the laws on drink-driving to be beefed up and extended to…

Oh. Wait. They aren’t.
The gap in the law angered John Matthews, the Isle of Wight Coroner. "I'm extremely concerned that there is no control or legislation affecting the driving of invalid carriages or scooters.

"It is surprising because there are so many controls affecting us in other areas of our lives," he said.
And you think that’s such a great thing, that you want another one?!?
"I'm so concerned that I intend to write to the local MP and Secretary of State for Transport so that some control may be brought in for the protection of pedestrians on the pavements."
Surely just ensuring that the drink-driving laws cover these vehicles (where people are actually over the limit - remember, this man wasn't..) would be appropriate and proportionate?

It seems not:
After the inquest Mrs Macey's son Martin, 55, who works at Gatwick Airport, called for a change in the law.

He said: "Mum's death was shocking.

"I don't want it to happen to anybody else and we need a change in the law which forces people to pass a proficiency test and be covered by insurance."
No. No, we do not.

Why punish all those people who use these vehicles to get around, make them take a test and get insurance (which could push the cost beyond affordability for many), for an instance that may never have been prevented by the changes you think you want anyway?

After all, we have proficiency tests and compulsory insurance with cars, yet people are still killed by those determined to flout the law.

All you would do is further enrich the likes of Richard Boyd. And make everyone’s lives just that little bit less free.

Not much of a memorial for your mother, is it?

Sunday Funnies

The film industry lies to us in just so many ways...

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Blurring Boundaries

Via frequent commenter Jeff Wood, this incredible story:
He's the male model of the moment, starring in the latest Marc by Marc Jacobs campaign and being shot by Steven Meisel and Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott for French and Italian Vogues.
And what's he modelling?

Click to find out! Be afraid, Naomi Campbell. Be very afraid...

Excuses, Excuses….

Following on from the revelation that a 'homophobic' word merits you an extra year in jail compared to the thug who threw the actual punch, it seems the local newspaper is going to bat for the real victims in the case:
For Joel Alexander, the punch which killed Ian Baynham was also a devastating blow to his own life.

Before he threw the punch which ended the life of 62-year-old Mr Baynham, Alexander was by all accounts considered a decent young man from a loving family who had a bright future ahead, with a place at the University of East London awaiting him.
Shows just how wrong everyone can be, then, doesn't it?
Kerim Fuad, representing Alexander, told the court he had only punched Mr Baynham to defend Thomas, and “could not have thought or envisaged for a moment the quite catastrophic consequences that followed that punch”.
Oh, such a gentleman...
Mr Fuad added that Alexander had repeatedly expressed his remorse for the death of Mr Baynham, and had suffered sleepless nights since the incident.

Alexander’s anguish and remorse will do little to comfort the friends and family of Mr Baynham, but it could be evidence that the 20-year-old from Thornton Heath is not the cold blooded killer many believe him to be.
And it could be evidence that the defence was using the oldest trick in the book to get leniency for a client caught bang to rights.

Who writes these columns, Ken Clarke?
As Ruby Thomas was jailed for the manslaughter of Ian Baynham yesterday, the emerging details of her background painted a much bleaker picture of her childhood than her title of former public schoolgirl would suggest.
So what? Lots of people have 'bleak childhoods' yet don't end up drunken aggressive sluts.
During the sentencing at the Old Bailey, Thomas’ lawyer Christopher Sallon QC read out a letter to the court from her mother which described an abusive father who had wreaked havoc on their lives. When Thomas was aged 11 her father was arrested for murder and then convicted of manslaughter at the Old Bailey.

In 2006, after being released from prison, her father was arrested again for threatening to kill someone, and was then locked up in a mental hospital.
Hmmm, something's springing to mind, here. Begins with 'L...' and ends in '..ike father, like daughter'...
Of course, none of this makes up for what she did to 62-year-old Ian Baynham in Trafalgar Square, but it does show Thomas is more than just a former public schoolgirl with a vicious, homophobic streak.
No. Actually, it doesn't.

The Only Ones Who Win Are The Lawyers

Wise words from John Walsh in the ‘Indy’ on the Sky Sports ‘sexism’ affair:
We are all – women included – capable of sexist remarks. At work and in our everyday dealings with other people, with friends, in shops, in transit, in pubs, we constantly edit our discourse. What we say in mixed company is governed by how well we know the participants, and how little we wish to be thought a pervert or a pillock by saying something offensive. But among friends we can amuse each other with the language of innuendo, physical observations, personal abuse and risqué jokes. Elsewhere – in the boardroom, when visiting in-laws, at the doctor's, when negotiating a bank loan – we are formal, judicious, restrained. We keep a lid on the smut.

At work, though, the borders become blurred. Many of the old hierarchies have disappeared, along with the private office, the factory floor and the typing pool. We are more like friendly acquaintances working together. We seem more like equals than masters and slaves. Does that mean we can talk to each other as gendered beings rather than co-workers?

Because there’s no level playing field, and the rules of Victimhood Poker hold sway…
Today, we're so concerned about "inappropriate" dress, conversation or even opinions, that these shocking practices are unlikely to return. But we are now unsure of the exact rules of workplace engagement. If a woman can say, "I like your shirt, Mike – lovely shade of blue" to a male colleague, can he say "I like your top, Sally" or "Those are nice jeans, Celia" without being suspected of staring at Sally's breasts and Celia's bottom? If the boss says, "You're looking hot today, Fiona," without being accused of anything worse than flirting, can Imogen return the compliment without being accused of attempted seduction? Is flirting allowed at all, or should it be discouraged? Is it acceptable to touch a colleague on the arm, shoulder or back, to make a point, to indicate solidarity, or to squeeze past them? If a colleague starts talking about a sexual escapade in his or her past, are we duty-bound to shut them up because they're treating us as confidantes, not colleagues?
An announcement by a man that he plans to do some washing or some cooking is met with disbelief in my office, with calls of 'Do you know where the oven is?'. Similarly, if one of us has a car or other mechanical problem, the favour is returned with 'Don't forget the indicators aren't where you hang your handbag!'.

Is that now actionable, should some newbie join the office and turn out to be a humourless bitch or stuck-up prig?
Once you start wondering about the rules, and attempting to codify them, you know how silly it is. Work environments are places whose rules are tacitly agreed. There will always be exhibitionists, loudmouths, sexpots, lotharios, people who dress like mice or like undertakers and people who defy dress codes, people who never speak and people who throw the C-word around like Folkstone dockers. Together, if we're lucky, we find a discourse that lets us get some work done on a professional level while amusing each other on a personal one. If we cross the line and treat each other as figures of fun, as servants or sexual prospects, we'll soon be told by the faces around us that we've gone too far. We won't need the tabloid press, or Sky News, to remind us to show each other the respect we crave to be shown ourselves.
It's a nice thought. But I wonder. As DumbJon points out, there's too many vested interests who see this as a way to get ahead of the game.

Update: Via The Grim Reaper, some even wiser words from a surprising source.

Johann Hari: Champion Of Divisive Identity Politics Speaks...

I am exhausted. I have spent all week trying to brainwash small children into being gay, by relentlessly inserting
Woah, Nelly!
homosexuality into their maths, geography and science lessons.

This is, of course, Hari’s fightback against the news that we desperately need to include ‘gay examples’ in maths, science etc to prevent this sort of thing happening:
Every week, I get emails from despairing gay kids who describe being thrown against lockers, scorned by their teachers if they complain, and – in some faith schools – told they will burn in Hell.
And this will be helped by having examples of gay couples in algebra questions how, exactly?
Is it “political correctness” and “McCarthyism” to try to ensure these kids can feel safe in their own schools – or is it basic decency?
No, it’s basic decency – so deal with the issue (which is bullying and assault) with the tools already there for it.

Or is that too difficult?
A few very mild proposals were made this week for how to change the attitudes behind this. They came from an excellent organization called Schools Out, which is run with a small grant from the tax-payer. They gave out a voluntary information pack in which they suggested that, to mark LGBT History Month, teachers acknowledge the existence of gay people in their lessons.
If you are having specific lessons about how everyone, no matter what their lifestyle or beliefs, should be treated with respect, fair enough.

But needlessly incorporating it into unrelated lessons risks calling attention to it, surely?
The Schools Health Education Unit found that homophobic violence was dramatically lower in schools that taught about homosexuality. Good schools like Stoke Newington Secondary that followed this program were assessed to have “virtually eliminated homophobic bullying.”
Oh, really? Pardon me if I find that rather hard to believe. Like Quiet Riot Girl at 'Guardian Watch', I'm a little suspicious of the grandiose claims made by groups like Stonewall.

And I note it states they've virtually eliminated homophobic bullying, not that they've virtually eliminated bullying. Are they simply blurring the definition to meet the target?
In order to justify their desire to discriminate against gay people, the few remaining homophobes have concocted a scenario where they are The Real Victims. They can say what they want, set up churches or mosques that preach what they want
Whoops! It seems Johann Hari doesn’t even read his own newspaper….

Great timing, Johann!

But, easy as it is to rip Hari to shreds, his message is still disseminated throughout the schools and the 'right-on' teachers are still likely to pick up on it and decide that it's better to go along than risk being thought a 'homophobe' (of which Hari seems to think the UK has many or few, depending on the way the wind blows).

And despite Hari's claims of success for this scheme, I've got my doubts it's as effective as he wants it to be. For one thing, changing attitudes is all well and good, but it takes time. Therefore, it's not a lot of use to the kid getting his head kicked in now.

And this inclusion of gay themes is targeted at LGBT History month, not all year round, thus making it stand out even more.

It's not a difficult thing to get anyone's head round, really:

Is it bad that kids are being bullied because they are gay? Yes.

Is it bad that kids are being bullied because they are fat? Yes.

Is it bad that kids are being bullied because they are nerdy? Yes.

Is it bad that kids are being bullied because they are ginger? Oh, well, maybe... Sorry, no, of course the answer's 'Yes'.

So the inescapable conclusion is that schools need to do more to halt bullying. Not to target one specific identity group.

But that doesn't keep the High Priest of Gayness in a well-paid job, does it?

Oh, Look! Another One…

A teenage girl who told police she was raped in Westcliff has withdrawn her allegation.
Police appealed for information about the attack in Glenwood Avenue on November 9, 2010.

The girl claimed that a man in a vehicle drove behind her and then stopped. She claimed the man got out of the vehicle and she was raped in a nearby alleyway.
At least it never went as far as an arrest. Though there’s one arrest that’s needed, and isn’t going to happen:
The teenage will not be prosecuted.
Naturally, there's always a few ready to leap to her defence:
Ray1963, Southend On sea says...

Let's just wait until we get the full story in friday's Echo before jumping to any conclusions, after all she is just a teenager and therefore probably a child.
Those boundaries of 'child/adult' as so flexible, aren't they?
PurplePrincess, Westcliff says...

Just because she’s withdrawn the allegation doesn’t necessarily mean the rape didn’t happen. Most rape cases don’t make it to court as the whole ordeal is so traumatic for the victim. Now, I’m not saying that is the case here but as the Echo as the journalistic ability of a seven year old, it’s left out most of the facts, so let’s not jump to conclusion on the basis of what is printed here.
Yes, rape cases are traumatic for the victim. And according to 'Purple Princess', there's only ever one victim.
maddriver, Benfleet says...

For your information the following was reported on the BBC website:
"Police said the teenager had since confirmed that she was not raped, had apologised and was "extremely remorseful".

The girl will not be prosecuted but is working with a youth offending team, Essex Police said."

Presumably the reason that no prosecution was made was because of the girl's agreement to work with a youth offending team.
Keeps it off their stats, doesn't it?

Well, not off mine.

Friday, 28 January 2011

What’s A Word Worth?

Ruby Thomas, aged 19, and Joel Alexander were sentenced at the Old Bailey today after previously being found guilty of the manslaughter of 62-year-old Mr Baynham.

Thomas, who lived in Bourdon Road in Crystal Palace before moving to Lichfield after Mr Baynham’s death, was sentenced to seven years in a young offenders institute.

Alexander, of Talbot Road in Thornton Heath, was given six years, also in a young offenders institute.
Hang on! He was the one who physically assaulted the victim, leading to the death – why does he get a year less?

Well, according to Judge Richard Hawkins:
He said he had sentenced Thomas to a year more than Alexander because her homophobic comment to Mr Baynham was an aggravating factor.
So, that’s what a word is worth. An extra year’s jail.

Only if it’s the right word, of course.

Fare’s Fair….

A Muslim family say they were “singled out” by a Bournemouth bus driver.

The mother, who does not speak English, and daughter – both were wearing headscarves – and two sons, said they tried to purchase a family ticket on the number 2b bus when the problems began.

The family, who asked not to be named to prevent further problems, said the driver became “irate”.
And what seemed to be the problem, then?
The 16-year-old daughter of the family said the argument began when she was told a family ticket was £9, when the week before it had been £7.
It’s called ‘inflation’ – I’m sure it happens in Muslim countries too…
“He spoke to me in a very rude tone, I was shocked,” she said.

She then tried to purchase individual tickets, but she and the driver again disagreed over the cost.

“He turned the engine off and he said ‘Let’s make these people wait and be later than they are’. He got to the point where he was really angry, so I said we would just get off the bus,” said the daughter.
And this obviously meant you were ‘singled out’ because you were Muslim, rather than because you were the only ones quibbling over the price rise?
The daughter added: “Me and my mum were wearing headscarves and he didn’t do it to anyone else, just us.”
But did anyone else start haggling over the price? If so, and if they weren’t treated the way you claim you were treated, you might just have a case.

But if not
The family said they felt singled out, embarrassed, and victims of a “hate crime”.
Of course you did. Or rather, of course you’ll use this as another example of ‘poor little me’…
Jenni Wilkinson, Yellow Buses’ head of marketing, said: “We have fully investigated this incident, which arose over the cost of a family ticket. We are absolutely satisfied that no racism was involved and strenuously deny any such suggestion.

“We do, however, feel that the high standards of customer care our passengers expect were not met on this occasion and, for this reason, disciplinary action has been taken against the driver involved. We have also apologised to the family.”
As usual, the comments are most illuminating:
GB916, christchurch says...

If the mother could be bothered to learn english,then she and her family would realise yelow buses announced recently that the bus fares were going up,so the bus driver was only telling them that,but as usual out comes the race card...
Of course, there’s always one:
Adamapple, Harrow says...

12 replies and not one sympathetic to a poor family's ordeal.

Welcome to Bigoted Britain 2011.
I guess you must be a dining companion of Baroness Warsi, Adamapple..?

Quote Of The Month

From Anna Raccoon, on the Affaire de Alan Johnson:
"One can only have sympathy for Alan Johnson; it is hard to keep your mind on the rate of National Insurance for employers, when your close protection officer is closer to your young wife than he is to you. A man’s mind wanders in such circumstances."

Post Of The Month

This month, it's NickM at 'Counting Cats..' who shines a light on a truly revolting practice.

Post Title Of The Month

From Subrosa, on the news than Germany's egg production industry was found to contain dangerous levels of dioxin:

Thursday, 27 January 2011

No More MONA?

A man has been stabbed to death and three seriously injured after a street fight outside a house party.

Four people were taken to hospital with stab wounds following the clash between the two groups of people from Middle Eastern origin.
Oh. That’s new.
Chief Supt Chris Hogben said: …'We also have specialist officers working within the community to reduce these tensions.'
Hmmm, wonder just what that means…

Is This Surprising To Anyone?

More than 6,400 offenders considered to pose a "high" or "very high" risk of causing serious harm to others were allowed to serve their sentences in the community last year.
Well, of course they were. After all, it’s not a ‘community’ that the magistrates and judges have to live in, is it?

Still, maybe it was a breakdown in communications, and they weren’t told that…

In each case judges were informed of the significant likelihood that the criminals would reoffend but still decided to impose community sentences.
And now many cats are out of the ‘let’s go soft on criminals and see what happens!’ bag:
The figures come as a separate study shows that a programme that hands offenders an "intensive" community punishment instead of sending them to prison has failed in almost a third of cases.
Which will no doubt be spun as ‘over two-thirds proved successful!’ by the time the Min of Just gets to work on it…
Philip Davies, the Tory MP who obtained the figures, said: "It is an absolute scandal that the criminal justice system can put us in a situation where people have a high risk of committing crimes and the courts do not send them to prison.

"The public are entitled to expect to be protected. There is only one place for these people and that is prison.

"It flies in the face of Ken Clarke's assertion that too many people are going to prison when clearly they are not."
Let’s have the response then:
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said of the latest statistics: "It is for the court to decide an offender's sentence and there will always be enough prison places for the most dangerous criminals.

"The majority of offenders on community sentences are less serious offenders, but all offenders are subject to risk assessment to ensure that the public is protected. When a potential risk is identified the appropriate offender management, community supervision, and where appropriate, MAPPA arrangements, will be put in place.

"Community sentences can divert offenders from the revolving door of short prison sentences. Short prison sentences can lead to problems with employment, housing and family relationships which are key to stopping people reoffending."

Also, surely those ‘problems with employment, housing and family relationships’ are of their own making? Why should it be up top the state to resolve them?
Blair Gibbs, head of the crime and justice unit at the think tank Policy Exchange, said: "Current community sentences – even the most intensive type – are an expensive failure.

"Rules are not enforced, breaches are routine, and offenders commit new crimes while they are serving the orders. Unless conditions are tightened up, orders made more intensive, and tough new work schemes created, community sentences will continue to fail and will go on being viewed by the public as a soft option.”
But then, what are the public to do about it? Vote in a traditional ‘law & order’ party, and hope for the best?

Yeah, that went well, didn’t it..?

Want To Check Out A Library Book?

Better get that CRB check sorted then, in case this wacky plan ever gets off the drawing board:
Schools could be asked to house public libraries and children’s centres to save on running costs, a council boss has indicated.
Mr Tinlin said: “We are looking at doing things differently, like having a children’s centre and library in a school.

“We don’t want to go down the same route as other local authorities in closing things.

“Instead, we need to think about bringing together some of our services, like children’s services, youth centres, schools and libraries.

“If they were run from the same building, we save money on overhead costs, maintenance, staffing and cleaning.”
Yes, because teachers are going to be happy to be part-time librarians for nothing, parents are going to be just delighted that all and sundry are now encouraged to access the increasingly fortress-like schools, and pensioners will no doubt be more than happy to undergo a CRB check just to take out a Catherine Cookson novel…

Some ideas should be strangled at birth.

Here's Another Waste Of Taxpayer's Money...

Renza Vermeulen, ARAMARK’s healthcare dietician for the Epsom and St Helier University Hospital Trust, and Doris Caesar, nutritionist and diet chef at St Helier Hospital, visited Victor Seymour Infants’ School to give pupils an insight into preparing healthy lunchbox treats.
NHS trusts, strapped for cash, eh?

Clearly, not this one.
Val Carter, Corporate Responsibility Director, ARAMARK, said: "All 11 children’s workshops were a huge success.

"In groups, the children were asked to create their own version of the Food Standard Agency’s ‘eatwell plate’, which helped encourage them to eat a variety of foods including, fruit and vegetables, starchy foods, milk and dairy products, meat, fish, eggs and pulses, fats and sugars."
And we wonder why the NHS is haemorrhaging money, and children can't read and write...

Save Our (Non) Jobs!

Transport chiefs in York are to look at whether hundreds of pupils in the city could be given free bikes to help them get to school.
Yes, indeed, councils wasting our money, providing ‘free’ stuff willy-nilly, etc, etc. It’s a bad idea in this time of belt-tightening, but it’s not the worst.

The worst is the reason they are considering this. It isn’t to save money…
The idea is one of a string of possibilities which will be analysed by City of York Council as it tries to make school runs safer, less congested and more environmentally friendly.
And this is the business of the council, now, is it? How their school pupils actually get there?

Amazingly, not only is the answer apparently ‘yes’, but these policies are resulting in the addition of yet more staff to the payroll – staff who should now be protected against the inevitable cuts!
Coun Ruth Potter, who chaired the committee which examined the issue, said: “A number of constructive ideas have been put forward and we put forward 14 proposals in all.

“One of the most important calls we are making is that school travel plan co-ordinators are protected in the forthcoming budget process. Without the work they do with schools, the council is never going to realise its objective of reducing the number of car journeys to school.”
As Blue Eyes points out, these are the non-jobs that are being protected while cuts are made to those front-line services that the taxpayers actually want, and see a benefit from…

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

I Think I Need A Junior Version Of My Tag…

A teenage girl has been convicted of falsely claiming she was raped after having sex with a 14-year-old boy in his bedroom.

The teenager claimed she was attacked when she was 15 after the boy ‘nagged’ her to sleep with him during a game of ‘truth or dare’.

He was arrested by police and held overnight but denied rape and was freed without charge.
And normally, that’d be the end of it. But it seems the police are on a bit of a roll with the false rape stuff lately:
Instead police charged the girl, now 16, with making a false allegation to pervert the course of justice – despite both children being under the age of consent.
I bet the femiloons are going to get their knickers in a twist over this!

And right on cue:
Rape campaigners yesterday criticised the decision to charge the girl.

Lisa Longstaff, from Women Against Rape, said: ‘It is awful that a girl so young has been prosecuted in this way.’
It’s not ‘awful’ that a girl so young is playing sex games with another youngster and then, when things get too complicated, alleges he committed a crime? And is believed to the point where another child is arrested?

How the hell did we ever get to this point?

Yes, Sport Can Indeed ‘Bring People Together’…

…but that’s emphatically not what you are doing, is it?
Councillor Terry Stacy, leader of Islington Liberal Democrats, said: 'I think it's important to support minority groups to participate in sports that they wouldn't normally engage in.'
Is there a problem with lesbians and squash, then? And is it really something they need to resolve by giving them our money?
'I congratulate the club on their grant - Sport England must feel there is a gap there.

'We've had women-only sports clubs, Muslim women's swimming groups, girls' tennis - I don't have a problem with targeted provision if there's a gap in the participation.'
Is this some insane measure of our civilisation, then? That we have ‘x’ number of ‘insert identity group here’ indulging in ‘insert activity here’?
Mr Forni added: 'We can show that there are other things to do as an LGBT person, other ways to meet people, not just the stereotypical party scene.

'You can meet like-minded people through doing something that keeps you fit and you enjoy. Sport brings people together.'
By separating them out into ‘targeted identity groups’?
Alison Davies, 43, seemed less impressed with the decision to grant the club the money.

She said: 'It's great that there are clubs for everyone, but why they need £6,500 is a mystery to me - especially when everyone is cutting back.

'If I wanted to join a squash club I'd just turn up at a leisure centre and join the league and that wouldn't cost anybody anything.'
But it also wouldn’t keep a bean-counter in a cushy public-sector or fakecharity job, and that’s what seems to count these days…

Clearly, Some New Definition Of The Word…


and breathe


I Smell A Marketing Opportunity!

Tamsin Allen (partner at Bindmans LLP, which represents the defendants acquitted as a result of information provided by Mark Kennedy) is dialling up the OUTRAGE! to 11:
In an interview in the Guardian last week, a woman described the devastating effects of learning that a man she had two children with was the police officer Jim Boyling; she concluded that this sort of covert operation "wrecks lives".
Really? I’d have thought finding out she was married to a bigamist or a serial killer would be far more ‘devastating’, but still...
Yesterday activists blockaded the main entrance of Scotland Yard in a demonstration…
I saw it on TV – a rag-tag bunch of professional grievance-mongers sitting down on the pavement outside NSY waving placards does not a ‘blockade’ make…
In such circumstances, activists may well have strong legal remedies against the police. The common law right to privacy will protect them from any misuse of their personal information except where there is a clear public interest. Then there is the linked right to respect for private and family life guaranteed under Article 8 of the European convention on human rights. That includes a right to form relationships without unjustified interference by the state. To be justified, interference must be authorised by law, pursue a legitimate aim (such as the prevention of crime or disorder) and be proportionate to that aim. It is difficult to see how forming a deceitful sexual relationship with an activist is proportionate to any legitimate aim.

And the deceit itself may be actionable. The police officers concerned entered into relationships on the basis of false representations about themselves. The shock and distress caused when the officer's identity is exposed may form an additional basis for an award of damages.
So basically, this CiF column is just a glorified advert, telling all these dim women out there that ‘where there’s blame, there’s a claim!’..?
There could also be claims for misfeasance in public office. While the police may claim that they did have stringent policies and that a couple of rogue officers fell in love while on the job, the sheer number of sexual relationships between activists and undercover officers looks like something more than a coincidence.
As Tim Worstall points out, no, it isn’t. Not if that’s the sort of lifestyle they needed to fit in with…
It is surely inconceivable that the authorities didn't know, or that they didn't at least tacitly approve of, sexual relationships as part of the methodology of police spying.
They could hardly forbid it, could they? Even if that’s what they are now trying to claim…
Despite the stress of litigating in the matter of private and sensitive issues, many will be willing to bring claims, not only for the financial remedies, but also to highlight what appears to be widespread and serious wrongdoing.
In other words ‘Step right up, ladies, the state has deep pockets!’.
It seems probable that the police will face at the very least a number of claims from victims bringing civil claims for damages.
It certainly does, with you planting the suggestion in their heads…
But given the shock and concern about what looks like a deliberate policing tactic, the victims and civil society as a whole deserve to know what really happened…
We do..?
We all need to be reassured that the police are under control when undercover; that those in charge are themselves properly regulated and overseen; and that lessons have been learned. That requires nothing less than a full independent public inquiry.
Oh, FFS! This is actually of less interest to real people than the Sky Sports 'sexism' kerfuffle...

I Love My Meat Spit-Roasted…

…but not quite like this:
A police spokesman urged anyone with information to contact them immediately.

He said: "Lothian and Borders Police are investigating after a male was seen performing an indecent act on a lamb.

"The suspect fled the scene after being disturbed, at which time the lamb was found to be dead.

"Inquiries are now under way to determine whether the animal's death is linked to the incident."
It can't have helped...

No doubt if caught, his defence will be one of drunkenness or mental illness.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

I Want Something Quite Different To Happen To Them…

'I want them caught and I want them prosecuted and I want them to go to jail.'
But I’d better not say what, as there may be people reading this blog who are nervous or easily upset…

Music Hath Charms….

..though I didn’t think that applied to this sort of music:
Walter, 13, was walking home from the school bus stop in the town of Rakkestad, Norway, to his farmhouse home when the wolves appeared.

He said: ‘I thought at first it was the neighbour’s dogs, but then as I got nearer I saw their yellow eyes and their fangs.’
And their general wolf-type appearance. And lack of collars saying ‘Fido’…
‘The worst thing you can do is turn and flee. So I pulled out my phone, turned it on to the loudest setting, and played them Creed. The wolves looked baffled, then they simply turned and trotted off.’
Can’t blame them! Mind you, kid was lucky he didn’t have any JLS on there, it might have prompted an attack.

And why was a young lad walking alone through wolf country?
His mother told the local paper that she was going to pick her son up from school because she knew there were wolves in the area, but she got carried away shopping, German newspaper Der Spiegel reported.

No, Libby, It's Not The 'Absence Of A Desire For Bricks And Mortar'...

Libby Brooks (last seen on this blog making a desperate attempt to fight a rearguard action for the progressives in the wake of the Muslim rape gang scandal) has moved on to other misunderstood cultures.

And she does no better with this one:
Big Fat Gypsy Weddings, Channel 4's new documentary strand. The first episode, screened on Tuesday, lays out the arcane courtship rituals and lavish sartorial preparations that precede the marriage vows, which are typically undertaken by girls still in their teens.
However benign the treatment, Kiely, now working as a youth adviser at the London Gypsy and Traveller Unit
Good! That’s identified another post that the councils can cut without affecting vital services. Thanks for reminding us, Libby.
…, is not alone in recognising that it doesn't take much to bolster crude stereotypes.
Well, a ‘Guardian’ columnist should know, since it’s hard to find one that isn’t peppered with references to ‘the greedy bankers’, lately…
For her, the accent on frills and flouncing is a missed opportunity to show contemporary Traveller culture as it really is. But it also serves as a reminder of how entrenched is mainstream ignorance of this community – which will be defined as a separate ethnic minority for the first time in March's census – beyond the tabloid narrative of dirt, disruption and deviance, or home counties hysteria over green-belt land grabs.
Oh, how much most of the mainstream might wish they could remain in ‘ignorance’ of the uplifting effects ofthis vibrant community, Libby.

And talking of Meriden…
One such case involves an unauthorised encampment in the Warwickshire village of Meriden, part of the environment secretary Caroline Spelman's constituency, where local people have been staging a round-the-clock protest for the past six months. Last Saturday, Spelman assured campaigners that legislation tabled by the coalition this week would bring "fairness" between the settled and travelling communities, saying it would make provision for more authorised sites, while closing the loophole that allows Travellers to apply for retrospective planning permission after setting up camp.
Who could argue with that? Expecting them to abise by the rules everyone else has to?
Libby could, of course:
But, taken alongside the immediate reversal last summer by the communities and local government secretary, Eric Pickles, of previous efforts to provide legal pitches within all local authorities, what this effectively amounts to is the criminalising of a way of life.
Oh, really?

Tell me, Libby, when others flout planning regulations (by building illegal extensions or, on one case, an entire HOUSE hidden behind bales of straw) and the local council send in the bulldozers, do you similarly bewail the 'criminalising of a way of life'?

Or do you only take out an onion when it's the 'travelling community' who are flouting the planning regulations everyone else is expected to live by?
… there remains a shortfall of pitches, so around 25,000 individuals have nowhere to go where they are not breaking the law, despite research by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which found that it would take as little as one square mile of land to resolve this.
Hmmm, where do you live, Libby?

Because I think I’ve found the idea ‘one square mile of land’ for them. You won’t object to your new neighbours, will you?
EHRC chair, Trevor Phillips, observed that for this group Britain "is still like the American deep south for black people in the 1950s".
Oh, please!
Debating the Warwickshire protests with Spelman on Radio 4 last weekend, Jake Bowers, editor of Travellers' Times, suggested that opposition was underpinned by racism, arguing: "This is more deep south than middle England."
Who knew the wit and wisdom of Trevor Phillips could reach such a wide audience?

Of course, for Libby, it’s all the fault of people who live in houses:
… the majority of us live according to a global economic framework that holds home ownership as one of the ultimate markers of social success. And so the absence of a desire for bricks and mortar will continue to be considered anathema, anarchic, acultural, and worthy of mainstream distrust or derision.
Yes, Libby, that’s why middle England don’t like them. That’s why they run motorhomes off the road, snub anyone who buys a holiday caravan, abuse Scouts in the local woods when they are practicing their woodcraft…

Or perhaps it’s the criminality and mess and animal cruelty and ghastly, complicated murder cases that they object to?

Keep Telling That Lie Often Enough...

...and it will become the truth:
Officials say the studies are needed because levels of carbon emissions mean climate change over the next four decades is unavoidable.
Just baldly state it, as often as you can, with no qualification, and the sheep will believe it.

Subrosa and Anna Raccoon pick up the absurdities of this concern for fish (and their own jobs!) ahead of the taxpayer...

Today’s Zoological Goof At The ‘Mail’…

As illustration to their OUTRAGE! at those crazy Yanks roasting a bear to celebrate a football game, their professional MSM-accredited photo people pull up an image of…

…a wolverine. WTF?

Monday, 24 January 2011

I Know RSS Feeds Are Inaccurate, But...

...this is a little odd:

Zero seconds ago?!?

What Would It Have To Do To Constitute ‘A Danger To Public Safety’, Then?

Palmer had become involved in an argument with Simon Whittall and Stephen Littlewood on Froghall Lane around 1pm that suddenly became violent.

The court heard how witnesses saw the defendant release bulldog ‘Dougie’ which attacked Mr Littlewood, biting him.

He managed to escape without serious injury, but the horror continued as the dog attacked Mr Whittall.

Prosecuting, Meirion Lewis-Jones said: “He was subjected to a long and vicious attack and Mr Whittall was not in a position to defend himself.”

The court heard how he suffered bites on his arms, legs, torso and groin.
And Palmer clearly wasn’t about to let a mere dog do a thug’s job:
Palmer also repeatedly hit him with the dog chain and stamped on his head. The attack only finished when two women shouted for the defendant to stop.
Just another night out in Liverpool…
Mr Whittall, aged 39, later died on September 9 after suffering a bleed to his brain, but Judge John Roberts said medical evidence did not prove that Palmer’s attack had caused his death.
It probably didn’t help, did it?
The defendant, who boasted about the incident on Facebook and appearing in the Warrington Guardian, pleaded guilty to one count of grevous bodily harm, two counts of assault and of owning the dog which was out of control.

Since being on bail he was seen by police with another bulldog in the town centre.

The court heard how he told officers to stay away from the animal because it had been trained to attack policemen.
Lovely, don’t you agree?

Not a first offence either, I take it?
Palmer also has a previous conviction for assault, after another town centre incident during which he spat in another man’s face.

He has other previous convictions for affray, criminal damage and cultivating and possessing cannabis.
Andf the penalty for this?

Ooh, hold onto your socks, it’s a good one!
Judge Roberts sentenced Palmer to three and a half years for GBH, 11 months for ABH and 14 months for owning a dangerous dog which was out of control in a public place.

The sentences will run concurrently. He will be eligible for release in 18 months.
Told you!

Still, at least the dog’s a goner, surely?
The dog was given a contingent destruction order, meaning it will be destroyed if it attacks again.

It must remain muzzled in public places and Palmer was also banned from keeping dogs.
Judge Roberts said: “You deliberately let your dog off the lead. Anyone who has seen the photographs can only feel horror at the extent of these injuries.

“However, the dog is not a danger to public safety.”
Oh. Really? Did you not watch any of the news last year?

Or is it OK, if it just mauls the friends or family of the scumbag who formerly owned it, and not a member of the public?

Factory-Farmed Children

Under-16s now spend twice as much leisure time in the home as they do in green spaces, it was claimed.

Researchers said the “indoor generation” was becoming increasingly ignorant of nature as parents allow them to waste hours in front of the television, video games and the internet.
And does this strike a chord with some?
Dr William Bird, GP and advisor to Natural England, said: “If you want to deal with obesity and physical activity, it has got to include the natural environment.”

He added: “The outdoors for children creates resilience so they can cope with more stresses; they can actually increase their concentration, they can improve their work.”
Ah. Well, you would say that, wouldn’t you?

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Making A Drama Out Of A...Well, Not Much Of A Crisis!

Via email, frequent commenter microdave directs me to this tale of woe:
A Norwich family today spoke of their shock after being told that no action could be taken against a drunken intruder, despite him being caught in their home by police.
As mentioned in the comments at Insp Gadget's blog, that's because the youth entered via a window, and so it's not breaking and entering or burglary, but trespass (a civil matter).

However - and I realise this may be distressing for someone not au fait with the legal niceties, this is a bit of a cheek:
Miss Evans, 31, said: “I feel like there is nothing either of us can do, I just don’t feel secure in my home after this. We haven’t been offered any counselling or anything like that by the police either, so we feel let down really.

“We just think that people should know that they are not necessarily safe in their own home. We are now suffering the consequences of knowing that people can get away with doing things like this.”
Now, I know the police get blamed for a lot, and sometimes it's more than justified, but for not offering counselling?! For something that isn't even a crime..?

Overreactions R Us!

From Robert Hale, via email, this amazing story of our 'better safe than sorry!' culture, after a small fire caused by a candle was extinguished at a dinner party:
It was at this point that the leader of the quartet concluded that we had failed this incendiary version of the dinner party test. To the question, "What should you do if a small fire breaks out during supper?", the correct answer, he clearly felt, was "Rush out into the street weeping, and scan the road for a Sky news crew to whom you can blub about your journey and the need for post-traumatic stress counselling". That gets you an A*.
Our answer – "Put it out, make sure any children in the vicinity are unaffected, and get straight back to the food and drink" – failed to impress the board. The chief examiner, overtly irritated by the sang-froid, and possibly by our failure to greet the team as heroic saviours, sent us out into the road, where we were promptly joined by an ambulance crew of four, who seemed to agree that all of us, the baby included, were fine.
And that, you might imagine, would have been the end of it. Perhaps it might have been had the fireman not then made a series of sarcastic remarks to our hostess, hinting broadly that, because that she preferred to let the baby sleep in a warm and smokeless room rather than rush him out into the cold night air, that she, like Sue Ellen in Dallas, was a drunk, a slut and an unfit mother. Eventually, with amazing forebearance, she restricted herself to a mild: "I think you've made your point."
To this, Red Adair's tough, no-nonsense counterstrike was to summon police back-up.
A story to bear in mind, next time the police, ambulance service or firemen are all a weepin' and a wailin' and a marchin' over the 'devastating cuts to their vital service, putting the public in danger', eh..?

Can’t Get Better Than A Kwik Fit Fitter?

An eight-year-old boy was knocked down and killed after two garage workers who were supposed to be fixing a £70,000 Porsche allegedly took it for a ride.
David White, customer services director at Kwik Fit, which is 200 yards from the accident site, said: 'Our deepest sympathies are with Ryan's family at this tragic time.

We are helping the police with their enquiries and in addition a senior management team has travelled to Maldon to carry out our own investigation.'
I foresee a large lawsuit coming their way, if this turns out to have been how the accident happened…

Sunday Funnies Double Bill*

Oh, who hasn't screamed at the screen "Don't do THAT, you idiot!" from time to time..?

* since it's my birthday.

Sunday Funnies

That crushing feeling of disappointment you get when you realise the advertising is a little false...

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Another Triumph For The Mental Health System..?

Some few details are emerging from the Tottenham stabbing case, and they aren't pretty, though they do have an awful ring of familiarity:
Taxi driver Yilmaz Yuce, who works for West Green Cars, said he saw officers raid a Turkish cafe and take away a man in his 30s, who had blood on his hands and face. He claimed the man, a regular at the cafe, had a mental illness but was regarded as "harmless".
That's despite the constant, low-level harassment that residents claim he subjected the schoolgirls to...
Last night horrified residents living nearby told how he was a constant "nuisance". One raged: "If he was that safe, why was he apparently carrying a knife?"

"The people looking after him have got the blood of this young boy on their hands."
If only someone had been 'looking after him', instead they appear to have wanted him released into the community.
Arslan was under the care of doctors from the Enfield and Barnet Mental Health Trust.

He had been sectioned but was living at a hostel after being released back into the community.
Presumably, if these doctors have daughters, they don't go to this school. Probably don't go to any school that finds it necessary to have private security guards. Yes, really!

One drawback, though:
A team of private security guards patrol the school where a 14-year-old pupil was stabbed outside the gates last July. But it was claimed they were nowhere to be seen at the time of the latest stabbing.

“One of the teachers told me the security team were all in a meeting when it happened and that’s why none of them were outside.”
If there's a more perfect vignette of modern Britain, I've yet to hear it...

Schools – Not Places Where Anyone Ever Learns Anything…

Stunned children at St Mary's RC, Bacup, Lancashire, were shown footage of the Blitz and were told that London - where some of them have relatives - was under bomb attack.

Teachers then led them to a cellar when an air raid siren sounded and a firework was let off to simulate a bomb.
*sigh* I’m getting that déjà vu feeling again….
The school project aimed to help children empathise with what it is like to live during wartime by making them believe that war had been declared.
Because that’s what it’s all about now – not who, when, where, why, but ‘how did they feel?’…
Headteacher Mike Richards announced in the morning assembly that Britain was at war, but abandoned the project at around 1.30pm after some of the children became upset.

He said some of the pupils had since had nightmares.

Youngsters were also warned about evacuation.
Oh, FFS!
Mr Richards admitted teachers were 'very upset' that pupils had been left distressed and suffering from nightmares.
Clearly, it isn’t the children who need to learn to empathise…
Mr Richards explained: 'We were doing World War Two as a topic and we saw advice from schools that basically suggested that we introduced the topic as if it was really happening. We didn't foresee these problems.'

You didn’t?

I mean, you never read the news?
The headteacher said he had spoken to around 10 parents with concerns about the exercise, although the school has not received any written complaints.

He added: 'We have changed the curriculum to being much more creative and informal and towards creating memorable experiences. On this occasion we realise that we went too far.

'The school apologises for any distress that was caused but we don't come to school with the idea of upsetting our pupils.'
Well, why do it then? Why fail to learn the lessons of all the attempts that have already made the papers and exposed the educational system to even more ridicule?
A mother of a pupil at the school, who asked not to be named, said:… 'Nobody with an ounce of common sense would have put them through it.'
Yes, but common sense clearly isn’t too common…
The Local Education authority declined to comment.
I just bet it did.

The ‘Me, Me, Me’ Generation Started Early….

The court case is now over, an d (unsurprisingly) Kevin Barrett was found guilty.

I say unsurprisingly because his defence was...well, see for yourself:
A Norfolk man who shot his neighbours at close range after a bitter feud over their choice of dog yesterday denied he had wanted to kill them but said he wanted to “break their hearts” by shooting their pets.
He’s not really being his own best witness, is he?
He said eventually his wife’s health suffered so much he decided to re mortgage their home in Nordeplh for £166,000 which they used to go on a world trip.

When they returned in May last year they rented a flat in Hertford but he had gone back to the home in Nordelph in June and picked up a gun which he had left with a friend and told him he wanted to “shoot a couple of dogs.”

“I wanted to shoot the dogs and break their hearts the way they had broken our hearts.”

He said he brought the gun about 15 to 20 years ago and never had a certificate for it as he did not think he needed one: “I have never fired a gun in my life.”
Didn’t do too bad for a beginner then!
He was outside his home when the Venns arrived back and came sweeping onto his half of the shared driveway in their car.

Barrett said he just saw red.

“I was in a complete and utter turmoil.”

He said he smashed the car windscreen with a shovel and then picked up the gun and had shot Mr Venn and then had relaoded and shot at Mrs Venn who was going to call the police.
And yet, despite this clear evidence, his defence is that ‘he didn’t mean to harm them’.
He said he had not meant to kill Mr Venn and had only fired the gun at Mrs Venn to scare her and did not intend to hurt her.
He thought his gun fired magic ammunition that would only kill animals, then?
Afterwards he said he could not believe how he came to be in this position: “It’s destroyed me.”
Yes. Because it’s all about you, isn’t it?

He's clearly utterly lacking in self-awareness:
...Barrett told the Venns he would let his home to 'the most horrible people you can find in Wisbech'.
Weren't they already living there?

Why Are We Not Blaming Doctors As Well?

Teachers have been blamed for the record number of children prescribed ‘chemical cosh’ drugs such as Ritalin.
Why? Are they prescribing them, then?
There are now some 650,000 eight to 13-year-olds on the drug or its equivalents.

This marks an astonishing rise, up from 92,700 in 1997 and just 9,000 in 1990, according to NHS figures.
Notice it says ‘NHS figures’. Not ‘Department of Education’ figures.

Isn’t that a big enough clue?
Yesterday it emerged the vast majority of the children were given the potent drug on the instruction of their teacher.
They won’t have been prescribed this drug just on the say-so of the teacher, or even of the p[aren’t, surely?
Russell Hobby, of head teachers’ union the NAHT, agreed it was an increasing problem but said issues in society as a whole, not teachers, were to blame.

He added: ‘It’s an increasing issue in our society. We label children as having medical conditions when they just have minor behavioural problems.’
I’d take more notice of your bleating Russell old chum, if your members weren’t so keen to label children as racist bigots when they have no idea what they are saying…

Friday, 21 January 2011

In Which I Agree With Julie Burchill…

It's hard to watch a soap – sorry, serial drama – for a week these days without having a comforting voice over the closing credits inform you: "If you have been affected by any of these issues, call in confidence on..." at some point.
Oh, I’m with her there! Nothing irritates me more.
But in recent years, this has come to seem less like an invitation to the genuinely desperate and traumatised, in the tradition of the Samaritans and Childline, and more like a circle-jerk of sexed-up sorrow.
Probably because there’s just so damn much of it. Along with the now-frequent warnings on news reports that ‘Some viewers might find these scenes distressing’…
… in a sort of soapy Stockholm syndrome, those who storyline serial dramas have taken onboard the critics' sneer that soaps are just a way for silly people to kill time rather than live lives, and thus try to give them worth and weight by turning them into sort of Public Service Broadcasts
It’s merely the fig-leaf of respectability under which they can conceal yet more misery porn…

Kicking The Can Down The Road...

Paul Warboys is a nuisance. His crimes include the following:
…carrying out a persistent campaign of abuse against shoppers and traders.

A hearing at Colchester County Court heard the catalogue of abuse included spitting and swearing at shoppers, vandalising shops and indiscriminate assaults.

Rebekah Straughan, representing Colchester Council, said: “He has been identified by police as the number one public nuisance in the Colchester area and is a particular danger to women.
“The individual targets female members of the public, who are at risk of verbal abuse and random assaults.”
And this isn’t a case where there’s any room for doubt:
Judge Stephen Holt was handed statements made by ten members of the public, two police officers and a CCTV operator detailing Warboys’s unruly behaviour.
Judge Holt said: “There’s a very clear picture of intimidation, harassment and abusive behaviour by Mr Warboys, especially to women.

“It is persistent and regrettably in keeping with his past behaviour in other parts of the country.”
And how have they chosen to deal with this persistent nuisance?

Simple. They’ve banned him from Colchester Town Centre for life.
Tim Young, councillor responsible for community safety, said the order would give retailers and shoppers relief against “repeated and intense” nuisance.
Only if they are in Colchester Town Centre.
Following the hearing, Insp Paul Butcher, of Colchester police, said the injunction was a significant step forward in the fight against antisocial behaviour in the town.

He added: “This individual has been a threat, in particular to women, coming into the town centre and it now gives us the power to exclude him. The town is a safer and better place as a result.
Everywhere else? Meh. That’s their lookout….

There’s A Reason The Tag ‘Self-Pity City’ Sticks To Liverpool…

Jennifer O'Mahony in ’CiF’:
During a debate between parliamentary candidates for the Liverpool Wavertree constituency last April, Conservative Andrew Garnett declared discussion of the 1980s no longer "relevant" to today's city. "The 80s are always relevant to Liverpool" came the swift reply.
But enough about its denizens’ fashion sense…

Can we get some gratuitous ‘It’s all the fault of Thatcher!’ into this article? Oh, yes:
The families affected still feel the repercussions in a below-average life expectancy, some of the most deprived estates in Britain, and a stubbornly high level of people claiming benefits.
Interesting term, ‘stubbornly’…
In the last two decades, however, the complete transformation of the city into a vibrant, world-class destination for art, music and business resulted in the erosion of the images of dereliction and deprivation that existed in the minds of many southerners.
Oh, really?
Employment in Liverpool had increased by 12.4% between 1998 and 2007, compared with 9.5% nationally – an increase of 25,100 additional employee jobs over the period.
Wow! So businesses are investing in Liverpool and…

Oh. Wait:
Despite these achievements, certain structural weaknesses remained: a disproportionate number of Liverpudlians are employed in the public sector (39% compared to 26.9% nationally)…
Yeah, that’s sustainable, I’m sure…
… and almost a third of working age people claim some kind of benefit (27% in Liverpool and 29% in neighbouring Knowsley).
That too…
Some inner-city neighbourhoods saw little benefit from the gentrification and investment in the city centre.
Not sure how Thatcher or the Tories are supposed to be responsible for that, Jennifer…
. The Tories' cuts will punish a city that nonetheless saw huge investment and regeneration under Labour, and will damage a community that relies heavily on the public and service sectors for its wages.
In other words, Labour lavished huge benefits on Liverpool to keep it solidly Labour-voting, and now the money’s run out, the coalition aren’t minded to do the same thing, even if they could afford it?


Still, can we have more emotive claptrap?
Even Liverpool's foetuses will not be spared Osborne's axe, as the Pregnancy in Health grant is scrapped.
The systematic intent of the Tories to devastate a city should already be clear, but in case there was any doubt, let me remind you why: the city of Liverpool absolutely always votes Labour.
And I thought turkeys didn’t vote for Christmas…
Liverpool is set to become the case study for a city destroyed for a second time by the economic policy of a Conservative government, and they are not the only ones. It is time for the north to fight back.
With what..?

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Gissa Job!

Jim Gamble uses CiF to remind us all that, while he’s no longer head of CEOP, he’s still here and looking for another well-paid role:
Child abuse is child abuse, regardless of the context of the crime type or the environment within which it is committed. People who groom, extort and move our children to abuse them are child abusers and we shouldn't let them hide behind any other label.
Such as..? Jim doesn’t say. Perhaps he’s had an attack of shyness?

But, as the Grim Reaper asks, is this going to be a long winded whinge, or does he have a solution in mind?
Positive early intervention is the only way forward and not just the criminal justice intervention after the crime.
We need to empower our children by education: powerful, contemporary materials delivered to children in the classroom, care home or via the media of social networks, helping them help themselves and their friends.
And who will develop this ‘powerful, contemporary material’, I wonder..?
I was always struck by reports from children after presentations by child exploitation and online protection (Ceop) teams in the classroom. Children highlighting a risk posed to them, or very often, a friend; a risk recognised because it had been put in context and the consequences exposed in a safe environment.
Ah. Right. Of course.
In my opinion it's important that we don't simply fall into the same trap as the current home secretary, Theresa May. She is attempting to push Ceop into the ill thought-out National Crime Agency, demonstrating a lack of understanding of the broader remit and multi-agency platform.
And there we have the real reason for Jim’s little whine – a chance to point a finger at the Home Sec and, like Cassandra, predict that it’ll all go horribly, horribly wrong if CEOP doesn’t stand alone, with a post open for a chief exec on a huge salary…

And When You’ve Killed The Competition, Feast On Its Corpse!

The husband and wife team running a Benfleet animal sanctuary for 13 years have agreed to close it to avoid prosecution over animal cruelty allegations.
Yes, It’s this case again.

And what’s that? ‘Avoid prosecution’? How?
The couple were due to appear at Southend Magistrates’ Court yesterday to face 18 counts each of animal cruelty charges.

But it has emerged those charges are to be withdrawn if the couple sign a legal agreement to shut Rescuers down, which is expected to happen before a court date next month.
I’m sorry..? This is legal?

The RSPCA is supposedly (it tells us, anyway) fearless in its determination to prosecute animal cruelty to the fullest extent of the law. It has brought charges. Yet now, it wants to drop those charges if the couple (its direct competitor, remember) get out of town? With the full connivance of the court?

This stinks…
Mrs Mepham told the Echo she had agreed to close the sanctuary, but said this did not mean she or her husband were guilty.

She said: “We deny the allegations and would have fought them in court, but we could not get legal aid. We do not have the money for the case because it has all gone into the sanctuary.

“Our volunteers have supported us and would not have worked here if they had not been happy with the conditions.”
Oh, and to put a further cherry on top of this already-rancid cake…
The Mephams live in a mobile home at the sanctuary and are likely to have to go on Castle Point Council’s housing waiting list once the sanctuary is closed.
Oh, bravo, RSPCA! Jolly good show!

That’s what little old ladies leave you their money for, isn’t it? So you can use it to squash the competition with a savage ruthlessness that would have a Sicilian mafia boss whistling in admiration, from your opulent offices

And what will happen to the land on which the sanctuary currently sits?
A council spokeswoman said: “When the site, which is green belt land, is vacated the council will conduct a full review of its future use.“”
How cozy…
The RSPCA, which has brought the case against the Mephams, said it was unable to comment.
Really? Usually, you can’t shut these people up.

I’d say it was fear of bad publicity, but it doesn’t seem that they care for that any more. Indeed, they haven’t seemed to care about it for a long, long time….

”Lookin’ for some hot stuff, baby, this evenin’…”

Some of the people living in a three storey building in Sydenham Avenue, Sydenham, were coughing and spluttering as they were led out of the property at around 10.30pm.

Ambulance staff treated one woman at the scene. The patient, who is believed to be in her 30s, did not need hospital treatment.

This incident was originally called in to the emergency services as a gas leak but this was quickly ruled out and it was treated as chemical.
Oh noes! Sphincters must have been tightening in the Anti-Terrorist Squad…
Firefighters wearing special suits designed for chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) incidents then entered the building to detect the source of the fumes.

But the CBRN team did not find any sign of any chemical leak in the property and at 11.53pm they reported to the police that they were putting it down to burned chillis.
Anyone who has accidentally left strong chillis in the frying pan a little too long (i.e. me) will sympathise…

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Taking Risks

A psychotic asylum seeker was placed in a foster family with young children - even though he was not even a child, London's High Court heard.
Just perfect
Cardiff County Council became responsible for him after he was 'dispersed' to the Welsh capital.
Ah, yes.

This was NuLab’s tactic of shifting asylum seekers around the country so the local residents didn’t get too uppity and threaten to do anything bad, like vote anything other than Labour…
Despite social workers reservations, he was sent to live with a family which included young children.

After just one day in their care he threatened to take the young daughter of the family to Iran, said judge, Mr Justice Ouseley.

His behaviour was so disturbed that he had to be forcibly removed from the home by three police officers - one of whom he assaulted - and brought under control using leg restraints and handcuffs.
Lovely! Bet that family is now rethinking their foster status…
He was swiftly admitted to the Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit at Whitchurch Hospital where he was diagnosed as 'floridly psychotic', expressing beliefs that he was God.
And the doctors knew he must be mad. They, after all, are God!
Justice Ouseley refused to believe his claim that, even now, he is just 17 and still a child.

'He could be between 18 and 22, but I found just 17 impossible to accept and untruthfully alleged', said the judge.

He added that he had 'real doubts' about CJ's credibility and was 'not satisfied' that documents said to support his claim were authentic.
The judge concluded: 'I am not persuaded that CJ was under 18 when he arrived in the UK. He is now over 20.
And, I’ll bet, still here…

H/T: commenter RAB via email

“Do As We Say, Not As We Do”, Example: 458

The NHS is gambling with patients' health by increasingly banning operations for hernias, cataracts and arthritic joints to save money, one of the UK's most senior medical figures said.
Really? Gosh, how awful, something must be done, etc, etc…
John Black, the president of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, accused NHS primary care trusts (PCTs) of pursuing a "dangerous" course by refusing treatment to patients, who will then suffer unnecessary pain and have less chance of recovering fully.
I wonder, where was John Black when his fellows were enthusiastically endorsing plans to refuse treatments to patients smokers? And no doubt, later on, drinkers and people who are ‘obese’…

I don’t remember him condemning that. Does anyone else?

Personality Defects…

A woman was jailed for two years today after being exposed as a serial liar who repeatedly made up stories that she had been raped.
Yes, it’s another of those ‘rare’ cases…
Blunden's lies began on July 26, 2008, when she reported to police that she had been raped by James Mabey, 26, in a hostel where she was living in Newbury.
Police then arrested Mr Mabey who was questioned for 17 hours before police realised he was innocent and released him.
And amazingly, immediately arrested her:
The judge was also told about how Blunden boasted about having sex with Mr Mabey and sent him a text message to apologise for getting him arrested.

She was then arrested herself and interviewed about her false allegations but released so that police could investigate further.
And while at large, she did it again…
While out on bail she went to a party and flirted with a man before letting three men have sex with her in a communal bathroom, one after another.

She then left the party and dialled 999 to say that her train fare money had been stolen before saying she had been gang raped by three men - Shane Roberts, 23, Craig Pilime and Colin McDonagh, both 21.
Still, this time, police were more circumspect, and…

No. Don’t be silly. Police don’t have autonomy any more:
They were all taken in to custody and were needlessly questioned for up to 13 hours each, before they were released without charge.
Perhaps a claim for wrongful arrest?
Defending Blunden Nicholas Doherty said that she needed help to 'amend her personality defects of depression and insecurities.'
She doesn’t need ‘help’; she needs an equivalent punishment to that which would have befallen the men she falsely accused.