Friday, 31 August 2012

'Denigrate Your Values'? What Values?

Irfan Akhtar, of the Waltham Forest Council of Mosques (WFCOM), which has joined forces with WAWF, said: “We wrote to the Borough Commander explaining that by banning the EDL march it would send the right message to the EDL and to our communities, particularly our youth.”
“Without the ban, unfortunately our congregations will feel the police are allowing these thugs to insult our religion and denigrate our values.
Your religion deserves insult and your 'values' are the values of misogynist child abusers.

And you're pretty damn selective about which 'hate marches' you want banned, aren't you? Or did I miss your pronouncement on that one?

Post Title Of The Month

Anna does it again!

Post Of The Month

DumbJon on rape and what should be the real target of feminista ire. And also, why it never is...

Quote Of The Month

From NickM at 'Counting Cats...' :
I shall have a drink when Maggie dies (I think there is a fair chance I shall out-live her). It will not be in celebration (a vile idea) but in memory of a great life. And also for the PM who defined my formative years.
Here here...

”The animal which most frequently came before the criminal courts was the pig.”

Ah, those quaint medieval country bumpkins and their peculiar ways:
At Mesnil St. Denis, near Paris, there still exists a spot called Truye Pendue, after a sow which was once hanged there for killing an infant, and about twenty similar cases are recorded in France alone by the writers above mentioned.
Thank goodness we don’t go in for pointless, self-aggrandising public displays of this nature in this country now, eh?


A police officer who was cleared of killing Ian Tomlinson during the G20 protests in London will face force disciplinary proceedings on September 17.
Pc Simon Harwood was acquitted of manslaughter last month, but police watchdog the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) ordered that he should face the internal Metropolitan Police hearing in public.
For what possible reason?

Via Inspector Gadget’s comments, we see the official Met website touting seats at the spectacle. This is unprecedented, and unseemly.

And it most certainly won’t prevent anyone remembering the real scandal of the whole affair, either:
A series of allegations were made against him over a 12-year period, and he was allowed to retire from the Met on medical grounds in 2001 despite unresolved disciplinary proceedings.
He was accused of unlawful arrest, abuse of authority and discreditable conduct over an incident when he allegedly shouted at another driver and knocked him over his car door, before announcing he was a police officer and arresting the motorist on a common assault charge. But the proceedings were discontinued when he retired.
Later, Harwood rejoined the force as a civilian worker, before becoming a police officer for Surrey. He was then allowed to rejoin the Met in 2004 as part of its Territorial Support Group, specialising in public order.
Rather than have a show-trial of Harwood, why not name names and publicise the disasters in uniform who failed to heed the warnings about the man’s conduct?

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Think All Publicity Is Good Publicity, Betfred?

You might have to think again...
Aldred placed a £5 bet at 200-to-1 odds with Betfred in honour of her late husband and Oldham's grandfather, Eric, whom she described as "a betting man."
She attempted to cash in her bet after the Olympics, but bookmakers said they wouldn't pay her the £1,000 she thought she was due because Oldham's medal came in the team competition rather than as an individual.
She didn't look at the small print? Well, it seems there wasn't any.
It's tempting to suggest that a grandmother who has never bet before might have simply misunderstood the wager she was making, but Aldred's betting slip appears to corroborate her argument.
Nowhere on that slip does it specify that Oldham needed to capture an individual medal for her to win. The 200-to-1 odds also would be reasonable either way since a British team hadn't won a medal in men's artistic gymnastics in 100 years.
She should simply stand outside the bookies with a placard. She could soon lose them 40 times that in lost revenue!

H/T: Penseivat via email

When Did ‘Equality For Women’ Become ‘Women’s Superiority’?

Helen Pankhurst uses CiF to ensure her famous relative spins at 1000 RPM:
As the great grand-daughter of Emmeline Pankhurst, and grand-daughter of Sylvia Pankhurst, it is no surprise that a passion for women's rights runs in my veins.
And how is that expressed?
… many of the women who "acted" as feminist agitators at the opening ceremony will be campaigning on 24 October, joining UK Feminista's lobby of parliament. The event will give women and men from across the UK the opportunity to speak truth to power by lobbying their MPs en masse. Parliament will be treated to a chorus of voices calling for an end to the attacks on women's rights and greater commitment to equality.
Who knew there even was an ‘attack on women’s rights’? I guess it must have passed me by…
Eighty-four years on from all women gaining the vote, we are still outnumbered four to one in parliament, and 42 years after winning the legal right to equal pay, women still face a full-time pay gap of 15%, while 40% of women of ethnic minorities live in poverty. In addition, up to three million women and girls in the UK experience rape, domestic violence, stalking or other violence each year.
Seems like the same old bovine byproducts that have been debunked time and again.
The result of all this is a shredding of women's economic independence, and erosion of the fundamental right to live free from violence.
Wow! I didn’t realise women had such a right! Clearly, men needn’t apply. Who cares about them facing violence..?

Clearly not Helen and her shrill chums.
That's why my daughter Laura and I will be reunited with the "Olympic suffragettes" on 24 October, joining UK Feminista to lobby for an end to the backsliding on women's rights. A future the suffragettes would have been proud of is possible – it's time parliament stepped up to help build it.
I don’t think the suffragettes – who faced real hardship, real inequality and took real, painful action – would consider your manufactured grievances anything more than the whinging of women who don’t even know they are born.

‘Because It’s Different When It’s Us…!’

A pair of dogs savaged two horses being ridden by teenagers and left the animals with gruesome gashes on their legs and bodies.
One horse had to have nine staples inserted by a vet to repair bite wounds to its chest. The second needed four stitches to its legs.
Expensive. And since the owner, when he finally turned up, was abusive and threatening and chavvy, almost certainly unlikely to be recouped via the civil courts.

One for the police, then?
The horses' owner, who does not wish to be identified, fears if the dogs are not found it could be a child that is mauled next.
She said: "One of the most worrying things about this is that I was told by the police that they could not prosecute because it is a dog attacking a horse rather than a dog attacking a person.
But if they don't find the owner and the dogs, my biggest fear is that it will be a child that these two dogs go for next."
It seems that these days, the police only show up – when they actually do show up – in order to tell people what they can’t do, rather than what they can…
A police spokesman said officers were investigating.
He said: "The horses suffered wounds to their chest and local residents helped get the dogs away.
"We are investigating the attack and are trying to trace the owner of the dogs."
Maybe it’s the publicity that changed their tune. Or maybe they suddenly remembered this case in Essex:
A woman has admitted owning a dog which was dangerously out of control in a public place after two police horses were bitten while on patrol in Essex. Bella and Biscuit were attacked by Staffordshire bull terrier Tyson in Chelmsford in January.
Town magistrates heard Pc Frank Pallett and Pc Sarah Fiske were thrown from the horses but were uninjured. Samantha Symonds, 34, of Eaves Crescent, Chelmsford, is due to be sentenced in March.
No problems prosecuting that one, eh? And no problem throwing the book at these people,either...

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Combs Don't Kill People, Urban Savages Kill People, Judge Cooke...

Nearly a year to come to trial. But I could have predicted the reasons behind it, and the outcome. I could have predicted the sullen-faced scowl of the guilty party too:
The teenage girl who murdered a 16 year-old rival by stabbing her through the skull with a hair comb was named for the first time today.
Rebecca Douglas was just 15 when she plunged the steel prong into the left temple of Julie Sheriff during a petty row in which she accused the victim of spreading gossip about her having sex with boys.
Ahhhh, the fairer sex! And once again, all the hallmarks of the gang-related savagery we are so used to seeing in the males:
She confronted the victim outside a betting shop in south London and demanded: 'What do you think you are doing in Clapham?'
The girl then asked her friends to hold her bag and Blackberry mobile phone before stabbing Julie in the shoulder and the head.
Jailing her for just 10 years (will she serve it? Unlikely!) the judge had a warning for parents:
Judge Nicholas Cooke warned parents to be aware of the dangers to young girls...
Of the threat posed by gang culture?

Of the need to move their lives (as so many multicultural cheerleaders have done) out of the urban environments blighted by gang culture?

Well, no:
...wearing such combs as 'fashion accessories'.
He said: 'We heard evidence that a pintail comb can be used as a lethal weapon.
'We heard it can be worn in the hair as a fashion accessory.
'It can be as effective a killing instrument as a stiletto knife. It is not a very nice thing to have in your hair.'
Christ! What can be done about our country, when - rather than put a handle on what's really behind this - out judiciary would rather prattle on about the dangers of hair fashion accessories?

"Why would you put lives at risk for the sake of £40?"

Well, why not? After all, the punishment isn’t going to be much, is it?
The gas pipes were cut from the outside of the property, where the woman, who is deaf, lives with her three-year-old daughter. The action caused gas to flow into their home.
"The awful smell hit me as soon as I opened the front door," said the woman, who asked not to be named.
"There was a haze in the air which had a blue tinge to it.
"Normally my daughter charges into the house ahead of me and switches on the lights, but fortunately she didn't do that on this occasion.
"I dread to think what could have happened if she had, or if someone had walked past the house smoking a cigarette. "
Still, there’s one way of preventing this from happening in future, isn’t there?
The woman sent a text message to her mother, who then alerted gas engineers who went immediately to disconnect the supply to the house.
She now faces a repair bill of up to £1,250 because she has chosen to have her gas pipes installed inside the house instead of on an exterior wall.
The company with which her house is insured has said that it will not pay to cover the extra work.
You’d think they’d be happy to do it, rather than risk having to pay out for a destroyed house!
Sergeant Simon Barnes, of Hinckley Road police station, said there had been a number of similar incidents in the area over the past few months.
He added that a thief was jailed recently for a series of similar thefts.
"We are going to end up with a house being blown up because the pipe has been cut and there has been a spark," he said.
Ah, well, if that happens, you can always go out and arrest some poor gas repair man, can’t you?

Hull: Maybe It Deserves Prescott As Police Commissioner?

It’s no surprise she’s back in court, is it? After all, she’s appeared here three times already!
Aisha Delaney, who has 118 convictions, burgled the home of a 78-year-old man in west Hull, stealing his mobile phone.
It was the latest in a string of offences Delaney has committed against elderly men in west Hull.
Jailing her for 18 months, Judge Mark Bury said: “You are a lady who is alarming, distressing and causes upset to elderly people in this area of Hull.
“Sentences have been imposed in the past to try to help you and stop you offending but you simply go on committing offences of this type.”
Not while she’s behind bars, she doesn’t. Maybe that should be a hint?

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Oh, Who Could Have Predicted This?

Well....everyone, actually:
Skateboarders have been accused of wrecking a new £7.5million public square by using it as a playground for their stunts and tricks.
The groups of teenagers practise their moves in the revamped areas around Southend’s Victoria Gateway. But passers-by pointed out their boards had scored deep gouges in some of the new seating and decorative paving, and even chipped off the corner of a bench.

Time to bring back the men in high-vis?

Oh, wait! Some people are happy about this, in the comments:
Tom from Southend says...
What a load of sad, whinging, boring, sterile people you lot must be. We have these spaces for people to be in, to add vibrancy and life to what is a boring junction and you lot moan. Better to have skaters than drunks and louts. When stuck in traffic they are great to watch. Keep skating lads its a great place for it. Also what a great way for visitors to see this going on. Reclaim our spaces from traffic and sterile Council planning!
Yeah, reclaim it! Make sure the elderly and infirm and visually-impaired are scared to use it!
alexskate says...
im a skateboarder and i skate there regularly and all we do is use the flatground causing no damage to anything so i dont see the problem? if its that much of an issue why dont the council spend a few grand making a skatepark for us like we asked instead of spending millions on a bit of concrete...
'Give us what we want or else!'

So, The ‘Guardian’ Does Have A Dog In The Fight!

Michele Hanson takes great delight in something she thinks will ‘prove’ that people have given a (breed of) dog a bad name:
Dreadful news. Princess Beatrice's elderly Norfolk terrier has nearly had its ear ripped off in a dog-fight at Balmoral between the Queen's six corgis and three visiting terriers. I say dreadful news, but in a way, it's great news, because at last here we have some naughty dogs who aren't bull-breeds.
Well, that’s also evidenced by the fact that the Norfolk terrier’s alive, and not currently being digested…

But who ever thought it was only large bull breeds that could turn savage?

Dogs are dogs. They are all animals…

But no, the ‘Guardian’ neatly sidesteps the fact that the biggest problem in the country with regards to dangerous dogs isn’t corgis but weapon dogs. Because if you think about that, you might ‘demonise’ weapon dogs, and then move on to ‘demonising’ their owners, and that’s bad.
They weren't pit bulls, Staffies or mastiff/rottie/American-bull-dog-whatever crosses bred by bad boys. They were the Queen's corgis. Or dorgis – corgi/dachshund crosses. Which is horrid for Her Majesty, but a huge relief for all the other bigger dogs out there with a tarnished reputation.
Those who can read, I presume?

Lord knows, their chavvy owners often can’t!

New Intelligence Test For Essex Police...

The following test is multiple choice. Please identify the following images:

a) Suspected burglar
b) Can't tell - too blurry. Better not go overboard.
c) Bigfoot!

a) Getaway vehicle
b) Can't tell - too blurry. Better not go overboard.
c) UFO!

a) Ginger kitten
b) Can't tell - too blurry. Better not go overboard.
c) Aieeee! Lion!!!

If you answered all a), then sorry, you've failed. Come back if you ever suffer brain damage. If you answered all b), well, possibly a career in some other force might suit you better.

If you answered all c), congratulations on joining our farce!
Public safety had remained at the forefront of the policing operation, with the force advising people to once again return to normal life.
Most of us never left it...

Unlike your police spokesmen:

FFS! The game's up! We know you're idiots, no further proof is required!

Monday, 27 August 2012

How To Enliven A Bank Holiday....

Police searching for a lion in Essex say they are taking the hunt seriously.
Oh, Gawd help us all...
The police enlisted the help of experts from Colchester Zoo, who believe the sighting to be genuine after viewing a photograph of the creature taken by a resident.
Well, that was what they said at first.

But, as the hunt continued and it started to look a bit like they might have been had, the backtracking started in earnest:
Sarah Forsyth, a rhino curator (Ed: Nope. Me neither...) who lives on site at Colchester Zoo and was called to help the police investigate reports of a lion sighting, told the Guardian that pictures of the 'animal' were ambiguous and of poor quality.
Really, love? You don't say!
"By the time we got there whatever it was had gone. We were shown some photographs, but they were from very far away, very poor quality and to be honest there was no way of saying 'yes' or 'no'," Forsyth said.
That's not what you said earlier. Would it have helped if they'd been looking for some other sort of beast?

Like....a rhino?
Asked if she was sceptical that the animal pictured was a lion, she said: "I think it's unlikely. I think it was more likely to be a dog. It certainly wasn't a male lion. It didn't have a mane."
Forsyth, who police are keeping on standby for any further sightings (Ed: Yeah. She'll clearly be a big help!), said they found no droppings or footprints to indicate the presence of a big cat. Asked whether she thought the police operation had been necessary, she said: "I think they kind of have to because there was no way of saying that it definitely wasn't a lion."
Apart from the fact that no zoos or circuses are missing any lions, you mean?

You can, of course, always trust Twitter to rise to the occasion:

Update: The 'Mail' has the photo - it's so clearly a large domestic ginger cat that serious questions need to be asked about the competence of Essex Police.

She's Ruining My Stats!

Serial liar Kelly Walsh – who made up a story that she had been raped – has been jailed again after falsely claiming her ex-boyfriend had attacked her.
She later "tried to bluff her way out of it" but eventually confessed to lying yet again, a court heard.
Damn! Does she count as one case or two?
Mr Stevens was not arrested and the allegation was treated with disbelief by the police.
Well, that's refreshing!

Marriage – Clearly, It Makes You Stupid!

Well, what else explains this? First, let’s go back to last year, in Ashford:
The owners of a new bridal shop have been thrown out of their town premises – reportedly for not paying the rent. …
The shop hit the headlines last month when it was targeted by disgruntled customers of Brides of Ashford which went into liquidation in May – leaving 300 outstanding orders. Some of those affected visited Sittingbourne after rumours circulated that Brides of Ashford owner, Sharon Keates, was behind UK Brides.
However, Mrs Keates – who was declared bankrupt in November 2010 – claimed the store had nothing to do with her and was being run by her ex-partner Steve Sanford.
Oh dear, so sad. Everyone now much wiser, though?

Now flash forward to this year, and Portsmouth:
Angry brides-to-be fear they have been left in the lurch after a wedding shop suddenly ceased trading.
Couples who had spent thousands to get the big day of their dreams gathered at the Brides of Portsmouth shop in Elm Grove, Southsea, yesterday as news spread that it had run into trouble.
Yeah, you guessed it…
Shop worker Peta Bunyan, who has worked for the shop for the past six years, claimed she had not been paid for two months. She added: ‘We’ve got brides booked in for weddings up until 2014.’
Brides of Portsmouth hit the headlines in April, when it appeared on the TV consumer programme Rogue Traders. Shortly afterwards it was revealed former shop owner Sharon Keates, of Church Road, Titchfield, was no longer in control of the shop and it was instead run by Joe Misford, who is believed to be abroad.
Staff claim that despite the change, Sharon Keates has still been involved in the running of the shop.
Now, how dim do you have to be to sign up to a bridal shop without first checking who’s running it? And whether they have a history of this sort of thing?

Incredibly enough, the company itself blames…the people who uncovered the sordid history and broadcast it:
A statement from Benedict Mackenzie blamed the Rogue Traders programme for the insolvency.
Really? Yes, really:
It said: ‘It is with deep regret that as of today, Brides of Portsmouth Limited has been forced to cease trading.
‘An insolvency practitioner has been asked to assist the shareholders and director in placing the company into creditors voluntary liquidation.’
The statement added: ‘Brides of Portsmouth had no control over the programme and what was broadcast, and attempted to remove the programme and association of the previous owner by advising the production company of the potential consequences for all Brides’ customers if the programme was broadcast.’
‘If you tell everyone we’ve been involved with an insolvent businesswoman with a habit of doing a runner owing money, we’ll go out of business!’.

Well, no kidding!

How Do You Eat An Elephant?

Piece by piece, of course…
A series of late-night protests have been staged against a faith group's plan to convert a disused Scout hut in Leicester into a community centre.
Dozens of police have been stationed in Thurnby Lodge estate for the past few nights to oversee the peaceful demonstrations, which at their height have attracted up to 150 people.
Hmm, what sort of ‘faith group’ are we talking about here?
Residents said they were angry the former Scout hut in Nursery Road looked likely to become a community centre operated by Islamic charity the As-Salaam Trust.
Maxine Williams, manager of the Stirrup Cup pub, has been taking part in the demonstrations. She said: "People are protesting because they feel that they have not been consulted and that the council has handed the keys to the Scout hut to As-Salaam.
"There is a lot of concern about the amount of traffic that it will bring and that people's peace will be shattered."
Expect all those concerns to be overruled or branded ‘without foundation’…

And don't think you're safe because you don't live in Leicester:
The Muslim community of Herefordshire is raising money to establish the county’s first place of worship.
There is growing demand for a place of worship and the Muslim community says that it has outgrown a rented room at Hereford's Kindle Centre that is used for Friday prayer.
First, maybe. Anyone bet on it being the last?

H/T: Trundlemaster via email

Saturday, 25 August 2012

How About A Straight Swap?

He has served in the British Army for four years with an ‘exemplary record’, but Poloko Hiri has now been ordered out of the UK – because of a speeding offence.
According to the UK Border Farce, a speeding offence shows 'bad character'. Enough to wipe out his service to this country, it seems.
He had been doing 81mph in a 50mph roadworks zone at 1.30am.
I'll eat this keyboard if there was anyone actually working in that zone at 1:30 in the morning!

A man who raped and sexually assaulted a 13-year-girl after plying her with drugs and alcohol has been jailed for eight years. Rawad Bastawi was found guilty of abusing the underage teen over a number of days at an address in Whitehawk, Brighton.
OK, deport him to wherever his ancestors hail from (no, not Brighton) and keep Sapper Hiri.

Back Like A Bad Penny Shilling!

Somali drug dealers are operating in a popular park in Southchurch, police have revealed.
Officers have launched an investigation after a gang was spotted prowling around Southchurch Park at night, searching for business.
Gosh, who knew?

Oh. Wait.

Well, I guess you were right, Leigh, you have technically driven them out. Just, well, not very far.

Who Lives In A House Like This..?

Well, it could be anyone, after all, you’re paying…
Grant Shapps, the housing minister, said it was “blindingly obvious” that local authorities should seek to sell properties worth “millions” in order to use their resources “more efficiently” .
Yes. Yes, Grant, it is.
His intervention was made as new research found that more than a fifth of council house tenants in England are living in homes worth more than the average privately-owned home in their areas.

And, naturally, there are people desperate to continue this sorry state of affairs:
Critics warned that it would lead to “social cleansing” , with low-paid workers progressively moved out of more expensive areas.
Now, apart from the advantage it gives the Guardian-reading set to not have their domestic servants have to travel so far, as Rob points out in the comments at Tim Worstall’s post, just what benefit do we (‘we’ as in society) get to having this fabled ‘social mix’?
Alex Morton, a former civil servant who wrote the report, added: “Social housing tenants deserve a roof over their heads, but not one better than most people can afford, particularly as expensive social housing means less social housing and so longer waiting lists for most people in need.”
Well, quite! After all, in a high-income area, the goods and services on offer will be geared towards just that sort of clientele, pushing the low-income budget even further.

Pushing them, in fact, into ‘poverty’. I thought the left were agin’ that?
David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, said: “We have a huge shortage of homes and urgently need to start building more and part of that solution is that housing associations should be able to take advantage of the value of their properties in different ways.
“However, the idea of selling off social housing in 'high value’ areas to build more in cheaper areas is fundamentally flawed.
“It could effectively cleanse many towns of hard-working people who simply can’t afford the high prices of buying or renting privately.”
When he says ‘hard working people’, is that progressive speak for ‘Well, now where am I going to find a gardener?’ do you suppose..?

Proving Things With SCIENCE!

Phillipa Perry (possessor of a ‘Guardian’ mugshot that’d come in really useful if you wanted to print posters to keep your toddler away from a dangerous part of the garden..) on attitudes to disability:
Over the next few weeks it will, of course, be impossible to ignore the athletes participating in the Paralympics, but will that affect public attitudes to disability more generally? Why can able-bodied people be so awkward with others who happen to be differently able?
Because of articles like this one continually pointing out how different they are, or urging us to treat them differently, giving them different rights under the law, urging us to use different language to avoid offending them..?

It’s not rocket science…
In an experiment in which able-bodied people were asked to sit next to a disabled person, half were first allowed to stare at the disabled person through a two-way mirror and half were not. All were then measured how closely they sat next to the disabled person. They found that those who were allowed to stare sat closer than those who were introduced without first having had that opportunity.
Interesting experiment. I wonder if it was ever run with just able-bodied people.

Because I suspect it shows nothing more than the normal British reserve!
There is a conflict of what the able-bodied think they ought to feel about disabled people and the actual emotions experienced. For example, we want to follow our curiosity and stare and we also want to adhere to the social norm of not staring.
Well, indeed! You could replace ‘disabled person’ in that experiment with ‘person covered in tattoos’ or ‘person with bright scarlet hair’ and get the same result, I’ll be bound.

She does have one very, very good point, though:
Yet an unquestioning embrace of political correctness can mean we go too far and bracket all the differently able people together. A special needs teacher who works with children with profound and multiple learning disabilities told me they have such severe learning and physical difficulties that they will never be able to say "mummy" or show they recognise who mummy is. Yet, she must prepare lesson plans and teach subjects such as geography, French and maths because it is the children's right, according to the Declaration of the Rights of Children, to have those lessons, even though it doesn't appear possible that they could gain from them. We can be so keen not to discriminate that we can be in denial of difference.
Well, quite.

How do we strike a happy balance, though?

Friday, 24 August 2012

There's So Much To Legitimately Criticise The police For...

...that I'm sure you'll pardon me if I don't leap on the 'Mail's' bandwagon here:

Sounds awful?
Samantha Laney, 19, had asked for assistance so she could collect her belongings from the flat she used to share with her partner Thomas Dalton.
Her killer had already been spoken to by police for smashing up their home and he had previously threatened to 'slice her open' if she went to the property.
But when Samantha rang officers for a police escort, she was told there were not enough police officers available.
So she went to the flat, he was lying in wait, and he stabbed her. All because the police failed to escort her, right?

Wrong. He didn't stab her at the flat!
Shortly afterwards, Dalton, 19, armed himself with a kitchen knife and cycled over to the home of Samantha’s father in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffs.
He laid in wait for her outside for 45 minutes and when she arrived back, he burst in and stabbed Samantha in the back.
Sorry, but how the hell is this the fault of the police? Were they supposed to mount a 24-hr guard over her? Should they do that for every 'childhood sweetheart' couple who have a row and make threats over FaceAche..?

Prizes For All!

Headteachers said a decision to raise grade boundaries in GCSE English between exams taken in January and June resulted in many teenagers in effect being marked down an entire grade, leaving public confidence in the exam system in jeopardy.
More than 100 individual schools contacted the Guardian with details of the problems they were experiencing, describing the effect as "demoralising", "soul-destroying" and "gutting" for students and staff.
Because 'public confidence in the exam system' can only be raised by legions of well-qualified morons, I suppose?

As Quiet Man puts it:
"Thing is, we want these exams to be tough, we want only the brightest and best to progress, we want our kids to be able to read, write and do maths and the system in place was failing them. They were the ones facing employers or universities and having to do catch up courses for stuff they really should have known at age eleven (or even earlier) Yes, the exams might have been marked more harshly, but in this year any kid with good grades knows that they'll have earned it a bit more than the previous year."
Hear hear!

Almost Beyond Belief!

Parents who were given overnight accommodation by a charity after taking their poorly baby to Bristol Children's Hospital...
Set up a fundraiser for them? Did a sponsored run? Took in flowers and chocolates for the staff?
...stole most of the room's fixtures and fittings.

I just...
The couple, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, stole pillows, cushions, a duvet, towels, an alarm clock, a laundry basket, a bath mat, a soap dish and a toothbrush holder.
Matthew Pitt, defending the father, explained that both defendants were "vulnerable".
"My client has learning difficulties and left a special needs school with no qualifications," he said.
"He has problems with reading and writing and finds it hard to communicate. He also has psychological problems and suffers with depression.
"The couple have three other children – all of whom have been adopted or fostered because of neglect.
"Their son being ill put them under a lot of stress and pressure, especially because they were driving back and forth between their home and the hospital in Bristol.
"They don't have an explanation for why they took the items.
"It was not for financial gain but they accept it was dishonest."
Well, that's good of them, eh?

H/T: Dave Cank via email

Maybe The Problem Isn’t ‘Too Few Houses’, But ‘Too Many People’?

Ian Birrell takes out an onion for those breeding themselves out of their living spaces:
As so often with housing, this is sticking plaster politics – dealing with symptoms rather than cause. Be under no illusion as to the scale of the crisis: there are said to be 5 million people waiting on registers, but well under half the number of new homes we need being built.
This is ruining life for countless families, squashed into inadequate properties, and paralysing possibilities for a generation in their 20s. It will get worse: last month's census figures revealed not just a growing population but a baby boom.

If we are assuming that the same portion of society that is having their life ‘ruined’ by inadequate housing is also responsible for the baby boom, then I’m afraid my sympathy well is well and truly tapped out….

But what to do about our ‘growing population’ (other than to completely avoid any examination of which sector it is that’s growing)?
Despite mostly living in urban areas, Britons adore the bucolic vision of their green and pleasant land, as displayed to the world in Danny Boyle's Olympic opening. Many foreign visitors commented on the lovely touch of wildflower meadows by the stadiums. But while surveys show most voters think more than two-thirds of their country's surface area has been concreted over, an idea promoted by campaigning green groups, less than one-tenth of England is in urban development and almost half this is gardens and parks.
And…frankly, that’s enough. But not for Birrell, clearly.

This is a thorn in his side, a puzzle that must be solved. The answer will no doubt gladden Tim Worstall’s and Mark Wadsworth’s hearts…
If we want to resuscitate the moribund economy, we must recognise the impact of our anachronistic planning laws.
Ahhh, yes. If we just build more and more houses, everything’ll be rosy!
There is a very obvious solution staring us in the face. Nearly half of England's land is protected. This includes wonderful national parks and important sites of special scientific interest. But the majority is green belt, that sanctified stuff of suburban dreams.
It is time to start building on this misnamed land that is constricting our economic – and often environmental – needs.
Yes! To save our environment, we must concrete it over!

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Joan Smith’s Most Stupid Statement (Yet)?

According to Policy Exchange, people don't have a "right" to live in expensive places – unless they're rich, of course.
I… I just don’t even know where to start
One of the things I like most about the area of London where I now live is that it has what's known as "mixed" housing. Even so, class prejudice runs deep: a cop once asked if I'd had any problems with the council flats across the road, adding primly that he'd had to speak to some of the tenants about "inappropriate behaviour".
It’s now ‘class prejudice’ to expect council house tenants to abide by decent standards of behaviour? To not engage in the sort of behaviour that brings the police to your door?

When ‘Eating The Evidence’ Goes Badly Wrong…

…not that it’s ever likely to work well for a murder either, mind you:
Marcus Banwell made the mistake of eating his red hot haul from Singh Stores in Bristol before trying to make his escape.
Bristol magistrates heard that within a matter of seconds, the 39-year-old was coughing and being sick as the fiery food took effect.
The owner of the shop was alerted to the commotion on August 4 and followed Banwell outside onto the street, where he was arrested by police a short while later.
He’d been a busy boy:
Prosecuter May Li said when officers searched Banwell they found another four chilli peppers in his pocket, a stolen milk shake and fruit juice, and a clarinet stashed in his waist-band, which was missing from a music shop.
It’ll come as no surprise whatsoever that he’s an incorrigible drug addict, of course.
Ms Li said police also found paper wraps containing a small amount of crack cocaine and small amount of heroin on Banwell.
And with a record as long as your arm:
Banwell, from Fishponds, Bristol, admitted possessing two class A drugs, three shop thefts, receiving stolen goods and breaching his licence from a previous prison sentence.
Of course, that doesn’t mean his defence won’t try all the old excuses.
Mitigating, Emily Evans said her client had serious issues with drugs and alcohol that he did want to address.
I’m sure. He just fails to actually get around to addressing them. Again and again and again…
Ms Li said Banwell had been caught for a total of 43 previous theft-related offences since 1989.
I like the inclusion of the explanatory ‘been caught’. How many offences did he get away with?
Ms Evans said Banwell had not been receiving his benefits since March and had stolen food and drink to feed himself, not for any financial gain.
And the clarinet? Did he plan to eat that too?
Presiding magistrate Rachel Simmons told him: 'You have continued to offend while subject to your licence and other court orders, so we really do not have any other option but to make a further custodial sentence.'
Sounds like they were rather sorry their hands were tied, doesn’t it?

Sparing The Rod..?

At the risk of reigniting Sackerson's post, Bim Adewunmi on smacking:
Researchers from Michigan State University in the US have found nearly as many as one in four parents or caregivers slap their children in public.
Or, to use the academic term, the children are at the receiving end of what their study calls "negative touch" – anything from arm-pulling to pinching.
Lead researcher Dr Kathy Stansbury wrote: "I was very surprised to see what many people consider a socially undesirable behaviour done by nearly a quarter of the caregivers."
And once again, here’s ‘many people’ being used where ‘all my friends and colleagues’ would be far more accurate…
I was reminded of psychologist Jonathan Haidt's argument that there is a liberal bias in academics, especially in the social sciences. So I asked the question on social media. All but one respondent replied with a "yes, it's undesirable", with some stretching to "undesirable and (it should be) criminal". Hmm. Perhaps I was the one out of touch here.
Well, not really, since (leaving aside reTweets) most of the people following you on Twitter will be people of your own social circle or viewpoint. Very few people follow those they don't agree with. So you're still fishing in a very small pool...
Full disclosure: I was smacked as a child. At home, I had taps on the backs of my legs, rulers on the flat of my hands and – a couple of memorable times – the tongue of a belt on the palm. This form of discipline had pretty much ceased by the time I was about 10, but then I went to secondary school. Corporal punishment was normal and sanctioned by the school system (as it had been in most Nigerian primary schools)….
I, along with a bunch of friends, was smacked and we turned out undamaged. But then, a lot of my friends and peers weren't smacked and they're responsible, undamaged adults too. Of course, it works the other way too, which suggests to me that smacking is not the deciding factor here.
Parenting is a personal thing, often done publicly. And it's worth remembering that the social stigma of smacking does not seem to be stopping a determined set of parents from "disciplining" their children this way.
The law as it stands has a "reasonable chastisement" clause, which permits mild smacking. And that's how it should stay – parents need some autonomy in deciding on how to raise their own children.
Parents do. So, perhaps you'd like to have a word with your fellow columnists, who seem to want to mandate everything from breastfeeding to the toys children should play with?

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

How Can You Be A ‘Business Student’ If You Don’t Speaka Da Lingo?

A married man who sexually assaulted a woman after he misunderstood what she meant by "stop" has been given a suspended jail term.
Oh, this’ll be good!
Business student Serwan Saed, an Iraqi Kurd
*gets popcorn*
…. groped the woman as he was driving her car, Bristol Crown Court heard. When he asked her if she would like him to stop and she said "yes", he misunderstood, stopped in a field and touched her improperly.

Who’d believe that?
Judge Michael Longman gave him an 11-month sentence, suspended for two years.
The judge told him: "I accept the language difficulties and miscommunication resulted in you misinterpreting what (the victim) meant. "But that is not a complete explanation for your behaviour and you should have stopped before you did.
"I accept you believed that she was consenting, however unreasonable that belief was.
"You should have taken more care to ensure that she was happy with what you were doing."
Wait, back up a second… ‘driving her car’? How’d that happen? Just where did these two meet?
Timothy Hills, prosecuting, said that Saed had complimented the woman on her appearance in the Tesco shop and they exchanged telephone numbers.
The next day, however, Saed touched her improperly as he took her on a drive and carried out the five-minute assault, as she froze, when she told him to stop.
Hmmmm. Do you wonder at just how you go from meeting a man in Tesco to swapping numbers to letting him drive your car?

I do…
Catherine Spedding, defending, said: "It was an unreasonable belief in consent.
"She said she wanted him to stop and he misunderstood that.
"She was fearful and she didn't speak. He believed he had permission to go on."
She’d already given him permission to do some pretty strange things, clearly. Maybe it wasn’t such an ‘unreasonable belief’?
Ms Spedding said her client would be "extremely cautious" in future and his wife was fully aware of the allegations and continued to support him.
I just bet she does….

I Remember When Pizzerias Were Called ‘Luigi’s’ Or ‘La Trattoria’….

A teenager is seriously ill in hospital after he was beaten repeatedly by a gang of thugs armed with hammers. The 19-year-old was targeted while he was eating with four friends in a pizza takeaway in Evington Road, Leicester. Police said a group of men burst into Kortoba pizzeria
… and attacked the teenager and his friends shortly after 11.30pm on Thursday.
Hmmmm. I wonder why?
A number of men who said they knew the injured man said the attack had been carried out by a gang armed with hammers. One said the 19-year-old was struck repeatedly with a hammer as he lay unconscious and bleeding on the floor of the takeaway. Another said the gang which carried out the attack was up to 30-strong.
They outnumbered the target group by 6 to 1 and still needed weapons..?
A nearby resident, who asked not to be named, said: "There are too many gangs around here at night – young men who think they are gangsters.
"This is a shocking incident and I really hope the young man gets better."
A business owner said…"This is a good neighbourhood but, unfortunately, at night there are some bad people hanging around."
Ah. No descriptions of the miscreants, of course. So, as always with local newspapers, we turn to the comments:
by Rachel_Leics “not the 1st time takeways in this area have been under attack the police should watch this area more :( x”
Well, indeed! I wonder why they don’t?
by DavidEnderby “Lots of slovak roma gypsy gangs hang around this part of town from early evening until the early hours I am reliably informed. Their skin colour varies from light to tanned/swarthy to asiatic. Not that any connections are being made to this horrific incident of course.”
Aha. That’ll be why, then.

Parasitism – It’s A Way Of Life!

And not just for ichneumon wasps, either:
A campaign group says it will camp in Victoria Gardens, Brighton, in protest at plans to make squatting illegal – and the city council will let them.
Well, of course they will. Look where it is.
Changes to the law, which come into effect on September 1, will see squatting in residential properties a criminal offence.
In a rallying cry to supporters the group said: “They take our houses, so we’ll take their city.
“We will resist the squatting ban by any means necessary.”
‘Our’ houses..?
The Squatter’s Network of Brighton is calling for a Mass Squatting Action on October 13 to resist the new anti-squatting laws.
“This act is draconian, unworkable, an attack on our way of living…”
A strange way of living, that requires stealing the fruits of others’ labour.

Be careful what you set in motion, won’t you?
Hove MP Mike Weatherly, who had been campaigning for the new law, said: “I fully accept people have the right to protest, but squatting in our public parks is not something I approved of. "If they are there in October then all they are doing is crying out for increased powers.
“The new law will only affect squatting in residential properties, but if they start abusing other areas of land and commercial properties then all they are going to do is hasten the introduction of laws to these areas as well.”
Playing right into the State's hands, and too stupid to see it!

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Boilerplate, By-The-Numbers Column Writing…

Amy Goodman is on full auto:
Another mass murder, another shooting spree, leaving bodies bullet-riddled by a legally obtained weapon.
And another ‘Guardian’ article on ‘gun control’ (or ‘Why can’t those wretched Americans disarm themselves and be more like us Europeans, where shootings are unheard of and unicorns gambol in the streets?’)….
With an average of 32 people killed by guns in this country every day – the equivalent of five Wisconsin massacres per day – both major parties refuse to deal with gun control. It's the consensus, not the gridlock, that's the problem.
I thought the left loved consensus?
Amidst the carnage, platitudes.
Oh, boy…
The president's press secretary, Jay Carney, said: "We need to take common-sense measures that protect second amendment rights and make it harder for those who should not have weapons under existing law from obtaining weapons." It's important to note where Jay Carney made that point, reiterating the phrase "common sense" five times in relation to the president's intransigence against strengthening gun laws, and invoking "second amendment" a stunning eight times.
How awful of him to abide by the Constitution, eh?
The day after the Wisconsin shooting, I spoke with Gurcharan Grewal, president of the Sikh Religious Society of Wisconsin. He told me: "Ultimately, the problem comes to gun control. I don't know when we're going to get serious about all this, and I don't know how many more lives it will take before something will be done." Neither Obama nor Romney agrees that gun control is the answer. It will take a movement to make it happen.
Well, we know you haven’t got the guns. Have you got the numbers, though?

The Curious Incident Of The Author In The ‘Guardian’….

Mark Haddon, the award-winning author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, has written to his MP arguing that he and other wealthy people should pay more tax to save others being hit by government spending cuts.
Well, there’s nothing stopping you from paying more tax, should you want to; just calculate what you think you should pay and write a check.

Tim Worstall’s even handily provided the address for you!

Not sure what gives you the authority to speak for other people, though...
He said he had put his opinions in a letter to his MP, sent in February, which read: "I'm a wealthy person. Austerity measures introduced by the coalition have caused real suffering to many people, but my comfortable life hasn't changed in the slightest. Why have I, and people like me, been asked to contribute nothing?"
What do you mean, contribute nothing? Don’t you pay any tax? Consume any VATable goods?
Haddon told the Sunday Times he had annoyed his accountant by insisting on paying all tax that was due rather than seeking to avoid it.
Really? I doubt that. Your accountant gets paid regardless.

He might view you as a fool, but I doubt very much you’ve annoyed him.
Haddon has accused the government as being(sic) "a cabal of very wealthy people", out of touch with ordinary life, saying his experience of attending boarding school and Oxford University had shown him "how easy it is for certain groups of people to become wholly insulated from ordinary life".
Unlike those nice, down-to-earth, salt-of the-earth, good honest working man Labour MPs, I suppose?

Stay Classy, New Addington!

A community who rallied together to help search for missing girl Tia Sharp, joined in mourning the 12-year-old with a mass Chinese lantern release.
Hundreds of well-wishers from New Addington and the surrounding area met on Friday night at The Lindens, where the Mitcham girl’s body was found last week, to light the lanterns and release them into the night’s sky.
Well, really, what else would one expect from the place, other than – in an effort to ‘honour the memory’ of a child almost certainly killed by one of her own relatives who then led the media and the police around by the nose – the mass release of tiny incendiary devices guaranteed to create UFO panic, start fires on innocent people’s property and kill livestock and wildlife?

After all, as usual, they won’t be the ones to have to clean up their own messes, will they?

Monday, 20 August 2012

Workers Swap ‘Processed Grain Stuffed Full Of Sugar’ For….

….Oh. More of the same?
Pity the poor cereal manufacturers.
After decades of growth, with Britons crunching and sucking their way through bowl after bowl of heavily processed grain made palatable by salt and sugar and afforded spurious claims of nutrition by "fortifying" vitamins, something has changed. Sales of Crunchy Nut are down 15% by volume in the last year alone, Special K by almost 10%. Even Corn Flakes have suffered a drop.
So, what are people eating instead?
Instead, people are apparently buying yoghurt drinks, cereal bars, pastries and "breakfast biscuits", ingesting these in front of computer screens…
There are two possible factors at play here. One is the explanation offered by the cereal industry: that so shackled are we to our precariously held jobs, none of us have time to tinkle some flakes into a bowl and slosh a bit of milk on them..
Odd explanation, as most big offices provide fridges or microwaves.
The second explanation – and the one I prefer – is that more people are realising what overpriced, unhealthy junk most breakfast cereals are.
But, wait! Aren’t they…?

Yes. Yes, it appears they are…
The problem is that many of the new, popular, time-saving breakfast foods – such as cereal bars – are often of dubious nutritional value and almost always jacked with sugar and salt.
Whoops! So…what do you suggest?
It shouldn't be difficult to eat a quick and healthy breakfast midweek. Mine are usually oat-based: muesli for most of the year (I used to make my own in a fit of expensive, tie-dye madness, but now buy Jordan's), porridge in winter.
A ripe avocado or a fat tomato in summer, a pinch of salt and a little olive are lovely, healthier alternatives to sugary spread. Smoked salmon still feels like a treat, especially on a rainy Tuesday. Homemade granola is far easier than you might think and keeps for weeks.
Back to the McDonald’s Breakfast Wrap for me!

It Just Doesn’t Seem Like Justice, Does It..?

An heroic policeman who protected children from a drug-crazed joyrider has died – four years after the ordeal that ruined his life.
The family of PC Keith Gray say he never recovered from the physical and mental scars of tackling yob Louis Browning, who ploughed into a crowd at the New Addington Christmas lights switch-on in November 2008.
A sad story.

Still, at least the criminal was properly punished for…

Browning, 20, served just ten months in jail – only half his sentence – despite absconding from an open prison after his conviction.
And yet, they still go on doing it.

H/T: Dave Ward via email and Chairforce1 via Twitter

“Just Shut Up And Sing…”

Ry Cooder is the latest celebrity to open his mouth and showcase his ignorance, egged on by a somewhat less-than-impartial ‘Guardian’ interlocutor:
GI:Did you see the opening ceremony? This will lead somewhere, this question, I hope ...
RC: Oh, sure. Absolutely.
GI:And what did you make of it?
RC: Well, the whole thing with the beds and the National Health was interesting from over here, as you might well imagine.
GI:Well, that's what I want to ask you about because we read here that there was some criticism of that segment of the ceremony in the US.
RC: Well, I didn't know there was any criticism of it at all. I hadn't heard that. First of all, you can't believe the media.
Translation: ‘What? Of course not. No-one in my tiny, unrepresentative circle thought so, so it must be untrue. And if others are saying so, why, they must be fakes…’
GI:I don't know if you're familiar with the mayor of London, a character called Boris Johnson ...
RC: Never heard of him.
GI:He's a Conservative buffoon. He's so ridiculous that there's a point at which some people start to find him funny. Is there an element of that with the Sarah Palins of this world? Or are they too dangerous to ever find them funny?
RC: They're too insanely dangerous. Look, what did Gore Vidal say recently? The interviewer asked him what he thought of the Republican party and he said it's not a party any more, it's a Hitler Youth mindset and they're out to destroy the country, and he was 110% right.
He’s now 110% dead, so what does that tell you?
GI:Is Mitt Romney the least worst candidate to have emerged from the Republican ranks?
RC: I don't agree with that. Romney is as bad as anyone can be. He's a dangerous man. He's a cruel man. He's a perfect creation for what the Republican party is all about. And that is to say, a rapacious capitalist.
Cooder, I’m assuming, only gives away his records through socially-conscious diverse enterprises? Not through some medium of ‘rapacious capitalism’?

*checks iTunes Store*

GI:It's a bit different to the protest songs of the 60s. Is that because you think those songs were never really effective or because the times have changed?
RC: Well, I don't know how to write soldier music. They were soldiers' songs so people could go out and hit the frontline. We shall overcome and so forth. And you need those types of songs. Especially in the Occupy movement. I think they're going to want to have songs like that, it'll be helpful.
Well, it’ll be a lot more helpful than their current efforts to persuade people of the righteousness of their cause.
GI:On the new album, the song Cold Cold Feeling pictures President Obama pacing the Oval Office on his own in the dark. Is he a good man trapped in an impossible situation?
RC: Yes, 110%. He's set upon by dogs. He's prevented from doing anything because the Republicans ensured that no president and no Democrat president can ever do good again. That's what Bush was sent in there to do: destroy the presidency, and that's what I think he did.
Ry Cooder, folks. The David Icke of the music world…

Sunday, 19 August 2012

How To Torpedo Your Own Argument….

Richard Sudan in the ‘Indy’:
…. the pathologist who conducted two post mortem examinations on Ian Tomlinson, the newspaper seller and father of nine who was killed in 2009 at the G20 protests in London after being pushed to the ground by a police officer, faces being struck off after a tribunal panel of medical professionals noticed a number of key errors in his work and found him to be ‘dishonest’.
This prompts him into a rant about Tomlinson’s death, the IPCC, the Harwood trial, the need for reform of the Met, etc, etc. And also this:
Among other factors (there are too many to go into here) we know institutional racism still exists. We know where it exists. If you’re black in this country you’re still almost thirty times more likely to be stopped and searched by the police. Of those stopped and searched the percentage of searches that result in a conviction is a small percentage. If some people cannot be persuaded that this is actually immoral, then what about the economic argument? What about the money being wasted on stopping and searching so many innocent people? What about the fact that this racism affects the whole of society and not just those being mistreated and victimised? What about the legacy it leaves and has already left? What about focusing on inclusiveness within the upper ranks of the Met? Would a greater diversity in leadership among senior officers bring a better level of understanding on the ground?
Yes, it’s all ‘institutional racism’.

Oh, wait. The name of that pathologist, if you please, Richard?
Freddy Patel
Ah. Thanks.

Clearly it was that dreaded institutional racism that kept him in his job long after the concerns were raised..?

On Your Marks, Get Set, Go!

I didn’t think it’d be long before the whining started. Jackie Ashley on the upcoming Paralympics:
There is a crude, unthinking sports fan who confuses the human lottery with virtue; who worships a Bolt or a Phelps because they are big and physically impressive; or who thinks that Australian or British sportspeople are inherently "better". Why waste time talking about it? Because it's exactly the same kind of stupidity that denigrates other people because they happen to have been born with physical palsy or a learning disability, or to have had a car accident that resulted in both legs being amputated.
See, we shouldn’t have cheered for Mo Farah, because it makes us more likely to go out and tip a disabled man out of his wheelchair.

I think that’s what she’s saying, anyway.
… the Paralympics may be morally more important than the Olympics. For the stupid adoration of people because of their physical luck has as its flip side the stupid ridiculing or hostility to people because of their disabilities. In essence, it's the same thing. The comedian's vile insult, the punch at a bus-stop, the schoolboy mockery of wheelchair-users are all failures of empathy – failures to see the people who are actually there.
Ah. Yes, idiotic as it might sound, that is indeed what she’s saying.
And in Britain, at least, this is the time to worry. Official government figures show that the number of disability hate crimes reported to the police in England and Wales has reached a record high – there were some 1,942 last year.
Have they indeed?
So what's going on?
Well, it’s simple. For one thing, we’re recording them as such now, whereas before they would have simply gone down as crimes against the person (which, since you seem to dislike the use of labels, I’d have thought you’d be in favour of?).

For another, victims have realised that there’s an advantage to be had in claiming to have a ‘high profile’ crime, so it wouldn’t surprise me one little bit if a disability is claimed as the reason for a crime, when it may not have been the case at all.
Charities believe it must be linked to the rise in "scrounger" rhetoric by ministers, and the suggestion that huge numbers of people are dishonestly claiming benefits.
Of course they believe that. Given the alternative…
And because there are always a few bad apples, it is an addictively easy blame game. Yes, there are idle people with disabilities. Yes, there are crooks who happen to be partially sighted. It's the same with those who aren't disabled … except that they are a little harder to pick out, and pick on.
If you think people are more sympathetic to able-bodied criminals and benefit cheats, you really haven’t read many local newspapers…
As the Paralympics will remind us, there's a vast range of disability, and it's people with learning disabilities who are most at risk. According to the Papworth Trust, 90% of them report being bullied, with a third saying it happens every week or every day. These are the people at the sharpest end of the fear and insecurity that comes with hard times. What's happening to them is the latest episode in the sad saga of discrimination of old: "they're the same" – all black, gay or Jewish people. It's seeing the label, not the person.
Oooh, a Godwin!
Mostly, in modern Britain, we've moved beyond this. Mostly, but not quite. That's why the Paralympics matters so much.
Yes, to avoid labelling which leads to thinking of people as different we should have a great big separate event, exclusively for the disabled.

And not mention Oscar Pistorius. Not once.

Sunday Funnies Extra...

Courtesy of Bucko, this little ditty...

Sunday Funnies...

Anyone popping in for some minor surgery?

'Don't have nightmares...'

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Everyone Over To Kevin Ryan’s Front Garden!

Why? ‘Cause it’s party time! Bring a bottle!
I write in response to your story “Drinkers on streets put off visitors,” (The Argus, August 9). If Brighton and Hove City Council provided more day centres and rehab facilities, the drinking problem would be less of an issue.
What about providing designated drinking areas for what are often labelled the “transient” and “homeless”?
OK, how’s your front garden sound, Kev?
As for Anne Martin’s view of the Palace Pier as the manager of it, she asks people to finish drinks before coming on to the pier, but it’s OK for her to have a pub at the end of it.
Well, yes. That’s hardly strange. It’s perfectly OK to sell someone a car, but frown when they run their mother-in-law over with it…
I think this is a form of social class prejudice.
Really? You mean people object to rambling, incoherent street drunks hassling passers by for change and evacuating their bowels in the street?

How bourgeois of them!
It seems people view outdoor drinking as a nasty blot on the landscape.
Actually, no. People having a few glasses of wine or beer on a picnic blanket in a park is perfectly acceptable, so long as they take the bottles home with them. Homeless drunks necking Special Brew and fighting on street corners isn’t.

It’s not rocket science.

Danger, Danger! Internet Access!

Jack Huddart was playing with the console at Leeds General Infirmary when he accessed the photograph.
His outraged granddad Philip Wilson also saw the picture, of a scantily clad woman, before he managed to clear the screen.
And the usual overreaction:
Now staff have taken internet access off all the combined television and computer screens on the ward and an investigation is being held.
*sigh* What was the offending picture, anyway?
The youngster, from Chapel Allerton, Leeds, was playing with the touch screen console when he inadvertantly clicked on a search for the former prime minister’s wife Cherie Blair which brought up the photo. Mr Wilson said the photo showed a bikini-clad woman, on which Mrs Blair’s head had been superimposed, in a suggestive pose.
Oh! Well, I can understand the shock now. At first glance, it must have appeared to be an ACTUAL picture of a bikini-clad Cherie!
Mr Wilson said: “It’s just not acceptable on a kids’ ward.”
That sort of thing isn’t acceptable anywhere, Mr Wilson.
“These should not be accessible to anyone in a hospital.”
Ah. So…it’s not just a case of ‘For the chiiiilllldreeeen!’ then?
Another parent said she accidentally accessed explicit images of model Jodie Marsh on her son’s bedside screen. Jacqueline Honey said she was relieved that her four-year-old son Tommie had not seen them. Mrs Honey, of Swarcliffe, Leeds, said: “The last place you’d think your child would be in danger from the internet is in their hospital bed. It’s wrong.”
‘Danger from the Internet’..?


When Schooling Becomes Parenting…

Dorothy Lepkowska (no 'Guardian' bio) describes a rather unusual class:
The pupils file in quietly class by class, the school hall lit from the front with five candles on a table.
Oooh! ‘elf n’ safety!
Soft music plays in the background and images of the pupils taken at various times of the year appear as a slideshow. It is the last assembly of the academic year at Tower Hill primary in Witney, Oxfordshire, and an opportunity for staff and children to reflect on the last 12 months.
And what …ummm, ‘reflections’ they are:
Brandon comes forward and tells the school how he learned to curb his anger. He now counts to 10 if someone has made him cross.
Annie says pupils tend not to tell lies any more or try to "get out of" something they have done wrong.
Alana says she is proud of the moment she persevered with a difficult task in class when it might have been easier just to give up.
It’s easy to mock. Very easy.
This school is located in the heart of David Cameron's Witney constituency in west Oxfordshire, but its philosophy is some way removed from the culture of change and competition brought to the system by Cameron's government via its education secretary.
"Michael Gove would consider our approach far too ephemeral and touchy-feely," says Tracey Smith, the headteacher. "But we would like him to visit us, and will be extending an invitation, so he can see what we're achieving here in a stable, happy environment. It might do his public image a lot of good if he did not appear so rigid in his thinking."
This is, of course, the latest fad: ‘values-based education’.

A very different sort of primary school, this one. No more simply babysitting little Shaneece and hoping she won’t eat too much fingerpaint mix before Krystelle picks her up, not cramming young Eustace full of facts before the nanny comes to pick him up.

Now, the school is ‘teaching’…well, frankly, the sort of things they should have already learned at home:
The ethos embraces qualities such as respect, courage, honesty, compassion and integrity among the school community, underpinned by high expectations. Its proponents believe that this ethical vocabulary, which is used and understood even by the youngest children, creates the ideal environment for learning by promoting a peaceful and calm atmosphere.
And this isn’t just a fad that we can pass off as affecting the Islington set, either:
Nobody would describe Witney as a disadvantaged area but this school does not mainly serve the affluent "Chipping Norton set" or their like. In this school more than 30% of children are entitled to free school meals, against a national average of 19.3% in primary schools and an Oxfordshire average of 9.8%. A third of pupils here have special needs.
This is…rather sad:
At lunchtimes a family scenario is created in the dining hall with pupils and teachers sitting in groups and serving each other. No one eats before everyone has their food.
"It teaches them manners and creates an environment that some may not get at home," Smith says.
So now schools are becoming families, as increasingly, families no longer bother.

How long before we move straight to the State Podding Hutches?

Friday, 17 August 2012

So, They Aren’t All Treehuggers In Brighton & Hove?

… residents in Old School Place, Hove, want to say goodbye to these 80-foot trees claiming they blight their everyday lives. Despite attempts to cut them back, householders who live in the shadow of the giant perennials say they have their hands tied as they are protected.
In Hove!? Shock!
Richard Frost, of Old School Place, said: “It’s just reached a ridiculous state of affairs. “They were not this big five years ago when we moved in. ”
Trees grow..?!? Who knew?!
Locals claim the trees block out light from their homes while one added he could not dig in his garden as there were too many roots. They are also worried the roots are growing under their homes and will cause subsidence.
Another said that falling leaves caused drains and gutters to block with others saying the smallest amount of wind caused a lot of noise as the branches waved about.
Oh, the humanity!

There are some handy hints for people who want to be rid of unwelcome trees in the comments. There’s also some indication that people are getting rather fed up with this sort of thing, too:
John Fallon says... Oh, for goodness' sake, pop along to the council's website, download a tree work form, fill it in and send it off. Once permission has been granted, get a qualified tree surgeon to coppice the things in the autumn. Job done. Repeat every three years or so. If you want an even easier life, get the tree surgeon to fill in the form. Just get on with and stop expecting other people to solve your relatively minor problems.

The Latest ‘Health Risk’…

…you won’t believe what it is.

No, no. Not shift working! That’s so last week, dahlings:
As a novelist and journalist who has worked at home for the past 11 years, to my friends I'm the poster girl for the lifestyle dismissed by Boris Johnson as a "skiver's charter … sitting wondering whether to go down to the fridge to hack off that bit of cheese before checking your emails again."
Which will make very many people jealous. Doesn’t she have the perfect lifestyle for a working mother? So we are always told, in those ‘Guardian’ articles that clamour for greater flexibility anyway…
Even without the Olympics, we skivers are in the ascendant. Roughly 5.4 million British households now contain one occupant who is working from home, of whom the majority are estimated to be women, often trying to combine earning a living with family commitments. Roughly 50% of these are freelance, the other half employees, but this balance looks set to change as major corporations try to cut costs.
And are you grateful? Well, no. The grass is always greener, isn’t it?
But at what cost to its employees' mental health?
… there's a significant downside – it can rapidly send you slightly bonkers. Increasingly all work is conducted via email rather than phone calls, meaning that during working hours you can literally not hear a human voice for weeks at a time. Before having children, I countered the isolation with a lively evening social life. But once my daughters were born, I was too exhausted to go out at night, and in any case I couldn't afford regular babysitters.
That’s a natural consequence of having children, isn’t it? Honestly, what is it with these women that they really seem to expect that having children shouldn’t impinge on their lives in any way whatsoever?
I missed irritating colleagues, envied those who could use their commute to decompress. Four years ago things came to a head when I fell ill for weeks with a vicious flu bug. Researching my latest novel, Ten Minutes to Fall in Love, about a lonely widower finding his feet, I began investigating the health fallout of working alone.
Of course, when you start out with a pre-conceived notion, you can expect to find evidence, can’t you?
I discovered research by Brigham Young University in Utah, which looked at various studies into sociability and showed that lack of human interaction can affect health as badly as smoking 15 cigarettes a day or being an alcoholic.
Working at home is the new smoking! Really?

I felt my IQ dropping a few points for every paragraph of that article that I read…

Give-A-F**K-O-Meter Broken! Send Another!

Concerns have been raised over security at a rail depot where a 15-year-old boy was blinded by an explosive detonator he found there.
‘Found’ there? Was he a junior apprentice? A work experience lad?
Residents and councillors were alarmed to learn youths regularly got into the Network Rail depot – near a popular skatepark – through a gap in the fence behind Leigh station.
Ah. No. Just a vandal and a (incompetent) thief.

Still doesn’t seem to have stopped the usual chorus of ‘Something must be done!’-ers, though.
Caroline Parker, chairman of Leigh Town Council’s transport and highways committee and member of its youth facilities working party, said: “It’s absolutely tragic.
“Obviously any explosive, and anything that would prove to be a danger to life, should be locked up.
“We were totally unaware anything like that was kept at the back of the park.”
We’ll come back to the issue of the depot’s apparent disregard for H&S later…
Youths who use the skate park said they removed two fence struts and regularly got in through the gap, which was hastily repaired on Sunday.
In other words, when it came to light, following the publicity about the accident.
Pat Holden, chairman of Leigh Town Council, said youngsters there told her they actually had a “den” on the depot site. She said a woman claiming to be the injured boy’s mother called her to say the teenagers found the detonators in a skip on the site.
Mrs Holden said: “Why wasn’t something done about the hole in the fence?
“It doesn’t sound terribly good.”
It seems they did do something about the hole in the fence, when they learned about it. I presume you’d be happy to pay increased fares for Network Rail to maintain a billion-strong army of fence checkers surrounding every square foot of fence they have, right?

What’s that? You wouldn’t?
Mike King, of nearby Marine Parade, said: “I’m just astonished they kept these detonators somewhere they can be relatively easily accessed.
“They should be in a building under a lock and key.”
Should they? Maybe.

But while we’re talking about things that ‘should’ happen, teenagers should stay the other side of the fence, hmm?
Jordan Martin, 19, whose family owns the nearby Leigh Golf Driving Range, said: “It’s ridiculous.
“Doesn’t anyone check anything?”
Ah, right. Remind me to quote you should someone break into Leigh Golf Driving Range and injure themselves with a carelessly discarded putter, eh?
Tony Cox, Southend councillor responsible for public protection and transport, said: “Obviously it’s concerning if there are gaps in the fence and the appropriate bodies will take action to make it as secure as possible.”
Needless to say, in the comments, there’s few willing to fight the lad’s corner.

A couple of people do have some good points to make about the dangerousness of the detonators, though.
Kentish Alex says...
No the kids should not have been there but NORMAL boys do that sort of thing. I did, sneaking into Shoebury Garrison via the beach some 30 years ago and climbing around half built houses and I come from a “nice” family, not a sink estate. Yes, the lad was a fool to put something with the word "Explosive" on it onto a fire. However, did the lad really think that something quite so dangerous would have been left laying about? Elf and Safety is so over used that it has become meaningless and real risks are hard to tell from theoretic ones unless you are in the know. Kids cant buy Christmas Crackers for example as they are "explosives". Being a lad means taking risks and learning how to judge risk is part of growing up. This time it went tragically wrong. These devices could have caused mayhem in hands more malicious than these boys. I hope, as they say, "lessons will be learned" to prevent such accidents again. I also hope he recovers and gets his sight back for, there but the grace of God, have been most teenagers.
And as for the licensing and storage…
Sean4u says...
I'm not sure how careless the depot has been: those signals don't require an explosives certificate: k/explosives/licensi ng/storage/schedule- 1.htm That's a life-changing injury for the boy, but I think his emotional well-being may be best served by accepting that it was nobody's fault but his own.
But hey, this wouldn’t be a local newspaper comment section without a contribution from the shallow end of the gene pool. Would it?
leigh resident says...
Honestly have all you self righteous people never done anything u shouldn't?? Honestly??? Do u not remember what it is like to be 15???? Sure they shouldn't have been there but have a heart the boy is blind he did not deserve that. When you are young you don't think about consequences that comes with maturity which 15yearold boys don't have my heart goes out to him and his family , my son goes to the same school and I can confirm he is a lovely kid not a troublemaker not a yob not an intimidating gangmember just a typical teen that made a mistake get better soon mate x
Which brings this interesting retort:
asbo uncut says...
you're calling this child "mate" and you are the parent of this boy's friend. maybe parents need to stop being "mates" to their kids and focus on being parents.
Quite on the nose, but nonetheless true…