Friday 30 April 2010

On The Campaign Trail In Deepest East London….

Although I don’t normally link to (or read) the ‘New Statesman’, there’s an article on the rise of the BNP and the local election campaign in Barking and Dagenham that’s very illuminating.

Though possibly not for the reasons that they might have supposed:
There was a time when Labour was so dominant in the area that it barely needed to canvass. When the Barking MP Margaret Hodge was first elected in 1994, she won with 72 per cent of the vote; in last year's European elections, Labour's share across Barking and Dagenham was 31 per cent.
Ouch! That's one hell of a drop. It also rather gives the lie to the allegation that Labour are using minorities to buy votes, though, doesn't it?

Because it certainly seems as though the people moving into B&D aren't voting Labour...
In an attempt to regain support, Hodge is hosting a question-and-answer session in a school hall with the former EastEnders actor Ross Kemp. But despite the star guest, there is little enthusiasm for Labour in the audience. Ann Steward, a member of a Becontree tenants' association, tells Hodge: "The only politician who attends our meetings is Richard Barnbrook [a BNP councillor] and that's why the BNP do so well. They come round and trim our hedges. Now the elections are looming we see Labour, but where have you been? We need your presence."
That's rather telling. Has Labour been neglecting this area because they've taken it for granted, or because they are aware that their polling is dropping and they can't find an answer?

Naturally, the Right to Buy policy of the previous Conservative government comes in for criticism, while neatly avoiding the fact that Labour have done nothing in the last 13 years to resolve that ‘problem’:
Yet it is also one of the most deprived places in the country, and the growing population puts an extra strain on public services. The problem is compounded by other London councils being allowed to place their own tenants and homeless people in private rented accommodation in the area. Even Tory-controlled Westminster - located on the other side of London and with some of Britain's most expensive streets - has placed 56 families here.
Ah. It's been used as a dumping ground then. No wonder the Labour candidate hasn't shown her face there...
There are 11,695 families on Barking and Dagenham's housing list and local anger has been directed at the new faces they see down the street. As I follow Hodge canvassing, complaints about housing crop up again and again. We hear tales of families that have had to wait three, five or even more years to get a home. One man has spent eight years living in a one-bedroom flat with his wife and four children. Hodge and her team patiently explain that this is because of the Right to Buy
While neatly avoiding the fact that they've done nothing to resolve that...
A young mother says she's considering voting BNP because she likes the party's insistence that "local people get local housing". She adds hurriedly: "I'm not racist, though - half my family are black."

Hodge, who has been dashing between doorstep conversations with a bright "Hello, I'm your MP", turns to me and grimaces, as if to say: "You see what we're up against?"
Yes. Yes, we do, Hodge. People with reasonable concerns, whom you patronise and sneer at though only ever behind their back, to the 'safe' personage of your tame left-wing journalist...
Hodge has made an effort to turn around Labour's fortunes in the borough. She has moved her office here from Westminster and last year oversaw moves to rejuvenate the local party and boost recruitment. Several councillors were deselected and the party has taken on a wave of younger, ethnically diverse members.
Ah. Well, that's a winning strategy with those white, working class voters, eh, Hodge?

Good lord, talk about snatching defeat from the jaws of...well, defeat.
“The left don't like what I've been saying," she concedes. "But I think you can puncture racism by dealing with the feeling of unfairness that people have."
Good luck with that. Since a lot of those candidates are now standing as independents, you've managed to triple the feeling of unfairness...
Under pressure from figures on the left of the party, including the Dagenham MP Jon Cruddas, Labour has in recent months begun to address the lack of affordable housing. But is it too little too late? "Both main political parties should have invested far more in affordable social housing much sooner," Hodge admits. "But social housing is not universal, it is something that has to be rationed, and socialism has always been about the language of priorities."
And if it's going to be decided on 'priorities', then immigrants and asylum seekers, with larger families and complex 'needs', are always going to score higher on that list...
Her team knocks at another door. The white-haired man in his fifties who answers says he'll vote "for whoever is going to stop all this immigration. I drive a bus, and no one on it speaks English any more."

Well, they all should speak English," Hodge replies.
And we laughed at Brown over #bigotgate...!?

Here's a woman who earlier sneered at the lady concerned over immigration despite being part of a mixed race family herself, yet happy to agree with a bus driver that the people on his bus should 'speak English'!

To whom? Each other? Would Margaret like to see official Labour Language Police walking the streets, ensuring no private conversations are ever carried out in foreign tongues??

And that's despite the fact that the government prints official documentation in all the languages under the sun!
Josephine Channer, a 31-year-old small business owner, is one of the Londoners who have been attracted to Barking by its cheap property prices. She is also a Labour council candidate, but sees things differently to Hodge. "With a lot of the white community, I think support for the BNP is just plain racism," she says.
That must go down well with your constituents, Josephine...
In the five years she has lived in Barking, Channer has seen her estate change from being largely white to a more typical urban mix.
'More typical'..? That's telling, isn't it...?
She claims to have encountered prejudice within the Labour Party. "One councillor who was deselected said that they would run as an independent if they were going to be replaced by a black candidate."
Is that so surprising? Can you now see the appeal of the BNP? Because I can...

But Josephine's fellows aren't voting for the Labour Party as a result:
Pastors in Barking's Pentecostal churches have been urging their congregations to vote for the fundamentalist Christian Party, whose leader, George Hargreaves, is also standing for parliament.

Hodge acknowledges this may split the anti-BNP vote, but plays down the threat. "I'm getting a mixed response. But I think the Christian Party is not about what I've done locally, it's about my attitude to abortion and stem-cell research."
Channer takes a bleaker view: "We've pissed off the white community, the black community, the Asian community, and now we've got to try and mend it in four weeks."
Good luck with that....

"It's the end of the world as we know it..."

...and I feel fine:
A group of 16 artists will be evicted from a gallery in a shock move that will leave the borough without any council-run exhibition space.
Oh noes! How will Walthamstow cope..?
David Sullivan, a prize-winning painter and former student of the Royal College of Art, is a member of the CRSA and is angry at the council’s move...Mr Sullivan said the council has put artists “bottom of their list of priorities.”
OMG! The philistines!
Alke Schmidt shares a studio with fellow artist Zarah Hussain.

The 45-year-old, whose paintings depict political issues including climate change and the global recession, said: “This has come as a complete surprise...
Oh, stop, please! My sides...!

I Think I Know What I’d Do About Kenneth…

…but I rather doubt that the ‘Indy’ would print it:
Kenneth Brown, 44, spent his childhood in and out of care and has lived just a few months of his adult life outside the walls of a prison. An opportunist burglar and career thief, he has visited almost every one of the 140 prisons in England and Wales.
So, you can’t say he hasn’t achieved something in his life…
His behaviour has become so institutionalised that unless something radical happens, the second half of his life will follow the same course as the first.

On each occasion Kenneth has been released from prison, he promises himself he will never go back.
But it seems Kenneth lacks something. Self control:
“When they let me out of the gates, I always say the same thing: It’s going to be different this time. I’m going to stay legal. I never want to go back.”

But the path to rehabilitation is rarely smooth. “They give me my £46 release money and a travel permit. And I sit there on the train to London, saying to myself I can’t go back. Then the trolley arrives and the bloke asks me whether I want anything.”

By the time the train pulls into the London terminus Kenneth’s good intentions are four sheets to the wind. Separated from a hefty chunk of his release money, Kenneth is usually fretting that his probation officer will smell alcohol on his breath only hours after winning his freedom.

“I know it’ll be bad if he smells alcohol on my breath, so I probably don’t bother turning up for the meeting.”
And that encapsulates the utter failure of this man’s life. He knows the inevitable outcome, but is unable to prevent himself from actions that will have drastic consequences.

He almost certainly isn’t classed as ‘learning disabled’, in the medical sense of the word, but what else would you call him?
The probation service has little choice but to alert the police and, inevitably, Kenneth is recalled to prison for breaching his licence.
‘Little choice’..? It’s their job!

It isn’t the fault of the prison service or probation service or police that Kenneth is apparently as incapable of fending for himself as a newly-released zoo animal.

It’s (possibly) not even entirely Kenneth’s fault…
Even if he makes it to the probation office, resources are so stretched that there is little they can do to sort out his more pressing needs, including food and accommodation.

Kenneth usually ends up sleeping rough on the street or under a bridge. Within days he will have spent his £46 and drawn closer to nefarious means of survival. One way or another Kenneth ends up back in prison.
What’s the other option, realistically?
But today is different and he won’t have to worry about the temptations of the railway buffet trolley: he is being met at the prison gates by George Tanimowo, 42. George has driven from London to Wayland Prison in Thetford, Norfolk, where after signing the release papers he leads Kenneth to his car.

Kenneth says it is the first time anyone has taken an interest in his life outside prison. He is in good hands.
George is a volunteer worker for the St Giles Trust, a resettlement charity dealing with offenders.

And also an ex-con himself:
George served a prison sentence for fraud involving the purchase of plane tickets for illegal immigrants. He was only convicted of playing a minor role in the scam but candidly admits he was stupid and says that the shock of prison helped him to turn his life around.
And that’s the crucial difference between George and Kenneth.

George can learn. Kenneth apparently can not. George has self control. Kenneth apparently does not.

And even when he shows a brief flash of some self-control, the system (in the form of George) paints a picture of life as out to ‘get’ him which can only help to reinforce his learned helplessness:
Outside the probation office, while George has gone to get his car, Kenneth is approached by a man who wants to sell him a very cheap Rolex watch.

He resists the advances of the man and tells George about the offer.

I’m pleased he didn’t take the bait. For all he knows the man could have been an undercover policeman and Kenneth would have been straight back in prison.”
An undercover policeman? Seriously? They’d have time for this penny ante stuff?

It’s laughable, but presenting the world as out to ‘get’ Kenneth perhaps isn’t the best way to help him…
Robert Owen, chief executive of the London based St Giles Trust, knows that the value of the work done by Colin and George is measured in more than just personal terms. “The people we work with are some of the most disadvantaged in society. An independent study has shown that the prisoners we work with have a re-offending rate 40% lower than the national re-offending rate. Investment in this work carries far more value than what people get up to in the city.”
We should spend money on ex-cons (and ex-con charities) rather than on the hub of our banking economy?

Well, OK, then. I’m sure you can sell that to the public, Robert…
If the Trust and other groups like, which all work closely with the Probation Service, were given more funds it would be possible to offer every offender leaving prison a new lifeline. The potential savings for the economy are enormous.

The annual cost of convicting and keeping someone like Kenneth in prison each year is £126,000 and the estimated total annual cost of re-offending is £11 billion.
But perhaps that’s money well spent? You see, we seem to have two sorts of offenders here, represented by Kenneth and George. One redeemable, one less so.

Should we not concentrate on identifying the former and assisting them, rather squander money willy-nilly on all offenders?
Labour and the Conservatives believe jailing more and more criminals is a necessary evil and are committed to building more and prisons.

All this is news to Kenneth who, even a few hours after his release, is unaware that Brtain is in the grip of the most exciting election for many years. How is Kenneth planning to use his vote? "Why would I vote. What has anybody done for me? What have politicians ever done for people like me?"
Let’s turn that around.

What have you ever done for yourself, Kenneth, or for society? Why do you imagine that you can't take control of your life, like George did?

Thursday 29 April 2010

Joint Enterprise...

Afua Hirsch lays into the legal principle of ‘joint enterprise’ in CiF, following an (entirely predictable) upswing in teenage knife killings in the capital and elsewhere:
Officers in the Metropolitan police had thought 2010 was turning out to be a relatively good year for gun and knife crime. Last year, overall gun crime doubled in London despite falling across the country, so the relative paucity of "gang violence" headlines, it was hoped, was a sign of change.

Those hopes now seem to have been dashed. At the end of March, schoolboy Sofyen Belamouadden was stabbed to death in front of hundreds of commuters at Victoria tube station. A spate of incidents in the capital have been reported since then.
And this has led to much handwringing...
These tragedies are inevitably followed by a debate about youth violence, the social causes and the political consequences. But in communities where the problem is more permanent, a division is emerging. On one hand there are the victims – in each case a child murdered and others traumatised. On the other there are those charged with the offence and parents struggling to comprehend life sentences for their children.
Ah. I think what Afua means is there are two sorts of victims here...
This division is playing out along the unlikely lines of a centuries-old principle of English law. The rule of "joint enterprise" has become a symbol of the way in which the criminal justice system is dealing with young offenders. Some see it as a powerful tool; to others, it is a cause of injustice.
Afua’s a Guardian gal. You can pretty much guess which side of the line she comes down on, can’t you?
Teenagers are being convicted of offences they watched happen but did not participate in.
Other than being there, knowing about it, doing nothing to stop it, failing to come clean to the police, that is...
In one of the most controversial recent cases, Wigan father Garry Newlove was murdered by a group of youths he confronted outside his home. One of the boys convicted of his death – then 16-year-old Jordan Cunliffe – was not alleged to have dealt the blows. Instead Cunliffe, who is partially blind, was convicted on the basis that he was there, and did nothing to prevent the attack.
The families of victims often say that all those involved in the killing of a loved one – be it actively or through failure to try to prevent an attack – are equally deserving of punishment. But beneath the emotive facts of these tragic cases some objective factors are emerging.
Such as..?
Professionals on both sides of the criminal justice system agree that joint enterprise can encourage lazy prosecuting. Prosecutors can charge the whole group and leave the court to allocate individual culpability.
Well, what are you worried about then, Afua? Surely the great British public is like you? Happy to coddle criminals and gang members? No..?
The police claim that the ability to charge multiple defendants through joint enterprise is a strong deterrent. The message they hope to send is that being associated with a violent crowd and involved, even marginally, in a foreseeable attack that leads to a death could result in a murder conviction.
It used to work. Gang members, we are told, would frisk each other to ensure that no-one carried a weapon. Or they'd all hang...
Since Sofyen Belamouadden's death, the London borough of Hackney alone has seen two more incidents, with aspiring 17-year old footballer Godwin Nii Lawson stabbed to death, and 16-year-old Agnes Sina-Inakoju shot through the window of a fast-food shop. There is little to suggest that the teenagers now serving life sentences are in the minds of the young people who continue to take part in violent attacks.
Maybe, Afua, that’s because there hasn’t yet been enough of them..?

Next On Jan Moir’s Hit List: Chav Celebrities

Jan Moir in the ‘Daily Fail’ asks ‘What kind of girl wants to sleep with Jack Tweed?’. Doesn’t she realise that the recent court case has shown us exactly what sort of girl wants to sleep with him?
Outside a London courtroom, bathed in the lemony sunshine of early spring, a young man punches the air in a victory salute.

Jack Tweed has just been cleared of raping a teenage girl at his Essex home and his callow triumphalism, before the cameras and news crews, is awful to behold.

Is that because this was an utterly needless waste of public money, perhaps?
In his position, some men might have had the good sense to behave with a little more decorum.
I think he can be forgiven a bit of totally justified relief, Jan.

No matter what one thinks of chav celebrities and the way they behave, bringing in the full might of the legal system to regulate their rutting is a bit of a sledgehammer/nut interface, don’t you think?
To have the grace and wit to understand that this victory, if that is indeed what it is, is not just a hollow one, but one that reflects badly upon his lifestyle, his choices, his very existence.
Only on his? A bit one sided, maybe…
Since the 22-year-old first crawled into the public arena as the jailbird bridegroom of dying reality television star Jade Goody, he has become the absolute distillation of everything that is rotten and sordid about modern celebrity.

He has no talent, no marketable specialty, no gifts, no nothing. Following Goody’s death from cervical cancer a year ago, all he has to peddle is the sulphuric allure of his rackety, low grade fame-by-proxy.
Yes, yes, today’s no-talent celebrity culture is tedious beyond belief. But you write for the ‘Fail’, Jan. It does it’s own fair share of promoting such culture, doesn’t it?
Jack Tweed may have walked from court an innocent man, yet there is something unmistakably craven about him; he is somehow both shifty and puerile, a man for ever on the make and always looking for an angle.
Ah. It’s all the man’s fault. God, this is like reading a Cath Elliot ‘CiF’ piece…
… her identity hidden by the anonymity of the rape laws, a teenage girl slinks home to a life fractured by this sordid case.
No, not by the case. Not just by the case. And how fractured can her life be? As you point out, her identity is protected, while his is disclosed. He is not on the DNA database, while she will not be.

So what of Tweed? Is his life not also affected? Or doesn’t that draw on your sympathies?
It is truly a wretched story, a moral black hole with no place for tenderness or decency.
So I see, Jan. You haven’t shown much, after all.

A true journalist might rue the fact that we’ve come to such a pass – driven by Harriet Harman’s coterie of harpies – that we expend vast sums of money of cases that should never even cross the CPS desk in the first place.

A true journalist might stop to think that maybe, just maybe, no matter what one thinks of Tweed and his lifestyle, he didn't deserve that.

All Your Cheese Sandwich Are Belong To Us!

While #bigotgate was breaking on Twitter yesterday, and we were all enjoying Gordon Brown being eviscerated first by Jeremy Vine, then by his own reaction to being buttonholed by one of those ghastly proles that his handlers have told him to kiss up to on camera, this little vignette of life under Brown's rule sneaked in under the wire:
Jack Ormisher burst into tears after he opened his packed lunch only for workers to take the sandwich away from him and offer him their own fruit and vegetables.
Now, what sort of person do they have in these places?

What kind of brain-dead, cowed, subservient minimum-wage busybody thinks that it's their job to dictate to the children in their care (and naturally, this is one of those oh-so-wonderful Sure Start places that Labour are so keen to trumpet as their crowning success) what they should eat?

And thinks that it's quite within their rights to snatch food away from a two year old?

His crime? Eating a verboten item. It wasn't on The List, you see:
The rebuke came after the nursery drew up a list of 'healthy eating options' for youngsters which include fruit, vegetables, rice, pasta and potatoes.
But after little Jack had partaken of this repast (no doubt sourced from the cheapest possible tender to the government contract) a few times, he got tummy upsets. So his mother packed a lunch for him herself.

And when she queried their actions, she was given a rather different excuse to 'It's not on The List''...
'The excuse they have me was that other parents had complained that he had a sandwich when their children were just eating fruit.'
Ah. Perfect!

NuLab's drones have internalised the message that their lords and masters have been drip, drip, dripping into all their messages. It's wrong that little Jack had something different to all the other kids. It would be wrong for the staff to explain to the other parents that everyone makes different choices about what to put in their child's lunchbox.

Everyone must be the same...
A spokesman for Wigan Council said: 'The centre has a list of recommended healthy food, according to national guidelines, which children are encouraged to eat. A cheese sandwich would not feature on the list.'
But little Jack wasn't encouraged to eat a piece of fruit (like the ones that had made him ill), was he? No-one said 'Oooh, Jack, do you really want that sandwich? Here's a nice orange - would you rather have that?'

No, like any good little Stazi in training, they simply whipped the sandwich away and stuck the NHS-approved friut in his hands. No argument, no choice. Do as we say. Or else.

Well, little Jack learned a valuable lesson today, if he can remember it. And hopefully, so did some parants, those that are paying attention. As Leg-Iron points out:
"And I mean, really, are you honestly happy leaving your child in the care of someone who will steal a two-year-old's lunch and then attempt to justify it?

They do not care at all about your children. They do not care at all about the harm they do.

They care only about control. At any cost."
So, parents. What do you care about..?

There’s Still Room In Labour’s Mouth For Another Foot…

…and how fitting that it should be John Prescott’s, who immediately leaped to defend his critically-wounded leader by claiming it was a media plot wot done it:
I've been out on battle bus today with our special guest Harriet Harman.
Well, I guess a battle bus isn’t complete without a battleaxe
…I only just discovered in the last hour or so what happened to Gordon. While the media are concentrating on what he said and the apology, the real story is how and why it happened.
Oh, I think we know that, John…
Yet again, the dying Murdoch empire is doing all it can to influence a British election.

That’s it? That’s the real story? That Gordon would have gotten away with it if it hadn’t been for those meddling kids reporters?
…today, the Murdoch family reached a new low in their desperate attempt to turn the election for the Tories. News International's Sky News broadcast a private conversation between Gordon and his staff.
What Murdoch's Sky News did today was just as bad as his paper's phone-hacking. It was a breach of privacy. It was underhand. And it was done in the pursuit of ratings and political influence.
He put the microphone on for the broadcasters to catch his every word on the campaign trail, you oaf! It’s hardly their fault the cretin forgot to take it off before whining like a petulant schoolboy forced to meet an aunt he can’t stand, is it?
So let's show them that Britain is not for sale. That an Australian with an American passport cannot buy our general election.
No, he can’t.

But a bumbling incompetent who should never ever have been allowed into Number Ten can lose it…

Update: Constantly Furious has the same reaction.

Well, It Seems That This 'Daily Mash' Story... now strangely prophetic:
"But for the time being I have asked Ed Miliband and Andy Burnham to take turns stroking the prime minister's neck and feeding him carrots until the big truck gets here."

Wednesday 28 April 2010

Leftie Warriors Ignorant Of Political And Economic Reality...Again

It seems the Left are only happy about some political parties being given a soft ride by newspapers:
An Essex newspaper has come in for severe criticism for an “article” on its website which reads almost word-for-word like a BNP press release. The report, which isn’t bylined, gushes about how “proud nationalists” dug into their pockets to fund Brentwood & Ongar BNP candidate Paul Morris’s deposit, “packed into a back room of a patriotic pub”.
Oh, noes! Newspapers are only ever supposed to hurl abuse at the BNP! How can this have happened?
The post, on the Essex Chronicle website “This is Total Essex” – which also tweeted the piece – adds: “The party operates under a veil of secrecy to protect members from those who oppose their beliefs and did not reveal the location of the meeting until just minutes before it was due to start. With the pub set to become a regular meeting place for the new group, they have asked us not to reveal where it is.

“Christine Mitchell, a 68-year-old grandmother from Chelmsford, will be running the branch from here on in. Mrs Mitchell, who is contesting the newly created Saffron Walden seat in the general election on May 6, said: ‘We are fighting for British jobs for British workers, that is the start but we are standing for other reasons – crime rates, the state of the education system and the fact MPs have stolen from the public.’

“The former Conservative leader of Westminster Council, Peter Strudwick, spoke for more than an hour during the meeting, rallying support for what he called “ideologies” for the future…

“Searching faces scoured the room until a man who had until then sat quietly in the corner, put his hand up to pledge £100. Others then thrust crisp £50 notes in the pot before the less well-off handed over their screwed up £10 and £20 notes. There was much applause and hand shaking as the money came flooding in, uniting the room in the campaign to bring about radical change.”
'Bring about radical change'..? That's only supposed to happen when the left do it. The left! God, you parochial little newspapers need to learn your place...

Don't worry, there'll be room for you up against the wall come the glorious revolution.

I mean, it's unthinkable that a newspaper, of all things, could print this without giving the other side a right to repl...

Readers vented their fury at the Chronicle’s appeasement of the BNP in the comments.
'Appeasement'..? One might think they aren't a minority party...

But it's worse than that, comrades! Brace yourselves! It appears that some newspapers have been...

Oh, I almost can't bring myself to say it. They've been...accepting advertising!

Not from wholesome, union contributions, or any of the army of quangos and fakecharities. No, they've been taking the devil's shilling!
In January, Left Foot Forward revealed how 14 local papers in Essex had accepted advertising from the BNP during the 2009 European elections. This is the roll of shame: Basildon Recorder, Braintree Weekly, Chelmsford Weekly News, Clacton & Frinton Gazette, Colchester Weekly News, Echo, Essex County Standard, Evening Gazette, Halstead Gazette, Harwich & Manningtree Standard, Maldon & Burnham Standard, Southend Standard, Thurrock Gazette and Weekly News Brent & Bill.
Oh, horror! Local newspapers are commercial organisations...!

Who'da thunk it?

Blog Rating

As noted by Leg-Iron and Longrider, you can get a blograting here.

I was expecting a PG rating, but noooo....

OnePlusYou Quizzes and Widgets

This rating was determined based on the presence of the following words:

* sex (3x)
* dead (2x)
* dangerous (1x)

So, there goes pretty much all of the Internet except maybe the 'Hello Kitty' sites...

"Anybody else want to negotiate?"

He said his client had then followed the culprit into the Costcutter and that is how the offence took place.

He added: “He started out almost being a UN negotiator and ended up being the only person arrested.”
Well, not entirely sure of that

During the row, he smashed bottles of alcohol inside the store worth £200. So it's rather puzzling that:
Barber, 46, of Northville Drive, Westcliff, pleaded guilty to all three offences.

He was ordered to carry out 80 hours of unpaid work, pay £95 costs, and £50 compensation to the shop.
£50 compensation?

So, what happened to the other £150? Does the shopkeeper have to write that off as a loss or claim on his own insurance?

Tuesday 27 April 2010

Compo Culture Strikes Again…

A young mother was horrified when she found a cigarette inside a McDonald’s Happy Meal she bought for her son.
It was unsmoked. Frankly, if it had been lit, she might have had a reason to be ‘horrified’…

Still, she did as anyone would (who wasn’t themselves a smoker). She complained to the serving staff.
She claimed she heard the girl who had served her yell to a colleague: ‘Leave me a fag,’ before she picked up her son Jack’s French fries, cheeseburger and plastic toy.

‘I saw the girl but, when I told her what happened, she just laughed. To me it wasn’t funny. I was so angry they weren’t taking me seriously,’ said Miss Holloway, of Southampton.
Well, that’s bad customer management, no doubt.
‘My son can feed himself and I was watching him eat but he could easily have put the cigarette in his mouth.’
Unless they’d also left a lighter in there, he was still reasonably safe.

Probably fewer additives in the ciggie than in the Happy Meal you were letting him stuff in his face…
Miss Holloway said the manager of the McDonald’s branch in her home city offered her another meal or a £1.99 refund.

But she insisted on keeping the meal and toy from the children’s movie How To Train Your Dragon and contacted the McDonald’s head office.
Nicky seems determined to score highly on the ‘Angry People in Local Newspapers’ blog…
A spokesman for the fast food chain said a member of staff had made a ‘foolish mistake’. He apologised and offered to make amends with a gift and some free meals for the family.

But the deal was rejected by Ms Holloway, who also turned down an offer by trading standards officers to investigate the incident.
She wants ‘more to be done about it’ and plans to sue McDonald’s.
So she wants ‘more to be done’, but she ruled out action by the people whose job it is to do more?

In favour of lawyers?


With thanks to staybryte for the ‘Angry People in Local Newspapers’ site.

Or If She'd Kept Her Eyes Open...

“Ms Vanni is a capable cyclist whose injuries would have easily been avoided if proper planning had been done by the council.”
Do I sniff a compo claim..?

I Guess Maybe Counselling Can Work After All...

A counsellor told him he was 'too gentle' and needed to 'let his anger out'.
Well done, unnamed counsellor. You did a bang up job!

Make Up Your Minds, Will You?

The traumatised dog lover said she reported the incident to the police, but they said they couldn’t take any action.
The incident, at 1.45pm last Thursday, is not being probed by police because it is classed as a dog on dog attack.
Police seized seven-year-old bull mastiff Mace after it launched a vicious unprovoked attack on another dog.
What gives? Surely police procedures are centrally-driven? I'm pretty sure I've seen complaints to that effect on police blogs, particularly on diversity grounds. Yet this discrepancy seems to indicate otherwise.

So, either Essex Police aren't doing their job very well, or Brighton Police are super-efficient and going further than their remit allows.

Which is it, I wonder?

Post Of The Month

This month, we have Anna Raccoon’s post on catching a local newspaper behaving badly, which is a superb reminder of just why the establishment hates bloggers.

And why they are right to fear them.

Quote Of The Month

Obo puts the boot firmly in to starry-eyed, I’d-like-to-teach-the-world-to-sing idealists with a brutally honest look at the realism of the ‘awful sweatshop’:
Don't speak too harshly of the sweatshop owner. After all, after another decade of statist, corporatist, social democrat catastrophe, we can expect him back in this country soon enough.

And you wouldn't want to deny your children and their children the chance to a better life, would you?

Monday 26 April 2010

Music & That One Irritating Line…

We have a word for that misheard lyric (the mondegreen) and a word for that song you just can’t get out of your head (earworm).

So do we have a word for that line in a song that just screams out to you as wrong? I don’t mean a double negative, that’s quite common, just a line where the lyricist has had to torture the English language to get the thing to rhyme or fit in with the tune?

I have two examples; coincidentally they were both on the radio this week. First up, it’s ‘I’d Rather Leave While I’m In Love’ by Carole Bayer Sager, which contains the line:
”Too many times I’ve seen the rose die on the vine,
Somebody’s heart gets broken, usually it’s mine….”
Roses grow on vines? News to me, I always thought they grew on stems…

And then there’s ‘Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl)’ by Looking Glass, which has this little offering:
”They say ‘Brandy, fetch another round’,
She serves them whisky and wine…”
Mmm, I’m fairly sure when sailors get home from a long voyage, a crisp chardonnay or cheeky pinot grigot isn’t exactly what they are pining for….

Anyone have any other examples?

Update: Some great examples submitted, as follows:-

Macheath with Squeeze and 'Up The Junction:
"This morning at four fifty
I took her rather nifty
Down to an incubator
Where thirty minutes later
She gave birth to a daughter"
Mrs Erdleigh with 'Jailbreak' By Thin Lizzy:
"tonight there's going to be a jailbreak, somewhere in this town"
Mac The Knife with Toto's 'Africa:
"The wild dogs cry out in the night,
As they grow restless longing for some solitary company"
And Kevin B submitted a sublime Ian Dury lyric which, while not quite fitting the sescription, deserves a mention for sheer...well, I don't know what!
"Had a love affair with Tina,
"In the back of my Cortina,
"A seasoned up Hyena
"Couldn't have been more obscener."
Hope you all have earworms now. I know I do!

Police Take Aim And Shoot Themselves In The Foot…

yet again:
Police stormed an innocent Wimbledon man’s home dragging him away in handcuffs in front of his five-year-old son.
Well, mistakes happen…
He said he was told he had impersonated a police officer and burgled a house in Hertfordshire after his fingerprints – copies of which had been taken more than 20 years ago for a minor offence for which he was cautioned – were found on its front door.

It transpired he had been at the property days earlier to conduct a survey and was at a party in Oxfordshire with his wife and 300 guests when the alleged crime happened.
So, the arrest was needless (if they’d done a bit of homework, or questioned him before not paying £200, not passing ‘Go’ and going straight to arrest, but an apology and a ride back to his home should be enough for any reasonable person to…

Oh, FFS..!
Officers apologised for the mistake and finally let him go more than seven hours after the arrest.

But they still insisted he catch a train back to Wimbledon and pay for the £12 ticket out of his own pocket.
Is there no-one with a grasp of the impending PR disaster that that would cause? Never mind some basic human decency?

Quick! We Need A DNA Database For Dogs!

A 33-year-old man has been jailed after DNA from his pet dog led police to his arrest.

Peter Mahoney, from Norwood, was caught after hairs and blood samples found in a car stolen by Mahoney were matched to his Staffordshire Bull Terrier dog Buster.
Well, you just know someone somewhere is thinking about it, don’t you?

Sunday 25 April 2010

" to return to work as a midwife."

Paula Grant, 55, left the devastated woman – known as Mrs B – alone for long periods and snapped at her when she questioned why she would have to give birth in a blood-spattered room, the Nursing and Midwifery Council heard.

Grant told the woman – whose baby had died in the womb – she would be in “excruciating pain” while delivering the child.
How dare she question the cleaning standards in the NHS! Who does she think she is, someone forced to pay for it, or something?
Grant also tried to bully junior midwife Dolly Hewett into recording a baby girl born at 20 weeks gestation was stillborn, when she had been alive and moving for some time after she was handed to her parents.

When Miss Hewett refused to do so, Grant signed the form herself.

She later locked Miss Hewett in a room and demanded to know what she had said when she heard a complaint had been made about her.
Well, it's nice to know this angel of mercy doesn't just reserve her bile for her patients isn't it?
Yet after hearing about the corrective steps Grant had taken since the incidents, the midwidfery panel ruled her fitness to practice was not impaired.
Chairman Lesley White said: “The misconduct of the registrant revealed her, at the time, as someone who was behaving arrogantly and impatiently with junior members of staff and patients.

“The panel considers she has addressed this unfortunate poor performance.”
And how has she 'addressed' it?

Why, in the usual way. She said 'sorry'. That was, apparently, good enough...
Quite why she behaved in the way she did, the panel cannot say.

“But it does accept the consequences of her behaviour represented a profound wake-up call to the registrant.”
I think we all know why she behaved in the way she did. In fact, I think the answer's staring us all in the face...

But it seems she couldn't resist showing the panel exactly why she is unfit for any kind of caring role, not that it didn't go right over their heads:
Speaking about the incident with Mrs B, Grant told the hearing she did not tell the patient the experience would be as traumatic for her.

Yet she conceded: “I should have just said, ‘I am sorry for your loss’.

“It was wrong and I am sorry.”
Yes, you read that right. She feels the reason she snapped at the patient about to deliver a dead baby was because the situation was as traumatic for her, the midwife.

Not 'an unfortunate part of the job', or 'a stressful situation', but 'as traumatic'. As traumatic as it was for the woman losing her dead baby...

The lack of self awareness and basic humanity of anyone that could utter that in her defence beggars belief.

Now, I know there's a desperate shortage of midwives. But surely we don't need midwives this badly, do we?

Idiot Judge Alert!

“You used his card to steal £2,000, although you didn’t need the money at the time.”
Presumably, if Tembo had needed the money, it would have been ok..?

Why Not Just Let The Market Sort It Out?

Dan Kennedy gets his knickers in a twist about the mighty Apple corporation:
The case of Mark Fiore, an editorial cartoonist who was banned from Apple's iTunes Store, illustrates a heretofore unappreciated connection between open systems and an open society. And it raises serious questions about Apple's supposed role as a saviour of the faltering news business.
It seems Fiore, a political cartoonist, ran afoul of Apple’s policy of not accepting apps that ‘ridicule public figures’.

At least, until he won a Pulitzer, and Apple had a rethink. So, all’s well that ends well?

"I feel kind of guilty," Fiore told the Wall Street Journal. "I'm getting preferential treatment because I got the Pulitzer."

The trouble, as Fiore noted, is that Apple rectified its mistake while maintaining the right to ban any content it doesn't like from its new generation of closed-system devices.
They didn’t ‘rectify a mistake’, at all. They corrected a potentially embarrassing PR disaster by allowing this app through.

And why shouldn’t they keep control over their systems? If people don’t like it, there are other worlds systems than this one…
The best-known example of the former involves Adobe, whose Flash animation software has been excluded from the iPhone, iPod and iPad. According to Apple, Flash hogs resources and makes its devices unstable – an assessment shared by many computer experts. Still, you'd think Apple might let its users decide whether or not to install Flash.
Would you? Well, just because other companies have up to now, is no reason why they (Apple) should do so. They must, after all, be quite confident that their target base is happy to give up that freedom. After all, their prickly defensiveness is legendary, as Angry Exile can point out.

And they seem to have judged them pretty well, too…
…no one disputes that the company has given us the smoothest, sexiest integration of hardware and software available. (I am writing this commentary on a MacBook, by the way.)

But Jobs has either forgotten that open systems and user choice are what drove the past 35 years of personal-computer and internet development, or – more likely – he doesn't care now that he has established himself as the Bill Gates of 21st-century consumer technology.
Or alternatively, Jobs thinks that the audience has changed. That today’s consumers aren’t as interested in freedom as they used to be.
The implications for journalism are considerable. As Jeff Jarvis (and others) observe, media executives have acted as though the iPad gives them a chance at a do-over – to move away from the free web model (even though the iPad has a slick web browser) and instead get users hooked on paid apps. Apple would like that too, since it gets a cut of everything sold through iTunes.

Yet the Fiore fiasco shows that what Apple giveth, Apple can also taketh away.
As can any company. If you don’t like it, don’t buy the product.
Media activist and author Dan Gillmor, noting the rapturous coverage given to the iPad by many news organisations (none more so than the New York Times), has demanded to know what guarantees they have received from Apple that their apps won't be killed if they somehow offend the mighty Jobs. So far, the Times has declined to comment, and no one else will even respond to Gillmor's inquiry.
Awww, diddums! So he’s having a tantrum, and dumping his stock in the NYT. As he’s quite entitled to do.

Just as Apple aren’t under any obligation to respond to him.
"This is about journalism integrity, and the absolute lack of transparency America's top news organisations are demonstrating by blowing off a totally reasonable question that these news people refuse to raise in their own pages to any serious degree," Gillmor wrote.
I rather think ‘journalistic integrity’ is something that’s gone by the wayside, and it wasn’t Apple who killed it.

It was crooked journalists.

Still, at least Dan doesn’t fall into the usual trap:
What Apple is doing isn't censorship.
No. It isn’t.
As Michael Corleone memorably explained, "It's strictly business." If nothing else, Jobs has boosted interest in Google's forthcoming tablet computer, which may not be quite as ooh-la-la as the iPad, but which is expected to be wide open both to developers and content-providers.
See? Let the market decide.
Journalists, meanwhile, might consider rethinking their love affair with a company that arrogates unto itself the right to act as judge, jury and executioner as to what it will make available to the public and what it won't.

A free society depends on the free flow of information. It's bad for democracy if an admired, influential company like Apple stifles that free flow in ways we would never tolerate from the government.
So let’s see if all the buyers for the iPhone, iPad and other Apple products agree with you, shall we, and buy Google’s product in protest…

I’m betting they won’t.

Sunday Funnies which 'Cracked' shows a touching naivety about England's surveillance society...

Saturday 24 April 2010

How Trials Can Define A Culture...

There are many famous ground-breaking trials which can define a culture. The Scopes 'Monkey' trial, the Hauptmann trial, all the way up to the OJ Simpson trial.

Well, I think I've found the one that sums up Great Britain today.

It's the story of a gay man out for a night's socialising in central London, subjected to abuse by drunken teenagers (a nice diverse group) who escalated that to a walloping with a handbag, causing the victim to fight back and hit his female attacker with the same handbag.

This prompted the young male of the group to floor the victim with one punch, allegedly uttering that time-honoured chivalrous admonition, "you can't hit girls"...

Then while the victim lay senseless on the ground, these flowers of delicate femininity laid into him with their stilettos. He died 18 days later.

It really has everything, doesn't it?

Is This The Oddest 'Volcano' Excuse Yet?

A mentally ill man who says he is a potential danger to other people has criticised the authorities for failing to listen to him.
Hmm, should probably take this one with a pinch of salt, but let's read on...
After battling the illness for years, he says his health has recently slumped and he is aware his moods are fluctuating.

At his worst he hears voices and has a desire to deliver “retribution” to paedophiles, sex offenders and people who attack the elderly and vulnerable.
That desire is perfectly normal, so long as he doesn't act on i...

Recently he spent an evening sat outside a caravan in Ipswich, waiting for a known sex offender to return.

Afterwards, the man recognised the danger of his actions and, fearful he might carry out his thoughts, he rang the north Essex mental health trust crisis line.

He said: “I tried to tell the nurse I needed help. She accused me of quoting scripture from the film Deliverance, and said I watched too many films and read too many books.

Assuming this is an accurate report - and we only have this man's word for it - that's pretty outrageous.

But far more bizarre was the statement by the NHS mouthpiece, which rather made me thing something had been left out of the newspaper report:
Ian Coulson-Thorpe, a spokesman for North Essex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Like many organisations, some of our staff have been affected by the disruption to flights. This disruption does not affect the services we provide.

“The trust’s annual leave policy ensures adequate cover is in place so we continue to provide services while staff are on leave.”
What does potential understaffing have to do with this story? Nowhere in the man's account is it mentioned. So why mention is in the rebuttal?

Are they short handed, and it was a cleaner who picked up the helpline? It might explain the bizarre nature of the claimed response!
“Following investigation of the issue raised with us, we have found we spoke to the service user for more than 20 minutes over the phone.

“Our staff are trained professionals and offer high standards of care.”
It appears, assuming the account to be true, that that isn't the case here.

And We Thought Chavs Were Deluded....

Now, I normally avoid the likes of AROOO as I'd avoid, say, an open cesspit, or a hornet's nest.

But I loaded it up to get the link for a reply in my comment section, and couldn't avoid a peek at their latest scribbling, which contained this charming contribution:

And all I could think was 'Wouldn't 'Smoking the White Patriarchy's Jizz-Opium' make a hell of a name for a band..?'

Will The Human Rights Act Thwart The Righteous Again..?

Carl Gardner (that ‘ former government lawyer’ that CiF seems to love, last seen desperately trying to raise support for the DNA database) is revelling in the Harman-led crackdown on lap dancing clubs:
They may be unlikely human rights campaigners, but the owners of lap-dancing clubs have threatened to use the Human Rights Act, and if need be to go to the European court of human rights in Strasbourg, to protect their business.
The swines! Using the legislation that was only intended to allow progressive causes free rein!
Until now, the law has treated lap-dancing clubs like ordinary bars, subject to ordinary licensing law. But from this month, when the Policing and Crime Act 2009 amended local government legislation in England comes into force, councils can assume new regulatory powers over "sexual entertainment venues", as the law now calls lap-dancing and pole-dancing clubs.
And Carl is just itching to see it put to use, no doubt because – with a mug like his – there’s some things even lap dancers won’t do, no matter how many tenners you wave in their direction…
Under the new rules, councils can force clubs to apply for a new sex establishment licence every year, just like a sex shop. The amended law will give councils more scope to consider residents' objections to lap-dancing clubs and to refuse a licence if a club would be inappropriate in a locality.
It’s that localism that iDave is always championing.

And hey, if a council wants to turn down a profitable, rate-paying business, that’s up to them.
It's these changes – changes that represent a victory for feminist campaigners at the Fawcett Society and Object – that have club owners worried.
A victory for those shrieking harpies should have everyone worried. Because they are never content with what they’ve won…
… article 1 of protocol 1 permits the state to control the use of property, so long as the law strikes a fair balance between the rights of club owners on the one hand, and the public interest on the other. The new law plainly does strike a fair balance, and club owners have little real chance of resistance.

Doesn’t that have to be tested, Carl. In court?

In the court that has already curbed a lot of government ambitions?
If they try, they'll find the Human Rights Act doesn't protect property quite as strongly as they hope. My sympathy will, in any case, be with the councils they challenge.
Of course it will…
Object is understandably concerned that lap-dancing clubs dare invoke rights: it seems wrong that they should provide a rhetorical shield for those whose success represents, in many eyes, movement away from humanity's sunlit uplands.
Oh, boy. He’s got it bad, hasn’t he?

Who was she, Carl? What did she refuse to do for you?
It's difficult to argue that firms should never enjoy convention rights…
But I bet you’d try, if the government would take you back!
Those who defend the HRA in its current form have simply to accept it can be invoked, even if unsuccessfully, in ways they find unattractive, while all of us endure businesses' often empty legal rhetoric.
‘All of us’..?

Is that the progressives’ Royal We again?

I’m completely untouched by this, as are most people. The only ones getting worked up about it seem to be…well, you. And the feminists.
More importantly, those in power both locally and nationally must not buckle in the face of self-interested claims to rights. They must defeat them.
Because when you’re in power, that’s all that matters. Keeping it. And rubbing everyone's nose in it.

I’m a little surprised, with an attitude like that, that you are a former government lawyer….

Friday 23 April 2010

Clegg Wars!

Seen at 'Harry's Place', this super little diversion.

Watch out for the tanks. They shoot back!

For The Children!!!

Emma-Jane Cross (founder and CEO of British fakecharity ‘Beatbullying’) - who we’ve come across before – weighs into the CEOP/Facebook row in an article in CiF:
…surely it has to be in everyone's best interest to make places such as Facebook as safe as possible.

Ceop, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, has seen its calls for Facebook to adopt their "report abuse" button rejected.
No, they haven’t.

They’ve agreed to a button, just not to placing it where Jim Gamble wants it.
The button allows users to immediately report any abusive, threatening, worrying or wholly unacceptable content or behaviour to a range of experts, who can provide specialist help as necessary.
And it still will…
For me, the impact and importance of having the Ceop button on websites populated by young people is clear. Young people love Facebook, but they also have a right to be safe. If they do ever get into trouble online, they want two things: first, to be able to report it to the website so it can take action, and second, to get help. Social networking sites can do the former but not the latter, and therefore need to work with organisations better placed to help their users around specific issues, such as cyberbullying.
Organisations like..?

Oh, go on, Emma-Jane. Don’t be shy!
The Ceop button, already implemented by Bebo and MSN (although haplessly small and ill-conceived in the case of Bebo), links directly to CyberMentors (Beatbullying's online service provision) for reported incidents of cyberbullying…
Ultimately, the safety of young people has to be what we must all come back to
Or to cold, hard cash. Right, Emma-Jane?
…that's why we need to work with the big industry players, the Facebooks and the Googles of this world. Their safety centres must be easy to find from every page, they must refer to support services, while awareness-raising campaigns are used to drive the message home.
Oooh, that’s a lot of ‘musts’ there.Why 'must' they do these things, Emma?
Data protection, privacy and civil rights, confidentiality and issues of consent should all be examined if we are to set standards for the safeguarding of young people on social networking sites. These are the issues we have to tackle with CyberMentors, which is in itself a social networking site – it provides young people who are being bullied or are dealing with a variety of wellbeing issues with real-time online mentoring from their peers and counselling from accredited counsellors.
So, you are the standard-setters, are you?
Think of the data we are holding. Imagine holding over 350,000 taped conversations of vulnerable young people, and as a matter of integrity, law and best-practice, be bound to protect them. These are private conversations which must be quarantined, privileged, safeguarded and if you care about privacy and civil rights, be subject to informed consent if you are to obtain, process and analyse the content. Now think of the data held by the big social networking sites, and question how they set out to safeguard; they can and they should protect data, privacy, and the identities (and locations) of their users, many of whom are under 18.
Ahh, right. Only charities (run as businesses/arms of government) should have access to that sort of data. Only they are to be trusted, eh?

I see where this is going now…
Child safety online goes beyond installing a reporting button or running an ad campaign. It's a great start, and an absolutely critical one, but the debate needs to be widened to include data protection and identifiability – and if we are going to prioritise the safety of our children online, then it's one we need to have now.
It’s a grab for more money, more access to policymakers, and (the key issue) more control over that pesky internet…

”Get away from her, you bitch!”

Dear, dear Yasmin has Sigourney Weaver in her sights:
I would gladly wring her long neck, but that would be to punish idiocy.
Meh. I think she could take you, Yazza…
Sigourney Weaver reckons that James Cameron didn't get his richly deserved Oscar for Avatar because he doesn't have breasts. Obvious innit? It's boob discrimination, the only explanation for why this year, unlike every other since 1929, a man had to concede the big prize to his female better and piquantly, his ex-wife.
Hey, Yazza, she’s only using the same excuse – in reverse – that you tend to use for women in every single column. Why so upset?
Maybe Aliens shrivelled Weaver's brain. The spoiler really doesn't get it. Or maybe she still feels she has to flatter men to get coveted roles. Shame.
Ouch! Claws in, sweetie…
Our feminist hearts soared like blithe starlings when the awesome Kathryn Bigelow went up to collect her Oscars for The Hurt Locker.
‘Soared like blithe starlings’..?

Nurse! The screens!
Her win mattered, but as the euphoria subsides, so too the optimism that cinema has entered a new era of gender equality.

Female film-makers carry on fighting for parity. Professor Martha Lauzen of San Diego State University found in 1998 that only 9% of directors in Hollywood were female. In 2008 the figure was unchanged. Why should that matter?
Why indeed?
Because it does
Oh. Right.

Good point, well argued, Yazza…
… and because as Jane Campion, who made The Piano and Bright Star, said in Cannes last year: "We represent half the population and give birth to the whole world. Without [female directors] the world is not getting to know the whole story. They must put on their coats of armour and get going." Men are not born to rule. They just believe they are.
Watch out, chaps! Here come the girls!

And it’s not just Hollywood:
… smart, witty Claudia Winkleman is to replace Jonathan Ross on the BBC's Film 2010. Hurray! Macho punters are furious, which is even more pleasing.
What’s more important then, Yazza? Some vague concept of ‘equality’ or sticking it to those horrid men?

Yeah, I know. Rhetorical question…
Gurinder Chadha, whose new film It's a Wonderful Afterlife is released this week, is another director with huge box-office appeal…."It's very hard to make films for everybody. But undeniably the industry is run by men. They respect box office and awards. If a woman makes money, that gives us power. But too few of us get there. I now think there is such a thing as female aesthetic and understanding. The way we look at the world, what we find funny, moving, touching is different. My female characters are always three dimensional. We multitask – incredibly important for directors. Of course some men can do that too, but there is a difference."
Now who’s generalising..?
Talking to the journalist Kate Kellaway in 2007, Bird cut to the chase: "We are still living in a very sexist society ... there are so few of us for the same reason there are so few women in parliament and the City of London. [The guys] want to keep power for themselves. The business side of directing – raising money – is hindered by being female."
Whine, whine, whine…
There is the real business of making and rearing children, too. All the directors I talked to agreed that the demands of the job make it hellishly difficult for mums. Men never feel the same guilt or pressures.
It’s a choice. Family, or filmmaking.

Listening to the people who tell you that you should be able to have both, without sacrifice, is madness. You can’t…

The Purity Tests Begin…

David Cameron was urged to sack one of his frontbench team who said the age of consent for homosexuals should not have been lowered to 16 because it put teenage boys at "serious physical risk" and in danger of catching HIV.
Because aparrantly, having a belief or opinion that doesn’t conform to the progressive orthodoxy is outrageous!
Dr Lewis, 58, has a history of voting against legislation enshrining gay rights. He opposed adoptions by gay couples and also battled against the repeal of Section 28 – a law enacted by Margaret Thatcher's Tory government in 1988 to prevent schools from "promoting" homosexuality. Dr Lewis, does, however, back civil partnerships.
Now, that would make any normal person think that he’s looked at each of those policies carefully, and weighed them up, and decided that some deserve support, and others don’t.

But no. This isn’t a pick & mix. You have to have the whole lot to satisfy the Righteous.
Challenged about his views on the dangers of homosexual sex, he said: "I do not hold myself up as any kind of expert in this and I am willing to be shown I'm wrong if I am wrong, but I honestly don't think I am wrong."
Gosh, that sounds like a bigot, doesn’t it?

Labour gleefully jumped on this:
The Home Secretary, Alan Johnson, urged the Conservative leader to sack Dr Lewis from his shadow cabinet. He said: "[Mr Cameron has] been seeking the votes of gay people ... but [his] frontbench team includes people who are against any notion of homosexual equality. [He needs] to show some leadership and sack Mr Lewis."
The spectacle of a Labour politician opining on the subject of leadership just blew all the dials on my irony meter…
Last night, the Conservative leadership distanced itself from Dr Lewis' remarks, but allowed him to keep his job as shadow defence minister. "These are Dr Lewis' long held and personal views," a spokesman said. "They are not the view of the Conservative Party and the terms in which he expressed them is wrong. Under this Labour government we have seen a massive increase in HIV infections and STDs across all the population – straight and gay."
A tame comeback. If Cameron doesn’t see off the identity politics mavens, they’ll hound him all through any premiership he gets.

In fact, they’ll do that anyway. So there’s nothing to be lost, and everything to be gained, by making a stand now.

How about it, Dave?

There Are Ways To Avoid Sexual Harassment...

...but I can't help thinking this isn't the best one:

"And the red brick cottage where I was born, is the empty shell of a holiday home..."

Last year's song seemed to go down quite well, so here's another from Show of Hands. It seemed fitting, after the article in the 'Indy', which also summed up what we've lost...

Happy St George's Day!

Thursday 22 April 2010

Because Two Can Play At That Game…

It appears some governments got a little bit shirty at Google, using their data protection authorities to claim that the internet giant didn’t safeguard users data properly.

Yes, that included the UK, which would seem like a bit of a cheek, under the circumstances.

Unfortunately for them, Google decided to have a bit of fun:
Google has hit out at state attempts to clamp down on the internet by revealing governments' requests to remove data from the web and get information about users.

Tonight it released a web page with a map showing country by country where it has had government requests or court orders to remove content from the YouTube video service or its search results, or to provide details about users of its services.
A Google spokesman insisted that the timing of the release was coincidental with the privacy complaint in a joint letter from data protection authorities from the UK, Canada, Israel, France, Spain, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Germany and the Netherlands. "We've been working on this for months and months," he said.
Of course it was just coincidence. We believe you.


Give Us More Money Or The Puppy Gets It!

The Royal Society for the Protection of Animals (RSPCA) has been taking in animals for more than 180 years. But membership is falling and the charity needs to save more than £50 million over the next three years.
So, instead of looking at how it might trim its budget to meet conditions by cutting back on the advertising budget (which is currently running ads every bloody five minutes on some satellite channels), or by stopping the practice of pouring obscenely huge sums of money into the pockets of lawyers, it’s going to….not take in any more animals unless they are cruelty or neglect cases.
… owners bringing in unwanted pets will be directed to another charity or given advice on how to look after the animal.
Which they’ll follow, of course. Being responsible own…

Oh. Hang on.

Still, it saves the RSPCA a few bob…
Tim Wass, Head of Inspectorate, said the RSPCA has been "the dustbin for society's animals" but the charity cannot afford to keep on taking in every unwanted pet.

He said 75,000 animals are re-homed every year but all centres are currently full and the charity has a duty to concentrate on animals suffering cruelty and neglect.

“Like any organisation at the moment we have to answer some difficult economic challenges. RSPCA has always prioritised which animals it takes in. We are looking to formalise that... to make sure that our finite resources go to the animals that need them most,” he said.
Oh, really?
The RSPCA also hope the move will teach owners to take more responsibility for their pets. The charity said that in the past a cat has been dumped because "it did not match the couch", dogs were rejected for "barking" or "hiding shoes" and a chinchilla was brought in because the owner "did not realise it could live for 20 years".
And those sorts of owners are still going to do that. But without the RSPCA to fall back on, they aren’t suddenly going to become sensible owners. They are simply going to dump the animals on another charity.

Or on the street.
The charity also wants to focus more on legal cases since new laws came to prevent animal cruelty.
Well, let’s hope it chooses those a bit more carefully in the future, if ‘not wasting money’ is going to be at the forefront, eh?
The British Veterinary Association (BVA) said the RSPCA said the RSPCA does not have "unlimited resources" to take on animals that have been dumped simply because they are no longer fashionable.

"The recession perhaps has some impact but there is a growing trend for people to buy animals as status symbols and indeed it is all too easy to take on a pet without realising the responsibilities for the care and welfare of that animal," a spokesman said.
Yes, it is. But unless you want to slap legislation on the act of buying and owning a pet, then it…

Ah. I begin to see where this is going.
But Kim Hamilton, chief executive of another animal rescue charity Blue Cross, said pets should be accepted from owners who "simply cannot cope".

"The Blue Cross will always help people who make the responsible choice to give up their pet and will continue to do all that we can to help as many abandoned animals as possible find permanent, loving new homes," she said.
So, if you have any money to leave to charity, don’t leave it to the RSPCA. Leave it to these folks instead.

Because they’re going to need it….

So, Should He Not Have Taken Responsibility For Himself..?

Ivan Reshetilov died last August, at the age of 23, after wandering off from friends after a night out in Colchester.

He was found dead in the River Colne the next morning.

After his death, Ivan’s mother, Irena, and stepfather, Peter Redman, angrily criticised the English “booze culture”, claiming pubs, bars and clubs should take more responsibility for their customers.
He was 23.

If he'd choked on a 12oz steak, would they be arguing that the restaurant should have cut it up into tiny pieces for him?
Escape Nightclub, in London Road, Copford, is offering entry and 12 drinks for £14.95, while Liquid and Envy, in Colchester High Street, is offering a similar offer for £13.50.

The offers are still legal as they specify a number of drinks included in the offer.

Mr Redman, from Rowhedge, hit out at the use of the law.

He said: “I think it is disgusting the Government appears to be conspiring with licensees to get round the laws.”
Now, I'm happy to criticise the government for all sorts of things, but saying 'This is what you must do in order to comply with the law' and the clubs saying 'OK, we will' doth not a conspiracy make...
“You have only got to drive through Colchester High Street on a Friday or Saturday night to see for yourself the way people are.

Stopping these sorts of promotions and cutting back on cheap alcohol, so people pay more, is something I suppose the Government had in mind when it introduced the proposals.

“Given the average price of a pint or a spirit is approaching the £3 mark, that is one hell of a cut in price.”
But no-one forces anyone to drink it. Or does free will and self control not factor into anything these days?