Saturday 31 July 2010

Emma Needham Deserves A Medal...

...for saving a woman's life, and for restoring my faith in UK teenagers:
A teenager persuaded a mother not to jump from a bridge on to a busy motorway - by promising to give her the biggest hug in the world.

Emma Needham, 19, spent an hour comforting the 47-year-old woman who was perched on a narrow parapet with her legs dangling over cars and lorries below.

The personal assistant was returning from a friend's house when she spotted a young boy begging the woman - his mother - not to jump from the bridge.
Isn't it nice to read something like that, rather than something like this?

Must Order More Popcorn!

A travellers camp has been set up on the official Pride campsite just a week before the festival is due to start.
Will a game of Victimhood Poker sort this all out, or will it be handbags at dawn..?
Mixed messages were given by Sussex Police and Brighton and Hove City Council yesterday, with the police saying a site visit was to be carried out while the council said one had already been carried out on Wednesday.
Whoops! Better get your story straight, chaps!
Judith Manson, from Pride, said organisers were putting their "faith" in the authorities to clear the land.
Heh! Yeah, I'd put that in inverted comments too...

You HAVE To Be Kidding Me..!

Miss Harrop, of Farnworth, Greater Manchester, was charged with using language that could possibly have alarmed or distressed the youths.
What the &*!!£$*...?
After the hearing, Miss Harrop said: "I did what anyone would do in that situation. I was frustrated because my home had been attacked.

"The last few weeks have been difficult because of the court case. It’s all over, but why were these youths never arrested when police had the chance? We have no idea why anyone would want to attack our house."

Mr Berthan added: “We are very angry. These lads smash our window, chase me down the street and, even though the police are standing right next to them, they aren’t arrested. We know Natalie did nothing wrong and the courts agreed.”
I give up. *starts looking at emigration options*

Local Council Approach To Small Businesses

Traders are furious after a council official ordered them to remove signs pointing customers to their businesses.

Bosses at the Cowdray Centre were threatened with heavy fines by Colchester Council staff who told them to take down advertising boards at the entrance to the complex.
And the reason for this bizarre decision?
Part of the centre was gutted by a blaze in July 2006 and has since been torn down.

Surviving companies say their signs on the fencing surrounding the demolished section are vital to let customers know they are still up and running.

But the council worker told them the boards would have to go as part of a drive to clean up the town.
Ah. Right. So a bloody great fence is attractive, as is the demolished rubble behind it. But signage pointing the way to actual businesses, where people may wish to buy good and services and thus enrich the town of Colchester, is verboten?

Well, I suppose we shouldn’t expect too much sense for a town which elected the likes of Sonia Lewis as Mayor…
Geoff Boston, of MOT-a-Car, said: “The whole idea behind the signs was that after the fire, we had loads of calls from customers wanting to know if we were still here.

This is a private road anyway, so I don’t think it is any of the council’s business what signs we have up.”
Ah, but the council clearly think everything’s their business:
There is an officially-sanctioned signboard on the opposite side of the road.
An ‘officially-sanctioned signboard’…

Doesn’t that just say it all?

As usual in these local stories, the comments prove illuminating far beyond the actual story.
Muppet_monk, Colchester says...

As one of the businesson the Cowdray centre, I can assure we were given full written permission by the site owners to put up signs directing customers to our premises. As mentioned in the article, the signs are on PRIVATE LAND on a private road only for busnisses on this estate. The board that is up and that has been mentioned in one comment earlier, also as mentioned in the article, it is often blocked by queuing traffic and people are unable to see them and there is not enough spaces for all the business!

We are more upset about the way in which we were all spoken to, storming in, threatening us with a £2500 fine not a £1000 as stated. One of the people that came round also has a job in the planning department, and he stated that we'd have to pay for this, now to me, this sounds like a conflict of interest!! Also, when we asked which legislation and law we were breaking, and they could not state what the law was, they just kept repeating, "it's breaking the law" but not telling us exactly which one.

I do get annoyed with people commenting with out knowing ALL the facts!
Hmmm, little Hitlers throwing their weight around, but unable to give a straight answer when challenged as to their powers to do so?

Now, where have I heard that before?

"We're sending our love down the well..."

Reports of a body in a well in Worthing led to a six-hour police operation on Tuesday night.
Oh no! How awful. How...

Waaaait a minute:
A hand had been spotted in several feet of water in a well at a derelict property in Eriswell Road.

Firefighters drained the well - and when the water level fell it became clear the "body" was a prosthetic hand.

Oh, well, who could've forseen this sort of...

Hang on, something seems familiar about this. Haven't I seen this story - or something like it - somewhere before?

Ah. Right! At Al Jahom's blog:
Part of a motorway was closed and dozens of police officers and a force helicopter were scrambled to the scene after a fake severed arm was spotted by the roadside.

Motorists who spotted the shirt-clad arm with a bloodied stump dialled 999 thinking an horrific accident had taken place.

But when officers converged on the scene – closing the M62 for more than three hours and leading thousands of drivers to be diverted – they found the ‘arm’ to be a plastic Halloween-style toy.
Oh, well. At least, this time, CID didn't get involved...

Friday 30 July 2010

Roll Up, Roll Up, Get Yer Bargains Here!

Poundland, the discount chain that pledges to offer everything for the home, is selling pornography for a pound across Sussex.
I fail to see how this is news, never mind bad news. I mean, presumably if they charged more for it, Trading Standards would want to have a word.
An investigation by The Argus has revealed a range of cut-price pornographic DVDs are on sale at the store's flagship Western Road branch in Brighton next to children's books, drinks and sweets.
As a commenter points out, I’m not sure what is more amusing – the thought of discount porn rubbing shoulders (or other bodily parts!) with the Chup-Chups and Smarties, or the concept of a Poundland ‘flagship’ store…
A sex manual by Haynes - the world famous do-it-yourself car workshop guide - offers readers the chance to “keep your sex life in perfect running order”.
We clearly aren’t talking about top-drawer filth, here. Besides, everyone gets that free off t’internet, right?
Poundland said a warning comes up on the till every time a DVD or book is scanned by staff, ensuring there were no underage sales.
So, no problem. Right?

Well, clearly the Righteous don't agree. Just the mere thought of available porn (even of the soft variety) sends them into a tailspin.

Wow! I Guess 'Disability Rights' Are Working Overtime...

...clearly, the disabled are now fully integrated into every community. Even the thug community:
A shop assistant has been hit in the head with a hammer at a mass brawl which included two wheelchair-bound attackers in Leatherhead.
OK, it was Croydon, but even so...
The fight broke out between 6pm and 7pm on Sunday, July 25, at Red House Gardens between a group that was at a team-building barbecue and a gang of eight people.
I doubt that was the sort of 'team building' they anticipated...

Make Love, Not War!

It seems Mark Wadsworth's cow war is turning....well, see for yourself:
A passer-by saw a young man with what is believed to have been an English longhorn cow and when challenged the man pulled up his brief-style underwear and rode off on a bicycle.

Police say it is not the first time an incident of this nature in Skipwith - which is between York and Selby - has been reported to them.
He should be done for fraternisation with the enemy...

H/T Anna Raccoon and the APiLN blog

Next Time, James, Run Over A Judge Or Two, Eh?

A man, who was jailed for two years after ploughing a quad bike into an ambulance worker on Southend seafront, has a string of motoring offences, a court was told.
No!!! Surely not?

I’m shocked, shocked, to find that a man with a string of motoring offences would be driving a quad bike at bonkers speeds along a residential street!
James Lewis, 28, left Victor Brushette, 56, with a punctured lungs, eight fractured ribs, a broken shoulder and leg injuries so serious, he faces a long battle to ever walk again.
Oh, well. We’ve plenty of paramedics, right? We won’t miss another one.

I mean, the country needs paramedics, but surely it needs loveable rogues like James Lewis even more to make its streets interesting and vibrant?

And look! He’s sorry!
Lewis, a dad-of-two, from Poplar, East London, told Basildon Crown Court, he was “remorseful and disgusted” by his actions on May 23.
Awww, who could hold it against him? It was just a bit of boyish fun, after all:
On that day he drove his unregistered black Suzuki quad bike at speeds of up to 60 miles per hour in Western Esplanade, despite speed limit being 30mph.

Lewis has 20 previous convictions – mostly for driving offences – and spent three months in a young offender institution for driving while disqualified in 2002.
Clearly, prison doesn’t work, as the progressives keep telling us. Well, it doesn't work if you never go there, that's for sure...

Oh, well, no doubt the judge will have to come down hard on hi…

The judge said: “You drove in an irresponsible nature of the highest order. Fortunately for you, you did not kill this ambulance worker. ”
It’s pretty fortunate for the ambulance worker, too, you might think…
He was sentenced to two years in custody and banned from driving for four years.
That’ll learn him! Not

Thursday 29 July 2010

Art For Art’s Polly’s Sake!

Polly Toynbee is the latest columnist to cling, wailing ‘No, not the arts, pleeeeease!’, to the government’s legs as they go about the business of being grown-up about the budget deficit:
In less than a year shrouds will be waving, bloody stumps displayed with empty begging bowls as the coalition lays into public services.

It will be hard to tell who is most seriously injured as attention focuses on rising hospital waiting lists, or falling hopes for a blighted, workless generation.
Oh, noes! Woe is us! The Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse is upon us!
So how does the cause of the arts make itself heard in that maelstrom?
It doesn’t. Next!
Protesting thespians may get short shrift.
Yes. And that’s as it should be.

The government should not be bankrolling the arts with public money, end of.
So who will defend the arts?
Well, ‘Guardian’ columnists seem to be doing the job, Polly!
The arts generate growth: for a minuscule budget of £1bn, Britain gains its international reputation as a great cultural centre, drawing people to music, theatre, galleries and museums.
And none of that would happen without government moolah, would it, Polly? Somehow, I fail to be convinced…
As every party promises to rebalance Britain's economy away from finance, the creative industries are a fast-growing sector. Between 1997 and 2007, they created two million new jobs and £16.6bn in exports. Culture drives tourism, worth £86bn in 2007. Heritage sites, equally fearful of cuts, employ another 270,000 and draw in more tourists. Liverpool's year as European Capital of Culture brought 15 million visitors, making £800m for the local economy.
Has anyone ever done any actual measurement of the extent to which the existence of tourism boards help tourism? Would people not visit these shores if they didn’t exist?
The return from a tiny government investment is probably greater in the cultural industries than any other – every £1 the Arts Council England puts in generates another £2 from commercial sources.
But it’s not clear that without that £1, the £2 would diminish or stop. That just seems to be assumed.
Arts leaders warn that threatened cuts – 25% or more – mean one in four of the 200 Arts Council-funded bodies will close, theatres will go dark, museums will shut for part of the week, with few blockbuster exhibitions or new commissions.
Hey, if those institutions aren’t commercially viable, why should they be propped up with taxpayer’s money?
The New Art Gallery in Walsall, a mini-Bilbao, breathes life into the town
Really? How? Give examples.

Don’t just state it as a fact.
What is the "big society" if not arts for everyone?
Well, no-one quite knows what the ‘Big Society’ is, Polly, including the coalition MPs currently name-dropping it into every soundbite.

But we know what it isn’t. It isn’t government-sponsored art that no-one else will pay for. The Croydonian points out where that leads! *shudder*

Tim Worstall has more on the statistical side of dear Polly's effort. And Tim Almond, in the comments, points out her, err, creative use of the term 'creative exports'.

CiF Column On 'It's All Society's Fault!' No: 2902

Blake Morrison (writer and journalist, one of whose books is As If (1997), about the murder of the toddler James Bulger in Liverpool in 1993) takes out an onion for poor, dead James Bulger and his mothe…

Oh, wait. Sorry, my mistake. This is the ‘Guardian’, after all:
To the tabloid press, the horrific nature of his most recent offence means that he is – and always will be – a monster. But the deeper evidence suggests we are dealing with a confused young man who desperately needs help.
You might think that, Blake. But then, you make a nice living writing books about how misunderstood murderers are, don't you?

But you are in a bit of a minority when you step outside the confines of a cosy ‘Guardian’ office or Islington dinner party…
… the picture of Venables that emerged last week doesn't suggest a Iago or Macbeth
Well, no. I don’t recall either fictional character murdering a toddler when they were kids themselves, Blake.
… but a sad loner, immature and out of his depth, struggling to cope with adult life.
Undoubtedly he is all those things. But many of them are of his own making:
Heavy drinking, fighting, cocaine use – these aren't uncommon offences among young men (or even journalists). Nor is looking at images of naked children tantamount to murder. But they are signs of something having gone wrong.
Well, cheers for that, Sherlock.
Some observers have expressed surprise that it should have been Venables, not Thompson, who has ended up back in prison. That's because Venables seemed the more vulnerable when they were tried as 10-year-olds – nervous, tearful, an accomplice in murder rather than the main player.
Mmm, I remember that at the trial.

But appearances are sometimes deceptive:
But that was an impression based on his manner in court, not on the facts of the case. In reality he was the more volatile and damaged of the two, and at least as likely to have precipitated the attack.
Still, having had all the resources thrown at them, no-one can now blame the prison services for what hap..

Oh, silly me. Of course it’s their fault. It could hardly be the fault of the two criminals, could it?
…the support that was in place during his imprisonment and immediately after his release seems to have weakened as time passed. The child and adolescent psychiatrist Arnon Bentovim, who saw Venables as a child and teenager, admits: "There is extensive therapeutic input for teenage offenders in special units. But afterwards the support is more patchy – with the result that the offender sometimes drifts back to old haunts and reoffends."
Can we fall back on the ‘never let them out’ tactic then, Blake?

Guess not:
The inquiry into the probation service's handling of Venables might want to consider whether placing him in Cheshire, 20 miles from where he grew up, was the right way to start a new life. It's also questionable whether the close ties he maintained with his family were altogether beneficial.
Oh, good grief, make up your mind! It seems to me they are damned if they do, damned if they don’t.

I’m pretty sure if he’d been forbidden to have any contact with his family, one of the many progressives who infest these pages (if not you yourself) would be squawking about his ‘human rights of free association’...
There was also the pressure of the new identity he had been given and his need to keep his past a secret – unless he got into a relationship with a girl, in which case (so he was told) he must inform her who he really was. For an already unstable personality, the constant concealment – and fear of vigilante revenge – must have been a further source of instability.
Naturally, the pressure of that new identity is all the fault of the tabloid press, right Blake?
Had he been allowed to remain Boy B, as he was referred to during the trial of Regina versus T&V, the problem wouldn't have arisen. But when the judge, Michael Morland, succumbed to media applications for his real name to be made public after the verdict, he was stripped of the privacy accorded to every other juvenile offender.
So, he’d have come out of prison (or ‘youth custody’) a fully reformed character if only those nasty, brutish tabloids hadn’t outed him, eh, Blake?

I’m not really convinced…
Online last year he assumed a further identity, posing as a 35-year- old mother called Dawn Smith. Cross-gender pseudonyms are a commonplace strategy among internet paedophiles, but with Venables this was part of a deeper identity crisis.
Wow! Didn’t know you were a clinical psychologist too, Blake, in addition to your amazing talents in…what is it now, winning two-bit literature awards?
Not a pretty tale, then. Nor the success story some of us hoped for when he completed his eight-year sentence. But not an occasion to renew the vilification, either. Or to rant against the money spent rehabilitating criminals. Or to conclude that Jon Venables (who will be 28 in two weeks' time) is already beyond redemption.
Actually, some of us think it’s all those things.

The evidence, it seems, is intent on proving us right.

Quote Of The Month

NickM from 'Counting Cats...' on the news that a drunk Aussie vacationer had decided to ride a crocodile:
"A traveller on a visit to Western Australia had to beat a snappy retreat his week when his drunken prank to ride on a 5m crocodile went wrong."

How in the name of all that is unholy could it have conceivably gone right?

Post Of The Month

This month, Anna Raccoon's moving and bittersweet memory of her 'lost' relative.
I was in my 30s before I got round to wondering why none of my relatives spoke to any of the other relatives. I just accepted it as a child. Questions were not encouraged.
Read the rest...

Bloody Men!

Typical of them to want to get in on the act, after us ladies have led the way:
A man who told police he had been kidnapped and raped by two men has admitted making the story up.
There are some differences. Note the way the word victim is in inverted commas. Not sure I've seen that before. And check out the charge:
Ashley Vaughan, from Gittisham, Devon, admitted wasting police time when he appeared at Exeter Crown Court.
And look! They're even stealing our usual excuse!
Vaughan had reconciled with his family after a difficult period and was "looking forward", the judge added.

As a result, and despite the seriousness of the crime, which carries a maximum sentence of six months, he told Vaughan he was unlikely to be sent to jail.

"That's probably a bit severe," Judge Neligan said.
No. It's. NOT...

Wednesday 28 July 2010

Should It Have..?

The Archbishop, who was once an advocate in the High Court of Uganda, argued for the creation of an appeals process, and added that he had been a "victim" of stop and search eight times.

He told peers: "When the policeman suddenly realised that I was a bishop, that didn't stop me being stopped and searched…"

Maybe they do things differently in Uganda…

Now, This Is Just Taking The Mickey!

Yesterday it was water, now it’s subsidised holidays:
the Unite union is planning a fresh test for European human rights legislation: it plans to use it against British Airways to force the carrier to reinstate ultra-cheap Caribbean flights for striking cabin crew.
Can anyone say they definitely won’t succeed..?
Unite said on Monday that it planned a legal challenge over the decision by BA chief executive Willie Walsh to strip striking crew of their travel privileges – allowing them flights anywhere on the BA network for just a tenth of the usual fare.

"After careful consideration, Unite believes that management's action breaches European human rights legislation," said the union, claiming 6,000 crew were affected. "
Oh, good lord…

Angry Exile has more.

Hostages To Fortune Cutbacks

So, the police ‘service’ needs to make cuts.

Hmmm, where to start? All those useless diversity monitoring groups? Some of the stats-monitoring people who ensure paperwork, not pounding the beat, takes up the most time? No, that will never do.

I know! Let’s get rid of those officers injured on duty!
Senior police officers are planning to cull thousands of injured officers as part of a cost-cutting drive.

Under plans being drawn up by the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), between 14,000 and 18,000 officers whose injuries mean they are no longer able to work on the front line would be offered severance packages.
‘Offered’ now. ‘Forced to take’ later?
The Police Federation, which represents 126,000 frontline officers, and the National Disabled Police Association (NDPA) say that any plan to force out injured officers could fall foul of disability legislation and promised to fight any move to target such a group.
Well, quite. Apart from anything else, it’s not going to improve morale amongst the remainder, is it? It’s not going to make the police service look like a good employer, or attract the best staff.

Unless...that's what they want? A workforce so on edge that they don't question orders?
Peter Fahy, the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester and the Acpo spokesman on workforce development, stressed that it was not the intention to introduce compulsory redundancies, but Acpo wants the ability to seek voluntary redundancies.
And if not enough take them?

Hard not to see this as the thin end of the wedge.
Any move to target unfit officers would be particularly contentious, especially in the wake of the Raoul Moat incident in which PC David Rathband was left blind after being shot in the face.
Can’t really argue with that.

Tuesday 27 July 2010

What's That About 'Fear Of Crime' Diminishing?

Clearly, local councils don't think so:
Gang violence in cities has reached such high levels that councils are ferrying teenagers around in taxis – because they are too scared to walk through dangerous areas.

One inner London authority spent nearly £400,000 of taxpayers’ money last year putting youths into cabs because of fears for their safety.
Who knew your local council ran a free taxi service? Let me just ring up and...
The local council in Hackney, which has one of the highest rates of shootings and stabbings in the country, ran up a total bill of £440,000. Of this, 88 per cent – an average of £1,060 per day – was accounted for by ‘vulnerable children’.
Ah. Right.

Not just any children then?
A spokeswoman for Hackney Council said: ‘Hackney sometimes uses taxis to transport vulnerable children. The council will always encourage the use of public transport where appropriate.

‘However, the age and individual family/carer circumstances of a child can often mean that a taxi is the only option.

‘For example, if a young child is being looked after by a foster carer who also looks after a number of other children, the foster carer may be unable to take the child to have contact with his or her parents. So a taxi is used to ensure the child has a safe journey and is able to have this important family contact.
Enver Solomon, assistant director of policy at children’s charity Barnado’s, said: ‘It is really important that children in care are properly supported because that will ultimately save the local authority money in the future.

‘The council is fulfilling its statutory duties with this, and if it were not, it would be in serious trouble.’
Note that the council won't be in 'serious trouble' for squandering taxpayer money on this sort of thing...

Tough On Crime, Tough On The Causes Of Crime...

...another strange cause of crime apparently now revealed as hot dog vans!
A “Hot Dog Hopper” van could be setting up shop outside the Jobcentre, near the Town Hall, until 5am from Monday until Saturday.

But Essex Police licensing officer Mick Aitchison has written to Colchester Council’s licensing committee opposing it.
He said: “Essex Police are extremely concerned this van could become a focal point for crime and disorder and public nuisance long after the latest alcohol premises in the High Street has closed (Liquid & Envy at 3.30am) and it will encourage persons to remain in the High Street long after the last visible police presence has cleared from this area.”
Well, don't 'clear from the area' then! Or is that too simple?

It seems the police are worried that another focal point for people (who may, or may not, cause trouble) will split their resources:
Currently, police can focus their resources on Queen Street and St Botolph’s Street in the early hours of the morning, as most takeaways in the town centre are based there.
Perhaps if the police are so short of resources they should give up the social work and stop harassing photographers?
The Dutch Quarter Association, and councillors Henry Spyvee and Bill Frame, are also against the plan.

Mr Spyvee said: “I am concerned the High Street is already unsafe during the hours of the night.

Adding further potential for crime is unacceptable.”
So, there you have it. We must never, ever do anything that has the potential for crime.

Now, can anyone give me an example of an activity that doesn't - in some way - allow the potential for crime?

Stamping On Individual Choice

Tim Lang (professor of food policy at City university)
I am sufficiently ancient to wonder sometimes if modern political parties might have a collective memory problem. The last Tory government was bombarded by food crises for a decade – remember salmonella and BSE? It mismanaged these spectacularly at times.
But the Labour government fixed it, right?
Labour's response was to set up the Food Standards Agency (FSA), designed to "create blue water between us and safety difficulties", as one minister told me in 1998.
Ah, yes. The FSA. The department that brought us such ideas as the need for thicker chips, the need for portion control and the burning need for bigger menus. Well, I think we can safely lose them.

And so now, the ConDems have pulled the plug.
The new government has now decided to dismember the FSA. Its role as public health adviser on nutrition is to be absorbed into the department of health; its role as inspector of farms, food processing plants and so on will revert to Defra.
Who could argue against that?

Well, Tim’s going to have a damn good try.
Even before this dismemberment, what the FSA could achieve was limited. In particular, it was not able to consider the impact on the broader environment – cultural or ecological – when making recommendations to the public about food. The FSA lacked capacity to deal with the environmental implications of defining a sustainable diet, for example.
Oh, oh. I don’t like the sound of that

Are we perhaps back in beetleburger territory?
Take the question, should I eat fish? Nutritionists say yes; fish stock analysts say no. To answer that question required the FSA to integrate ecological into nutritional advice. It fudged that one.
It’s possible for both those answers to be correct, Tim, and for the public to make up their own mind
This matters. Take meat and dairy. They account for a huge proportion of consumers' food footprint. So should the UK cut its meat and dairy consumption? Yes, say health experts and environmentalists; no, say industry interests.
And what do the public say? Do they even figure in your thoughts?
Health secretary Andrew Lansley's recent speech to the Faculty of Public Health reiterated the mantra of pursuing "evidence-based policy". Quite right, but what if evidence competes? If the UK is to meet its legal obligations to meet climate change emission targets, this has to be addressed.
Well, maybe that ‘legal obligation’ is based on nothing more than smoke and mirrors? Maybe the 'climate change' movement is a giant con?

Should we not check out the evidence for that? Since we’re in an evidence-gathering mood?
The pursuit of cheaper food underestimates real costs. Who pays for climate change? Is the real cost of the good water going into that Kenyan green bean included in your checkout bill? And why is it easier to quench your thirst with a sugary soft drink than in a public, free water fountain?
It might be ‘easier’, but it’s actually more expensive. So if people are spending money on it, it must be because they want to. Maybe they prefer the taste?
Tackling obesity is like tackling climate change. It requires system change, and cannot be reduced to individual choice.
If we have no individual choice, we have slavery. Is that what you wa…

Oh, I’m wasting my time. It probably is what you want.
We can't go on eating as we aredestructive choices (eating more food that has been flown thousands of miles, for example) need to be edited out, and only governments can set the framework.
And the mask slips, to reveal the gibbering control-freak underneath. Welcome to the new world order according to Tim – you will eat what the government tells you, and like it…

Monday 26 July 2010

The Grave's A Fine And Private Place...

...but it's not very green, is it?
Drainage problems and demand outstripping the supply of land have led council bosses to step up the search for a new graveyard site.

Recent wet winters and an ageing population mean Snell Hatch Cemetery will soon be fully occupied.
Oh dear. What to do?
The options are to either allocate a number of small sites which could serve the community for the next 50 years, find a site close to the existing crematorium or work with surrounding authorities.

A woodland burial site is also being investigated as a possible solution.

Woodland burials, also known as "green" or "natural" burials, are becoming increasingly popular with sites provided by both Brighton and Hove and Hastings Councils.
Yes, land is at a premium, and the green enthusists are plugging the alternative of 'green' burials. It's a problem for councils. And for people. Still, at least it's one we all share equally, regardless of race or creed or...

Oh. Oh dear:
The Daily Telegraph (print edition) reports that a council-run graveyard is selling Muslim burial plots more than £500 cheaper than those for non-Muslims, to the anger of local residents.

Wittering From Whitney reports that the council's excuse for this is that 'Muslims allow only one person to be buried in a grave, while people of other religions can use it for 'more than one person'...'

In which case, since we're all supposed to be doing our bit for Gaia, shouldn't they be charged more?

*fetches popcorn, waits for the fun to start*

Oh, Look! Another New ‘Human Right’!

Maude Barlow chairs the boards of the council of Canadians and Washington-based Food and Water Watch.

And she’s invented a new human right:
On 28 July, for the first time ever, the general assembly of the United Nations will hold a historic summit on the human right to water. It will consider and debate a resolution supporting the right to "safe and clean drinking water and sanitation" that was presented on 17 June by Pablo Solon, the Bolivian ambassador to the UN, and co-sponsored by 23 other countries. The desired outcome of the day is consensus on recognising the human right to water.
Oh, FFS!
When the 1948 universal declaration on human rights was written, no one could foresee a day when water would be a contested area.
I suspect no-one would have foreseen a lot of the things that now get classed as ‘human rights’. If they had, they might well have thrown up their hands in disgust and called the whole thing off…
But in 2010, it is not an exaggeration to say that the lack of access to clean water is one of the greatest human rights violation in the world.
Actually, sweetie, yes, it IS an exaggeration to say that.

Particularly since, as it currently hasn’t been accepted as such, it isn’t a human right. Yet
The fact that water is not now recognized as a human right has allowed decision-making over water policy to shift from the UN and governments to institutions such as the World Bank, the World Water Council and the World Trade Organisation, which favour market solutions.
Oh, noes! Market solutions!
Support for the human right to water has been steadily growing in recent years but several wealthy countries – notably the UK, US, Canada and Australia – have emerged as negative forces, finding excuses not to support the resolution in its current form.
Of course they are ‘finding excuses’. It couldn’t possibly be that they have reached a different conclusion to you, can it, sweetie? That’s unpossible!
The new Conservative government of David Cameron is already on record that it will oppose this resolution unless it is amended to remove sanitation and only refer to "access" to clean water, not the human right to water itself.
Now, I wonder why they removed the ‘sanitation’ reference..?

Waste Wars

A man could become the first person in Basildon to be prosecuted for failing to recycle properly.

Basildon Council is drawing up a magistrates’ court case against the Noak Bridge resident, who has yet to be named.

He failed to pay a £75 fixed penalty notice, issued last month, for failing to recycle properly after receiving two warnings.
You see, in Basildon, you don’t get a choice about recycling. You have to do it.

If they spot no recycling bags, they go rifling through your black sacks to see if you are throwing away stuff that could be recycled:
Compulsory recycling went live across the district from September last year, with the enforcement review running from November 2009 until the end of June.

Five full-time environmental enforcement officers probe people’s pink and black rubbish sacks, looking for correspondence to identify the offender.
Welcome to the People’s Republic of Basildon, comrade.

Meanwhile, in neighbouring Southend, they may have trouble instituting such draconian schemes.

At least, until they’ve cleaned their own house:
Southend Council has been slammed for not recycling its own food waste despite urging residents to do so.

Lib Dem councillor Carole Roast said she was outraged to discover that food from the Civic Centre is not recycled and the council does not require its private catering firm, Yes Dining, to do so either.
Unless Pickles and Spelman get a grip on things, expect this to escalate, and flytipping to spiral out of control.

Sunday 25 July 2010

Cries Of 'Racist!' In 5...4...3...

Stephen Batten QC, prosecuting, said many of the people involved in the case had been linked to shootings and drug dealing on the Stonebridge Park Estate, in Harlesden, north west London.

He told the jury: 'Attitudes and standards are different. It is more the law of the jungle than the law of civilised England.'
Oooh, someone's going to be screaming about that, I'll bet...

It Seems The Animal Kingdom Has Declared War On 'Mail' Columnists...

First, there was Ben Douglas and his epic battle with a home-invading fox (he lost).

Now, we hear of Quentin Letts and his issues with squirrels:
Our seven-year-old daughter, Honor, learned about squirrels the sharp way last month. She spotted a grey squirrel in a nearby garden.

Honor was on her way to see her little friend, Mia, at the time and was in one of those chirrupy, hello-clouds-hello-trees sort of moods. Hello squirrel.

She bent down to stroke the thing.
Note that, despite Daddy's antipathy towards the 'vicious tree rats', he didn't think to warn her that this was a wild animal...
It bit her. With a hiss and a swipe of claw and a baring of fang, the squirrel had a go at Honor and drew blood from her right thumb.

Cue waterworks and wailing and, thank goodness, a shattering of our child's Disneyfied notions of an anthropomorphised animal kingdom where every little furry thing has a name and a benign character.
Oh, wow! You're Father of the Year, for sure!

I suppose little Honor is pretty lucky you didn't take the same 'wait and see' approach to bleach kept in lemonade bottles and unsecured electrical sockets, or she might not have reached the tender age of seven in the first place...

When The Going Gets Tough...

...the tough - it seems - quietly fold their tents and slip away:
Coalition plans to give anonymity to men accused of rape are to be abandoned in a significant policy U-turn, The Sunday Telegraph has learned.

Their first real test, and they bottled it:
The controversial pledge to "extend anonymity in rape cases to defendants" was a surprise inclusion in the power-sharing agreement binding the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats together after the general election.

It faced an immediate storm of protest from MPs across all main parties including Harriet Harman, the acting Labour leader.
So what? That's like saying that you refused to deliver life-saving medication to a critical patient beccause, as you got near her, a teacup chihuahua popped its head out of her handbag and bared its tiny, mouse-like teeth!

How the hell are the coalition supposed to 'take the unwelcome decisions' if they cut and run from this sort of thing?
David Cameron hinted last month that the plan, based on a Lib Dem policy of shielding a defendant's name until conviction, could be watered down.
'Watered down' = 'dropped' in ConDem speak, it seems.
Now it has emerged that ministers will not change the law to ban the identification of men accused of rape at any stage in the legal process.

Crispin Blunt, the justice minister, told MPs that the government wanted to find a "non-statutory solution".

Instead of a legal ban, Ministry of Justice (MoJ) sources suggested that one way forward would be a voluntary agreement among newspaper publishers and website chiefs that those charged with rape should not have their identities revealed until they were charged – backed by a beefed-up role for the Press Complaints Commission.
Oh. Well, that'll work well, I'm sure...

Sunday Funnies

Mankind always has to improve on nature...

Saturday 24 July 2010

Rare Case No: ...I've Lost Count, Actually!

Thanks to Mark Wadsworth, yet another case to prove the wisdom of allowing anonymity in rape allegations:
A young mother who falsely claimed she was raped by a teenager was yesterday locked away for 15 months.

Jade Brooks was 17 when she claimed the 18-year-old had taken her into a copse and attacked her.
And, presumably because the alleged attacker was 18, he isn't named.

But you can't say he didn't suffer:
He was later arrested, subjected to an intimate examination, kept in a cell for 13 hours and grilled by officers under caution before being released on police bail.

It was a further two months before he was told no further action would be taken after Brooks's story began to unravel.
Why so long?
Witnesses said they had seen her kissing and cuddling the young man shortly before the alleged attack near a disused railway station in Haverhill, Suffolk, and was laughing and embracing him immediately after they left the wooded area.
And no alarm bells rang then? So what finally made them twig?
She dealt a final, fatal blow to the rape case when she refused to give a video-taped interview to police.
It took that to finally pursuade them that there was no realistic prospect of a conviction, eh?

How fortuitous...

'Mail' Headline FAIL!

Surely he was already in a life of depravity? Prison was supposed to raise him up. Worked well, didn't it, progressives?

The Dark Side Of Hero Worship

David Cronin is the Brussels correspondent of Inter Press Service news agency, and he’s not happy. One of his childhood heroes has betrayed him:
Johnny Rotten has cheated on me.
Not literally.
OK, I don't expect that statement to elicit much sympathy.
Aaaaand…you’d be right!
But I can't have been the only one to feel queasy reading the interviews John Lydon gave ahead of this week's British tour by his band, Public Image Ltd (PiL). The erstwhile Rotten believes that now his ads have boosted sales of Country Life butter, he should be courted incessantly by marketing executives. "It amazes me that people don't get the opportunity of me," he told the Guardian. "I sell."
‘Former punk grows up to be quite canny with money’

Hold the front page! News at 10:00!
As I was only five at the time Anarchy in the UK was released in 1976, I wasn't conscious of hearing it until nine or 10 years later. Fashion might have moved on in that time – not that I had any knowledge of fashion – yet it is no exaggeration to say that the Sex Pistols' debut single was liberating and educational, not least because it prompted me to look up "anarchy" in the dictionary. Here was an exotic creature from London telling a young Irish boy that it was cool to defy authority.
Well, yes. When you are young and foolish, you advocate and follow many strange concepts.

But when you grow up, you realise that you need to earn a living, squatting in abandoned buildings plays havoc with your piles, and Abercrombie & Fitch suits you better than a ripped t-shirt covered in beer and puke.

This is hardly news.

So, what is it about Lydon that has really got Davey’s y-fronts in a bunch?
A few months ago Lydon claimed he's "well-known for being a pacifist" and named Mahatma Gandhi as his all-time hero. Surely, then, he would be open to supporting one of the most impressive examples of Gandhi's principles being put into action in today's world: the weekly demonstrations in the West Bank village of Bi'lin, where unarmed activists are regularly fired at by Israeli forces. Surely, too, he would be sympathetic to the call made by numerous Palestinian trade unions and other campaign groups for a cultural and economic boycott of Israel.
Aha! Now, the penny drops…
Not a chance, I'm afraid. Lydon has vowed to go ahead with a PiL concert in Tel Aviv, scheduled for late August. "If Elvis-fucking-Costello wants to pull out of a gig in Israel because he's suddenly got this compassion for Palestinians, then good on him," Lydon told the Independent. "But I have absolutely one rule, right? Until I see an Arab country, a Muslim country, with a democracy, I won't understand how anyone can have a problem with how they're treated."

Naturally, little Davey is shocked, shocked, to hear that his idol may not share the same political views. Clearly, this can’t be explained by anything other than the corrupting influence of capitalism.

No, really:
How can Lydon so callously disregard the suffering of a people under colonial occupation? The answer is easy. PiL will be performing in Tel Aviv as headliners at a festival sponsored by Heineken. Along with giving him all the free beer he can swallow, Lydon can be sure the brewers will help to swell his bank account.
Yes, it’s clearly all about money, Davey.

"You always hurt, the one you love..."

Brian Butcher (described as a 'frustrated newt expert') was most upset by Natural England's work on neighbouring land to tear down hedgerows and fill in holes. You see, newts may be there. Great Crested newts. A protected species.

Brian knew they might be there because the pond on his land was full of them. So he wrote letters. But they were ignored. For four and a half years, he battled to get the organisation to halt it's work.

So it was time to step up to direct action and hold a press conference chain himself to Natural England's railings fish some newts out of his pond, hit them over the head with a hammer, and post the bodies to the organisation.


Wait, what?
The bench was told the package was a "payback" for the public body's perceived lack of action against the work being carried out on Butcher's neighbouring land.
I can see now why he's a frustrated newt expert...

H/T to 'APiLN', the place to go for all your barmy local news requirements.

Savings - A Tricky Concept

Zoe Williams is having trouble with the concept of ‘saving’:
I only realised the child trust fund was worth saving about three days before the election: even then, I didn't process what a foolish loss it would be until it was lost, immediately after the poll.
Oh well, the coalition was faced with some tough choices. And a scheme to take taxpayer’s money and place it in a ‘savings’ account was clearly one that had to go.
But under the umbrella Save Child Savings, organisations from ResPublica (Phillip Blond's "red Tory" thinktank) to the Family and Parenting Institute (Katharine Rake's organisation, more red than Tory) crave one last favour. Halt the funds, if you absolutely must, but keep the infrastructure – the cost to do so is £2m a year, or thereabouts. In terms of a public savings initiative, that is tiny.
And why would we want to do that?
It would leave the apparatus in place to power the whole thing up again when the country recovers from recession.
Hmmm. Maybe.

Or maybe for when the public have forgotten what a mess they left, and elect another Labour government, you mean?
If this is so valuable that even keeping its door open is worth fighting for, why did the fund ever look dispensable in the first place? From a distance, it seemed like a lot of money to spend, given that it was a universal handout and so would go to many people who weren't poor enough to warrant it.
Precisely. It was a waste of money. And furthermore, it sent out the wrong message.
Since it was a savings initiative, it seemed also as if it might benefit the middle classes more than anybody else (with their fabled ability to defer gratification and make long-term decisions).
Isn’t ‘delayed gratification’ and ‘long-term decision making’ something to be encouraged and strived for, then?I always thought so...
Yet at the same time there was an aspect to it that was socially conservative, that distilled the beliefs of the decent Tory: the value of asset-building; in everybody having something to trade in the free market beyond their labour; in people taking responsibility for their own savings, their own financial futures.
For the last time, Zoe, ‘saving’ is what people do with their own money.

Not when the government takes money from everyone else and gives it to you.

Friday 23 July 2010

Well, It'll Certainly Cut Crime..!

Police have told shopkeepers not to report thefts of goods worth less than under £20 in a scheme which they claim will cut crime.
Under the trial, retailers are told not to dial 999 if they fall victim to petty shoplifters, but note details in a log book.

It could then be weeks before a community support officer visits to read the log.

Police chiefs claim the policy will reduce thefts in the long term by enabling them to 'build a stronger case' against offenders and impose anti- social behaviour orders to keep them out of shops.
Well, sure. But if it doesn't work, hey, the crime figures came down for a while, right? Score!

Naturally, people who make a living selling things, as opposed to giving them away, aren't happy, and aren't in a mood to co-operate with this barmy scheme:
Anthony Bush, owner of the general stores and post office in Killingholme, said: 'It's an absolute joke. You might as well put a sign on the door to say "nick up to £19.99". I wish the police would explain to me how this is going to drive down shoplifting.

'This is people's livelihood we are talking about. I don't care what they are suggesting, if I notice shoplifting I will call the police.'
And what will they do when he keeps phoning, I wonder?
Humberside Police insist the project does not reflect a lack of resources to investigate crime.

A spokesman said: 'We are not saying we won't investigate.

'We are saying rather than pick up the phone every time a Mars bar goes missing, we are taking this to a better level by trying to build a stronger case against offenders.'
I'm sure it sounds like a great you. But it doesn't to us.

And it's not what we pay you for, is it? And at this moment in time, do you really want yet more people wondering why we keep paying you?

In fact, more people will start taking the law into their own hands. And probably not the correct way, the way Simon Cremer did*. Because look what happened to him...
But Gilbert was let off with a police caution, while floor fitting firm owner Mr Cremer and his staff were charged with false imprisonment before the case against them was dropped.
Is it me, or has the world gone utterly mad?

How the hell can iDave's 'Big Society' ever work, when those who transgress the laws get coddled and protected, the people we pay to maintain the law shrug and sit on their backsides and ambulance-chasing shysters wait to feed off the carcase of what remnants of decent society still remain?

*H/T commenter RAB via email

‘They Haven’t Gone Away, You Know’ Redux

Councils are secretly rifling through thousands of dustbins to find out about families' race and wealth.
And what possible reason could they have for that?
Waste audits allow officials and private contractors to check supermarket labels, types of unwanted food - and even examine the contents of discarded mail.

The local authorities are using social profiling techniques to match different types of rubbish to different ethnic groups or wealthy and poor households, as part of a recycling drive initiated by the last Government.
Ah. Right. So they have done this in the past.

Are they still doing it? That’s the question. It’s certainly a question iDave’s mob should be asking.

Why were they doing it?
Householders can then be placed into social categories, which in some areas range from 'wealthy achievers' to the 'hard-pressed' - and subsequently targeted for future leafleting campaigns.
Ah. Well, chaps, the money’s run out. Sorry. We can’t afford leafleting campaigns.

Did they get any useful information out of this?
In Hackney, East London, researchers targeted homes based on their potential ethnic and social mix, collecting data separately on four different groups, including ‘multi-ethnic private flats’ and ‘prosperous young professionals’ flats’.

The study found that ‘as expected’ the ‘educated urbanites’ living in ‘trendy’ flats threw away the least rubbish.
Now, there’s an unexpected piece of information! The typical ‘Guardian’/’Indy’ reader is far more likely to believe the green propaganda (and crucially, not want to be seen as out of step by his fellows) and slavishly follow council instructions!

Do go on...
In Bracknell Forest, Berkshire, researchers sifted through discarded food. They concluded that more than half of it could have been recycled or composted if householders had behaved more responsibly.
Translation: ‘If householders had behaved more responsibly’ = ‘If householders had done as they were bloody well told, the ingrates’…

Any more startling revelations?
In Southampton, officials found that homeowners were more likely to put general waste in the recycling bin in the week after Christmas.
Hmmm, could that be because people traditionally have a lot more food (and therefore food waste) at Christmas/New Year, and that that’s also the period when the refuse services are disrupted?

Wow! that was money well spent, eh?

Not all councils went along with this, either:
Dartford Council, in Kent, has refused to carry out the secret surveys.

Jeremy Kite, who is the council’s Tory leader, said: ‘I strongly object to the analysis and examination of waste put out for collection unless specific permission is obtained from the householder and have intervened to prevent such exercises in Dartford on more than one occasion. I do not believe it is right.’
Good for you. I bet you get back in next year, as a result…

Looks Like Colchester Health Authority Has No Worries About Budget Cuts

Health bosses will target smokers on Colchester’s Greenstead estate.

The town’s St Andrews ward is one of six problem areas NHS North Essex Essex is desperate to tackle.
So, health bosses are spending scarece resources targeting people enjoying a legal activity, are they?

What’s more, an activity which brings in far more money in tax revenues that it ever costs...
Initiatives include giving residents incentives to make a stop-smoking pledge.

Tim Young, ward councillor, speaking at a community meeting in Greenstead, said:“The figures for women smoking during pregnancy are not so good for this area, so I have asked NHS officers to look at the demographics of this.

“We think it is younger age groups that are smoking during pregnancy and people living in deprived wards in the borough.”
Tim Young’s effort to bring the ‘deprivation’ excuse into the mix notwithstanding, the demographics certainly are interesting.
According to figures from NHS North East Essex, 19 per cent of people living in Colchester and Tendring smoke.

The national figure is 21 per cent.
So, lower than the national average? Yet much higher in ‘at risk’ groups?
A total of 22.5 per cent of pregnant women in north-east Essex smoke.

The national average is 14 per cent.
Curious. I wonder what the reason for this is? I expect the experts will assume it's because of 'bad role models' (and will have probably had orgasms at the picture that MummyLongLegs points to here). But surely they exist elsewhere too?

Other public sector workers are similarly spending those so-called 'scarce' resources on this:
Council officials, health bosses and Essex County Fire and Rescue Service have joined forces to encourage people to make their homes smoke free.

The Smoke Free Homes campaign asks householders to promise to turn their homes into healthier places by banning or restricting tobacco smoke.

People who sign up will get a support pack containing information leaflets, smoke-free signs, a certificate and a free fire safety visit.
I do like the way they call it a ‘free’ fire safety visit.

In what way is it not paid for by taxes, then?

Leg-Iron has some good advice for those sick to death of this state-sponsored bullying.

You Don’t Say..?

The ‘Guardian’ regales us with the news that this man had ‘a history of violence’:
A man has been found dead after shooting his partner twice in the head while she was out with her one-month-old grandson in a pram.

The man is believed to have had a history of violence
Well, fancy that!
It was claimed by residents that the man had been given a suspended jail sentence in January 2009 after he admitted putting another former partner "in fear of violence," and had been having an "on-off" relationship with Puttock.
What on earth possesses a woman to flick the ‘on’ switch on a relationship with a man like this?
Police said they were still investigating the two incidents and how Osler came into possession of a gun.
A mystery, isn’t it? Clearly, the anti-gun laws didn’t work, did they?

Still, they ruined competitive sport for a bunch of perfectly harmless individuals, so there’s that
One resident said: "Ossie was unpredictable man. The police know about him, the courts know about him. He was at Norwich crown court last year and got a suspended sentence."

Another said: "He could never, ever have had a licence for a gun."
Well, he didn’t bother getting one, did he? Why would he, when he was a habitual criminal? Laws are for the law abiding, after all…

The ‘Mail’ has more on the strangely tangled love-life of these two:
Neighbours said Osler may have snapped after Mrs Puttock left their home in Feltwell, near Brandon in Norfolk, to rejoin her husband, David, 48.

Plasterer Danny Wright, 39, said: 'Rachel moved in with Ozzy but then moved back with David. Ozzy told me a fortnight ago they were back together. He was a bit p****d off.'
And we all know what that means, don’t we?
Another neighbour said: 'Rachel and Ozzy had a pretty volatile relationship. He told me Rachel and David had got back together.

'He was going on about it as if he was OK but he seemed pretty messed up about it.'
So, the warning signs were all there.

But how did these two get together in the first place?
Osler, an unemployed lorry driver who had three grown-up children by his former wife, Paula, had been a friend of father-of-three Mr Puttock and was invited to stay in his home last summer.

But he then began an affair with Mrs Puttock, a brunette who has two daughters from a previous relationship.
Ah. Nevermind.

Deliberately Not Getting It?

So, Gadget has closed comments on - and changed the header of - his post yesterday, no doubt after coming under a lot of fire.

He also left this comment before doing so:
"Just visited some anti-police and anti-gadget blogs and I have the following to report:

They are absolutely fuming that I should have the nerve to post a story about police officers saving a child’s life. They simply cannot get their heads around a police good news story. It’s just too much for them to be able to contextualise the G20 incident.

Which is why

I wrote this

In the first place"
Since I've no doubt whatsoever that I feature on his list of 'anti-police' or 'anti-gadget' blogs, despite the fact that I'm neither, and because I obviously can't comment there, I've only this to say:

If you think that I cannot get my head around a 'good news story' about the police, you've lost it. Frankly, after the bad news stories of the last few years, I'd welcome it. Anyone would.

But not today.

Not when anyone with a shred of moral decency would realise that the CPS decision has enraged a lot of people, quite justifiably, as it seems that yet again, the police have been protected from facing the music for yet another act of brutality. Not when the wedge that has been slowly driven between the state and the citizens has just been widened that bit more.

And if you plan to change your blog to run good news stories, to somehow counter the bad news stories that you think the press seek out to make the police look bad, then be aware that you've entered a race 100 metres behind all the other runners, with one leg tied behind your back and a blindfold on.

I'll repeat what I said in an earlier post. I think I need to, because it seems some people are hard of learning, no matter how many times they are told something.

Sadly, it seems lately as if far too many police officers are rude and bullying, trigger-happy, or corrupt.

It seems as if, despite being told that what they are doing is wrong and they should stop, they can’t seem to do so, taking that as an excuse to ramp up the harassment of the law-abiding.

And when that is then pointed out to them as a failing, far too many fall back on the claim that the person being harassed ‘had it coming’, was ‘being annoying’, ‘wouldn’t listen to instructions’, oblivious to the fact that no, that’s not your job or your decision to make.

You get to uphold the law as it stands, not make it up to suit yourselves, or bend it to get that target box ticked.

Rather than say 'Oh, that's wrong, but...' how about just saying 'That's wrong, and it shouldn't happen, full stop'?

And furthermore, if your stated reason for writing it in the first place is true, why change the title (though you can't change the URL, which retains the original title)? And why close comments?

We lost a good police blog through the actions of the media (though the archive is here). We seem to be about to lose another one by the self-inflicted actions of the owner.

Thursday 22 July 2010

I Was Wrong...

...back in April 2009, when I posted on the Ian Tomlinson case.

Not totally wrong. I wasn't wrong about the fact that the police have a tough job to do, and face unwelcome attention from all sides of the public divide when things go wrong. But I was certainly wrong to place any kind of faith in the justice system to see justice done.

We know now that that simply isn't to be. Either through incompetence or design (or both? I could well believe it!), the CPS have chosen not to proceed with the case.

The officer still faces internal disciplinary charges. Big deal. It's not enough. It never should be, when uniformed agents of the crown are seen to be above the law.

How did the police blogs react to this? Well, so far, most haven't. But Inspector Gadget waded in, in a post of such spectacular crassness that it fair takes the breath away.

In fact it's hard to see how it could be bettered unless, the next time a plane nose-dives into a mountain and flight-recorder tapes emerge of flight crew incompetence ("Hey, co-pilot! Hold my beer and watch this!"), the airline company immediately displays yesterday's flight schedule on its website and says 'See! Look at all the ones that don't crash!'...

Update: As a palate-cleanser after reading Gadget's post, I recommend this.

"...a move which will send a chill through the arts world..."

Up to one in two of the staff at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport are to be made redundant as part of the cuts programme submitted to the Treasury by the culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt.

Hunt has also proposed moving out of the well-appointed departmental headquarters in Cockspur Street, just off Trafalgar Square, with the remaining staff finding room in a different, existing departmental building.
...Hunt, who has proposed cuts of between 35% and 50% of all staff, believes he will not be able to win support for the coming deep cuts in arts and media budgets unless he leads by example.
More please, faster.

Naturally, the luvvies and art phonies are shrieking and rending their garments:
Arts organisations are bracing themselves for a torrid time because Hunt wants to keep publicly-subsidised free entry to national museums, on the basis that it improves tourism and the wider creative economy.
In fact, he seems determined to wean them off the state teat altogether:
Arts Council England, which receives £445m to give out to 850 organisations around the country, has warned that it would have to stop funding for at least 200 organisations.
Hmm, a quick glance at their website shows that they certainly aren't cutting staff at HQ. In fact, they are still recruiting. So clearly, they can't be that worried!

And hey, if there's a market out there for Theo Jansen's Ventosa Siamesis, a 10 metre-long, mechanical sculpture powered by the wind, I'm sure someone will sponsor it. Won't they? Charge admission - don't stick your fingers in my pocket...
The RSC's Vicky Heywood warned that drastic cuts would mean fewer productions, less travelling and higher ticket prices.
If your productions are good, people will pay to see them. If they're not, why should I pay for them through tax?
The government is hoping to plug funding cuts by encouraging more private philanthropy but it is a route fraught with problems, not least the danger of safer, more conservative programming.
Hmmm, safer, eh? I'll worry about this when a government-subsidised artist comes up with that natural companion to 'Piss Christ', 'Poo Mohammed'...

I Guess Donna Never Reads Much…

His mother Donna Pell, also 28, said Bailey was healthy and active and 'certainly didn't get fed McDonald's meals every day.'

The receptionist added: 'I was horrified by the letter. They asked for permission to weigh the children, but I thought they'd just give you the facts and figures.'
Did you, sweetie? Did you really?

So That ‘Poacher Turned Gamekeeper’ Stuff Is Overrated, Is It?

A row has broken out after the General Medical Council recruited a woman convicted of conspiracy to abduct a child on to an expert group charged with producing child protection guidance for doctors.
Which sounds crazy, right? Another of those mad, ‘progressive’ ideas?

Well, not when you see just who this person is: doughty campaigner against the medical establishment’s stranglehold on the right to act without fear of personal consequences, Penny Mellor, of ‘MAMA’ fame:
Penny Mellor, from Wolverhampton, served eight months of an 18-month jail sentence after being found guilty of a "wicked conspiracy to abduct" a little girl in 1999. She still maintains she was trying to prevent the child from falling into the hands of social services. Mrs Mellor has been involved in more than 50 complaints against professionals working in child protection, accusing numerous doctors and nurses of misconduct.
Note that the ‘Indy’ carefully avoids giving Ms Mellor’s group any publicity whatsoever. No link, not a reference to the fact that she’s doing this on behalf of disadvantaged groups (mothers fighting the medical establishment).

In fact, their description of her makes her sound like a crank.

Quite different to how they habitually describe campaigners against things the ‘Indy’ is not in favour of, in fact…
The GMC was last night under growing criticism from respected paediatricians, just months after winning widespread praise for setting up the group.
‘Respected’ by whom? Dare we suggest, by other paediatricians?
Child protection experts say they are dumbfounded at the decision to appoint Mrs Mellor, who they believe has contributed to an environment of fear among paediatricians, leading many to turn their backs on child protection work.
That ‘fear’ being based purely on the not unreasonable request that they work within strict guidelines and are expected to face consequences when they get it badly wrong because they haven’t followed procedures, or have no evidence for taking the action they wish to take.

How awful that must be!
The GMC refused to explain its decision to The IoS but its chief executive, Niall Dickson, told the BMJ that Mrs Mellor was included in order to give the group credibility and that it was important to hear all perspectives.
It’ll take a hell of a lot more than her appointment to give this group credibility, unless it moves to redress some of the issues that have hit the headlines recently.
Mrs Mellor could not be reached for comment, but in her BMJ letter she said she welcomed the opportunity to sit around the table with the RCPCH president and "get paediatricians to listen to the other side of the story".
I'm sure she’ll talk. I doubt they’ll listen.

But the GMC are to be congratulated for making the effort. The squalling and foot-stamping by the privileged few shows they are on the right track…

Yes, Beetle Tastes Nothing Like Chicken, but…

…at least the whole family gets a leg!
With around 70 per cent of the world's agricultural land now being used for meat production, a Dutch insect specialist has suggested a novel way of catering to the world's growing population – by eating insects instead of mammals.
Insects! What the hell is this guy smoki…

*checks nationality*

Ah. Right…
Speaking at the TEDGlobal 2010 conference in Oxford, entomologist Marcel Dicke claimed that insects are an ecologically sound – and tasty – alternative to meat.

Dicke, a professor at the Netherlands' Wageningen University, said that while 10kg of feed generates just 1kg of beef, 3kg of pork or 5kg of chicken, the same amount could sustain 9kg of locusts.
Marcel Dicke – not just a name, but a description….