Thursday 30 September 2010

The Arrogance Of The Established Charity…

So, the owner of the Pink Pussy has been found, and the RSPCA forced to hand the cat back after admitting that no law had been broken.

So how come they have the nerve to announce this?
An officer from the animal charity will visit the cat's owner to give her a dressing down, offering welfare advice about the potential hazards and consequences of dyeing cats.
There’s no need for a ‘dressing down’ as she’s indicated she’s perfectly aware of the potential hazards, being careful to avoid them.

And when it comes to animal welfare, the RSPCA are in absolutely no position to attempt to hand out advice to others….

People Are Realising The Emperor Has No Clothes…

Hugh Muir writes possibly the most lazy article I’ve ever seen in ‘CiF’:
You spot them pretty quickly, my friend Jerome Mack tells me. Put 15 people in a room and the chances are that there will be two of them. Thirteen will make the effort. The other two will be bigots and proud of it.
Are we given any examples of their ‘bigotry’?

No, we are not. It’s just taken for granted that, whatever they say, ( and Jerome is the arbiter, remember..) it’s clearly bigotry…
There are many derided jobs and Jerome does one of them. Try this for size. "Hi, I'm an equalities trainer."
Yup, can’t say that wouldn’t be greeted by scorn and contempt among anyone having to do a real job…
… despite what you read about busybodies interfering with normal human relationships and curtailing freedom of speech, how everything would be all right if only the malcontents would stop creating the problems, Jerome says what he does is pretty necessary.
Well, he would, wouldn’t he? As another semi-professional whore once said…
We all think we're basically good, even those who palpably aren't. And we are all creatures of our conditioning. But sometimes, in a private room, and probably because an employer decrees it, someone gets to challenge our perceptions about what we do, what we say and why.
Challenge them from a position of….what?

Received wisdom? The gospel according to the Righteous?
That doesn't mean we have to like it. "The bigots will sit there for a while like simmering volcanoes," he says. "'I don't know why I am here," they complain. "Why are you making such a big deal about these people? We all have our crosses to bear. What about me?"
And who’s to say they aren’t right? It seems the ‘Guardian’ can tolerate anything, except intolerance!
Jerome and his team might conduct training for 10,000 people a year, but these are the ones who get angry. Depending on what newspapers are saying, all sorts of things make them angry. Right now travellers, gay people and eastern Europeans sit top of the list.
I guess Hugh thinks that none of those 15 people will ever be ‘Guardian’ or ‘Indy’ readers, then?
But there's an upside, and it is the other 13, because there was a time when in that room, the bigotry of the two would be infectious. No one would stop them, quite a few would join in. "Things have changed," Jerome tells me. "They challenge the bigotry now, they shake their heads, obviously disapproving. The 13 have been empowered, the two disempowered."
Or, perhaps, they are simply keeping their heads down, agreeing with you, and displaying the behaviours they know will get them out with the minimum of pain?
So doesn't that put you out of a job, I ask him. "I'd love to be out of a job," he says. But it's a work in progress. The 13, they're great. But the two are always a menace. And they never quite go away.
Well, of course not.

Jerome, and people like him, have to eat. And eat well, of course.

The comments are illuminating, as with all the best ‘CiF’ columns. Here’s a selection:

PS. A friend works for the council, he was telling me about the diversity and equality officers who will all be shielded from the cuts.

I asked him what they do. He's worked in the same building as them for 15 years and could only tell me that they come in late, go to lots of meetings, and go home early.

Also, that, although it isn't officially declared policy, they are all non white.
He's got Jerome's number, I think!

This next one is about to commit a bit of a faux pas:

Yes, agreed -I thought my pc was playing up, and I'd only downloaded the introductory part. Ok, it says something but it doesn't really get into the nitty gritty as much as would likely have been helpful.

Was it really worth paying someone to product just this?

Is this a joke? If anything was more likely to re-enforce stereotypical views of this type of work I cannot think of it. The sheer magnitude of the laziness exhibited by the author and the sub who allowed this to enter the public domain is jaw dropping for its immensity.
Indeed, even for CiF it's a stinker. And some decided to do a little digging on the subject:

Here's a summary from one of Mr Mack's courses. NGOs and other 'non-profits' have a language all their own (I edited UN and NGO project reports for a very brief period, before the urge to tear my face off became too strong) and this is a pretty representative example of the mind-bendingly vague, meaningless crap they get paid handsomely to spew out.

BBC Television was concerned with improving the self-motivation of staff members from minority backgrounds to drive job performance in the BBC's major work streams. To achieve this, the organization offered career incentives to attendees, and looked to gain a culture of renewed drive from attendees post initiative. The Initiative's impacts included increased promotion of participants from BME minority backgrounds into the major work streams, and an increase in the perception of BBC as an employer of choice.
*bamboozled* It's not even nglish, is it?

I would, however, love to be in this chap's event:

I once went on an Equal Ops course and was told I was a 'racist' by the trainer because I asked for a black coffee during the break time.

unfortunately she picked the wrong person to hold up as an example of a typical bigot as I wasn't having it, and responded by stating that as a vegan I considered her a 'speciesist' for making the assumption that I would put cow's milk in my coffee. I then warmed to my theme by asking her if she's been at Lewisham in 1977 risking arrest and injury by confronting the National Front when they tried to march in the area as I didn't recall seeing her there ("er, no I wasn't actually..."), and that I wasn't therefore prepared to take such an accusation from somebody whose anti-racist activism extended no further than the boundaries of a nice safe classroom. I then asked how exactly politically correct crap like this was remotely helpful to Bengali families in Tower Hamlets who were having petrol poured through their letter boxes and the BNP were gaining seats in East London (it was mid 1990s).

I don't think I actually let up for about half an hour, and from what colleagues who later went on the same course told me, the whole confrontation became a bit of a legend.

Lazy thinking, complacency and stereotyping by the chattering classes of those they make ignorant assumptions about can be just as insidious and damaging as true bigotry.

Perhaps there's a hard core of workers who just cant stand the prospect of wasting half a day in the hands of some ass clown (sorry "management consultant") stating the bleeding obvious in front of power point display.

Somewhere in the 1980s it became compulsory for public and private organisations to shovel truckloads of money into the hands of these hucksters, who don the robes of whatever brand name is fashionable at the time - in the 80s it might have been called Access and Equity, in the 90s it a matter of Team Building, and now in this decade it finds the ludicrous brand name of "Leadership training".

I suspect this material is dreamt up by the same people who devise new angles for toothbrush commercials.

The bottom line here is that if your family and school teachers havent done a half decent job in socialising you by the age of 10, its game over.
'Nuff said...

Cue The Cries Of ‘Something Must Be Done!’…

A pensioner has been filmed carrying a carpet on his mobility scooter.

His load managed to take up the width of one lane, with one van pulling onto the highway having to slow down to ensure that he did not hit the protruding carpet roll.
Oh, noes! An unsafe load! That's never been seen before, ever, has it?

And as an aficionado of TV reality cop shows, I've lost count of the number of idiots on bikes or motorbikes stopped carrying planks of wood. And cars, driving home from B&Q with a timber load sticking out of the side window at perfect decapitation height...

The hard copy edition of this story contained a last paragraph to the effect that this would renew calls for a crackdown on people's ability to use these without passing a test. Something that will ensure Richard Boyd never goes hungry but will do absolutely nothing to stop this sort of thing happening.

After all, lorry/car/motorcycle drivers already have licenses, don't they?

Missing from the hard copy edition, but included in this online edition, was this paragraph:
A police spokesman told the Sun that this kind of scene might be common in places like India and Africa but 'it is not welcome on the streets of Somerset'.
Ooooooh! Someone's going to be reporting to the Diversity Police for that one!

That’s The Way To Do It!

A child-sized puppet is being used to teach school pupils to behave.
That’s no way to describe a teacher..!

Oh, wait. It seems they mean a real puppet:
“Silver Boy” is part of a project at Whitehawk Primary School aimed at finding ways to improve behaviour, develop team building skills and learn how to work together.
Given that the Whitehawk estate seems to be somewhat, ummm, notorious, I can see why that might be necessary. But not why it would take a puppet, in preference to a real, live human being…
The school has been working with artist Sharon Mee, of artists-led local charity Same Sky, on developing play skills with boys in Year 1.
Oh. I see.

Well, if there’s artists on board, it’s no wonder the whole thing has gone to hell in a handcart, isn’t it?
The idea is that Silver Boy had just landed from space and needs to be shown how to play nicely and be kind to others.
If it’s the Whitehawk estate, then any alien has more to fear from the inhabitants than they do from the aliens…
The project has worked so well that the school has been visited by the Latvian Minister of Education and Science, Tatjana Koke, who wanted to see it in action.
I just bet she did. What is the Latvian for ‘crazy English teaching methods’, anyway?

Wednesday 29 September 2010

The Perfect ‘Daily Mail’ Scare Story…

children, dangerous dogs and computers!
A nine-year-old girl had her top lip bitten off when she was mauled by a dog which flew into a rage after hearing barks from a computer game.
The ‘Daily Fail’ editor just orgasmed…

Is this, by chance, a toy poodle/Jack Russell terrier/Chihuahua? Or a typical housing estate ‘status’ dog?

Megan Walker was dragged off a sofa by a Bull Mastiff named Saracen while she was playing on the Nintendogs game as she stayed at a friend's house.
And not a purebred, either…
Saracen, a Bull Mastiff and Boxer cross breed, has since been put down after its owner, Deborah Melville, signed the dog over to police for destruction.
So, where was the girl’s mother?
Megan was in the care of her grandmother, Jean Taylor, while her mother, Leanne Walker, aged 34, was on holiday in Jamaica for her birthday.
Oh. It must be awful, to be stranded so far away from your daughter when she needs surgery, and to have to get the first available fli…

Mrs Taylor said: 'Hopefully the surgery has worked or she could have to have more plastic surgery down the line. She's been so brave. She didn't cry once.'

She said that her daughter, who is still on holiday, knew about the incident but didn't realise how bad it had been.
If she can get the ‘Daily Fail’ in Jamaica, she does now!

Quote Of The Month

Woman on a Raft on the disadvantages of terrorism as a career choice:
Another thing they won't mention is the disciplinary procedure. The modern terrorist organization almost certainly has investigatory panels although they are lighter on the written records than a conventional employer and may have unorthodox fact-finding techniques. Their disciplinary penalties don't use fines, because you haven't got any money, and they don't use loss of pension rights because...see 'leaving the organization' above. All that remains is getting medieval on your ass. Nothing is known of the appeals procedure. Do let me know if you hear of one other than "roll screaming and begging on the floor".

Post Of The Month

Captain Ranty on the real enemy.

Read it. It's a masterpiece.

I Thought It Was Just The Students That Were Revolting...

London's top-ranking university is facing a backlash from its staff over the low wages it pays to campus cleaners.
Oh? Does it not pay minimum wage? It is, after all, illegal not to do so...
Five academics at University College London have written to Professor Malcolm Grant, provost of UCL, to protest at the “grossly inequitable” minimum wages paid to contract cleaners that force them to live below the poverty line.

In a letter dated September 1 seen by the Standard, they say: “We urge you to ensure that UCL pays a London Living Wage [£7.85 an hour] to all employees and others working for UCL, even if employed by agencies with whom UCL has contracted to supply staff.”
Ah. Right. They do indeed pay the minimum wage, but that's not good enough, according to these wackademics.

So, are they economics professors, or something?
Mel Bartley, professor of medical sociology in public health and a signatory to the letter, told the Standard: “Apart from moral issues, there are compelling public health reasons to pay a living wage... People who don't have money for a healthy lifestyle are more likely to suffer obesity and depression, and are more at risk of diabetes or heart disease. By paying minimum wages of £5.80 an hour, UCL are storing up problems that will be paid for later by society at large.”
There you are. See what you learn when you graduate from UCL? That it takes money to have a 'healthy lifestyle'...
Dr Jennifer Mindell, clinical senior lecturer in public health and another signatory, said: “Sadly we've not yet had a reply from the provost, though we've been told he's received our letter.”
He probably hasn't stopped alternately laughing and crying...
The provost, whose remuneration of £404,000 last year was the second highest of university heads in the country, has told the Standard that paying contract cleaners a living wage “would cost £500,000” and was “a luxury” UCL “could not afford”.

But campaigners point out that UCL's financial statements show a surplus of £12million and that since taking up the post in 2003, Professor Grant has vastly increased the pay of top staff: 311 UCL academics now earn more than £100,000 and 18 more than £200,000.
This is the 'greedy bankers' argument all over again, isn't it? Regardless of whether the cleaners do a comparable job to those at the top of the organisation, they should still be paid more.

Why? Because, that's why!
The provost, dubbed “five-star Grant” for his partiality to expensive hotels on business trips, dismissed as “preposterous” the Standard's suggestion that he might “afford” the living wage if he and his top staff took a one per cent pay cut — yet all three signatories we spoke to said they would be “absolutely happy” to take such a cut.
So, let them give the money directly to the cleanersr. What's stopping them? Are you telling me that these amazing minds can't figure out a solution that doesn't involve the univesity?
Professor Bartley added that Professor Grant's plan to buy in top academics from around the world — thereby driving UCL to 4th position in the world rankings — had made UCL into “the Chelsea of British universities”. “It can't be right that to attract highly-paid academic stars from around the world, we have to keep our lowest paid workers in poverty. That kind of calculus is morally indefensible.”
Well, if it's a 'moral issue', why don't you take a pay cut and go work for a university that suits your moral values?

Tuesday 28 September 2010

You are No ‘Witness To Your Times’, Mark…

…you are just another parasite on our society:
Mark McGowan performed the Re-enactment of the Assassination of Raoul Moat at an arts festival in London.

In it he wore a picture of Moat's face over his own and played a soundtrack of news coverage of his final hours.
Oh, wow! He must have sweated long hours at the dramatic workbench to produce that masterpiece, eh?

That’s a good use of your degree in Fine Art from Camberwell College of Art, I suppose. Mind you, I’m not sure it really qualifies you in anything else
He said he was sorry if it upset victims' relatives, but the role of art was to challenge.
What you do isn’t ‘art’. It isn’t even ‘challenging conventional norms’, either, or whatever pointless justification you use.

Because if it was, a two-year-old sticking his tongue out and saying ‘Wee! Poo! Piddle! Bum! Drawers!’ would be an acclaimed artist in our society. Instead of someone about to keep an appointment with the naughty step…
Mr McGowan, who has also created a show about the Shannon Matthews case, said: "One of the things that people have a problem with is art as a form of representation of a contemporary issue."
No, we have a problem with ‘artists’ like you producing utterly useless ‘shock installations’ and then whining when everyone points out not just that the Emperor has no cloths, but a remarkably tiny manhood too….
He denied that the show portrayed Moat in a sympathetic light.

"He was a bad man," he said.

"He killed people. That's inappropriate, more than inappropriate, you can't go round expressing anger in that way, it's just wrong."
Ooooh, easy on the heavy condemnation there! Don’t strain yourself, eh..?
Referring to the relatives of Moat's victims, he added: "There's no way in the world that I'd want to hurt anyone, but being an artist, that's always difficult."
Yes, poor Turner and Rembrandt, always hurting people with their art, never to be recognised as…

Oh, wait.
"Being a witness to your times is very challenging, it's difficult not to affect people if you are doing your job."
You are more of a ‘witless to your times’, Mark. As can be seen from your tired ouvre

Progressives: 0 Parents: 1

A headteacher has pulled a song from her school’s harvest festival concert after parents complained it was too hard hitting.
Oh? What the hell was it, 'Smack My Bitch Up'?
Two mums contacted Mersea Island School after they found out their children were going to be singing about famine and fear.

They said they would stop their children taking part in the concert.
Heh! Faced with this, the school backed down, despite it being - it seems - only two parents:
Now Nicky Sirrett, headteacher at the Barfield Road school, has decided to replace the song.

Mrs Sirett said: “We have listened to the concerns of a very small minority of parents. I have had two contact me, and have decided not to do the song.”
Oh, shame! I expect you'll find some other way to impress upon the kiddiewinks how awful the West is and how we are to blame for everything, though...
The parents complained about the song Newspaper Pictures because the lyrics are about dying and not new life.
Thankfully, someone has posted a link to this magnum opus in the comments. Have a listen.

So, I can understand why some parents objected. Though I'm not entirely sure harvest festival is about new life. Are they getting it mixed up with Easter?
One mum, who asked not to be named, said her nine-year-old son had raised his own concerns about the song.

She said: “It was sent home as homework, but when I had a look at it, I couldn’t believe it.

“I am not trying to put my son in a bubble, but I also do not think they should be singing songs with such words in them.

“It talks about mothers holding dying children and tanks rolling into war-torn towns.

There is even a line where it more or less says there is no hope.”
Well, I have to admit, it doesn't sound very 'Bringing In The Sheaves' to me. But looking at the comments to that piece, more than a few people are happy to have this sort of rubbish rammed down the throats of the next generation. Got to raise them right!

I expect games in this school will be organised via the methods Dick Puddlecote highlights too...
The mum said she could not understand why a song that was more about war and dying than harvest time, had been chosen for a festival that is more about growth and new life.
No, again, that's spring. But hey, I'm not going to quibble.

Well done anyway. It's not often the forces of the Righteous beat such a hasty retreat. More please, faster.

I’m Only Making Plans For Nigel Excuses For Obama…

Mary Dejevsky on the problems facing America’s Obamassiah:
…the slew of early departures from Obama's team, the most recent being the head of the National Economic Council, Larry Summers. Again, early departures in themselves are not novel. Clinton suffered a similar haemorrhaging of his early appointees. Arguably, George Bush was unusual in the number of senior figures who served two terms. Some people fail to settle in Washington; others find the work of government, as opposed to campaigning or advising, not to their taste. Sometimes chance intervenes, as with the unexpected decision of the long-serving mayor of Chicago not to run for another term, which could deprive Obama of his White House Chief of Staff. Or it could be that a new president has a relatively limited pool to choose from and tries to play safe, while a more experienced President discovers that there are people better suited to his purpose out there.
The only people 'experienced at being President', Mary, are those who've done it before. There aren't many of those...

Give her credit, she's quick to realise that error:
This is not to argue that presidents require more experience before they take the job.
That's lucky, eh? So, since no-one in the progressive world wants to lay the blame at the feet of America's Sining One, what's the problem?

Would you believe, it's the Constitution?
…make the case for more continuity higher up the echelons of a new administration. Would the system not benefit from something more akin to Britain's non-partisan civil service to advise and manage both the official Transition and beyond?
No, she isn't joking...
Worse, because it unnecessarily hobbles a new administration, is the extent to which possibly significant proposals broached by another country to the outgoing administration can go missing. While the US takes it for granted that a new administration starts with a blank page – outgoing officials take their files with them – others do not appreciate how total the disconnect is, and may feel offended when the new administration fails to follow up.
Ah, right. You see, when the voters decide to 'throw the bums out', they don't really mean it. They actually WANT all the policies and promises that the incumbent guaranteed them. It's just that they want a new figurehead at the top.

It works so well here, after all..
The functioning of government is predicated on a degree of bipartisan give and take in the two houses of Congress. Fiercely adversarial party politics was for the likes of Britain and its Parliament. What the US faces now is a Republican Party that will brook no compromise, within a system that requires members to reach across the aisle. Nor is there any immediate prospect of that changing, as the Republican mainstream feels the populist Tea Party movement pushing it further right.
And god forbid that any government do what the voters want, eh? Mary has hope, though. She's looking to the future:
It is possible that the stalemate will turn out to be temporary; possible, too, that the Tea Party tendency will turn out to be the last gasp of a dying demographic group and that US politics will slot back to the more productive equilibrium of before. The sharp decline in social conservatism and the greater tolerance charted in surveys of younger voters – attitudes which helped Obama to the presidency – could eventually shift the centre of US politics to a different, more European, place.
Those attitudes that helped him to the Presidency are slowly coming to realise that they bought a pig in a poke. And now they have the biggest case of buyer's remorse we've ever seen...
But that is to jump ahead. In the meantime, the US Constitution and the way US politics functions are looking somewhat frayed around the edges. President Obama's inexperience may have made his first 18 months more difficult than they might have been, but his country's outdated institutions made things much, much worse.
Well, I suppose it's a little better than the progressives usual cry of 'change the voters, not the government!'.

Has as much chance of coming true, mind...

Hey, This Could Be Quite A Good Idea, If Extended To Other Functions….

Furious residents are to be given litter-pickers, gloves and bin bags by their council and told: “Keep your own area tidy.”
Unsurprisingly, the Taxpayers’ Alliance is demanding that they get a refund on their council tax…
Councillor John Walsh, leader of the Conservatives on the council, which has no overall majority, said the £2.8million-a-year cost of keeping the streets of Bolton clean was “a massive burden on the taxpayer and those resources could be used elsewhere”.
Hmmmm, really?

Isn’t it one of the few things that your local voters think you SHOULD be doing?

Why, yes it is:
Resident Elaine Delaney, 64, said: “I can understand the notion of all pitching in but street cleaning is one of the basic things our council tax is supposed to cover.”

Though I could see this catching on, if only councils would extend the concept to other functions too. I quite fancy a night at the theatre. Or a job designing a teaching aid for bus travellers. Or the vital wheelie-bin training team posting.

On an inflated salary with index-linked pension, natch!

Monday 27 September 2010

Oh, I Give Up...

A man who teamed up with a friend to beat up a 62-year-old in a pub has walked free from court despite a criminal record of 48 offences.
Note the careful wording there. Not 48 convictions...
O’Connor has 27 convictions for 48 offences, “overwhelmingly for theft and dishonesty”, the court heard yesterday.

Just days before committing the pub attack he was given a community order for an ABH offence.
Sounds familiar...
Clare Fraser, defending O’Connor, said: “His previous offending was driven by addiction to heroin and crack but for the last 17 months or longer he’s portrayed himself as a different man. He has not used drugs since January 2009.

“He’s in a relationship with a young lady of good character, who doesn’t drink and doesn’t do drugs.

He seems to have got himself sorted.”
Well, yes, sweetie. Apart from the recent ABH and now this offence, that is...
Passing sentence, Judge Julian Hall said Pitts’ hammer caused the injury and O’Connor’s spirit level was actually “feather light”.

Giving O’Connor a three-year supervision order and four-month curfew, he said: “The appropriate sentence would have been in the order of two, maybe two-and-a-half years.

“But one of the objects of a prison sentence is to reform somebody. It seems to me, because the case has taken so long to come on, you’ve had the chance to reform yourself before it came to trial.”

Seriously, is this bewigged cretin saying that, because chummy managed to keep his nose clean for the duration of the remand and trial (or more likely, wasn't caught doing anything), he has now reformed?

I wonder what I'd get for twatting a judge round the head with a spirit level? Apart, that is, from a great sense of personal satisfaction...

The Latest 'Unfairness': Loud Voices

Lewisham Council has plans for its libraries in the current economic situation. They aren't being met with unbridled enthusiasm from the voters:
Around 17,000 people, some of whom lobbied last night's Lewisham Council meeting, have signed petitions against possible library closures in Crofton Park, Sydenham, New Cross, Grove Park and Blackheath Village.
But they weren't just having a whinge - they had alternate suggestions too:
Slashing the pay of council chiefs, ending local assemblies and cutting the millions paid to consultants are all alternatives to shutting libraries, a meeting was told.
That, as you can imagine, didn't go down too well.

I mean, there's localism, and then there's 'You what? Our pay and perks?! You lot can just do one! What do you think this is, a democracy?'
Sir Steve warned the meeting there were other under-threat areas affecting people “who don’t have the ability to mount a campaign”.

He said: “When we come to the crunch we can’t simply decide on how loud the voices are on one given issue.”
Because if you raise your voices to be heard, that's somehow 'unfair' to those who...err... haven't raised their voices. Apparantly.
Councillors’ questions revealed the authority spent £5,264,796 on consultants in the last financial year and has an annual budget for local assemblies of £866,000.
We can't have consultants starving in the gutters of Lewisham, now can we?

I Guess Gamers Aren't Too Fussed, At Least...

Sometimes I look at a fuss being made over something, and I not only don't 'get it', but I wonder just how these things get started in the first place.

There has, it seems, been a cause celebre in the fashion and make-up world:
Kate and Laura Mulleavy, the fashion designing sisters behind Rodarte (remember how they both lost weight just for Anna Wintour?) have collaborated with MAC Cosmetics to create a line that was originally called “Juarez”.
The little town in Mexico? The one with a shoot-em-up named after it? Well, what's wrong with th...

Unbelievable. The Mexican border town in the state of Chihuahua has been called “a serial murderer’s playground” and is widely regarded at the murder capital of the world.

Apparently so, as the cosmetics company, faced with the outrage! of thousands of women with eating disorders and men with suspiciously co-ordinated wardrobes, promptly rolled over, offered a mea culpa and renamed the range. They also ponied up $100,000 to a non-profit organisation dedicated to 'helping women in need'...
London-based blog, Healing Beauty, has been covering the story voraciously, and helped set up a petition. They are unimpressed by MAC’s donation.
They want more..?
While fashion designers such as the late Alexander McQueen can plead genius in their defence (I personally hated McQueen’s “woman’s head on a plate” necklace) there are boundaries that shouldn’t be crossed.

And, boy, did MAC cross them. The name for its “Juarez” sheer white lipgloss? “Ghost Town.”
Oh, FFS..!

Sunday 26 September 2010

OK, Ben. You First, Eh..?

Ben Rogers is an Associate Fellow of the Institute for Public Policy Research and Demos, who has worked as a policy strategist for the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit and Department for Communities and Local Government.

And he’s also an utter fool:
Strengthening civility and neighbourhoods is important, but the police have only a minor role to play. Other things – the way places are designed, traffic is managed and the public realm is maintained; the character of shops and local public services (Ed: I note the character of the public themselves isn’t mentioned…), the provision of activities for young people – are just as important as anything the police can do.
Really? It’s badly designed town centres that cause chippy, chavvy little morons, and not a breeding pair of adult chippy, chavvy morons then? Fancy…
And there is a role for the rest of us. Policing depends on members of the public willing to obey the law, and to intervene when they see things going wrong.
I think anyone who has read the newspapers would be able to see why people don’t, Ben. I guess the news about Gary Newlove never reached the hallowed environs of the DCLG, eh?
There is little doubt that people are increasingly nervous about intervening, and that this is a peculiarly British problem.
Well, no doubt.
One 2006 survey found that whereas 60% of Germans say they would intervene to stop a gang of children vandalising a bus shelter, only 30% of British people say they would do so – the lowest response out of the six European countries surveyed.
Hardly surprising.
It is surprising what little thought has been given to how to strengthen ordinary people's capacity to tackle incivility. One option – one I developed in a paper for the Royal Society of Arts earlier this year – would be to promote a first aid approach to community safety, training people beyond the police to deal with antisocial behaviour.
It’s appropriate that that’s what you call it. Because anyone who tries is likely to need first aid. And that’s if they’re very lucky.

For some, first aid wouldn’t have helped much
I called this the Woolwich model, because Woolwich was the place where the first course in first aid was taught in 1878.

People can be taught how to read a situation so they know when it is appropriate and safe to intervene, and when to call the police. They can be shown how to protect themselves and others from attack. And they can be given mediation and conflict resolution skills.
Are you serious? Mediate and negotiate with scum like this?
The pensioner had boarded the number eight bus at Stacey’s Corner in Pitsea.

As he got on board, the man asked his attacker to move a pushchair, which was blocking an empty seat in front, so he could sit down.

Instead the man refused and began verbally abusing the 92-year-old.

As the victim made his way to another seat, the thug continued to hurl abuse.

But, in a shocking twist only just revealed by police, he got up from his seat, and headbutted the victim.
As with first aid, this training should be available to anyone who wants it.
And who’s going to provide it, and quality assure it, Ben?

Are you planning on setting up yet another quango, even as the Coalition try to stamp out the ones we’ve suffered for the last 13 years?
The police will always have a role in dealing with more serious instances of antisocial behaviour.

But if the rest of us had a better sense of how to defuse conflict, then we might see fewer alarmist headlines.
We aren’t going to see ‘fewer alarmist headlines’ until the sort of people who do this for a laugh are given sentences that put the fear of god into them and all the other feral creatures on the streets.

And if ABH on an innocent civilian gets you merely a suspended sentence, then why the hell should anyone risk challenging it, and ending up on the front pages themselves? Or in the morgue?

The Clue Is In The Name…

Mobility scooters left in council house hallways have been branded a fire hazard.
What isn’t a fire hazard in the wacky world of ‘elf ‘n safety..?
Brighton and Hove City Council is planning to launch a £150,000 campaign to remove them from communal hallways in all its properties.
And put them where?
Users will be asked to find room for their scooters out of the way of other residents or will be provided with outside storage space.
So, where will they put the mobility scooter they will need to reach their mobility scooter parked outside, then?

Sunday Funnies (Double Bill)

Because it's not just science fiction that comes up with superweapons with baffling flaws...

Saturday 25 September 2010

”… provide an appropriate policing response …”

Oh, Really? And what’s that, then?

The one that one of your bosses has just admitted you haven’t been providing?
Jenny Ward, 80, had been plagued by a gang of youths who smashed the windows of her home and taunted her for several months.

The thugs' campaign of harassment eventually ended in tragedy when the pensioner returned home and fell into the trap late one night.

Her cries for help went unheard for three hours until she was finally rescued by firefighters.

After spending a month in hospital and enduring an operation on her foot, Mrs Ward went to live with a relative, but took a turn for the worse and died in hospital on September 8.
It seems that there's two stories being told here, and neither of them add up:
…friends and neighbours of the pensioner, who had run a market stall in Blackpool for 50 years, said she had never recovered from the campaign of torment and her fall into the manhole.

They have accused police of not doing enough to deal with antisocial behaviour and urged them to find those responsible.
And the police are all 'Who, us? We didn't know, scout's honour!':
Police said they were not aware of the antisocial behaviour and have not launched an investigation as the coroner's office did not deem Mrs Ward's death as suspicious.
Really? An 80 year old lady falls into an open manhole and no-one wonders if that's something they should look at? No-one says 'Hey! Who removed the manhole cover, and why?'...
PC Paul Michael said: 'We regularly patrol this area, but we've not been made aware that antisocial behaviour is a particular problem.

'We would encourage residents to report incidents to us so we can provide an appropriate policing response."
So, you regularly patrol this area, one that the residents claim is plagued by antisocial yobs, yet you've never seen anything?


Dangerous Assumptions…

Joseph Harker on a rape trial:
In March last year in a south London court I was selected as one of the 12 to hear a sexual assault trial. The hearing began with the alleged victim recalling how she was out celebrating a birthday in a pub, with friends – and how a couple of them, including her boyfriend, left for home along with another man they'd got chatting to.
So far, so normal…
She'd had plenty to drink and she'd taken some soft drugs. But after falling asleep in her bedroom she woke up to find a man trying to force himself on her.
We were told that the alleged attacker's defence was that he'd never met her – that it was a case of mistaken identity.
So, no forensics, then?
She said she knew it was him because he was a well-known character in the area, and was widely known to dress in a particular way.
Plus, she’d met up with him just hours earlier. And so had others.

We'd been told that the alleged victim was the only witness who'd be called. Which was bizarre, given that there were two or three other people who would surely have been able to identify whether the defendant really was the man they'd walked home with.
Unless they weren’t sure, being drunk and stoned as well? Or unless they didn’t agree with the witness that it was ‘Mr X’…
Then the case took another twist: when the victim was asked why she had not brought the case earlier (it was now three years since the night in question) she replied that she'd been scared to make the assault claim because he knew where she lived. She added that she only felt safe to report the attack when she'd heard he was in prison.
At this point the judge and barristers went into a huddle, and we were told to ignore that last remark. I realised this was a serious development: surprisingly, though, the case continued until the end of the afternoon.
There’s no flies on you, Joseph…
The following morning we were called back into the courtroom to be told that the prison comment meant the judge would have to discharge us. But we were also told that the prosecution had decided to drop the charges.
I’m surprised they went ahead with it in the first place!
Even at the time I was shocked that a case involving such serious charges could be handled so badly. It felt as if the efforts to gather evidence were completely slapdash. I knew of the pitifully low conviction rates for rape, and I remember thinking that if this is how they are all prosecuted, I could fully understand why.
No, more a case of ‘if this is how slim they are, with lack of evidence and shaky/missing witnesses’ it’s a miracle any of them succeed…
Hearing now that the victim felt "bullied and railroaded" by the barristers and the investigating detective into giving evidence without adequate preparation; that she'd expected to be shielded from her alleged attacker while in the witness box; and how she'd been "put through hell" when they dropped the case – without consulting her – the whole thing seems even more deplorable.
Oh, please!

If that was what the alleged victim expected, then she had a completely unrealistic view of what a rape trial was all about, and someone at the CPS or any of the many support charities should have put her straight!
"The Crown Prosecution Service allowed me, a vulnerable witness, to be crucified in open court in front of my assailant," she said. "The psychological and emotional damage was catastrophic: I slipped into major depression and felt suicidal."
Suck it up, sweetie. That’s the system. The only people who get to be shielded from the view of the court are children. Are you a child, or a grown woman?
A huge amount has been written about the handling of rape allegations, and the need to improve the methods of evidence-gathering and prosecution, so cases like this simply shouldn't happen. Even more disturbing, specialist prosecutors – supposed experts in the field – were used on the case.
Which, perhaps, goes to show that no matter how good, even they can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear?

And that the politically-correct ‘tick box’ approach to rape cases – where prosecution forges ahead no matter how dubious the situation - is actually hindering the pursuit of justice?
And after last week's disclosure that an inquiry into police handling of rape cases has been shelved as part of the coalition government's cuts, it seems the outcome will now be more incompetence, more women victims being humiliated in court, and more rapists going free.
Alleged rapists, FFS! Good god, if even a ‘Guardian’ columnist can’t keep that fact in his head – that merely being accused isn’t evidence of guilt - why expect anyone else?

Mind you, we are talking about the man for whom lack of a multiracial Mother’s Day card option is proof of ‘institutional racism’…

Close Enough For Government Work…

So, the inquest into the police shooting of the man DumbJon dubs ‘The Raoul Moat of Chelsea’ rumbles on.

The police may have wondered if, instead of shooting him, they should have recruited him:
The lawyer had opened fire on the house in Bywater Street three times earlier in the day – at one stage missing an armed officer by only a foot.
Missed by only a foot? Wow!

That almost qualifies him for ‘police marksman’ status, doesn’t it? I mean, with a little bit of training, he too could be blasting away ineffectually at cows with inadequate weapons or blowing the legs off horses….

And is anyone going to ask awkward questions about this?
Saunders, 32, died after being hit by five bullets from seven officers following the siege at his home in Chelsea, west London, on the evening of 6 May 2008.
So, assuming they all shot only once, anyone curious as to where the other two bullets went?

The Day The Music PC Died!

So, getting up this morning, and my Dell has died.

'Insert boot disc!', it wails silently, into an otherwise black screen. Oh, I would, if I could only find it. I suspect it's mourning the loss of one of the blogosphere's finest. Or possibly, the motherboard has turned up its toes...

Boy, glad I didn't scrap or otherwise get rid of my old Evesham, albeit, it's like going from a chauffeur-driven Ferrari to a manual Lada. With no stereo or air-conditioning.

Blogging may be light and/or erratic in the next few days.

Friday 24 September 2010

This Injustice Shall Not Stand!

Lara Pawson seeks to address a burning injustice in our society in the pages of CiF.

Underclass families breeding and abusing children on the taxpayer dime? No.

The scandal of the so-called ‘Court of Protection’? Not quite.

I’ll give you a clue…
It is a shame that Cardinal Walter Kasper was, in the end, unable to make the trip to our "third-world country". If his health had held out, I would have invited him to accompany me to The Tabernacle, a drinking spot in London's Notting Hill, for the launch of a groundbreaking anthology of poetry written by some of the UK's most inspiring new poets.
Eh..? Poetry? Just how could poetry be involved in a burning injustice?

Easy. Like this:
One of the reasons Ten matters is because it redresses a gross imbalance, namely that under 1% of poetry books published in the UK are by black or Asian poets.
Oh noes! Scandal! Hold the front page!
"This is, quite simply, not fair," says one of the anthology's editors, Bernardine Evaristo. "And we all know that 'fairness' is a traditional, core British value."
In what way is it ‘not fair’?
A week before the launch of Ten, Hunt told delegates at the Media Festival Arts that he is firmly in favour of "broadening participation" in the arts and is "very ashamed" that we still live in a country "where many, many people don't get a chance to access the arts".
I can think of lots of things to feel ashamed about, but not the lack of opportunities to see the arts.

But then, I’m not currently supping with the Media Festival Arts. How were the canapés, Hunt?
Sounds hopeful, doesn't it? Unfortunately, what he said next was not: "The debate has got to move on from the kind of box-ticking targets approach that says that in return for your grant from the Arts Council, you will get so many people from particular ethnic or social backgrounds."
Huzzah! Surely, this is good news?
How exactly is the Arts Council to interpret this? Should it now be striving to fund projects that mimic the largely white, male, privately educated, Oxbridge cabinet of which Hunt is such a fortunate part?
No, it merely means that they should be colour-blind – reward good poetry, no matter who writes it.
Seriously, though, the poets who comprise the Ten anthology are not colourful ticks in boxes, but talented poets in their own right.
Then they should be similarly in favour of colour-blind policies.
These are committed, hard-working artists: they don't want charity; they want equality.
Sounds like they are on the same page as Hunt, then, surely?

And certainly not the same page as this chap:
"Mainstream poetry presses need to open their lists up to new black and Asian voices now – not in three, 10 or 20 years," says Evaristo, who laments that Faber has only published two non-white poets in 80 years – Linton Kwesi Johnson and Daljit Nagra, who co-edited Ten. "One hopes that it won't be another 80 years before another such poet makes the list."
Hey, it might be, if no-one comes along who’s any good at poetry…

So, Is It Charity, Or Blackmail?

Nick Clegg seems to be hedging his bets a little:
Nick Clegg has mounted a robust defence of the foreign aid bill and claimed that the coalition will commit Britain by law to spend billions overseas every year.
Oh, really? And why?
Mr Clegg insisted that the aid bill was in our ‘self-interest’ and linked the plight of the poor abroad to terrorism and immigration problems at home.
Ah, it’s ransom money, then, ‘don’t hurt us too badly!’ money, is it?
He admitted he had a ‘job to explain to people back home’ why the UK would put into law its promise to spend 0.7 per cent of national income on aid.
I’ll say!

After all, it’s not like others haven’t reached different conclusions:
Germany slashed its aid budget by 12 per cent to divert spending to priorities at home.
We should have emulated them.
Mr Clegg stressed that, ‘while we are experiencing hardship on our own shores, it does not compare to the abject pain and destitution of others’.
I daresay it doesn’t, but we aren’t responsible for that! The only responsibility UK politicians should have is to the UK taxpayer.
Mr Clegg will today meet U.S. Vice President Joe Biden in the White House.

He said he wanted to discuss with Mr Biden how he tackled issues facing ‘Middle America’ such as welfare reform and tax.
In other words, he wanted advice on how to head off any possible attempts to get the Tea Party movement started here….

Godspeed, Paul Chambers!

It's 10:00. And at Doncaster Crown Court, the appeal is beginning.

As legal uber-blogger Jack of Kent points out:
" is one of the most significant cases of our times, and it is significant on three levels."
Read the rest to see what those three levels are.

And follow the action on #twitterjoketrial.

This blog wishes him well.

Hard Cases, Bad Law, And Deja Bloody Vu….

The grieving father of a truck driver who killed himself in a gas-filled car in a pact with a woman he met on the internet has called on the government to ban online suicide discussion forums.
Well, of course he has. He’s grieving. Which is why no-one should be taking any notice of him with regards to policy!
"They should be banned," said Lumb, who shared a house with his son. "Why do they have such things? How can people talk other people into how to take their lives? These websites are terrible. I think they should be illegal because they are very dangerous for people. I had no idea he was using this website."
I feel for him, I really do.

He wants answers, and someone/something to blame, rather than blame his son for his bad choices. It’s human nature. But it's led to lousy, illiberal legislation before, so no need to add more to the pile...
Users of suicide forums are encouraged to employ pseudonyms and the source of the discussion forums is difficult to trace. The threads relating to Lumb and Lee are aggregated on numerous websites which gather discussions on the topic of suicide, one of which is hosted in Germany, but the original forums are hosted elsewhere.
And there’s the rub. We could set up a quango dedicated to ‘combating’ this, we could instruct the over-burdened police to take on illegal UK-based forums, and it wouldn’t make the slightest bit of difference.
Thomas Strohe, the founder of the site's internet service provider, Intergenia, said he would ask Langenbeck to remove the suicide threads, but stressed there was no way ISPs could police this area because the discussion forums are hosted on multiple servers across the internet.

"We are fighting a war we have no way of winning," he said. "But why should people not be able to discuss suicide? I think some of this stuff is disgusting, but it comes down to a different point of view."
Precisely. And until they find a way of outlawing points of view (and believe me, they are trying!) this will always happen.

The problem isn’t the Internet; the problem is that a man decided to take his own life, and met up with a woman who desired the same end. The Internet simply made it easier to do so, not made it possible where it wasn’t so before…

But knee-jerk ‘something must be done!’ outcries like this one are meat and drink to the people who really do long to control the web, and stifle it. And they will, sure as eggs is eggs, be used to ensure that legislation is drafted that does nothing to resolve the issue, and everything to erode further our free speech and right to live our lives without the state poking its nose it.

In fact, I see they are already planning yet more attacks on the 'dangerous' Internet:

* Communicating with the victim by email
* Damaging the victim's reputation online
* Identity theft
* Using the internet for surveillance of the victim
* Tricking other internet users into harassing or threatening the victim
Check out the wrong person's Facebook account? Decide to follow them on Twitter? You're (potentially) going to jail...

Today, of all days, is not the time to be considering new, potentially useless legislation, is it?

Thursday 23 September 2010

When You Have A Duty To Risk Your Health & Safety…

Amelia Gentleman (social affairs writer for the Guardian) on the Commonwealth Games and the duty of athletes to suck it up and risk their health and safety because…

Wait. What?
A few years ago, when I was working in India, I spent several days talking to poorer Delhi residents whose homes had been demolished in preparation for these games. These were familiar stories of individual catastrophe; in recent years there has been a lot of painful upheaval as politicians try to create a city worthy of its status as gateway to an emerging superpower.
You mean shoddy, jury-rigged and falling apart before it’s even open?
But there was a particularly depressing absurdity in the amount of misery triggered during the planning of the athletes' village – a construction that would only be operational for a short period.
A period that might now be shorter than they’d planned!
In the context of the profound unhappiness that families such as Parvati's have endured, complaints from team officials about the standard of accommodation might be viewed as rather petulant.
You mean, because of the actions of the Indian government, the athletes have no right to be concerned that part of the roof may fall on their heads?
Feeble even, when you put them next to those of people such as Mahavir, a farmer who saw the 10-acre plot of land where he grew flowers and vegetables reclaimed by the state for the project.
That’s hardly the athletes fault, is it? They didn’t instruct the Indian government to uproot Mahavir’s vegetable plot.
The buildup to the Commonwealth Games has been chaotic and troubled by allegations of corruption. The resettlement of so many city residents raises uncomfortable questions, and the environmental damage to the banks of the Yamuna river is likely to be permanent.
But, presumably, the Indian government saw an upside; increased tourism, increased trade…
But however misguided these decisions were, the price has already been paid. It would be even worse to think that the sacrifices made were entirely pointless.
So, the athletes should risk shoddy, dangerous conditions?

In the spirit of friendliness the games is meant to evoke, the athletes should fret less about their personal comfort and insist on travelling to Delhi. Turning up to take part is the least they can do.
They aren’t so much fretting about their ‘personal comfort’ as their safety, and that of the attendees!

The Hierarchy Of Property... seems to go like this:

"She told me that she had no alternative but to impound the car as it was stolen and probably belonged to the insurance company who had paid out on it."
‘Hello, no one will tell me where my stolen dog is, and they all know’ Tsk!!, said the Judge, we don’t know that they are the thieves, and if they aren’t, it could infringe their human rights….and he ruled that he had no jurisdiction in the matter.
'I said, "This is my place". But he said, "This is our property and we intend to stay here unless you go to court". It made me feel ill.'

He added: 'I have been shaking ever since. I get panic attacks. It's just terrible.'

Mr Pope immediately called the council and police.

But he claims they told him the new occupants could not be evicted because they were themselves victims of a scam.

Sounds Familiar...

Ola Tedin on Swedish politics:
At the root of all this lies a total failure of Swedish establishment to discuss seriously the similarly total failure of our immigration and integration policy. On paper the best in the world, it has in reality led to a divided society with ghettoes, estrangement and a large part of the population excluded from jobs and the culture around them.
Are we sure this is Sweden he's writing about?

Strangely, My Sympathy Well Has Unaccountably Run Dry…

The U.S. state of Georgia has delayed the execution of a convicted killer after the 'utterly terrified' man tried to commit suicide.
And naturally, his lawyers have leapt on this with alacrity, claiming that trying to kill yourself is clear evidence that you don’t deserve to die…or something:
… Rhode's attorney Brian Kammer said executing him violates the Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

'He's utterly terrified and just hopeless,' said Kammer.

'He was very morose, frightened and subdued.

'This was a product of him just being in terror, of losing hope altogether.'
Awww, my heart bleeds for h…

Oh, wait. No, it bleeds for them:
Rhode was convicted in 2000 of the killings of Steven Moss, 37, his 11-year-old son and 15-year-old daughter during a burglary of their home.
I guess they were pretty terrified and hopeless in their final moments too…

Wednesday 22 September 2010

Best Suicide Note Ever….

A taxpayer-funded think-tank said yesterday that instead of offering tax breaks for married couples, the Coalition should pay out billions more in benefits.
The Family and Parenting Institute, notorious for describing marriage as an unnecessary institution, said the best way to support the family was by increasing subsidies for jobs and handouts for those who choose not to work.
The group also demanded greater taxpayer spending on quangos like itself.
Who the hell is writing this extended ‘Please terminate the existence of this quango ASAP’ missive to the ConDems?
The report stems from a conference organised by the FPI and its chief, Katherine Rake, who took over last year after leaving feminist pressure group the Fawcett Society.
Ah, right. Clearly, she’s either got bored with her £92,000 salary, or she wants to jump before Gove pushes her.

Better to burn out than fade away, eh, Kathy?
The FPI was launched by then Home Secretary Jack Straw in 1998 and its £8.8million budget is funded almost entirely by Mr Gove's Department.
Not, I suspect, for much longer…
The Department for Education last night said it had seen the report, but declined to comment further.

Help A London Glaswegian Child...

Kevin McKenna, last seen drinking with people he couldn't stand, was pontificating on poverty in CiF at the weekend.

Bearing the title 'With enlightened thinking, the poor needn't always be with us' (because, you see, if you think they always will be, you aren't enlightened, are you?), it was hard to read.

Through the tears of laughter...
Often when I have encountered poverty I choose to pass by on the other side, looking away and hoping not to catch her eyes before I can avert my gaze. But not before I have had a chance to marvel at the little bundle of misery before me.
You Good Samaritan, you...
Sometimes, it is simply a harassed mum, fat in her ill-fitting Matalan denims, her hair lank and greasy as she entreats her child to cease its flailing and screaming. She does so with loud and profane invective and you wonder how any parent can speak thus to her own.
That's down to poverty, is it?
Sometimes, deprivation is thin and hunched in a Burberry cap and a white shellsuit. He conducts his shouted conversation in a nasal whine and you realise that he is completely impervious to the silent reproach of the civilised people around him.
That, too, is down to poverty? Poverty of the purse, rather than of the spirit?

Clearly, Kevin believes so.
Very occasionally, I may wonder why such creatures exist; did unemployment lead to drink or drugs with crime and sickness following in their wake? Or did the drink come first, followed by the crime and then the joblessness?
Hmmm, chicken and egg time, eh?
And where does education, or the absence of it, stand in this cycle of despair? According to Save the Children, it exists at the very core. Last week, the charity revealed astonishing gaps in academic attainment between poor children and affluent ones.
So much for 'Education, education, education...'
In some parts of Glasgow's East End, 60% of children live in households which have not witnessed a real and earned living wage for at least two generations. More than 40% of adults of working age are on incapacity benefit. Of the almost 100,000 Scottish children who are deemed to be living in serious poverty, around 72% have parents who do not work.
This, Kevin, is the product of oh-so-many years of Labour rule and a welfare state gone mad. Do you have any suggestions?
If 7,000 Glaswegians could be found who would volunteer to read occasionally to these children or take them to an art gallery the legacy will last for ever.
Oh. OK. Just barmy ones...
There are many good and gifted people dwelling in Possil, Easterhouse, Pilton and Wester Hailes. They do not need our good intentions and pity, though.
It sounds like they are going to get it though. Get it but good...
Their ancestors probably fought and died in Britain's two great wars of liberation and, as such, they have pre-earned the right to significant state intervention.


I'm sorry? They fought in two great wars against all-encompassing states in order to have an all-encompassing state take care of them?

This is the moment CiF jumps the shark, isn't it?

And not just a great white. This is a Megalodon.

Curses! Foiled Again!

Melanie McFadyean yelps about the failure of the Open Borders crowd to succeed with their ‘for the chiiiildreeeen!’ tactic:
Pilot programmes were set up in June to run during the review period, charged with finding alternatives to detention. Their findings have yet to be made public but a document leaked in August suggested that the priority was boosting removal rates, rather than humanitarian considerations.
Oh, noes! Those cunning, dastardly Conservatives outsmarted us!
Campaigners are worried. Bail for Immigration Detainees (BID) has provided legal advice to hundreds of families since 2001. Like other groups involved with refugees and asylum seekers, BID was invited to provide information to the review. Sarah Campbell, BID's research and policy manager, says: "The information available to us suggests that, at best, these pilots have been given inadequate attention by officials. At worst, they have been set up to fail by an agency which appears to have little desire to implement the government's commitment to ending child detention."
It's all a plot against us!
A Home Office spokesman told me there is no information publicly available on the pilot schemes. He added that there would "always have to be some sort of detention".
As anyone with a brain in their head, rather than someone operating on pure emotion, knows...
"The asylum system is a source of moral shame," Clegg said back in March. It was, he added, "a moral outrage" that 1,000 children had been imprisoned last year. In May immigration minister Damian Green joined in, saying he found it disturbing to see children locked up at Yarl's Wood: "That is one of the things that impels our policy."
They said those things in opposition. And doubtless, they meant them.

What, did no-one press them on exactly what they proposed to do instead? Did you all just look this gift horse over until you got to the teeth, then thought 'No need, it'd just be pointless'?
But by August Green's tone had shifted. "I am bending over backwards to avoid the detention of children, but we are still not sure that if we said we would never detain a child even for a minute then we would effectively be able to remove families that had no right to be in this country."
You see, now Green's in the grown-up's seat, he has to think in the grown-up way. And he's cottoned on to the concept that, without detention, you have to remove the families quickly. And he's opted - mostly - for that option.

So the Open Borders advocates are back to screaming futilely at anyone who'll listen, knowing that for most people, emotive though the idea of locking children up may be, it's not enough to have them agree to have their country flooded with yet more immigrants...
Amid this confusion and obfuscation one thing is clear, and that is that the powerful, substantial and growing lobby of professionals and campaigners will go on watching what happens to these families and do all in their power to prevent a continuation of the state-sponsored cruelty that so outraged Nick Clegg.
Hey. if you want to waste your time, and your backers' money, who am I to stop you?

Not So Much 'Sealed With A Kiss' As...

A member of staff close to "C", Frank Stagg, said that he would never forget his bosses' delight when the Deputy Chief Censor said one day that one of his staff had found out that "semen would not react to iodine vapour".
And just what were they doing when they discovered that..?

Tuesday 21 September 2010

"...some extremely misguided young people..." the politically correct hogwash churned out by the police spokescreature on the death of David Askew, another person with learning difficulties hounded to death by oxygen-thieves:
Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan said: "David's death was a tragedy and first and foremost our thoughts must be with his mum Rose who has been through an extremely traumatic few months. David was an extremely kind, happy person and Rose and the rest of David's family have had to cope with a huge loss in their lives.

"We will continue to provide them with as much support as they need as they try to come to terms with what has happened.

"David suffered abuse for a number of years, and it is saddening to think this was because of his learning difficulties. Anyone who has been a victim of anti-social behaviour or harassment will know just how upsetting it can be to be targeted in this way and although David died from natural causes, clearly he suffered at the hands of some extremely misguided young people."
Not really surprising, mind you, when you see how GMP treat the escape from custody of another oxygen thief.

RT @PC99 ‘Ello, ‘ello’, ‘ello… < THIS!

Beat constables are being issued with costly mobile phones so they can send messages to residents on Twitter.

Up to 80 neighbourhood officers will use BlackBerry devices to ‘tweet’ or send messages about crimes on their patch.
I’m in two minds about this – on the one hand, it’ll be quite interesting to watch this experiment with social media unfold, but on the other…
The £150 phones will also allow them to carry out spot checks on suspects and vehicles.
Surely, that’s what their radios are for?Are they therefore going to carry the Blackberries as well? Just how much more equipment are they supposed to burden themselves with?
The initiative comes from Greater Manchester Police, which this week announced it could lose up to 1,500 officers through budget cuts.
Of course, this money will come from a different budget to that for staff salaries.

The police aren’t exactly overwhelmed by the opportunity, as you might imagine:
One officer, who did not want to be named, said: ‘I find these BlackBerry phones impossible to work when I’m at home.

'I can’t imagine how I’m supposed to be typing and walking on patrol at the same time.

‘We will have to stop whatever we should be doing to type. I can’t see who will be interested to read them.

'The point of social networking is it is a social thing. Who wants to hear gossip from your local bobby?’

Another said: ‘It does not look very professional walking around typing.’
So, will they think again? Of course not!
But Kevin Hoy, the force’s web manager, said: ‘Twitter will become the main network for the force and new local Twitter channels will be set up in the neighbourhoods throughout the autumn.

‘These will allow dedicated officers to tweet from the frontline, keeping local communities up to date on issues that affect them.’
OK, firstly, ‘Twitter channels’..? Does he mean accounts?

Secondly, only the people with Twitter who bother to follow these cops will be kept up to date. What percentage of the local population will that be, I wonder?

And what percentage of the wider population who'll do so just for giggles? Like me! :)

Bad News For Snidely Whiplash…

The media watchdog has said it is investigating illusionist Derren Brown's latest TV show after viewers complained about a scene portraying a man restrained by a straitjacket on a railway track.
Oh, damn!

And how many complaints did they receive?
Ofcom received 11 complaints about the set-up where the man made a Houdini-style escape moments before an oncoming train arrived at the spot where he was tied up.
Eleven people took issue with this.

No, wait. Eleven complaints. There’s no guarantee that some - or all - of those eleven people weren’t sockpuppets.

And because they receive eleven emails/telephone calls/letters, they duly swing into action.

This is wrong, surely? Shouldn’t they have to wait until a significant percentage of viewers take offence?
The media regulator is investigating the show, broadcast on September 8 at 10pm, to see if it breached broadcasting regulations.

It will decide whether the railway scene provided "adequate protection for members of the public from the inclusion in such services of harmful or offensive material" or whether the programme included material "which condones or glamorises violent, dangerous or seriously antisocial behaviour and is likely to encourage others to copy such behaviour".
Maybe it’s me, but isn’t that an incredibly broad description that could encompass just about anything?

Monday 20 September 2010

Public Taking News Of Cuts…Surprisingly Well!

Julian Glover reports from a meeting of the think tank Reform in Cannock to gauge reaction to the proposed cuts:
There was no enthusiasm, and no outrage. Nobody shouted. Nobody interrupted the panel of local worthies. In a room of about 120 Cannock people, not one called for spending levels to be sustained, or thought this possible. Instead, there was an anaesthetised acceptance of impending pain.
I guess they won’t be sitting down in the motorway, then, Bob…
Cannock once trusted new Labour and got its reward. Spending shot up so fast that one can't help suspecting some of it will be easier to cut than critics say. Education spending in Staffordshire this year is £805m, or £4,078 per pupil – 63% up on the level of 2003 to 2004. In just three years, South Staffordshire Primary Care Trust's resources-limit has risen from £663m to £888m: up 44%.
At Friday's meeting I heard nothing suggesting people thought all this money well spent.
And there’s the rub.

If they’ve seen no benefit from this largesse (other than taxpayer-funded hectoring and nagging), why should they then object when it’s taken away?

After all, the disconnect between what the voters want and what the council want couldn’t be starker, as evidenced by this:
…how will the local council manage to save 35% over the next three years? Stephen Brown, its chief executive, warned it could be reduced to "cutting the grass and emptying the bins. That would be a tragedy".
Would it? Not for me.

That’s what I pay my council tax for, not for anti-smoking task forces and five-a-day co-ordinators!
Only half his spending is discretionary, so cuts will fall most heavily on those things the council has chosen to do: employment advice, leisure and culture, he suggested.
Those are all things that the council should never have got involved in in the first place
There's raw meat here for Labour. But raging against cuts would have found little echo in Cannock last Friday. There was a resigned sense that the government is right about the money having run out – and I felt that a soap-box rant against spending restraint would have been met by an impatient "sure; but it's coming, so how best can we handle it?".
It seems the voters are far, far more savvy than the progressives think. They’ve had enough.
In Cannock, the loudest applause was for Sheila Brown, an impressive self-taught social entrepreneur, of the sort Cameron's team worship. She has built the Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children, based in Cannock, into a national charity. Cuts would hurt, she agreed, but society would respond. "We need to re-establish who is truly vulnerable. Benefits are too complicated. Sometimes its easier to sit on a sofa. It's not that people are lazy, just that the system is structured wrong."
Oh, heresy! Oh, calamity! Oh…

The people I met in Cannock seemed to agree.
Heh! Welcome to the shrinking of the state…

Deborah Orr Can’t Quite Put Her Finger On It…

The International Monetary Fund is pulling no punches, warning that while a double-dip recession remains unlikely, Europe and the US still face a massive jobs crisis.
Or a massive welfare state crisis. Your mileage might vary…
Talk of "a jobless recovery" has been around for some time, and the report hints that such dire predictions may come to fruition. There has been a decline in what is called the "employment intensity of growth"; essentially, increased output is being achieved with the use of fewer workers.
It’s called progress. Also, automation.
Such divisive efficiency will increase the already yawning gap between the haves and the have-nots – as high now as it was in 1928-29.
‘Divisive efficiency’..?

What, we should cripple our efficiency in order to provide non-jobs? Are you serious?
It may seem odd, now, to shift from the macro considerations of global employment trends to the relatively micro issue of children and care.
No more odd than the concept of ‘divisive efficiency’, Deborah…
But another report published this week, this one undertaken for the previous government by the Social Policy Research Unit at the University of York, deserves to be given close attention.

Researchers tracked, over a three-year period, 3,872 children who had been "looked after" by local councils at some point in 2003–2004. It concluded – contrary to the received wisdom of recent decades – that abused or neglected children should be returned to their families only with "extreme caution", even taking into account the manifest failings of the care system itself.
Is that because these 3872 children were from the very worst families, perhaps? The ones for whom nothing could be done?
The chancellor, George Osborne, has come in for much criticism, after announcing his intention to shave another £4bn off the welfare budget by targeting the "lifestyle choices" of the unemployed. Of course his rhetoric is populist and unhelpful.

I mean, leaving aside the idea that because something’s ‘populist’, it should be shied away from by all right-thinking politicians (which never seems to be a problem with left-wing causes, does it?), just why should healthy people regard being kept by the taxpayer as a worthwhile alternative to earning a living?
One of the distressing things about York University's findings on the deleterious effects of keeping children in unstable birth families is that they immediately make previous policy ideas look sentimental and backward-looking, involving the invocation of almost magical qualities in the marvels of hearth, home and parental caress. Yet this misty view discounts all that is known about the life-long disadvantages that are imposed on children when they spend their early lives in deprivation at home. It sets them apart from the mainstream, dislocates them profoundly, and leaves them without resilience.
And whose fault is that? The government, for not shelling out yet more sums of money on them? The taxpayers, who understandably resent being taxed to the hilt to support the families of the feckless?

Or the people who keep having children they cannot support and don’t even really want?

Take your time and think about it, love…

Clash Of The Titans*

It is a battle for the hearts and minds of middle England. In one corner stands perhaps the nation's best-known retailer, in the other, legions of the most vocal – and sharp-elbowed – mothers in the country.
Yes, it's Mumsnet going head-to-head with Marks and Spencer over their decision to make all their female sales staff go topless.

Oh, wait. That's not quite right. It's actually about...
...Marks & Spencer's decision to sublet a former "Simply Food" outlet to the US restaurant chain Hooters...
Yup. A business subletting some of its property to another business.

Maybe it's because I'm not a mother empty-headed, shrieking harriden but I really, really can't see the problem here. Ladies, some explanation?
Members of the forum are calling on the site's one million monthly visitors to boycott the retailer for "selling women and girls down the river ... to make a quick buck", and have started a letter writing campaign urging M&S to reconsider.
Yes, as we head towards recession, these idiots think that driving a new business out of their town (not even their town, in the case of most of the posters) is the way to go.

Who the hell are these women again?
...what is important to Mumsnetters is important to retailers and advertisers. The site is frequented in the main by affluent mothers with considerable spending power and a high degree of self-regard. In the main they are aged between 30 and 45 and live in London and the South-east.
Ah. Right. Exactly the sort of people we shouldn't be paying the slightest attention to....

* - albeit with more harpies and uglier medusae...