Sunday 30 September 2012

Important Safety Tip!

Sir Andrew Motion, the new president of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, says Londoners should venture out into the shires and ‘hug an animal’.
Kiddies! Should you be venturing out into the country, that place of mystery and strange creatures, remember this important advice:

Hug this (but only if its mum isn’t around) 

Don’t try to hug this! 

And please remember to wash your hands!
Sir Andrew, who lives in North London for his work but travels to the countryside almost every week, also urged the preservation of libraries and post offices to give rural people a sense of community.
He said: ‘People need communities and to chat. The internet, for all the good that it does, does not do that.’
Yes, indeed. No-one chats on the Internet, no-one!

Post Title Of The Month

Such a brilliant effort from the Quiet Man I can forgive the grocer's apostrophe:

Quote Of The Month

September belongs to Man Widdecombe, for this splendid effort:
"*IF* you genuinely do work for the council (you look the type) as you claimed then can I just say that your inability to comprehend the difference between "dogs may only" and "only dogs may" will probably be the reason why you can't get a proper job in the private sector. I for one would not employ someone so clearly lacking basic comprehension skills."
Read the rest...

Post Of The Month

This month's award goes to 'Counting Cats...' for reminding us never to take ourselves too seriously...

Sunday Funnies...

Anyone going fishing..? ;)

Saturday 29 September 2012

Because It Worked So Well In The States!

‘It’ being Prohibition:
A town has launched a campaign to stop the sale of super strength alcohol in what is believed to be the first initiative of its kind in Britain.
And how is this going to work?
Off-licence owners in Ipswich are being asked to remove strong beers and ciders from their stores in an effort to tackle alcohol abuse.
Oh, indeed. It’s always voluntary, isn’t it? At first…
Big chains including Tesco, the East of England Co-Op and McColl newsagents have signed up along with smaller independent retailers to voluntarily remove the products.
So, is it unanimous? Well, no. Of course not.
The campaign, backed by Suffolk Police, NHS Suffolk, Ipswich Borough Council and Suffolk County Council, is targeted at beers and ciders with an alcohol volume of 6.5 per cent and over which are often sold cheaply. There are 130 off-licences in Ipswich, 53 of which will be super-strength free following the launch.
And the other 77 will simply rake up the extra custom. No doubt pressure will be brought to bear on them after a while.

And if they do indeed cave in, well, then, people who want to buy super-strength lager will just….get on a bus or a train, I guess…
The town has seen four street drinkers murdered in the last three years, and police say the scheme could not only help those who depend on alcohol but also the wider community and those tasked with clean-up operations.
That’s the rationale behind this? It’s to ensure tramps don’t kill each other, and police officers can spend more time investigating the moon* and paramedics can attend people who’ve burnt the toast instead?

For that, we’ll start to strip away our freedoms?
A statement on behalf of the campaign said: "The negative impacts associated with super strength alcohol are significant for the consumer and the wider community, but also for the public services who deal with the consequences."
That’s what they are paid for.

If you really want to bring overindulgence to a screeching halt ‘for the sake of the chiiillldreeen! public services’, then insist on people paying the full price for their use of them. Charge the drunks.

And if they can’t pay, put them to work, digging holes and filling them in again, if there’s no real work to be had.

H/T: Arfur Daley via Twitter and *Robert Hale via email

Simon Hughes Cheers The Illiberal Democrats…

Today the average deposit on a home across the UK has reached £65,000. In London it is £100,000. We have reached the point in Britain where it is simply impossible for people to buy a home without significant help from their parents, grandparents or some other benefactor.
Actually, that’s totally misleading – that statement should instead read “We have reached the point in Britain where it is often impossible for people to buy a home in the area they prefer to live and work without significant help from their parents, grandparents or some other benefactor.”
Liberal Democrats are therefore energetically exploring new ideas to increase access to housing. Nick Clegg's announcement on Sunday that we will work out how parents and grandparents can use other assets such as pension funds to help fund first purchases by their young people is hugely welcome.
Really? It went down like a cold cup of sick, actually.
But we must also increase the supply.
Ah, here we go. Building on the green belt, again? Well, yes. But there’s another angle:
Dealing with land banks by imposing use-it-or-lose-it planning permission, or the long-held Liberal policy of land value taxation, will free up land we need to build on. But I am clear that many of these measures to improve the supply of housing will be ineffective unless we also look at the demand created by second homes and the massive influx of foreign capital into the housing market.
But we should turn a blind eye to the massive influx of foreigners, I assume?
In London, 60% of new housing last year was bought by foreign investors – a misallocation of an increasingly scarce resource on an unacceptable scale.
Only a modern LibDem could possibly describe the buying and selling of private property a ‘misallocation’…
Local authorities should be able to introduce optional-use clauses to prevent housing from being bought unless it is going to be lived in.
And how would that work? What defines ‘lived in’? For how long? I mean, never mind the illiberality of the idea, what about the logistics? But then, might as well go the whole hog Soviet, eh?
But no matter how much we improve access to home ownership there will always be some people for whom home ownership is just not appropriate, desirable or possible. Many will be in need of social housing: These people often make an extremely important contribution to our society. they may be in jobs that are essential but pay little, or they may be out of work for long periods because they are carers or sick or disabled. They should have as much opportunity as anyone else to live near to their employment, children's school, family and friends.
And just how do you plan to give them that ‘opportunity’?
To achieve this every community needs a diverse mix of housing, principally planned to meet community need rather than simply market demand.
Ahhh, central planning for people’s lives! What could be less liberal?
That is why Liberal Democrats across the country should oppose those councils, such as Southwark, who sell their more valuable housing in order to fund the building of new council housing somewhere else. Such a policy will create ghettos. In London it would gradually wipe out social housing from large parts of our capital city and create unacceptable physical divisions in our community.
So, to prevent this awful situation of people being free to live wherever they want and can afford, we will take away that choice.

You’ll live where we tell you to, or else!

Just what is Hughes smoking these days?

The ‘Guardian’ Is Shocked, Shocked, To Find Out Progressive Policies Have Worked So Well…

As far back as 2007, an official working group identified 50 youngsters at risk of exploitation. Yet such was the guilty men's sense of impunity that, when victims lashed out, causing damage to a taxi and a takeaway, they twice reported them to the police. So what on Earth went wrong?
Gosh, who could possibly say? Apart from, you know, people who can see through the media's rhetoric?
The failure of the police to pay serious mind to the complaints of youngsters who came to their attention as miscreants is disturbing, but part of a familiar pattern. What is more baffling is the blind eye turned by social services.
Ah, yes. See the knife slipped in there? The police, well, everyone knows they are thugs, vandals and bullies, but how, oh how could sainted social workers drop the ball?
Thinking was warped by a version of a right-on ethos about respecting the individual decisions of teenagers. An approach that might have been appropriate in the context of a sexual health clinic advising girls with boyfriends was misapplied to a scenario of brainwashing and coercion.
Ah, but see, that’s like being a little bit pregnant – you can’t advocate the one (because why leave it to stuffy old parents with their bourgeois hangups?) without opening up the door for the other…
This is a shrunken, atomistic notion of decision, which disregards intimidation and peer pressure. It is a no-such-thing-as-society view.
See! Somehow, it’s always the fault of Thatcher, no matter what ‘it’ is..!
Another element may have been ethnicity.
‘May have been’..?
Caveats are important here…
Oh, I’ll just bet..
… because, in discussion of grooming, there is plenty of prejudice and no reliable statistics.
Really? Well, there never will be, if everyone’s studiously looking the other way!
We know that the overwhelming majority of sex offenders are white, but it does not follow that the same is true in every criminal sub-category. Different cultures do give rise to different violent pathologies. The fondness of white Britain for alcohol, to take one example, gives rise to forms of thuggery which would be unheard of in Muslim communities.
Ummm, no. Actually, thuggery is thuggery, even if the perpetrators haven’t had half a shandy in a pub beforehand.
Arranged marriages and low female employment in Muslim Britain are indicative of – at the very least – different attitudes to gender. There is no proven link between these and the (mercifully rare) cases of the Rochdale type that we have witnessed among South Asian Muslims. But such a connection cannot be ruled out a priori.
Try as you might!
If social services feared to tread to avoid causing offence, and perhaps complicating wider work within the Pakistani community, then that has proved a terrible error. For giving offence is as nothing compared with the grotesque offences that eventually transpired.
And I might believe your sudden conversion, if there was the slightest bit of evidence that, from now on, you'll be cutting back on the opportunities for people to use your newspaper to foster their own grievances and demand their hurt feelings be assuaged.

But there isn't.

Friday 28 September 2012

I Think The Reason The ‘Guardian’ Sneers…

…is because they know that it’s still thought of much more fondly than they’ll ever be:
When the supermarket chain Waitrose challenged shoppers to "finish the sentence: 'I shop at Waitrose because …' #WaitroseReasons" on Monday, it could not have envisaged the subsequent Twitter storm as internet jokers piled in to ridicule the brand for its posh image.
Or possibly it did, as one person pointed out:
One observer said: "People are saying Waitrose don't quite get Twitter because of #WaitroseReasons hashtag. I think they do. No such thing as bad publicity."
Well, indeed!
In a rather po-faced statement
Really? I don't read it that way.
…Waitrose tweeted: "Thanks for all the genuine and funny #WaitroseReasons tweets. We always like to hear what you think and enjoyed reading most of them."
Some of them were rather amusing:
With an eye on the quality of its grammar, one remarked: "I shop at Waitrose because …" you say "Ten items or fewer" not "Ten items or less", which is important"
Standards, people - Waitrose haz 'em!

An Easy Mistake To Make…

…after all, in Thames View, it’d be a surprise to find he wasn’t on ADHD medication!
Georgina Walczyk, aged 26, said her son Alfie was mistakenly handed medication to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) at Thames View Junior School.
The outraged mother said he was offered the drugs meant for another pupil who shares his first name, on September 5.
Great! Even the teachers can’t read! Luckily, this child, at least, can:
Luckily, the young boy spotted that the ADHD medicine was not his and refused to take it.
The incident is now being investigated, but Ms Walczyk has already stopped her son from returning to the school. Ms Walczyk, 26, of Barking, Essex, said: ‘I don’t feel my child is safe there at all.’
Well, of course you don’t! It is only this incident, I assume?

Ms Walczyk, an accommodation officer, also insisted that her son was denied a proper school meal in January.
She said Alfie had his lunch taken away from him after staff noticed that the top-up card he was using to pay for meals did not have enough cash on it.
And whose fault is that, then?
Ms Walczyk said he was instead offered an ‘emergency meal’ of two Jacob’s crackers, a Dairylea cheese triangle and a glass of water.
So they didn’t leave him to starve?
A Barking and Dagenham Council spokesman said: ‘The matter regarding an attempt to give Alfie medication that was not prescribed for him is under investigation and we are unable to comment further at this time.’
He added: ‘In regards to the meal, the matter of handling debt is one for school governors. ‘However, the local authority recommends that children, as a minimum, are given a packed lunch.
‘Our local authority policy clearly states that we do not want children to go hungry but any parental debt has to be paid up. There seems to be a difference of opinion between mum and the school about how this was handled.’
That’s one way of putting it. And a lot more diplomatic than I’d have been.

What’s Wrong With This Man*..?

Jobless Paul Anthony Bamber, 23, set about young mum Rachel Boyd as she was on the school run, grabbing her around the neck on a canal bank.
He was squeezing so hard she was struggling to breathe, a court was told.
He told the victim: “If you go to the police, you won’t be able to speak.”
The attack was in front of her child, who we can only hope he didn’t father…
Burnley Magistrates’ Court was told how her child was so distressed, the youngster ran off to try and find help.
Did he own up? No.
Bamber, of Wesley Street, Brierfield, had denied assault by beating on May 29, But he was convicted after a trial, in front of a district judge.
And for this, what did he get?
Bamber was sentenced to 18 weeks in prison, suspended for a year, with supervision and 60 hours unpaid work. He was ordered to pay £50 compensation, and £50 costs.

Is the reason for the leniency that this is a first offence? Oh, far from it, as the opener to this sorry little tale tells us:
.. has now attacked four ex-partners in four years
Do you think they didn’t all know what he was like? Partner No 1 might have that luxury (possibly), but not No 2, 3 or 4…

* Because we can’t seemingly ask what’s wrong with these three women, can we?

Thursday 27 September 2012

Hey, If They End Up Culling A Few Activists Too, What’s The Harm?

Night-time clashes between protesters against England's imminent badger cull and armed farmers pose a clear risk to public safety, ministers have been warned.
Warned by whom? Someone with a vested interest, would be my guess.

And right on cue...
The warning came from the police came during consultations with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Gosh. I must be psychic...
Detective chief superintendent Adrian Tudway, national co-ordinator for domestic extremism at the Association of Chief Police Officers, told Defra officials: "Farmers and landowners culling badgers with firearms (of any description) has potential to place armed farm workers in the near vicinity of protesters and activists, typically during the night-time; we regard this as a scenario with clear potential for harm to public safety … we believe there is a likelihood [of] incidents of lawful protest and lobbying as well as some potential for unlawful direct action, disorder and criminality."
Well, you and your officers are paid to ensure that that doesn't happen, so hop to it! What are you whinging about?
He also referred to reduced police resources owing to "the impact of the recent funding cuts".
Ah. Of course.

And then there's the ones that have gone native...
Peter Charleston, staff officer at Acpo to Chief Constable Richard Crompton, who has responsibility for wildlife crime, told his boss in an email the cull would risk widespread illegal killing of badgers under the cover of culling:
"Concerns relate to the possibility of open season being declared on badgers because of a perception that Defra is not really bothered about their protected status."
Ummm, what? Farmer or employee of farmer with licence issued by DEFRA - legal. Shifty looking individual caught with dead badger and no licence - illegal.

It's not going to need Sherlock Holmes, is it?
Lee Moon, a Hunt Saboteurs Association spokesman, said experienced campaigners were getting involved alongside people who didn't usually take part in direct action.
Or, as they are almost certainly known to these seasoned domestic terrorists, 'cannon fodder'...

Misleading Headlines R Us!

Police have admitted they took too long to respond to a call from bouncers who were restraining a man who later died, it has been revealed.
And indeed, the screaming ‘Echo’ headline leaves no doubt:

So…is 21 minutes a long time? The answer might surprise you.
An Essex Police spokesperson said: “An incident of this nature would attract a target response time of 15 minutes.
“Unfortunately, due to it being exceptionally busy that night, the response took 21 minutes.
“Given the delay, Essex Police did refer the matter to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which referred it back to the force.
“An internal investigation did not find any misconduct in respect of officers’ actions.”
So they were only ‘late’ by six minutes. Not quite the impression the headline gives, eh?
Mr Lamude’s grieving mother Pat Eaton, from Canvey , refused to comment about the police response time, but feels someone should be held accountable for her son’s death.
Well, the bouncers were all acquitted, so it’s clearly not them.

The police clearly aren’t to blame.

I guess that just leaves your son, then, for getting into the sort of state that necessitates being first ejected from a nightclub and then held down by four bouncers in the wee small hours of the morning.

Or…wasn’t that the answer you wanted to hear?

If It’s Necessary For Her To Keep Dumb Animals For ‘The Sake Of Her Mental Health’...

…couldn’t we give her a pair of adorable magistrates? Neutered, of course (or is that redundant?):
A cruel woman convicted of keeping animals in squalid conditions has been banned from having pets - unless they are cats or dogs.

Yeah, that was my response too. What gives? Is she better at keeping them?

Well, no:
Adelaya Boardman, 33, kept ducks and ferrets in horrendous conditions in her filthy flat - including terrapins in her baths.
She also allowed her two pet cats to become infested with fleas and animals including a dog were forced to sleep and eat under piles of rubbish.
The pictures are revolting. And an indictment of ‘care in the community’ that she is allowed to get herself into this state.

The animals, of course, have no choice in the matter…
Boardman admitted a string of animal neglect charges and was banned from keeping animals for three years. But she was allowed to keep her cats and dogs to help her state of mind.
*boggle* Because, of course, she’s ‘vulnerable’…
Sarah Glanville, defending, said she had become 'overwhelmed' by the number of pets and their living conditions had become unacceptable.
But she said the dogs and cats helped her client cope with her mental health problems.
Pity for them.

Wednesday 26 September 2012

Oh, Suddenly It’s A Concern After All?

Richard Eves, who runs Leigh Fishermen’s Co-operative in old Leigh High Street, was caught with 400 untreated oysters in a fridge at his shop when it was visited by Southend Council health officers.
They must have fought their way through all the Chinese oyster gatherers to get to his shop…
The shellfish, which had been harvested on the Westcliff foreshore two days before, had not gone through the purification process to remove the deadly viruses and bacteria which can infest them.
If eaten, untreated oysters can pass on diseases such as Norovirus and even cause septicaemia in people with vulnerable immune systems.
Well, indeed. That was one of the reasons people were suggesting the council might like to do something about the ‘Asians’ that were foraging…
Mr Eves received a summons to appear in Southend Magistrates’ Court, accused of stockpiling oysters which were not fit for public consumption.
But the fisherman, who has 12 years of experience, said he had no intention of selling the shellfish and claimed he was being unfairly targeted.
He’s a settled white Anglo-Saxon ratepayer who speaks English. Of course he’s being targeted!

Far too much hassle to go after anyone else…

Those Slaves? Real Chains.

Modern day grievancemongers? Invisible ones…
Beverley Reid, 43, will not send her son Malachi to the Quest Academy, in Farnborough Avenue, Selsdon, in a dispute over their strict uniform policy.
You’ll never guess what the issue is…
She explained that the 11-year-old wears his hat due to the family's Rastafarian beliefs.
And she is unwilling to carry out the school's request of writing in and explaining why the hat – called a Tam – is a religious requirement.
And so we’re at an impasse. The irresistible force of racial grievance meets the immovable object of school uniform policy...
Beverley, who lives in New Addington, said: "I feel strongly about having to write in.
"I'm sure they haven't asked a Sikh to identify their religion or a Muslim to identify their religion.
"It's like a Freemason school and I'm not into sending my son to a place like that. "Malachi's father works for the prison service, he works for the Queen, and he has got permission to wear his hat.
"This is my child they're talking about, they're trying to challenge his culture. It feels like we're in invisible chains."
Oh, my giddy aunt! Pass the smelling salts, Aunt Bertha!
Beverley added: "We didn't apply for this school. Croydon Council gave me this school.
"At the moment, my son hasn't got a school.
"It's like everyone's looking and thinking why is your little boy not at school? I could cry for him."
So could I. But, I suspect, for vastly different reasons.

I could cry for him because what sort of future does the poor little sod have, forced to wear a tea-cosy on his head throughout his school years, and backed by a mother who screams about 'the man' keeping her down every time she can't get her own way?
Meanwhile, principal Andy Crofts has defended the academy's stance. He said: "We have a published uniform code which we apply consistently to everyone.
"We allow head coverings that are required for religious reasons. We have asked this parent to provide us with evidence that this headwear is a religious requirement on several occasions and she has refused to do so.
"If we agreed to every parental request to modify some aspect of our uniform code, then it would cease to be a uniform."
Well, indeed! And I suspect that's the point of this woman's squawking. That, or getting her kid transferred to some other unlucky school.

British Justice In 2012

Kieron Wright was given a community order in March for his part in a cowardly assault that left a man with learning difficulties battered and bleeding in a pub toilet in Sunderland.
Gosh, well, so much for the courts getting tough on crime affecting the disabled.
Within 24 hours of walking out of court the 19-year-old, who was given an ASBO in 2010, had turned his violence on Syeda Chowdhury, known as Sally, at a store in the city.
Newcastle Crown Court heard yesterday during the terrifying attack the victim had chunks of her hair pulled out and vile racist abuse was thrown at her.
Hah! You’ve done it now, son! The state takes a really dim view of hate crimes, so…

Wright was handed a suspended sentence for his latest attack by Judge Roger Thorn QC.

I just…

What? Was the mitigation absolutely awesome?
Tony Hawks, defending, said Wright has been in Durham jail since March, which he has found an 'intimidating experience.'
Oh. No, not really, then.
Judge Thorn said because Wright has spent the equivalent of a 12-month sentence on remand his 12-month prison sentence for the offence will be suspended for 18-months, with supervision.
The judge told him: 'Newcastle Crown Court, in your view clearly, gave you a lenient sentence that you were not expecting.
'I’m not going to express my own view of that because I don’t know the circumstances in which you were sentenced.
'You went out and celebrated in a completely foolish way and committed further offences.'
As Wright left the court Judge Thorn warned him: 'The last thing you ought to do is go and celebrate.'
Oh, no, I think he ought to. I just think he ought to do it in your local watering hole.

Let you be the one to pay the price for letting this man walk the streets. It’ll make a nice change.

Oh, A Terrible Dilemma!

On the one hand, I can’t stand the culture of ‘taking offence’.

But on the other hand, I can’t think of someone who had it coming more than Cllr David Stephenson:
He said he made the comment because he saw the women smoking outside a council office, and he is very anti-smoking.

*pauses for breath*


It couldn’t happen to a more appropriate person, could it? Someone who has bought into the ‘unperson’ meme for smokers and thinks it’s open season on them, where anything goes, as a result now finds himself in trouble because the fickle public’s attention has shifted and slain police officers are being beatified.

Just beautiful!

So, what was the remark? Well, despite the councillor’s rather bizarre ‘reason’, it had so little to do with smoking that I suspect a better reason for removing him would be because he’s lost what few marbles he ever possessed:
Councillor David Stephenson made a joke about PCs Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes, who died last week in a gun and grenade attack.
He made the comment in front of the wife of a serving police sergeant, who was upset by what he said and told her husband.
Her husband, who lives in Ilkeston and serves with Nottinghamshire police, said Mr Stephenson said: "If you get 100 points for shooting one policewoman and 200 points for shooting two policewomen, how many do you get for shooting a lawyer?"
And in attempting to explain it away, he merely dug himself in deeper:
He said: "It was a tasteless comment or sick joke that someone makes off the cuff, for which I apologise.
"I have always been an enthusiast for banning what I term 'short weapons' which includes pistols and sawn-off shotguns.
They’ve been banned. Do keep up!
"I am totally against the use of guns in any shape or form and no-one should have been exposed to them in the way that those two lady police officers were."
So, you’ve just offended all the farmers and sport shooters and proven yourself to be a completely out of touch cartoon-version of a 'typical' old duffer Tory councillor. Well done!

But well done to Chris Corbett, for taking the sort of decisive action we could only wish for from Call Me Dave:
The officer contacted Derbyshire police federation, MP Jessica Lee and Erewash Borough Council leader Chris Corbett to complain about Mr Stephenson's remarks.
Mr Corbett said: "I was appalled to learn of the words used by Councillor Stephenson to a lady who, unbeknown to him, was the wife of a serving police officer.
"I have taken immediate and severe action by removing him from his post as a lead member of the council and he will no longer serve on the council executive to take effect immediately.
"It is not possible to remove him as a borough councillor as he has been elected to that position by residents in his constituency. However, his name has been removed from the list of approved Conservative candidates and he will not be allowed to stand for re-election (for the party)."
Quite unlike the dithering of Call-Me-Dave and subsequent revelations over the Chief Whip, eh?

H/T: Insp Gadget via Twitter

Tuesday 25 September 2012


A man was hit over the head with a baseball bat when three men broke into a house in York Road, Southend.
The attackers were also carrying a claw hammer and stole various items from the property.
The first attacker is described as a white man in his mid 20s, slim, about 5ft 4 tall, the second was a black man in his twenties about 6ft tall, medium build and was wearing a baseball cap.
The third suspect is described as a black man, about 5ft 11 tall, in his twenties medium build.
Seems there’s a lot of it going about!
Police are urging witnesses to come forward after the aggravated burglary in Fairfax Drive, Westcliff , at about 5pm on Saturday, September 22.
An Essex Police spokesman said a woman in her twenties was at home with her young children when three men ran across the back garden and into the house.
He said: “Two of the men had knives and demanded money. They searched the house and the woman ran out of the door and called police. Nothing was taken and the men made off.”
The first suspect is described as a black man, stocky, aged mid to late 20s, about 6ft tall with a beard and wearing dark clothing.
The second man is described as black, skinny, aged mid to late 20s and in dark clothing.
The third is a black man, skinny, aged mid to late 20s and also wore dark clothing.

Oh. In case you’re wondering what the police response is to the gangs of armed burglars demanding money with menaces on their patch, well, they’re too busy conducting (failed!) operations to find drugs in Southend nightclubs

* Men Of Surprisingly Detailed And Uncannily Familiar Appearance

OK, I’m Back Disagreeing With John Harris Again!

It was a short and sweet affair. He’s back in CiF wailing about the ‘dreaded Tory cuts’:
… whenever Tories want to indicate that they pay no heed to the bleeding hearts of any Lib Dems, they continue to yelp about the need for more "welfare cuts". (Do not forget: George Osborne has floated another £10bn off the benefits budget, opposed by both the Tories' coalition partners and even IDS himself.) To be blunt, this is a war on the poor largely waged by the very rich, and shame on the Labour party and the wider Labour movement for not making nearly enough noise about it.
Would those 'very rich' include the likes of Polly Toynbee, John? Or all those fakecharity bosses?
One statistic makes all coalition claims of a meaningful social conscience look risible. Figures published by the National Housing Federation show that, between 2011 and 2012, the number of homeless families forced to live in temporary bed and breakfast accommodation increased by 44%.
Yes, we should clearly bewail the fact that people haven't got a roof over their head. Even though they aren't on the streets and do, in fact, have a roof over their head. One paid for by everyone else.
As has been well documented, all this is disproportionately a London problem, evidenced by the people at its wretched heart: those identified in officialspeak as families with dependent children and/or a pregnant woman who, in breach of government guidelines, have been in B&Bs for longer than six weeks. The stats contain spikes in predictable boroughs: Brent, Barking and Dagenham, Westminster, Tower Hamlets.
Can anyone else spot something else that unites those boroughs, other than their capital location?
For the details of what this actually involves, read Living In Limbo, a landmark report by Shelter published eight years ago…
Oh, yes, I’m sure I’m going to read an objective, impartial account of the situation there!
… which describes realities little changed since then. Rooms are cramped and often damp. Bathrooms are frequently unsanitary. People regularly pushed from one temporary redoubt to another are often left depressed and unstable. It is standard practice for families to be shut out of their accommodation during working hours, meaning that children must somehow kill time elsewhere. There is usually no provision of an evening meal: if you're lucky, you make do with takeaways.
Which, I'm pretty sure, puts you a fair few steps higher than homeless people in other countries, who'd consider a bed and breakfast paid for by everyone else a luxury.

But to soften your hearts, here's that ploy which never fails in the 'Guardian' - do it for the chiiiillldreeeen!
Please: no more talk from this government about aspiration and opportunity, the imperative to help those at the very bottom, or Britain somehow becoming the most family-friendly society in Europe. When you hear anything like that (and, with conference season looming, there is going to be a lot of it), picture a disorientated child, trying to do her homework amid the clattering noise of a McDonald's, and dreading the evening's return to what passes for home – a cramped and smelly room, with anxious shouts ricocheting around the corridors – until morning once again arrives, and with it the daily lockout.
Or they could take up the offer of a move to less-expensive places to live.

I Guess ‘The Knowledge’ Is Something Quite Different In Hull..?

Mr Bowes had been out in the city centre with his sister Judith and her husband Tony when they got into a black cab from a rank in Ferensway.
He said the driver became confused about where he was going close to Mr Bowes's home off Anlaby Road, west Hull.
"My sister was supposed to be going to Market Weighton after I had been dropped off," said Mr Bowes.
"He didn't know where he was going and kept asking us for directions. We couldn't understand him very well, so my sister decided to get out with me and get her son to pick her up.
"She told him we all wanted to get out because he didn't seem to know where he was going. We got out and, as Tony was about to pay him, the driver got out of the car and hit me across the neck with a metal bar.
"I fell to the ground. I can't remember much after that."
He was lucky to survive. Even luckier not to be paralysed. If this isn’t attempted murder I don’t know what i..

Oh. Hang on. It isn’t even GBH.

It isn’t even ABH!
The taxi driver, Pishtiwan Hamed, has admitted unlawfully wounding Mr Bowes and is due to be sentenced next month.
*sigh* The CPS picking low-hanging fruit only, again?
Mr Bowes said he believes taxi drivers should undergo stricter tests before being licensed by Hull City Council.
"There should be better vetting for taxi drivers before they allowed to have a black cab," he said.
"This man didn't know his way around, he couldn't understand us very well and he had a metal bar in his taxi. "
As we’ve seen from other news stories, that seems almost as de riguer for a certain type of taxi driver as the old chestnut of the bale of hay to feed the horse…
Keith Fenner, Hull City Council's licensing manager, said: "Mr Hamed does not currently have a taxi driver licence as it was suspended pending the conclusion of the prosecution.
"We can confirm Mr Hamed has not applied for it to be renewed for the current year."
I bet if he did, it’d probably go through on the nod, eh?

Monday 24 September 2012

Three Cheers For Sir Michael Wilshaw!

Bright pupils are losing out due to the ‘curse’ of mixed-ability classes, the head of Ofsted warned yesterday.
Sir Michael Wilshaw said thousands were failing to reach their full potential due to poor teaching methods. Inspectors will now be critical of schools that do not differentiate between high and low achievers.
… Sir Michael’s intervention is likely to make headteachers rethink their practice of mixed ability classes for fear of being marked down in future inspections.
Because if there’s anything guaranteed to concentrate their minds, it's an OFSTED inspection.
The chief inspector of schools said that of the brightest pupils at primary schools, about one in five did not go on to achieve top grades at GCSE.
‘It’s a combination of low expectations of what these youngsters can achieve, that their progress is not sufficiently tracked, and what I would call and have done ever since I have been a teacher the curse of mixed-ability classes without mixed-ability teaching,’ he said.
And there was even worse news for the ‘equality of outcome for all no matter what the cost’ comprehensive school fans:
Nick Clegg’s flagship billion-pound funding programme for disadvantaged pupils is having ‘no effect’ for many youngsters, teachers say.
The ‘pupil premium’ of £600 per disadvantaged child is for schools to use as they see fit, but was designed to help provide extra support, such as one-to-one tuition and homework clubs, for those who are in care or from low-income families.
Despite this, one in five head-teachers told an Ofsted survey that the extra funding had had no impact ‘at all’ on poor students since it was introduced last April.
And just why was it a failure?
Many teachers said it had simply been sucked into the main school budget and was being used to pay for teaching assistants, uniforms and trips.
Only yourselves to blame, there, then!

Oooh, Enjoy The Schadenfreude!

A gipsy thrown off a campsite after her son threatened other travellers with a gun suffered a breach of her human rights, European judges ruled yesterday.
Maria Buckland and her family were evicted after being accused of causing a ‘very substantial nuisance’ and presenting ‘a risk of disturbance and violence’.
Despite a series of appeals being rejected by Britain’s highest courts, judges in Strasbourg yesterday ruled the eviction was an ‘extreme’ interference with the 53-year-old’s human rights.
They also ruled she should receive £3,400 to compensate her for ‘feelings of frustration and injustice’.
The judgment by the European Court of Human Rights could now pave the way for other traveller families to use human rights grounds to fight eviction orders.
Boo! Hiss! Evil interfering ECHR again! Which hapless council is stuck for the legal fees this ti..

Oh. Hang on…
The Buckland family first moved to the Cae Garw caravan park in Port Talbot, South Wales, in 1999.
Six years later the Gipsy Council – the traveller-run organisation which operated the local authority-owned site – obtained a possession order claiming Mrs Buckland and five others were causing trouble.

*pauses for breath*

In November 2007, three Appeal Court judges headed by Lord Justice Dyson upheld a possession order against Mrs Buckland, saying that she had a ‘generally disruptive family’ with a ‘culture of disrespect’ who ‘presented a risk of disturbance and violence’.
It’s hard to see quite how she didn’t fit right in, isn’t it?
The European judges admitted that, during another appeal, a Swansea county court judge ‘was satisfied that her son, who resided part of the time with her, had been involved in an incident in which he threatened someone with a gun, although it was not clear whether the gun had been real or an imitation; and had dumped garden refuse’.
However they claimed that the only wrong committed by Mrs Buckland herself was the failure to pay a £95 water bill.
They ruled that British judges had been wrong to claim the eviction order was beyond challenge, ruling it should have been considered in the light of Article Eight of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees respect for a person’s home, private and family life.
Even where that impacts negatively on others’ rights. How’d you like them apples, Gypsy Council? Are you starting to get a glimmer of how other people might view all your victories?
In total Mrs Buckland - who left the site in May 2008 to live on land owned by her brother, which had no planning permission for residential use – was awarded nearly £7,000 in damages and legal costs.
Let’s hope they are being awarded against the Gypsy Council, and not against the British taxpayer.

Because Ma Buckland’s already drunk deeply from that trough…
Mrs Buckland’s case is thought to have cost taxpayers around £80,000 in legal aid and local authority fees on its way through the British court. Legal aid is not paid by the taxpayer to support cases in Strasbourg.
So where’d she get the money for that from? Should HMRC be sniffing around?

Here’s Those ‘Vulnerable People’ Again…

Five-year-old Kharli Morris was shot in the chest as she played outside her grandmother's house. The schoolgirl was struck by a pellet fired from a BB gun.
Another girl was then hit in the back by a second pellet as the two youngsters played in Albemarle Road, Cross Heath.
Who could do such a thing?
It is thought the BB gun was fired from a window within a block of flats near Kharli's gran's home. Now police are hunting the gunman who targeted the two girls.
Officers are being supported by social landlord Aspire Housing which owns the Ashfield Court flats complex used to house vulnerable people.
Ah. Say no more.
Kharli, who attends Hempstalls Primary School, in Newcastle, has been left with a large red blister by the force of the pellet.
And Rebecca says she heard clapping and laughing coming from the flats complex following the shooting.
The 30-year-old cleaner added: "I am so angry. It is such a cowardly and horrible thing to do, especially to a child.
"If she had ducked at the sound of the gun going off it could have blinded her. We want these people found and thrown out of the flats – it is disgusting behaviour."
No, no, you don’t understand! These people are the victims here, not the children!
Ashfields Court is a supported housing scheme for young people. It is aimed at helping vulnerable people establish a home and live responsibly in society.
It’s failing, clearly.
Aspire Housing managing director Wayne Hughes said: "We do not tolerate anti-social behaviour and our thoughts are with the family. The incident is under investigation and we are working with the police to provide our full support and co-operation."
So, what are you actually doing about it? Or is that ‘nothing, in case it affects our profits’..?
by FrankK
“Can't help noticing that whenever lowlife crime surfaces in press in Newcastle area, Aspire Housing is mentioned. Does this housing association even bother to vet anyone? Or are they simply taking in all & sundry as tenants, regardless of criminal history, just to pocket housing benefit? If the latter, God help the decent tenants stuck in some of their properties!”

Sunday 23 September 2012

Not Quite Getting The Point Of Benefits…

Alison Garnham (chief executive of the Child Poverty Action Group) rages against the awful ConDem ‘cuts’:
The latest British Social Attitudes findings, which show that growing numbers of people have swallowed the fiction that benefits levels in the UK are too high, perhaps explain why the government this week feels able to float plans for another round of devastating benefit cuts.
Ahhh, yes. Because they couldn’t possibly have come to that conclusion themselves, by having seen first hand the benefit levels, could they?

No, it has to have been the media’s fault…
The furore last year about the fairness of uprating benefits even with the lower CPI measure when average earnings were lagging behind prices was a further piece of political insincerity. What was conveniently obscured in the debate was the fact that for many years, benefits have risen at a significantly lower level than wages.
Well, yes. They aren’t a direct comparison to wages. They were never meant to be.
As earnings have raced ahead, this has resulted in a stark disconnect between wages and benefits
Again, yes. They don’t replace a wage, they are there to tide you over, to provide the very basics. That’s all.
The government is presenting the idea of a benefits freeze as a necessary step in order to save an additional £10bn in 2015/16 from a social security budget that is already decimated by £18bn of cuts. And such assaults on the incomes of the poorest are justified by reference to the very social attitudes that this and previous governments have done so much to foment.
Do you mean the ‘social attitude’ that it’s better not to sponge off the sweat of others? And referring to benefits as ‘income’ is rather telling, isn’t it?
At the risk of stating the obvious, benefits are already inadequate for basic needs. If an out-of-work family with one child claims their full benefit entitlement, the income they receive provides only 65% of the funds required to live above the poverty line.
I’m not going to go into the definition of poverty being used, because we’ve been here so many times before. But if benefits are really ‘inadequate for basic needs’, then I’d suggest that that’s entirely the point! That’s what we want them to be. That way, people won’t spend their whole lives on them.

And maybe people need to re-evaluate just what a ‘basic need’ is…
For those in work and receiving tax credits life is a little better. However, a family with two children and both parents working at the national minimum wage will still only receive an income that constitutes 94% of the amount needed to live a life free of poverty if they take up all the benefits available to them.
Hey, here’s an idea. On a minimum wage job? Have one kid. That way, you can afford it!
. The chancellor and his cabinet colleagues must reject this disgraceful proposal, which is just another assault on those living in poverty, shamefully dressed up as a necessary aspect of fiscal austerity. It would cut the poorest families adrift from the rest of society and further batter the coalition's poverty record.
The only thing that I can see ‘cutting the poorest families adrift from society’ is their attitude (and that of their cheerleaders and enablers) that society somehow owes them a living.

I’m Starting To Warm To The Idea Of Court TV…’ll be far more entertaining than I imagined if this keeps up. Following on from the case the other day, this one:
Bentley Huggins, aged 42, was yesterday found guilty of murdering Desirie Thomas at their home in Elliston House, Wellington Street, on December 23 last year.
During a short appearance in court today, Huggins, who ditched his defence lawyers halfway through the Old Bailey trial, fumed at the way his case had been conducted.
Asked by Judge Anthony Morris if he wanted to be represented at sentencing, Huggins raged: "From the beginning of this trial I was never going to get a fair trial.
"The manner in which the police have conducted their investigation - they have strong-handed, intimidated and invented witnesses."
Yeah, yeah, yeah, tell it to the jud…

Oh. Right.
Judge Morris said he intended to adjourn sentencing for pre-sentence and psychiatric reports, but Huggins continued to complain.
He said: "Your honour, it will not happen. You might as well sentence me today. It would not happen. Period."
Huggins went on: "You've conducted this trial in a most utterly and absolutely despicable way."
The killer branded his case a "Willie Lynch trial", a reference to an American slave owner, and told the judge: "You've brought people speaking ****** about me."
That's some very US slang he's using...I wonder?
Huggins, in the UK on a marriage visa, had always claimed he acted in self-defence when he stabbed his 35-year-old wife 10 times in the head and neck.
But jurors unanimously agreed he had killed her in cold blood after finding out she planned to divorce him.
Sentencing was adjourned until October 18.
*orders popcorn*

I Guess They Don’t Know It From Shinola..?

The Old Broad Street offices of Malleson Stephens Jaques was cleared as Scotland Yard’s a Chemical, Biological, Radioactive, Nuclear unit was called in.
The alert was sounded after lawyer Lisa Hirsowitz opened an envelope at her office and a grey powder fell out.
Oh noes! What could it be?
But it turned out to be a £700 cheque from her former landlady covered in puppy’s excrement, the court was told.
Powder? Either she needs to take her puppy to the vet STAT, or that letter had been kicking around the postal system for a hell of a long time!
“When I spoke to police they told me that as I was in an office block we had to turn off the air conditioning, which a colleague did.“
I thought it was specifically fans you had to watch when in contact with that stuff, not air-con in general?
Yanina Heuberger, 53, had sent the cheque to her former tenant Ms Hirsowitz after losing a case in the small claims courts.
Ah! The penny drops…
Heuberger allegedly kicked Detective Constable Giles Cunningham in the groin when she was arrested at her home in February.
She has pleaded not guilty to harassment without violence and assaulting a constable in the execution of duty.
The trial continues.
I can’t wait!

Sunday Funnies...

As something of a connoisseur of overly-dramatic illustration, I have to say I rather admire these works of beauty!

Saturday 22 September 2012

Is There Nothing CiF Won’t Excuse?

Simon Jenkins in CiF on the case of Sarah Catt:
The case reported on Monday of Sarah Catt cannot evoke much sympathy.
And yet…I bet you’ll dig deep and find some, won’t you?
What conceivable good can be served by such a sentence? It appears merely a gesture of abhorrent rage on the judge's part.
I rather think ‘abhorrent rage’ is quite a sane response to a case such as this one.
The judge used the cliche often used of wrongdoing women, that she was "cool and calculating", as if any women expecting sympathy should be hot and emotional.
Actually, that’s not a description reserved only for women at all. It’s often used to distinguish crimes passionelle from malice-aforethought-style murder. It’s applied to men AND women.

A quick look at Google could have told you that.
Leeds police then added the traditional damnation "on the steps of the court house", a modern version of the pillory. Catt was "extremely deceitful, cold and calculating". She had shown no remorse and had lied to everyone concerned.
Yes. Those are considered aggravating factors in the justice system. No matter what the crime.
Little in the case tells in Catt's favour, except that she had a loving husband who stood by her, and a family that was still together. A previous pregnancy at university had led to an adoption. She had an affair and, on the facts as presented, she acted from panic and desperation on finding she was pregnant.
That’s a pretty long bout of ‘panic and desperation’ there, isn’t it, Simon?
Catt asserted that the foetus was stillborn, though she clearly did not help herself by refusing to say where it was.
Oh, I think she did help herself. I think she helped herself by ensuring her story of a stillbirth couldn’t be disproved…
The judge said the act was between manslaughter and murder, but you cannot murder a foetus. It may be almost a person, but in common law it is not one until born alive and independent of its mother. It is legal to terminate a pregnancy after 24 weeks and indeed up to full term, albeit under strict medical supervision and only where there is a risk of serious abnormality or a grave, permanent injury to the mother. What Catt did was clearly illegal, but not manslaughter or murder.
Not under the law as it stands, no. Most would, quite rightly, view it as abhorrent beyond belief.
… it does not seem the role of the justice system to pass judgment and sentence on the basis of female demeanour, let alone to expect a better emotional performance from those who have been to university.
Really? But aren’t we supposed to believe in ‘bettering oneself’ through education?
Catt should not have done what she did, but locking her away for eight years will cost the state about £225,000, at the going rate. It must come near to destroying her family. A long sentence is, as any judge should know, "for life", given the impact it has on life thereafter. Everything about the case suggests a woman badly in need of care and treatment.
Actually, it doesn’t. This is no naïve teenager scared of her parents, denying and concealing a pregnancy until too late. This is a grown woman, who has already been around the block several times.
In Catt's case, no social purpose is served by a fine or prison. A civilised response would be to find some way of piecing together a life so clearly devastated, especially for the sake of a family. Instead, the judge is punishing the living members of a family for the sake of a dead one.
But isn’t this always the case when women who commit crimes go to prison? Indeed, it isn’t even confined to women, unless you believe them to be the sole caregiver.

You might as well argue that women shouldn’t go to ja…

Oh. I see.
The harm to society done by the judges in sending women unnecessarily to jail must far outweigh that of the original crime. In this matter Britain is still in the middle ages. And we have the cheek to go round the world, lecturing others on justice and the rule of law.
In many other parts of the world, she’d have been stoned to death for this crime. Without the need for a trial! You know, I think Britain’s still ahead, somehow…

Blogging solicitor Amanda Bancroft weighs in with the God question:
The sentencing remarks in this case are in full here. Paragraph 15 mentions the Abortion Act. The judge says: "There is no mitigation available by reference to the Abortion Act, whatever view one takes of its provisions which are, wrongly, liberally construed in practice so as to make abortion available essentially on demand prior to 24 weeks with the approval of registered medical practitioners." Of course, interpreting the precise meaning of a person's words is never easy. However, one reading of that passage suggests that the judge considers we as a society are wrong in giving the Abortion Act a liberal construct to allow as many women as possible abortions under its terms. Considering the offence he is sentencing, the remarks are cause for concern. One starts to wonder if there are motivations involved that ought have no place in the sentencing of any person.
Those motivations being religious ones, of course.
When one starts looking into the background of the judge, it transpires that he was appointed vice-president of the Lawyers' Christian Fellowship in 2003, and remains in post today.
*gasp* The smoking gun!
When one reads the remarks of the judge knowing his belief system, one can only ask: did the judge view this case only on the context of the crime she actually committed, or also in the context of a crime against a god which may not be hers?
Sorry to burst your bubble, Amanda, but I’m not in the slightest bit religious, and I feel nothing but utter revulsion for a woman who does what this one has done.

I think the judge was too lenient. She should have got double the prison sentence.

I Guess Zoe Williams Didn’t Get The Message…

…you know, the one about ‘sneering at others’ being divisive and dangerous for society:
I don't normally care much about Burberry, the dynasty of beige, who bang on so much about heritage that they put me off not just their own umbrellas but also tomatoes and the Tower of London. Yet when they post a profits warning following flat year-on-year sales for the past 10 weeks, and a drop in sales for the past fortnight, and MoneyWeek magazine says, "we told you to get out of the luxury goods market" – then everything looks more interesting.
Ah, yes. It’s always good for the left to see someone fail to make a profit, isn’t it, Zoe? It must be why you keep writing for this rag.
In Italy, MoneyWeek reports, there has been a quadrupling of the ownership levies on high-performance cars. Meanwhile in the UK, Nick Clegg returned from summer touting a new wealth tax. If that fails to take root in public discourse it will most likely be because of Clegg's own unpopularity – the idea itself chimes with the majority view, exacerbated by the cut in higher rate tax, that the rich aren't just insulated from this austerity drive but are actively gaining from it.
It’s hard to tell whether, when Zoe refers to ‘the majority view’, she just means ‘at the ‘Guardian’ watercooler’. I think she probably does.
Point any of this out, however, and immediately Tory voices chant "the politics of envy"; Bernard Jenkin responded with this charge directly to Clegg's speech; Michael Fallon made the accusation against the whole country, garnishing it with the (ahem) rather inflammatory idea that we should be "saluting" rich people, rather than finding ways to tax them.
At this point, I’d normally point out that ‘rich people’ provide employment and enrichment opportunities for other people, and ‘poor people’ don’t. But then I remember the huge state apparatus that the ‘Guardian’ so favours, and all the fakecharities that abound, and I think better of it…
As for the Italians suffering the Lamborghini penalty, the focus on luxury motors was part of a wider clampdown on tax evasion that saw the government stop and search "supercar" drivers, with stunning results: eight million missing euros from a tax fraud near Venice; three million more from a man in Bergamo. This is just in the last two months. An amusing side-effect is that you can now pick up a secondhand Ferrari for the price of a new Polo, because these people would rather have a fire-sale of their status symbols than pay a proper amount of tax into their crashing economy.
Well, yes. I can understand that. I’d rather set fire to my money and property than see a single penny of it go to the government to squander on barmy projects, too…
Are they chief executives who earn 202 times more than the person at the bottom of their pay spine? The tolerance band of human ability simply isn't wide enough for any one person to be 202 times better than anyone else.
That’s so utterly absurd as to almost need no rebuttal, but does Zoe seriously think that the managing director of ‘Boots’ does the same job (and so should get the same remuneration) as Doris in the staff canteen or Tunde who comes round to hoover the carpet and empty bins after everyone’s gone home? I presume she herself isn’t on the same whack as Rusbridger?

Perhaps she thinks she should be…
Does their money come from the public purse, in contracts at which they fail but get paid anyway, because "that's how contracts work" (as Nick Buckles, the chief executive of G4S, told the home affairs select committee on Tuesday)? Does their wealth derive from banking?
So what? Are we allowed to tar everyone in banking with the same brush? I thought the ‘Guardian’ was agin’ that sort of thing.
People in the bracket of great wealth sometimes make the misapprehension that the world is envious because they envy one another; but actually envy is the last thing you'd feel towards someone whose fortune had contributed directly to your misfortune.
I’m unsure how anyone else’s ‘great wealth’ has somehow contributed to any misfortune I might suffer..? I mean, apart from my iPhone’s less-than-useful battery life, that is. Steve Jobs, that bastard...

Why does the 'Guardian' keep pushing a message of envy? Well, that's simple. Because it works.

Picking A Fight With The Person With Deep Pockets…

A mother whose daughter was badly injured when she was knocked down by a skateboarder in Boscombe Chine Gardens is appealing for the help of locals in a legal fight.
With the irresponsible skateboarder? Well, who could argue with th…

Oh. Of course not.

With the Bournemouth taxpayer, actually, by proxy:
Mo Morgan, 44, has been fighting a case with Bournemouth Borough Council since the incident in August 2011. Her daughter India, now aged eight, needed hospital attention after she was hit by a skateboarder.
After being told by the police that there was little that could be done, she took legal advice and was told that the council should be made accountable for not displaying signs saying that skateboarding is prohibited, for not adequately patrolling the park or putting in preventative measures.
Because of course, if someone else is careless and you can’t sue them, sue the council! Their money comes from the magic money tree, doesn’t it, and not from the taxpayer!

Not that this stupid greedy woman is a Bournemouth taxpayer, mind you…
Mo, who was visiting Bournemouth with India and son Charlie, five, from Basingstoke in Hampshire, has been told that she needs locals to come forward to agree that skateboarding in the park is dangerous and a regular nuisance.
And Britain in 2012 being what it is, she’ll probably get them, too.

Not a great deal of sympathy for her in the comments, it has to be said.
Kiki1973 says...
Why hasn't it been reported that the council have put in special textured paving across the paths to prevent and/ or slow down skateboarders as a result of this incident? It was brought to their attention that there was an incident --not a major one, but an unfortunate one-- and the council made changes to accommodate in the only practical way they could. At least tell both sides, Echo!
Something for Southend Council to think about, maybe?

Friday 21 September 2012

Was Another Stratford Narrowly Averted Here?

A 31-year-old Burnley man tried to set his dog on police officers who came to speak to him about an alleged offence.
Blackburn magistrates heard the dog, encouraged by its master, became aggressive as police struggled to arrest Scott Dumigan.
A true ‘weapon dog’, then? Again
Dumigan, of North Street, Burnley, pleaded guilty to resisting a police officer and failing to surrender to bail.
He was fined £125 and ordered to pay £15 costs.
That’ll teach him!
David Leach, defending, said his client had not been charged with the matter the police arrested him for.
So? It’s what he did when they came calling to question him that’s the point!
“He tried to persuade them he had done nothing wrong,” said Mr Leach.
“He should have gone with them but he was frustrated.
“As for encouraging the dog to attack he apologises to the officer but assures me there was never any prospect of it attacking anyone.”
Only because they managed to shut the door in its face…

Why is no order being made with regards to the dog?

Neath Port Talbot Prepares For The Arrival Of The Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse…

Crisis meetings are being held amid dire predictions that the Government's benefits reforms will plunge Neath Port Talbot back to the dark days of soup kitchens.
The prospect was variously described as frightening, terrifying and horrifying when the full impact of the changes was spelt out to councillors.
They accused the Government of being cruel and vicious in targeting the most vulnerable in society, with families and single parents expected to be the hardest hit.
Oh, woe! Oh, misery! Oh, they’ve got it in for Wales!

But wait. This is a nationwide effect. Why should it so severely impact here?
Neath Port Talbot has one of the highest claimant rates in Wales — one in four residents is receiving at least one form of benefit — and so will feel the full force of the impending changes.
Ah. Right.

Naturally, there’s a lot of discontent:
Social justice charity the Bevan Foundation, which the council commissioned to assess the likely impact, has warned that many people will see their benefits cut or even lost altogether.
"It's going to have a huge, incredibly disruptive impact on lots of people," said foundation director Victoria Winckler. "That impact is going to be mostly negative."
It’s meant to be. We can’t afford to support people who aren’t productive. We’ve had enough of that.
Neath Port Talbot Council is now holding crisis management talks not only between its own departments likely to be affected, such as housing benefits, welfare rights and homelessness, but external agencies too.
They are looking at what can be done to mitigate the worst effects or, as Dr Winckler put it, take the edge off the harshness.
Measures could include easing the restrictions on school uniforms to save parents money, and providing people with advice on how to manage reduced budgets.
Reduced budget? Spend less on booze, fags and Sky subscriptions. Sorted!
Mr Rees said: "This is evidence that what this uncaring, vicious Government is doing, hitting the poorest and most vulnerable in our communities.
"Where they think people are going to find work I just don't understand."
Here we go. This might help.

Put Your Own House In Order First!

The attorney general has warned the media to be careful in their reporting in the wake of the arrest of Dale Cregan, who was arrested on suspicion of murdering two unarmed women police officers in Manchester on Tuesday.
Dominic Grieve's office issued a note to the press and broadcasters late on Tuesday after what it described as "intense media coverage over the shootings of PC Nicola Hughes and PC Fiona Bone" in the immediate aftermath of their murder.
Oh, that wretched media! What are they doing now, those knaves?

Are they doorstepping the grieving relatives? Hacking the phones of senior prosecutors to find out details? Paying underworld villains for their tawdry revelations? 
At that point several broadcasters and newspapers were reporting emotional allegations made by the Manchester chief constable about the alleged circumstances of the two officers' deaths and similar remarks by made by David Cameron.
Nevertheless, some newspapers carried the quotes in their print editions on Wednesday.
Ah. Oh. Ummm...
The attorney general's office warned that Cregan has now been arrested on suspicion of the murders and the earlier deaths of two others and that newspapers should be minded of "the risks in publishing material that ... risks interfering with the administration of justice".
Such advisory notices are normally confidential to the media, but the attorney general's office agreed that its existence could be made public when contacted by the Guardian.
Which just goes to show just how appallingly dim the people in Grieve's office must be...
The Sun, the Daily Mirror, the Guardian and the Daily Mail, were among those printing comments made by the Manchester chief constable, Sir Peter Fahy, and the prime minister.
Well, indeed! The only surprise is that one paper didn't! Expecting the media not to print or broadcast the very media announcement they's been called in to broadcast, or the utterings of the leader of our government, is utter folly!

What are they thinking?
However, a more circumspect Times reported that it contacted Grieve's office on Tuesday evening and "was given advice that constrained the newspaper from reporting the full comments of both the prime minister and Sir Peter" because they had both made "direct allegations about an individual".
And thus does the office of the Attorney General sum up the ludicrous nature of our contempt laws – we all heard the statements on live TV, they were spoken by people who one would expect to know the law better than a roomful of hacks, but they must not report them, and we must be prevented from reading about them….

It's a wonder they aren't ordering the public to whack themselves over the head with a mallet in an attempt to induce amnesia!

Wow! Look At Those Goalposts Shift!

On Tuesday, sorrow and reflection, and outrage, and (from some) the pushing of an agenda:
PC Nicola Hughes, 23, and PC Fiona Bone, 32 have died during an operation which led to the arrest of a man wanted by Greater Manchester Police.
Suddenly, as if by magic, Tory politicians love us again as they fall over each other to simper about how dangerous and special this job can be. Don’t watch the Sky News coverage unless you have blood-pressure tablets handy. They started to suggest GMP are to blame with indecent haste.
Police said both unarmed officers suffered fatal injuries during a “routine operation” in Hattersley, Tameside.
Oh, the clamour for guns, or even for just routine carrying of Taser, anything rather than be armed with 'just a stick!' as Shijuro pointed out to the 'Daily Mail'.

Of course, we should remember (from De Menezes and Duggan) not to trust the first police statements emanating from an incident, shouldn't we?

Because it soon transpired that they weren't unarmed. One of them had a Taser.

And then on Thursday, WHOOOOSH! Look at those goalposts go!

We'll leave aside the fact that you don't always know you're going to a gunfight (we don't even know if the Taser was fired!). We'll leave aside the fact that the last three police polls on arming have been overwhelmingly in favour of the status quo.

We'll just consider the blatant opportunism displayed there, from someone who just adores to snipe at politicians for their own opportunism...

Thursday 20 September 2012

Childcare Is Expensive SHOCK!

A mile separates Lullabys and Little Ann day nurseries in South Norwood – yet one charges nearly £300 more than the other to look after a child.
Well, that’s London for you. Hugely expensive places sitting cheek-by-jowl with the most rundown slums. These sort of price differentials are, therefore, hardly surprising…
Pockets of South Norwood are in the ten per cent most deprived areas in the country. According to official statistics, one in three children in the ward live in poverty and more than 700 people are out of work.
Against this backdrop, Lullabys, in Ross Road, charges parents £875 a month for full-time childcare for a two-year-old. This does not include a £25 registration fee for, effectively, filling in a few forms.
Complaining about the registration fee seems pointless – many service organisations charge such a fee.

And if ‘a few forms’ need to be filled in, it’s no surprise, given the plethora of council and central government regulations and registration bodies these services now need to comply with, mostly driven (of course!) by media campaigns, where they are not directed by the EU.
Operations manager Theresa Staunton believes comparing prices is unfair. She said: "Before parents decide where their child should go, they should visit nurseries and see what they are getting for their money.
"Most of the nurseries that charge less aren't as good. Given the amount they are charging, they couldn't be.
"We provide high end, high quality childcare, and there are huge costs associated with that. "
Because people are willing to pay them. So, why is this a problem?
Our sample also shows that high prices are not confined to the affluent areas of the borough, with nurseries in Thornton Heath, Selhurst and South Norwood asking for more than £850 per month.
Ah. Once again, it’s that ‘inequality’ business, I suppose?

Seriously, of all the things for a Croydon local newspaper to run a campaign about, this is the best they could find?
Of the 30 nurseries surveyed by the Advertiser, the cheapest was Little Ann, based in St Albans Church Hall in Whitehorse Lane. Little Ann charges parents £600 a month, at least £200 cheaper than three other nurseries in the area.
Manager Malarrosa Murugaiah recently dropped her fees by £50 after several parents could not afford to pay their monthly bill. Unlike some of her rivals, she doesn't believe that price dictates quality.
Well, she wouldn’t, would she?
"Yes we're a business but we must also consider what is best for the parents," said Mrs Murugaiah.
"People who live here have very little money. I know there are nurseries which ask for £800 or even £900 a month, but if I charged that much, we wouldn't have any children."
And yet, others do, and seem to be well-subscribed. Strange, that…
Some of the most affordable childcare can be found in New Addington, yet it is still out of the price range of parents like Lisa Booth.
"I have looked at childcare but as a low income family we can't afford it, even with government help," she said.
"My son starts school this month, and I will use that time to find work, but I don't know what I will do in the holidays, as I feel like I can't leave a child with friends or family because they aren't registered minders."
The Statist brainwashing is working, then? I mean, twenty years ago no-one would have thought twice about leaving their child with relatives or non-working friends – I myself was looked after by my grandmother while my mother went to work, and it was so unremarkable an arrangement that most of my classmates were in a similar position.

But now, it’s regarded as odd, strange, something to be remarked on and considered an inferior arrangement to paying over huge sums of money to a total stranger with a fancy logo and a paper certificate!
But Mrs Myatt fears she will have to raise charges when work place pension reform is introduced next month.
She said: "If you think that wages are at least 50 per cent of our outgoings and now we have to find an extra five per cent, that's a significant sum of money."
So…how will Mrs Murugaiah cope? I wonder…

Just A ‘Misguided Science Project’…

Angie Dews, 43, pleaded guilty to three counts of making the improvised explosive devices (IEDs) uncovered by police at the South Croydon mental health hospital where she lived and received care.
Whoops! Luckily, they weren’t made on the premises, the police think.

That would be mental!
Dews, formerly known as Mark Camm, has been living as a woman for the past 18 months and was a resident at Southleigh Community hospital, in Brighton Road, which had to be evacuated.
The guilty plea at Croydon Crown Court on Friday means we can now reveal the details of a court hearing earlier this year, which heard how police were called to the hospital by a woman calling herself Dews' stepmum.
‘Calling herself’..? Well, was she, or wasn’t she?

Is everyone in this story confused about their identity?
A day after the bombs were found on January 18, Peter Bonham, prosecuting, told Croydon Magistrates' Court: "Police received a call from someone who stated that she was Miss Dews' stepmum and that she said her stepson [Dews] had called, saying he had a gun and would kill himself if no one told him he was loved.
"However, when the police arrived they discovered Miss Dews had made a number of improvised explosive devices, known as IEDs.
"There was also a home-made handgun firearm recovered from the scene and loaded with explosive powder material, initially thought to be explosive material from inside fireworks.
"In the subsequent interview she admitted she made the items and said she also wanted to prove she could make them after failing an interview to join the military where she was told she would never become a bomb specialist."

I just….

It’s like a ‘Monty Python’ sketch, isn’t it?
At the January hearing, Louise Hartley, defending Dews, said: "She has a very difficult relationship with her father who doesn't accept that she lives as a woman. She doesn't have the contact she desperately craves.
"She had no intention of harming herself and had no intention of harming anybody else. It was a cry for attention and a misguided science project."
Riiiight! There’s a lot of it going about, apparently…
Judge Jeremy Gold ordered a psychiatric report be carried out before sentencing on September 21.
By someone independent of the hospital, I’d hope?

Not Just Lax With Dangerous Humans….

…our useless, not-fit-for-purpose justice system is constantly giving second chances to dogs as well:
A dog facing possible destruction for savaging a policewoman has been given a stay of execution by a court.
Yes, you’ll be astonished to hear this is the case of the out-of-control animals from Whitleigh, yet again
Ali Rafati, for Dre's owner Paula Libbey, told Plymouth Crown Court the dog had been making progress since being taken into the care of the Doris Banham Trust.
I see he’s using the same excuses as he’d use for his human clients! It’s a wonder he didn’t throw in a bit of doggy PTSD for good measure…
Mr Rafati asked for a final order on the dog be put off a final time for three months to assess its progress. David Bowen, for the Crown Prosecution Service, did not oppose the application.
Judge Cottle adjourned the case until December 7.
Just cut everyone’s losses, give up on a totally pointless endeavour and put the unwanted, useless creature down for the sake of society.

Oh, and the dog’ll have to go, too…

Wednesday 19 September 2012

Ex Libris: ‘Saga of The Exiles’

To confirm that it was indeed near death, the great vessel broke through into normal space with lingering slowness. The pain of the usually swift translation was prolonged as well, until the thousand, for all their strength, cursed and wept within their minds and became convinced that they would be trapped. It would be the grey limbo endlessly. That, and pain.

But the Ship was doing its best. Sharing the agony of the passengers, it pushed and pried against the tough fabric of the superficies until there were flickers of black against the grey. The Ship and the people felt their anguish dim into a mere harmony of nearly musical vibrations that echoed, damped, and finally snapped off.

They hung in normal space, stars all around them.

I picked this one up at – of all shops – Woolworths in the Heathway, Dagenham!

Again, the cover was the immediate draw, and I read the first few pages and couldn’t quite ‘get’ the writing style.

So I put it aside and went on to read something else. Then, about a year or two later, I came back to it. And was immediately hooked! Which, luckily, meant that the sequels had been published in the meantime, and I didn't have the agonising wait that I had to endure for the Galactic Milieu series that served as 'prequel' to the events of these books.

It's one of those series that really repays repeated reading, and most certainly repays eclectic reading - there are so many references and oblique nods to myths, legends, archetypes and even brands that the author ended up publishing a 'Pliocene Companion' to give the background for readers who hadn't perhaps got all the references.

She went on to produce a nifty little space opera series called the 'Rampart Worlds' trilogy, which I enjoyed immensely as well, but also published a few fantasy novels - the Blood Trilluim series - that I just can't get into at all. It seems to me as if they are written by a completely different author.

In a moment of rare serendipity, just the other week a literature account I follow reTweeted the announcement from Tor Books UK that they would be re-releasing these four novels, having first given the cover art a makeover. See what you think here.

Even better, eBook versions will be made available! My cup runneth over...