Monday, 31 March 2014

Bringing A Machete To An Axe Fight…

A teenager’s hand was said to be left “hanging by a thread” after a terrifying axe attack in front of dozens of shoppers and diners on one of London’s busiest high streets.
The 18-year-old who was also armed with a machete was attacked by another youth wielding a hatchet in Upper Street, Islington, at 6pm last night. Another teenager, who is also 18, suffered stab wounds in the attack.
It’ll come as no surprise which demographic these teenagers are from, of course.
Detectives are investigating possible links to a surge in postcode gang violence in the borough. Both teenagers were later arrested by police for grievous bodily harm.
Good thing they didn’t taser these ‘vulnerable children’, eh?

Post Title Of The Month

Once again, the Queen of the Blogs takes the prize:

Quote Of The Month

Edwin Greenwood on modern day dilemmas:
"The question is, should I be celebrating the fact that the wogs are at least partially integrating into the indigenous chav culture? Or should I be bemoaning the neo-colonial defilement and pollution of their own kultcha?

Post Of The Month

Peter Risdon. That is all.

The Cynical Tactics Of The Open Borders Crowd…

Sophie Peer - like most of her fellow progressives - has no shame, clearly:
The sadness and pleas in these drawings are fairly evident, sometimes literal. “I need your help. ples help me” says the speech bubble above the girl with curly hair. A child is crying out for help, pleading to strangers. Parents know they cannot help their own children. These drawings show the complete breakdown of the family unit. Inside detention, parents are stripped of the right to make nearly every basic decision about their child: what will he or she eat, shall I set a nice family table for dinner, what type of education will my child receive, what will he or she wear?
Go back home and you can make all the decisions you want for your child.
Successive governments have gone to great lengths to tell us that there is no longer razor wire at facilities; that where possible, Christmas Island included, fences are relatively low. Sometimes it is the type of fencing you would see at a residential building site. It makes no difference: the children are trapped, they are held captive and their drawings reflect this. Overbearing bars, giant locks, guards with keys on their belts. It looks repressive because it is. It looks terrifying from the eyes of a child: uniforms, places you cannot go, restrictions that hold you in a place filled with suffering.
Oh, stop! I’m welling up here… No, actually, I’m not.
Time and time again we see children draw sad groups, collections of broken people. They mourn their own lost freedom but also feel grief for their friend who is not as much fun to play with as she once was, for the child they saw crying in the dining room.
So, children are unhappy. And that means Australians should just accept all comers, with no questions asked. Right?

Wrong! The voters have spoken, and they clearly reject the idea of open borders.
When we visit they often give us something sweet. One boy explained this to me. “You are nice people, you visit us, we don’t want to make you sad.”
What a manipulative little article this is.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Hey, Labour! This Is How You Do ‘Education, Education, Education’…

A record number of parents were hit with fines last year after their children skipped lessons, official figures show.
New statistics also show a steep rise in the number of parents prosecuted for failing to pay their penalties, with almost 8,000 cases taken to court.
More please, faster.

Hey, 'Guardian', There's Not Just An 'R' In The Month...

It's 'crows'...

Definitely not cows. Hopefully. We wouldn't want to alarm Mark Wadsworth, would we?

Yeah, I Loathe Audience Participation Events Too…

…you know the sort of thing, pantomimes, avant-garde theatre productions, cage-fighting events.

Wait. What?
A night of cage fighting in Greenwich had to shut down early - after members of the crowd started brawling with each other.

Sunday Funnies...

Proof they really are better than us...

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Major Crime In Eltham!

But don’t worry, police are on the case!
It is believed that a flowerpot containing flowers was broken and that (the object) was spat at.
Wow! A broken flowerpot! And someone spitting in the street!
The men, aged 18 and 19, were taken into custody and have been bailed until May 29.

Seriously? You can be arrested for this? If only I’d known, I’d have happily dialled 999 when I saw the chap in front of me in the Tube yesterday morning spit on the carriage floor!

But then, I suspect I’d just be accused of wasting police time. It matters, you see, where you do it…

Well, We Wouldn’t Want To Break Up A Family, Now…

The family of a teenager who came close to being deported on her own are to be sent back to Mauritius along with the 19-year-old after losing their appeal, it emerged on Tuesday.
*chuckles* That’s one way to get around it – I take my hat off to you for once, Home Office!
On Tuesday evening, the news was broken to teachers and friends of two of the family's three children at the Oasis Academy Hadley, in north London, who have led a campaign to block the deportation supported by more than 100,000 people.
Headteacher Lynne Dawes said she thought the move was an attempt to dismiss their argument that deporting Yashika would split up her family.
And it worked!

The news came as a disappointment to those who thought sentiment should win the day over the rules and the laws of the land:
Lee Pedder, 18, a friend of Yashika, said: "Our legal team are pushing them and we will continue to as well. If her entire family is going to be deported, we will support them all. This is a massively cynical tactic to try and shut up democratic oversight."
Estyhia Tangeli, 18, said the decision to deport both girls from the school, and the rest of the family, was disgraceful. She said: "It makes them look worse as they will lose two valuable members of society; her sister is predicted As and A*s in her GCSEs she's about to sit."
Another friend, Shantelle Creed, 17, said: "We're showing just how passionate and engaged we are and they're backing us into a corner. We won't stop."
OK, I agree. Let’s keep them. And deport Lee, Estyhia and Shantelle in their place.

I think we’d probably be getting the best of the bargain…

The Halls Of Academe Feel The Winds Of Change…

…and they don’t like it one little bit:
Mental health problems are on the rise among UK academics amid the pressures of greater job insecurity, constant demand for results and an increasingly marketised higher education system.
Commercialisation is coming, and it’s causing stress. Oh noes!
University counselling staff and workplace health experts have seen a steady increase in numbers seeking help for mental health problems over the past decade, with research indicating nearly half of academics show symptoms of psychological distress.
David Thompson always has a wonderful selection of academics showing symptoms of psychological something
Dr Alan Swann of Imperial College London, chair of the higher education occupational physicians committee, blamed "demands for increased product and productivity" for rising levels of mental health problems among academics.
He says: "They all have to produce results – you are only as good as your research rating or as good as your ability to bring in funding for research."
Ah. You mean, they are making university life mirror real life? How awful!
Research by Gail Kinman, professor of occupational health psychology at the University of Bedfordshire … points to poor work-life balance as a key factor, with academics putting in increasing hours as they attempt to respond to high levels of internal and external scrutiny, a fast pace of change and the notion of students as customers – leading to demands such as 24-hour limit for responses to student queries.
Yes, the ‘notion of students as customers’ is the real problem. For countless years, they’ve been considered merely pawns in the delivery of ever more wacky theories, and now they are valued customers!

Oh, it's all too much! Pass the sick leave form, I'm too stressed to carry on!

Friday, 28 March 2014

Well, She’s Participating In Drink All Right…

…so maybe that wasn’t the best name for the programme?
Bolton Magistrates’ Court heard how Edwards had been involved in a “drink participation programme” since April, 2013, but had started drinking again in December last year.
I lol’d.
Rahil Khan, defending, said she had lapsed as her support officer from Urban Outreach had been away at the time.
You mean without a government-paid minder with her 24/7, she goes off the rails? Well, gosh, that seems like such a great use of taxpayer money, doesn’t it?
In pleading guilty to being drunk in charge of a child under seven, Edwards also breached a 12-month conditional discharge, imposed in December for stealing a £15 watch from TK Maxx.
Magistrates sentenced her to 12 month community orders for both offences, to run concurrently.
It seems Edwards and Rahil are quite the double act:
Michelle Edwards, aged 37, became abusive to staff on March 5 while getting a bandage changed for a wound.
Steve Woodman, prosecuting at Bolton Magistrates Court, said security staff were asked to escort Edwards from the hospital at about 4.45pm because of her behaviour.
Mr Woodman said: “While walking though A&E, where there were a number of children. She spat in the face of Stephen Coleman, a security guard.
She told a police officer ‘I’m going to give it to you too’.”
Lovely! But wait, who’s this riding to her rescue?
Rahil Khan, defending, said: “It is most unfortunate. She is somebody who suffers from hepatitis C.
“What she does tell me is that you can’t contract the condition through saliva. I hope sincerely that is so and so does Ms Edwards.”
Might you have checked, Rahil, maybe with someone medically qualified? No? Above your pay grade? Ah, well…
He said Edwards suffers from depression. He said she has been “overwhelmed by her personal position” .
I fail to see what she has to get depressed about. It certainly isn’t the harsh lash of the state’s enforcement arm, after all..
Edwards admitted common assault. She was sentenced to a 12-week jail term, suspended for 12 months.
She must also comply with a 12-week curfew between 7pm and 7am and was ordered to pay £400 compensation to Mr Coleman.
I wonder where she’s going to get that £400..?

The Extension Of The Concept…

Bexleyheath and Crayford MP David Evennett has helped launch a campaign for people with learning disabilities to stay safe in public places.
If that sounds like a familiar concept, well…it is.
The scheme has been developed with the police, in conjunction with charity Mencap, to provide safe havens at 170 shops and businesses across the borough for people with learning disabilities.
Stickers will be put up alerting those if they feel assistance to pop in.
Is it me, or..?

It’s All A Really Big Mystery, Say The RSPCA…

The body of a horse … was discovered in Fray’s River off Packet Boat Lane, Cowley, on Monday morning, its hooves bound with rope.
Appalled members of the public were keen to see justice done:
Once the body had been removed, those who had helped were keen to get it scanned for a microchip, in an attempt identify the owner.
“That is the only way to find out who did this,” she said.
If the poor animal ever had a microchip, of course.
In a statement, the RSPCA said: “There is no evidence to explain how the horse ended up here and whether it was a deliberate act or whether the animal slipped or had some kind of accident.”
Who knows? It might have done the equine equivalent of falling down the custody unit steps, eh, RSPCA?
Hillingdon police say they were called on Monday afternoon in relation to a horse in the river.
They are yet to confirm if they have opened an investigation.
Contrast the RSPCA foot-dragging here with their actions in other cases.

And it’s a pattern we see repeated time and again:
Charlotte Watson, 40, of Maplescombe Lane, came across the dead foal this morning. She told News Shopper: "I keep getting horses dumped in my road.
"This foal was probably about seven or eight months old.
"This is happening way to often in this area and surrounding areas. I am disgusted and upset.
"I've reported it to police and RSPCA.
"It's terrible for people who have to suffer the consequences of other people's bad behaviour and is very upsetting for families with young children.
"The people who do this are obviously very cold hearted and callous.
"Nobody seems to want to help when this does happen.
"The last horse dumped in our road was left there for 10 days before being removed."
The RSPCA is ‘concerned’:
A RSPCA spokeswoman said: "The RSPCA shares concerns about the dead horse found in Maplescombe Lane, Farningham near Dartford.
"It has been reported to us and we have been to have a look but it is unclear what caused the animal to die."
It’s all a bit of a puzzle, isn’t it? If you try hard not to solve it, that is.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

No Advertising Please, We’re Students!

Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett on the awful injustice of … getting an advertising email in your inbox?
If you needed further proof that education has become little more than a commodity, then the news that Ucas is selling access to millions of students to advertisers might just be it.
Just advertisers? Good lord, from the pearl-clutching going on, you’d think she’d discovered they were planning to sell students’ personal details to white slavers...

And anyway, aren't teenagers supposed to be clued up on all this technology stuff? Just set up a divert for these emails to go straight to the trash folder – job done!
Yes, you can opt out of receiving the digital marketing emails, but only by also agreeing to miss out on the education and careers newsletters, too.
And how many students even read these in the first place? Will they miss them?

But it seems Rhiannon has been perturbed by commercialisation even from a tender age:
Even as a teenager I knew instinctively it was wrong. It was about 10 years ago that the first advertising posters cropped up at my school, in the corridors and canteen, advertising films and junk foods. Prior to that we had been using Pepsi-branded exercise books, but the posters were a step too far.
Couldn’t you have just hurried past, eyes cast firmly on the ground, shielding yourself from the awful sight..?

You’d Have To Have A Heart Of Stone…

Carol Noman, 63, of Greygarth Close, north Bransholme, chased after her bin crew after they refused to empty her blue bin.
She said: "I recycle religiously and was quite angry when they just left my bin out in the street.
"I ran after them and one of the crew just laughed at me and said it was because I had put some black bags in.
"I've always used black bags in the house to collect everything to go in the blue bin.
"No one sent me a letter explaining the new rules. Now I've got to go another fortnight before the next collection."
Oh dear, did you think your Shield Of Righteous Recycling would protect you – and only you – against the Arrows Of Bureaucratic Intransigence?

Well, cheer up. You weren’t the only one:
George Porte, 61, also discovered his blue bin had been left behind after he put out the recycling.
Mr Porte, of St George's Grove, west Hull, said: "When my blue bin wasn't emptied, I rang up to find out why.
"The girl asked me if I ever put crisp packets in. I told her I did and she said that was why it had not been collected.
"Just because I put the odd crisp packet in seems a bit of a trivial reason not to empty my bin because I always try to recycle what I can.
"What is more annoying is that we didn't get any notice of this from the council."
You can almost feel their baffled rage, can’t you? ‘No, this can’t happen to me, surely? – I rolled over when the council told me to, why are they picking on me, and not those other people, the ones who don’t recycle at all?’
Doug Sharp, the council's assistant head of waste, said: "We are sending letters out to households in advance of their next blue bin collection, explaining what can no longer be placed in the bins.
"I apologise if people haven't received any notification beforehand and I can understand it must be annoying for people who are committed to recycling to find their blue bin has not been emptied."
But you don’t really care, Doug, do you? Because just like an abusive husband, you know they’ll stay with you, and try to get things right this time, to ward off the blows they never saw coming.

They’ll never leave, or stand up for themselves and fight back…
He admitted the new rules would upset some people but he said: "We know that most residents are committed recyclers and are trying to do the right thing.
"Our aim is to reduce the most significant problems and reduce overall contamination by raising awareness."
Before or after, it doesn’t much matter. You’ve got a compliant partner who'll put up with any abuse, haven't you?

No, Judge, That’s Not A Harder Sentence…

A man has narrowly avoided jail after he brandished an eight-inch knife at a woman police officer and threatened to kill her.
Matthew Bowman, mitigating, told the court his client accepted the Crown’s account of what happened.

Wait. That counts as mitigation?
Ward, of Fenners Way, in Basildon, was handed a 10-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months. Judge John Lodge said he was able to suspend Ward’s prison sentence so he could complete an alcohol treatment course with the Essex Probation Service.
“Courageous police officers were put at risk because there was a drunk man on the streets brandishing a knife.
“Quite rightly, you were arrested and remanded by the Magistrates’ Court.
“You have started to deal with your alcohol issues in prison and I take the view it is a harder sentence for you to undergo intensive treatment in the community.”
Not, I suspect, in Judge Lodge’s community, mind you.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Unsurprisingly, The Victim Shows More Common Sense Than The Police…

Despite her ordeal, the victim does not blame landlady June North or the bar, which was then ordered by Humberside Police and licensing bosses to close at midnight.
Well, quite! Because it wasn’t the landlady who attacked her, and the bar was just the venue where it happened.
The 90-second alleged assault by a young woman and her boyfriend is one of a catalogue of problems at Corner Bar, in Southgate, since 2012, including:
• A woman being punched in the face, dragged to the floor and kicked by her friend.
• A doorman being kicked in the genitals by a woman after he told her to stop drinking.
• An innocent bystander being hit in the face by a glass thrown in a beer garden brawl.
• A man suffering a black eye and fat lip after another customer threw a glass at him.
• An 18-year-old boy ripping a condom machine off the toilet wall and smashed a sink after drinking 18 bottles of Stella Artois.
However, East Riding Council's licensing sub-committee has approved Miss North's application to lift the restrictions and, in three weeks, the bar will return to 2am closing.
So, it’s fairly obvious that the problem is people behaving badly. But not to those who, it seems, are paid to resolve these issues, but who only want a quiet life without having to do any work:
Daniel Guiver, Humberside Police solicitor, blamed Miss North's "poor management" at the bar. He accused Miss North and her staff of failing to intervene sooner.
What, should they need to be psychic? Set up a ‘Minority Report’ bar staff facility?

This, from a police ‘force’ that regularly needs to be prodded into action against actual crimes, is laughable.
The woman and her boyfriend were thrown out of the bar and arrested an hour later. An ambulance was called, but the victim was instead taken to Hull Royal Infirmary by taxi.
Her nose was picked off the floor and packed in ice but, following surgery, went gangrenous and had to be removed.
Remember that bit about the taxi. It’ll have meaning later.
Mr Guiver said: "No one tried to detain the suspected offenders, they were allowed to leave. That is not good management."
No, indeed. It’s police work. Why on earth should anyone else risk being arrested for trying to do it?

Apparently, they should have not only forcibly restrained the offenders, but also the victim, to prevent her getting a taxi. At least, according to Mr Guiver:
"Packing the nose in ice, although not the wrong thing to do, caused frostbite and the delay in getting medical treatment could have contributed to the failing of the attachment."
Amazing! He’s clearly not just a police solicitor – he’s a plastic surgeon too!

“Consequences? What, Me..? Surely Not!?”

Konstancja Duff, 25, was arrested, ordered to pay an £810 fine and given a three-month conditional discharge after writing slogans in coloured chalk during a protest for the rights of cleaning staff.
Ms Duff, who has taught part-time at Birkbeck College and is now studying for a PhD in philosophy at Sussex university, said: “Any normal person would think chalk could be rubbed off.
“It is an accepted form of campaigning around the university to write things in chalk.”
Well, guess what, honey, out in the real world we call it ‘vandalism’.
Fifty London academics have written to university bosses to complain about her “vindictive” treatment. They also sent dishcloths, which they said could have been used to clean the chalk off.
Cool! If I was the university management, I’d put out a news report thanking them for the free dishcloths and the subsequent reduction in the cleaning supply bill...
A university spokesman said: “The graffiti on the foundation stone required high-pressure hydrocleaning, which resulted in the removal of the gold lettering, which needed to be replaced.
“The university did not press charges against the individual.”
Well, no. Because this isn't America.

Paperwork – It’s Like Kryptonite To Travellers…

Shane Smith was left angered last week after Worcester City Council authorised his two animals to be impounded.
They had been left grazing on council- owned grassland along Wainwright Road in Warndon Villages, Worcester.
A common problem, and one that’s lead to more than a few deaths of humans, as well as the unfortunate horses:
But Mr Smith, who is 23 and lives in Offerton Lane, Worcester, says it was too much of a rigmarole to get them back. They could now be sold at auction should they not be claimed.
"I'm going to let them keep them," said Mr Smith. "They wanted me to provide them with a lot of paperwork and money to get them back. "
And wait, don’t tell me, let me guess! You’d ‘misplaced’ all the paperwork, right? And the microchip must have moved. Yes?

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

“My OFSTED Rating Is More Important Than The Law Of The Land!”

A head teacher who funded the £2,000 bail money for one of her “best students” to release her from an immigration centre is trying to prevent the teenager’s deportation to Mauritius amid claims she will be attacked on her return.
Politically..? For her race or sexuality?

No. A simple crime, rather like those reported here every day:
The teenager came to the UK in 2012 with her mother and brother to escape alleged attempts at sexual assault from someone in her community back home.
Unsurprisingly, this doesn’t qualify you for asylum (though I suspect a judge can be found who’d agree).
A statement from the school said that “to deport Yashika at any stage would cost the UK a valuable member of society.”
I’ve no doubt, when you compare her to some of the natural-born citizens of Enfield, but that’s irrelevant.

Isn’t it?

The Curious Incident Of The ‘Chemical Attack'…

Bromley police have said two females, aged 13 and 14, have been bailed until April 25 following an incident at Beaverwood School in Beaverwood Road. News Shopper received a report yesterday afternoon claiming nine girls were sprayed in the face with a chemical substance in the playground at around 11am - and it was said the girls had been targeted by a fellow pupil.
Robbie Nicolson, 43, is the uncle of one of the alleged victims. He told News Shopper: "The girls were in the school playground and one girl has gone round spraying nine other girls in the face.
"When my niece's mum found out she went straight down there.
"There was skin peeling off her face. She was taken to Queen Mary's Hospital." A police spokesman confirmed attending the scene and that medical attention was required.
But the school doesn't seem concerned:
Beaverwood School headteacher Karen Raven said: "Beaverwood School For Girls is proud of the calm and sensible way in which yesterday’s isolated incident was dealt with by students and staff.
"It is business as usual for the school community as exams are underway.
"At break time, a teenager randomly sprayed a can, the contents of which accidently caught some of her friends.
"Only one student was treated in hospital. No other students were involved.
"The school continues to take all appropriate actions."
So, ‘nothing to see here, move along, nothing happened’..?
Kerry Finch, 30, of Mottingham Road, said the Chislehurst school failed to inform her about Tuesday's incident until hours after it had happened.
She added they failed to take her daughter, whose "whole face was completely burned", to hospital.
She told News Shopper: "The school neglected to call for three hours after my daughter’s face had been burned.
"I jumped in my car and went down there.
"When I got there her whole face was completely burned, her cheeks were blistered. "The teachers neglected their duties.

"They had no right to delay my daughter's treatment for three hours. Maybe then she wouldn't have blistered on the cheeks.
"She was left in a room with a tissue. "
So, what did happen? I guess we’ll have to wait until 25th April…

Hackney Vignette…

A 15-year-old girl shot dead in a house in Hackney, east London, on Saturday afternoon has been named as Shereka Fab-Ann Marsh.
Who’s surprised at the protagonists in this? Yeah. Me too. And the photos grabbed off Facebook and plastered all over the press show her to be 15 but clearly going on 27…

Is there the obligatory chavshrine?
Friends gathered close to the terraced house where the incident took place and laid flowers while forensic crime officers continued their investigation behind a cordon.
Some words of wisdom from her friends:
"Shereka only went to drop off his birthday present, and somehow she got shot," one said. "Nobody knows how yet. It's awful."

Another friend said: "I don't know why there was a gun there when [he] was celebrating his 15th birthday, but this is Hackney."
This …. Is….HACKNEY!!! Not Sparta. In case there should be any doubt. I’d be surprised if the life expectancy wasn’t similar though…
On Sunday night her headmaster, Richard Brown, said the school was "stunned by the completely unexpected and tragic death" of the year 11 student who on Friday had been helping raise money for Sport Relief. "It is absolutely out of the blue," he said. "You couldn't have a more innocent victim … Shereka was a bright able student and was on track to be really successful in her GCSEs. She was a great role model for other younger students. She would not knowingly be involved with anything that would have contributed to her death."
Right. Of course not. Never. Perish the thought.

The traditional Hackney parenting? Very much so:
Chainelle Jennings, 16, said her friend was "a nice bubbly girl and she loved to party, loved shopping"… She added Shereka was an only child who lived with a "very protective" mother while her father lives in Jamaica.
I’m sure he contributes to her upkeep, though? Baby needs new shoes false nails & hair extensions!
Krista Brown, an ambassador for the national apprenticeship service, whose son Shad Brown knew Shereka and the boys who were being questioned, described it as "a tragic situation for both sides of the coin".

"This is a local community," she said. "They're our kids. What people fail to realise is that this is our kids' reality."
Is it? How terribly sad. Well, I suppose you must really want it that way, given any attempt to change it is met with resistance from the usual suspects.  It’s notable, too, that this unfortunate death is unlikely to garner any protest marches or anguished columns in CiF.

Of course, not content with the actual, meatspace shrine, there’s the ubiquitous virtual one to contend with:
An "RIP Shereka" Facebook page created to host tributes to the schoolgirl referenced suggestions that she was accidentally shot. Loopylou Olliffe wrote: "RIP sweet princess. These evil people need to be stopped. Thinking praying and sending my love to you family in these sad times god bless you all xxx". Elaine Pearson, an NHS nurse, added: "OMG …How do they get these guns?"
Yeah, Elaine. It’s a real mystery. Innit?

Monday, 24 March 2014

Yes, But He’s The ‘Vulnerable’ One, Remember…

Fly, a female lurcher, was said in Bolton Magistrates Court today to be the one of the worst cases ever seen by an experienced vet.
Dog owner David Lowe, aged 33, of Trentham Avenue, Farnworth, was found guilty in his absence of a catalogue of animal cruelty charges.
He couldn’t even be bothered to turn up in court. I think that tells us all we need to know…
The court heard that Lowe had been given £20 to take his dog to the vets but he failed to do so because he feared it would be put down.
With good reason. And it shows he fully recognised the state it was in and knew the likely consequences.
Adam Whittaker, defending, said Lowe had been homeless for four years and his ex-partner was caring for the dog until returning it to him last year.
Lowe was said to suffer from post traumatic stress disorder following an explosion in Raikes Lane, Burnden.
Mr Whittaker said Lowe was “highly vulnerable” .
No, I can’t find any report of that explosion…

He’ll be sentenced on 16th April following the usual ‘reports’, without which it seems magistrates can’t even tie their own shoelaces these days…

‘Risk To Public Safety’ Explained

Are you a hardworking businessman who held a coincidental fireworks display at the same time as drivers were pelting through thick fog a couple of fields away? Well, clearly, you’re a risk to public safety!

Are you a…err, member of an identity group, who might set fire to a couple of caravans near a busy A road? No, no, nothing to see here!
… a police spokesman said: “There is no evidence to suggest the caravan fires were started criminally, as they could have been set alight by their owners.”
He argued it was only a crime if they had been set alight without the owner’s knowledge or permission or if the fires had posed a risk to public safety.
Despite the first fire closing the road and being metres from motorists, the spokesman claimed neither of the fires posed a safety risk and the laybywas an “isolated area” .
Do they not realise this makes them look like a laughing stock? Or do they just not care?

H/T: Wiggia via email

It's Like Deja Vu All Over Again!

A local farmer said: ‘I saw it all. The police and council didn’t know what they were doing.
‘They spent two hours chasing the horses about which just made them more agitated.
You don't say..?
Rebecca Emmett, head of regulatory services at Three Lakes District Council, said: ‘The decision to put down the horses was made reluctantly in the interests of the safety of the public.
This was undertaken quickly and humanely.’
Here you go, love:

Look under 'Q'...
The RSPCA said it had no record of being contacted by the council during the incident on March 4.
And it doesn't want one, if you know what I mean and I think you do...
A spokesman for the charity World Horse Welfare added: ‘Police should try to check if a horse is microchipped and trace the owner if possible.’

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Why Should The Police Have Had To Make More Effort Than The Mother?

A police watchdog has concluded officers failed to properly investigate a vicious thug’s assault on his pregnant girlfriend just weeks before he beat to death her toddler son.
Now, if you’re thinking the poor lass is some kind of shrinking violet, dominated by her drug-dealing paramour, well, I have to say that…

Well, just take a look: 

Yeah. Wouldn’t want to come across that in a dark forest if you didn’t have your boar-spear handy, would you?
One PC failed to check if CCTV existed of the pair walking near her home in Bolton after the assault. He also failed to check if neighbours or other witnesses had seen anything suspicious.
The officer failed to question Rigby about his criminal history, make enquiries about Rio or pass on information about his mother’s injuries.
The IPCC say the PC should now face disciplinary action.
So, the police (correctly, as it turned out) assumed that this was yet another of those underclass hookups where they'd be on a hiding to nothing, because either the SS would simply do nothing about a pair of srug dealers and users until one or the other of this hideous pair finally killed the kid or, should there be a miracle and charges were brought, the magistrates would show leniency and release the boar, whereupon he'd hook up with the sow again...
Smedley, from Bolton, was found guilty of allowing or causing the death of the child at her home in Cheriton Drive, Breightmet, Bolton. She was jailed for four years.
She had claimed her son had fallen down the stairs but analysis of the injuries showed that was a lie. His liver had split in two and he had suffered 91 separate injuries.
And she only got four years. Only four years..!
Chief Superintendent Shaun Donnellan, who stressed Smedley wouldn’t support a prosecution for assault, said: “The force recognises that incidents of domestic abuse are very sensitive and often extremely complicated cases to investigate, particularly where the relationships between victims and offenders are ongoing.”
Which, translated, means: “How are we supposed to stop these animals reproducing and then killing their litters when we can't do what any sensible organisation would do without idiot progressives sticking their oar in?”

Physician, Heal Thyse… Oh. You’ve Got That In Hand.

Declan Green (Melbourne GP) is worried about the physical threat posed by the mentally ill.

Yes, really! A turn up for the books, eh?

Oh, wait. Turns out he only means ‘for healthcare professionals’:
Hospital colleagues discuss the disturbing regularity of Code Greys and Blacks chiming over loudspeakers that the calls become part of the usual hospital ward din. Paramedics talk of being physically assaulted while treating people with life threatening injuries. Even accounting for the increase in drug and alcohol fuelled violence, assaults against health workers is rising and has reached pandemic levels. Can we inoculate against it?
Suddenly, it's a concern because you are the victims? Hmmm...
… medical care is an intimate art performed in the privacy of a consulting room or cubicle and it is here that most assaults occur. No extra panic buttons, physical barriers, guards, improved lighting or CCTVs can protect a health professional once the consulting room door closes. A patient’s fundamental right to privacy and confidentiality will always trump a health worker’s right to security and that is why the health professions and society need to alter the health professional-patient dynamic if we wish to see a drop in violence.
"Screw that Hippocratic Oath thing! I might get thrown into traffic, not some random member of the public! This is serious now!""
Nurses, doctors and paramedics are trained to treat patients with respect, autonomy and without judgement. We are taught to advocate for our patients and often put their needs above our own. This sense of duty leads to personal risk and creates a blind spot in our appraisal of potentially dangerous situations. In my experience, what little training I received in diffusing harm had a patient-centric focus rather than my personal safety. To reduce the potential for harm, health providers need the assurance that sometimes, the patient doesn’t come first.
Pity the harm that can be caused to members of the public isn't uppermost in your mind...
There has also been a shift in the doctor-patient relationship due to a change in societal values and medical advancement. A few decades ago, doctors were venerated and their authority was rarely challenged or questioned. Communications skills were irrelevant; paternalism was the norm. Thankfully, though the profession has some way to go, doctors are far more accepting of having their opinion questioned and are inclined to guide patients in discussing treatment options while respecting patient choices. Nurses and doctors frequently rate at the top of trustworthiness surveys, yet more than ever, patients are more likely to be critical of the medical profession, have higher expectations of care and level of service and are less accepting of any perceived failure of treatment.
"Oh, if only we could go back to the good old days when we were treated like gods!"

Reading As A ‘Magic Bullet’…

New research shows a stark and "worrying" cultural divide in the UK…
Oh, here we go again! What is it this time?
… when it comes to reading, with half the country picking up a book at least once a week for pleasure, and 45% preferring television.
So..? Different strokes for different folks, no?

Well, no. There are buggywhip manufacturers looking to demand more support by hanging their hats on a modern concern, after all:
The England-wide survey of the reading habits of 1,500 adults by the University of Sheffield says that on average, the higher the socio-economic group that someone is in, the more often they read: 27% of DEs never read books themselves, compared with 13% of ABs, while 62% of ABs read daily or weekly, compared with 42% of DEs.
Reading charity Booktrust, which commissioned the research, believes its findings should serve as a warning that "Britain's divided reading culture is a barrier to social mobility".
Correlation does not imply causation. They aren’t in the lower income bracket just because they reach for the Sky remote rather than picking up ‘War And Peace’ when they get home.

So it follows that they won’t suddenly become – or raise – captains of industry because they quit the pleasures of relaxing in front of ‘Coronation Street’ for a well-thumbed copy of Chekhov’s collected works.
One respondent, a male who fell into the survey's 30-44 years age bracket, told researchers: "The fact is, it's 2013 not 1813. We have electricity now so we can buy DVDs and watch television rather than read books. Books are for an older generation, younger people on the whole do not read books."
They don’t read them as books, no. They do often read Kindles and Nooks and other e-readers.

And even if they didn’t, so what? Times change. People’s habits change with them.
Booktrust is "concerned that this divided reading culture is leading to large numbers of children missing out on the benefits of books", and is running a conference on Tuesday at which figures including children's laureate Malorie Blackman, and the MPs Alan Johnson and Liam Fox, will attempt to kick start a national conversation about improving social mobility by encouraging reading earlier.
Booktrust needs to stop attempting to help itself to my money on spurious premises.

Friday, 21 March 2014

The State Is Not Your Friend…But Should Provide You With One!

At least, that seems to be what Ryan Shorthouse is leading up to...
In today's Britain, people are impoverished by weak connections with, and minimal support from, family and friends. Iain Duncan Smith, the secretary of state for work and pensions, will announce this week new indicators to measure child poverty . Poor social networks should be included as a contributor to and signal of poverty.
Lamentably, social isolation seems to be on the increase. Single-person households have doubled over the past half-century. Time-use surveys indicate that people are spending more time working and looking after their own children than some decades ago, squeezing time for community and recreational activity.
Presumably, they are only concerned about government-approved activities?
When loneliness is combined with material deprivation, the result is toxic. A cycle of worklessness, indebtedness and depression is so much harder to escape. Policymakers need to focus resource and attention on these people.
How are you going to identify them, then?
Professionals such as health visitors need to focus efforts not only on social groups traditionally most likely to be associated with social exclusion – those on low income, teenage mothers – but also those identified as having poor social networks.
I just despair... WAIT! Don't send anyone round!
Duncan Smith is right to seek a richer understanding of poverty and its causes. Social isolation and loneliness are a growing scourge that should be understood as a major factor contributing to impoverishment in modern Britain. To support people in poverty, to help them escape it, policy is needed to enable them to foster stronger and more diverse social networks.
Is there no end to the personal details in which the government seeks to meddle?

Technically, She’s Probably Right…

Phillipa Perry on childhood:
In a recently published study in Psychological Science, experimenters found out that children as young as three can evaluate trustworthiness accurately, and as well as adults can by the time they are seven.
Which adults are those, Phillipa? The women who routinely form relationships with violent men? Who keep going back to them despite this?
If we teach our children to unlearn their talent for natural discrimination because, say, we are embarrassed by their lack of manners, we are endangering them.
Have you seen any modern children, Phillipa? It seems adults are never troubling themselves to be embarrassed by a perceived lack of manners any more.

And that’s the problem.

No Flies On Essex Police!

Police are treating the attack as animal cruelty.
Well done, lads! That must have taken a lot of head-scratching and thumbing through the legislation, eh?

Thursday, 20 March 2014

You Know Who Can’t Be Choosers, Don’t You?

People in Oxford in urgent need of housing are being offered properties as far away as Cardiff and Birmingham by council officials.
So..? If they really are in ‘desperate need’, they’ll take it, won’t they?
John McNulty, a solicitor for Oxford firm Turpin & Miller, is fighting to keep several families in the city and has accused city council officials of ‘dumping’ people outside the area.
That’s generous of him. Doing it out of his own pocket, is he? Or are these people getting legal aid (on top of all the other benefits)?

Ah, well. Bring on the sob-stories!
Mother-of-two Elysha Britnell , 22, has been living in temporary accommodation controlled by the council in Cowley for two years, but was shocked when told she should move out of Oxford for the first time to live in Birmingham.
She says she has no family or friends outside of Oxford, and has never lived anywhere else.
She added: “I’m Oxford born and bred. If this appeal fails I’ll be completely homeless. I have got nowhere else to go. Even if I go to Birmingham, I may as well be homeless, because I have nobody there.”
Oh, you seem like the type of girl who makes friends easily…
Single mum-of-two Lisamarie Richards was offered homes in Birmingham and Cardiff, before she says she was given a final offer in Cheltenham. She said she has until the end of the week to find somewhere else to live after her private landlord in Bampton Close, Littlemore, decided to sell his house.
Miss Richards, 32, said she spent months trying to find another home, but was priced out of the rental market.
Miss Richards, mother to Charlie, 11, and Oscar, one, said: “I will have no-one. I’ve never lived out of Oxford.
“It is heartbreaking to watch my son come home from school at night and cry.”
You know what’s ‘heartbreaking’, Lisamarie? Looking at the eye-watering levels of tax we shell out to be squandered on people like you.

The council is, of course, in blame-avoiding and finger-pointing mode:
Scott Seamons, Oxford City Council’s board member for housing, blamed the cap on housing benefit. He said: “Due to cuts in the Local Housing Allowance, it’s become increasingly difficult to place people with private landlords in Oxford.
“There’s too much choice for landlords, so they’re refusing people on benefits.”
Oh, if only people weren’t free to make a choice, Scott, eh?
He added: “Our first choice is absolutely to keep people in Oxford. I don’t want to see people being pushed out of the city. We’re doing what we can to build new houses. It’s the only way we’re really going to be able to make a difference.”
Yes, let’s allow people to breed indiscriminately knowing that the taxpayer will pick up the tab and the council will bail them out with free housing!

There’s No Escape… From Political Correctness!

A health trust which was criticised by Southend MP David Amess has hit back and accused him of using words which stigmatise mental health patients.
Oh noes! What did he say?
In his speech, Mr Amess said the trust had allowed a suicidal Rochford Hospital patient and another person to “escape” from the hospital recently.
He said: “I want to ask how the staff on duty at the time, bearing in mind that these patients have fragile minds, allowed two patients to escape from a secure unit. What has happened is absolutely disgraceful.”
So…what’s the trust’s beef with this? It uses no pejorative language.
But the trust spokeswoman said that South Essex Partnership Trust services weren’t the ones involved in the incident and added: “The trust fully supports the anti-stigma campaign surrounding mental health and objects strongly to use of the terminology ‘escape’ in this context.
“The majority of mental health patients are informal and are, rightly, at liberty to leave or be discharged from hospital.”
Except, of course, for those in a secure unit. Were these two in one? Because if so, then ‘escape’ is the right word.

It Remains A Mystery To Progressives…

…just why firms don’t want to hire people with a criminal record. It must be prejudice, mustn’t it?
Whilst in prison drug dealer Stephen Owen was selected to work for key cutting and shoe repair company Timpsons as part of its scheme to give offenders a second chance.
Bolton Crown Court heard he had worked at the shop in Market Street, Bolton, for less than three months when he let himself into the building on the night of January 13 and raided the safe, taking £360, three watches and two phones belonging to customers along with 18 Zippo lighters.
But he couldn't help it! He has poor impulse control!
Martin Pizzey, defending, said the theft was a spur of the moment decision. He added: “He did not plan to break the trust of his employers or make a mess of the chance he had been given.
“He acted very foolishly and regrets that very much.”
Yes, I'm sure he does regret ... getting caught.
Owen, a father-of-one, had been released from jail part way through serving a three year prison sentence for dealing heroin.
Sentencing Owen to six months in prison for the Timpsons burglary, Recorder Karen Brody said that dishonesty was “deeply ingrained” in him.
Just as excessive leniency is ingrained in the court system.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

No, They Can’t Have More Of My Money…

People are more likely to quit smoking and make other healthy lifestyle choices if offered small financial incentives, researchers have said.
The ‘small financial incentive’ they get through not buying a packet of Benson & Hedges isn’t enough?
The charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) said that evidence of the benefit of financial incentives to help people quit was growing and could be “particularly helpful for the poorest most disadvantaged smokers”.
One recent study in Dundee found that smokers in deprived areas who were offered £12.50 per week to quit smoking had a three-month quit rate of more than 30 per cent, compared to the 14 per cent national average.
That’s all..? 30%? Doesn't sound like much of a return on the investment to me.

And...what happens to the incentives given to the other 70%? Do they have to give them back?

‘Professional Curiosity’ Is Only For Some Families…

The report investigates the “consistent lack of professional curiosity” in the family from authorities including Bexley social services and Darent Valley Hospital - although a safeguarding representative has defended these services to News Shopper.
That'll be amusing, I'm sure...
The 32-page document describes “extraordinarily optimistic” health visitors, lack of monitoring and communication between agencies, failure of the GP to promote vitamin D, and staff confusion over forms.
Yes. 'Staff confusion over forms'. Pardon me, but isn't 'filling in forms' something they are supposed to be good at? They seem to love it so...
The report said: “The nature of the spiritual beliefs and sanctions articulated by his mother were extreme and should have raised both concern and questioning. ”
And yet, when Boris says the same sort of thing, he’s castigated for it…

But what did that ‘safeguarding representative’ have to say?
Ms Trevanion believes the balance between family privacy and protection was problematic. She said: “Everybody has a right to protect their religion but not to the extent that it puts lives at risk.
We're back to Boris again...
“People are very respectful of others’ religion and tradition and sometimes that can cloud the rights of the child.”
It only seems to affect public sector workers, though. Isn't that strange?

Well, Steve, Some People Just Do As They Like…

…you might almost say, they are known for it.
Three emaciated ponies were dumped in a Wickford field. The RSPCA was called to a field off Nevendon Road after the owner of the land found her fence had been cut and the ponies left there.
The three animals, one of which is in foal, were starved, had severe lice infestations and hooves in poor condition.
They are thought to be between 12 and 19 years old. None were marked or microchipped.
A real mystery. It’d tax Miss Marple, to be sure.
Inspector Steve Craddock said: “We would like any member of the public with information about these ponies and how they came to be abandoned to contact us.”
Why, do you actually plan to do something about it this time?

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

I Think I Need To Buy A Popcorn Factory…

A staunchly left-wing trade union that has fought a bitter campaign to protect the pay and conditions of 250,000 public-sector workers is poised to impose draconian terms on its own staff’s pension plans.
Documents seen by The Independent reveal the Public & Commercial Services Union faces a pensions crisis, with the combined deficit on two of its schemes estimated to be as high as £65.5 million.
Woo hoo! I haven’t laughed so much since I heard about Bob Crow’s demise…
… the PCS has privately admitted, given its limited financial resources, that “it is no longer affordable to maintain benefits at current levels” and “no one single change to benefits is going to be sufficient to bridge the gap”.
The documents show the Pensions Regulator criticised the PCS’s previous valuations of its pension schemes as being too optimistic over its ability to afford them.
So no wonder they are so optimistic about others’ ability to afford them…
A union source said that the “Government is going to have a field day with this” , given the PCS’s “Protect our pensions” campaign that condemned the Coalition for wanting public-sector workers to “work longer and retire with less”.
The Scottish Secretary, Alistair Carmichael, said last night: “Changes to public-sector pensions were inevitable and necessary but difficult – and made all the more difficult by the obstructive politicisation by unions like the PCS. To see them now imposing on their own staff a worse deal than we offered their members is a bit rich.”
Indeed so. But then, wasn’t hypocrisy always a hallmark of the Left?

A Police Force Designed By Progressives..?

Owen Jones gets on his high horse over the Met’s ‘scandals’:
If hacking someone's voicemail is a gross invasion of privacy, what words are left to describe agents of the state with fake identities having sex with women they're spying on?
‘The novels of Ian Fleming’, Owen. You’re welcome.
But police spies stealing the identities of dead children and duplicitously sharing the homes, beds and lives of women is only the latest in a string of damning scandals about the Metropolitan police…
And of course, little Owen immediately starts to do what progressives always accuse their opponents of doing – condemning an entire sector of society based on the actions of a small minority. It’s different, you see, when Owen or his chums want to do it…
Each scandal is examined in isolation, treated as the action of rogue officers. But together they suggest an institutionally rotten system. Londoners need a force devoted to protecting their security, which treats all sections of the community equally, and which enjoys the consent and trust of everyone. Currently they do not have one, and so it must be built on new foundations.
Hmmm, let’s see if that works for any other groups, shall we?

“Each scandal is examined in isolation, treated as the action of rogue civil servants/social workers/doctors/broadcasters. But together they suggest an institutionally rotten system. Londoners need a department/hospital system/tv station devoted to serving them, which treats all sections of the community equally, and which enjoys the consent and trust of everyone. Currently they do not have one, and so it must be built on new foundations.”

Nope, I can already see the Left getting out of their tree about such comparisons. In fact, they already have done.
What would a new police force look like? That should be left to a royal commission – headed by an independent figure, not an establishment patsy – which calls evidence from all sections of the community. Structures, training, forms of accountability: all need to be designed from scratch. It needs to be a body stripped of prejudice and bigotry, that defends hard-won democratic freedoms, as well as protecting people's security.
So…what would a police force designed by the Left according to these rules look like? Discuss.

Oh, You’ll Regret Asking This Question…

Ms Hopwood said: “Why should my son’s uncle share with him in a room when he’s at a point in his life when he’s doing GCSEs?
“I wouldn’t expect to share a room with my auntie, yet I’m being told that I have to pay £15 extra a week.
“I struggle to pay catch up with rent at the minute anyway and I don’t think that is right when they ask me to pay for a bedroom that isn’t spare.”
I’ll tell you why, Ms Hopwood – because the taxpayer has had enough of paying for the lifestyle choices of the benefit class to have better and larger homes than they are currently working all the hours god sends to pay for.

And if you are having problems paying the rent now, WHY ARE YOU BREEDING!?!
Ms Hopwood’s situation is set to change later this year because she is pregnant.
*hurls PC across room*

Monday, 17 March 2014

A Good News Story At Last!

A widow in her 80s today told of her shock after a burglar fleeing her back garden apparently broke his neck and died after being trapped under a fence.
The man, aged 34, was said by neighbours to have been “guillotined” as he crawled under a garden fence. A heavy wooden panel crashed down, snapping his neck and trapping him.
Gotta admit, I laughed…
Homeowner Ilonka Simon, 89, told the Standard she had disturbed the man after spotting him in the garden. She said: “I looked out the back window and there was this youngster standing there. I shouted ‘Oi! What are you doing?’
“He looked startled and tried to jump back over the fence, but he couldn’t make it.”

The ‘Standard’ didn’t name him, but the ‘Mail’ went a bit further:
Local villain Stephen Pope, 34…
No doubt the grieving relatives will be complaining about that!

H/T: Ron Hughes via email

Another Day, Another Pressure Group…

There are huge disparities in the outcomes of young people in different London boroughs, according to the Children’s Rights Alliance for England.
That’s because there are huge disparities in the behaviours of ‘young people’ in different London boroughs. Though don’t worry, the other areas are fast catching up!
The report also states that police in London tasered children 131 times between 2008 and 2012. But 40 per cent of the taserings took place in just four boroughs - Croydon, Southwark, Lambeth and Lewisham.
Well, yes. That’s because those ‘children’ are quite likely to be animals.

Two examples of vulnerable children who shouldn't be shot with Tasers... 

And I’d be just as happy for the police to use real bullets, frankly.

Creating A ‘Cycling Culture’? Or Something Else?

It is a collaborative staff effort: while the kids weave in and out of cones Lindsey, the school’s PSHE (personal social health and economic education) teacher, and one of the driving forces behind the school’s cycling programme, tells me about one girl she taught to ride.
“She had come from another country and had never ridden a bike. One hour it took me to teach her. She fell off a few times but she kept getting back on,” she said.
“For children who come from another country who don’t speak English it is hard for them to excel at first academically so it is great for them to excel at something.”
All must have prizes, even if they are for…well, something of no academic value whatsover.
Sally, like many parents here, sometimes drives part way and the kids cycle the last leg to school on the pavement.
Though she wants her and her kids to cycle on the roads, she understandably has concerns about safety.
Her kids’ safety, that is. The poor pedestrian having to dodge out of the way of them, not so much…

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Well, Technically, They Are Right…

It is the latest attack by what is thought to be an American pitbull-type dog.
Last month 11-month-old Ava Jayne Marie Corless was mauled to death by a dog believed to be of that species while in bed at a house in Emily Street, Blackburn, Lancashire.
…after all, all domestic dogs belong to the same species - canis familiaris - but I think the word they were looking for here was ‘breed’.

Somehow, I Don't Think 'Ask Julia' Will Ever Catch On...

Well, L.P. (may I call you L.P.? I take it it stands for Low-information Parent...), it seems you've failed in your first duty as a parent, since you've clearly allowed your son to have the password, which we all should really know by now is a bit of a no-no.

You aren't the first, mind you, and even those who should know better have been caught out. But it's still pretty dim of you, even so.

And...because he was at school, it couldn't possibly have been him? Really? You think your son obeys all the rules..?

You're too dim to own an iPad. I wonder how you managed to breed successfully.

Lovely Shot Of An Osprey In Flight...

...pity your story is about peregrine falcons.

Sunday Funnies...

Let's hear it for over-egging the pudding!

Saturday, 15 March 2014

You Just Can’t Win, Can You?

In Australia, Verity Firth & Rebecca Huntley think you must sacrifice your child’s educational success to the socialist agenda to keep the dream of state schooling alive:
If anxious parents take their kids out of the local school, it starts to do worse, forcing more worried families to depart. New families then bypass the local school altogether, either sending their children to an out of area government school or to non-government options. But, the local school will only improve if these families stay and new families join the school. There is some recognition among the public that with parents pulling their kids out of the public system, that system suffers. If enough parents persisted with the public system to improve it, then the benefits would flow.
Meanwhile, in England, Michele Hanson will treat your decision to use state schooling with contempt, as a mere publicity stunt:
The Goves have got their daughter into Grey Coat Hospital School. First choice on their list. What do they want? Praise? … Give me strength. Grey Coat is the highest performing and most over-subscribed state school in Westminster (1,036 applicants for 150 places). It is religiously selective and single-sex and the Fair Admissions Campaign, which opposes faith-based selection, says the school is one of the least socially inclusive in the country.
Make up your minds!

Redefining ‘Fairness’…

Nearly 70,000 job seekers have had their benefits withdrawn unfairly
Oh..? Without cause? At random? Just because someone in the DWP felt like it?
Policy Exchange says almost a third of all people who break their job search conditions for the first time have their benefits taken away by mistake and face unnecessary hardship as a result.
Ah. I see. There are rules. They break ‘em. What’s so hard to understand?
Guy Miscampbell, the author of the Policy Exchange report, said: "It is clear that there are a significant number of people who have their benefit taken away from them unfairly. Four weeks without any money is driving people to desperate measures including a reliance on food banks".
Oh, food banks! Those much needed charitable…

Wait. What?
The claim is made in a BBC Panorama documentary broadcast on Monday evening, which found that over a third of local authorities in England and Wales were providing funding for food banks, despite government claims that charity food is not a part of the social security system.
"Food banks are an inadequate plaster over a gaping wound," Dowler said.
Really? Because, to me, they seem like a combination of a middle-class employment generation scheme and a way of ensuring that, once again, there are no consequences…
Policy Exchange suggests issuing first-time offenders, who may or may not have been fairly sanctioned, with a 'yellow card' in the form of a benefits card. It says this would be a more compassionate way of trying to help people back into work. Benefits would be accessed via this card for a maximum of eight weeks.
If the claimant continues to breach job search conditions, the card and benefits would be taken away. This system would provide a safety net, mitigating hardship while a sanction is appealed, forcing claimants to re-engage with Jobcentre staff and deterring non-compliance through the added inconvenience of daily sign on.
Inconvenience? Well, I suppose having them miss a live episode of ‘Jeremy Kyle’ is something (they’ll just set their Sky 3D box to ‘series link’, though) that a think-tank drone believes is a fitting trade-off for throwing taxpayer’s money at ensuring there are no possible consequences to the workshy.

Pass the biscuits and the fancy coffee round the table again. What’s next on the agenda?

Quick! Throw Chaff And Deploy Flares!

Sam Jones helps the pushback against Denmark’s truly progressive (in the real sense of the word) move:
Blackwell's suggestion that the UK "may well" have to follow Denmark's example if British Jews and Muslims refuse to allow animals to be stunned before they are killed did not please the groups concerned. Nor did his assertion that cutting the throat of an animal without stunning it caused prolonged and unnecessary suffering.
Well, he’s head of the vet’s union – he really ought to know.
"They will feel the cut," he said. "They will feel the massive injury of the tissues to the neck. They will perceive the aspiration of blood they will breathe in before they lose consciousness."
Which seem like a pretty un-challengable statement to me. We don't execute condemned prisoner this way, because it's so 'humane', do we?
… Blackwell's intervention has met with a swift and furious response from Jewish and Muslim groups, who argue their long-practised methods are completely humane.
Yes, I’m sure it has. So what? It's 2014, and it's time they adapted.
"He has made the extraordinarily misleading statement that what Jews do and Muslims do is to slit animals' throats and allow them to bleed to death," said Jonathan Arkush, vice-president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews.
"That is unbelievably misleading because he must know that the way the animal is killed is to cut its throat so as to bring about an immediate and irreversible loss of sensation and death."
Suggestions that the animal had its throat cut "and you just watch it while it bleeds to death", said Arkush, were pejorative, misleading and "could not be further from the truth".
He's a vet. Not a god-botherer. So he deals in reality. Not fantasy.
Shimon Cohen, campaign director at Shechita UK – which campaigns for the right to carry out Jewish religious slaughter – described Blackwell's calls as "an extraordinary dereliction of duty" and asked why he had decided to focus on an issue that affected only a tiny minority of animals.
Is he talking about the livestock, or..?
Arkush also said he feared that the Danish government had introduced the ban as a reaction to increasing public discontent over Muslim immigration.
Ah, of course! It's all a big conspiracy!
Dr Shuja Shafi, the deputy secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said he was disappointed that the issue of religious slaughter had been brought up yet again. "Halal is a humane method; it's a clean, clear method and has got rules and regulations about how it's carried out," he said.
"Stunning has got lots of problems in itself … and if it's not done properly, actually animals are a lot worse off."
That’s odd, Dr Shafi, because… that’s not what these Muslims say? So which part do you belong to?
”The stunning of animals for halal meat was until recently a non-issue. However, over the past few years many people have mistakenly been informed that stunning animals renders the meat as haram. This is a complete fallacy. As with most things in Islam there are differences of opinion.
The origins of this fallacy originate from a certain halal food authority that has decided not to certify any company that uses meat from stunned animals. On closer inspection of their position it is clear that they are simply implementing this policy as a "caution". They do not state, and can not state, that the meat from stunned animals is haram. This is because it is well documented that meat of stunned animals is completely halal under certain conditions.
Scholars of fiqh, the people who understand, interpret and explain the shariah, are more or less unanimous that the meat of stunned animals is halal.”
It’s clearly that ‘less unanimous’ part, then, Dr Shafi?

Well, at least you are ahead of the Jews for once, since they don't even have an alternative viewpoint, at least, not one I could find.
He also said that focusing on minority religious practices "could give ammunition" to the far right, which already uses halal slaughter as a means to try to attack the Muslim community.
Ah, of course! The only reason to dislike this form of slaughter is because you dislike Muslims - it can't possibly be for any other reason.
"People should be more responsible in how they tackle this. It's going to cause confusion and will be used by elements to have a negative effect."
What's 'negative' about reminding these people that the law should apply equally to all, without exception?

Friday, 14 March 2014

Whoever Wins, We Lose – Again!

‘We’ not including lawyers, of course. They make out like bandits no matter what...
The Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales believes the UK is in breach of its international law obligations to protect young women and girls from mutilation.
Kirsty Brimelow QC, the committee’s chairwoman, said: “During the period of the UK’s breach, thousands of British girls and young women have been unnecessarily exposed to the risk of mutilation and have suffered irreparable physical and emotional damage. Many could — and should — have been saved.”
And where there's possible dereliction from the State, there's a claim!
Former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell QC said: “This authoritative report raises fundamental questions about the government discharging its international obligations.
“It may well be that victims would be entitled to sue the government.”
Stephanie Harrison QC, from Garden Court Chambers, told The Standard: “There is obviously precedent for the State being sued where it has failed in its duty of care.”
But 'the government' doesn't have any money...

Move Along, Nothing To See Here (So Long As We Try Hard Enough)…

RSPCA officers found the horse near the Smite Caravan Site at about 5.25pm on Wednesday, February 12.
It was wearing a blue nylon head collar which had become so tight it had cut into its nose right down to the nasal bone.
The collar was also restricting its breathing and eating so it had become extremely thin. It is thought that it had been in the condition for some time.
The RSPCA officers called a vet to the scene who made the decision to put the animal to sleep due to the extent of its injuries.
Shocking, I’m sure you’ll agree. Will the mighty arm of the justice system stop searching the Internet for people being mean on Twitter long enough to do something about it?
A spokesman from West Mercia Police said officers did not attend the scene as they were satisfied the RSPCA officers and the vet had it under control.
She added no arrests had been made as a result of the incident and the investigation was being handled by the RSPCA.
That’s a ‘no’ then…

Maybe The Owner Should Have A Contingent Destruction Order Too?

Dog behaviour expert David Ryan, who said that having observed Mist he would not have had her rehomed in a house with young children, but her reactions were quite normal.
He said: “It was completely apparent to me that the dog did not like close social contact with children.”
The court in Prestatyn heard the animal, who has gone back to search and rescue work, would have ‘been under stress’ by being restrained close to children ‘when his normal instinct would have been to move away.’
Wait, what?
Little Rose had gone for a walk on Graig Fawr where Shorrock often took Mist for training. The girl approached Mist and Shorrock held the dog’s collar as the toddler patted her on the head before the attack.
Shorrock was fined £900 and ordered to pay Rose £1,500 in compensation. He must also pay court costs of £440. A contingency destruction order remains in place.
Sadly, only on the dog

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Great! I Now Work In An ‘Alcohol Action Area’!

I hope that means I get served at the bar quicker…
A hospital consultant has welcomed Southend being declared an Alcohol Action Area.
Hmmm, really?
… but says tougher action is needed.
Given any description of the ‘action’ to be taken is woefully lacking, I’d like to know how he reaches that conclusion, but still…
Dr Gary Bray, consultant gastroenterologist and hepatologist at Southend Hospital, spoke after it was announced the borough was to be one of 20 areas where new measures are to be introduced.
These include fighting drink fuelled crime and disorder and the damage caused to people’s health.
Details..? Anyone? Bueller?
He said: “As someone who sees a lot of liver disease and other alcohol related problems caused by rising alcoholism and consumption of cheap drinks, I find it very concerning.
“Being able to stay in a club, drinking until 4am, must fuel violence and problems.
It must? Gosh! That’s based on…what?
“I welcome any action which gives local authorities more control.
Well, of course you do, you are clearly a nannying little NuPuritan fussbucket with a god complex.
“I think, however, that expecting big drinks companies to act responsibly is very unlikely, especially as they lobby so consistently in Parliament.
Unlike doctors, who never, ever do such things…
“If the Government was serious about alcohol reduction, it would introduce minimum unit pricing for alcohol, which has been shown to reduce alcohol related deaths in Canada.”
Well, that’s not necessarily so, and it seems they are already reducing quite nicely all on their own:
The most recent figures of teenagers treated for binge drinking illnesses at Southend Hospital show they are falling.
In 2010, the number of under-18s treated as inpatients at the hospital was 18. This figure fell to 11 in 2011, and to ten in 2012.
Up to the end of June last year, just three children were seen at the hospital for alcohol-related illnesses.

Solution Simple! Make Her Live With The Judge…

For more than a year Basildon Council has been battling to evict Sara Penlington from her flat in Clay Hill Road.
But the process was put in jeopardy after a judge delayed a crucial court hearing last week.
I suppose he had a good reason for this, though?
The order banning anyone from entering the flat was granted by Basildon Magistrates’ Court while the council’s legal team prepared an eviction case – which was due to be heard at Southend County Court last Wednesday.
But the judge delayed the hearing until August at the last minute, with no reason being given to furious housing bosses.
Phil Turner, deputy leader and councillor responsible for housing, said: “… some law courts take a more lenient view and we have to continually fight an uphill battle legally with such cases to win back our residents’ rights to enjoy quality of life.”
Why should the judge care about that? He can indulge his bleeding heart conscience knowing full well she doesn't live near him, after all...

The Usual Suspects, The Usual Demands…

Soaring numbers of harassment cases are never making it to court, The Independent has learnt.
The rise is resulting in victims of domestic abuse being systematically let down by police and the Crown Prosecution Service…
Oh, really? Says who..?
campaigners have said.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Tune Time: "And I thought my prayers were answered, when a car drew up outside..."

It's a shame I'm doing these in order of release, because - in March - I doubt there's any snow around to set the scene! Quite an appropriate choice, I suppose, after last month - it's Tony Christie, and 'Drive Safely Darling':

It's a song I often think of while driving in bad weather, though I avoid driving in snow wherever possible. And that's rather apt.

You see, I've got one of his albums on CD, and though I can't lay my hands on it at the moment, I'm sure the sleeve notes said that this cheerful little ditty was actually used in a Texas 'safer driving' campaign. I can't track this down on the web though.