Friday, 31 October 2008

Getting down and dirty

Pardon my ancient granny

I think the petition to pardon witches must be one of the best con tricks for a long while. It was started by a family firm that sells Halloween outfits. Halloween. Witches. Get the link?

And it goes to Parliament on a day when they have worn their brains out deciding if I can display a National flag on the registration plate of my car. Don't we live in exciting times?

Solutions all around

George Osborne has accused Gordon Brown of planning a "spending splurge" that will saddle two generations with debt.

The shadow chancellor told the BBC attempts to "spend your way out of a recession" would only lead to "huge debt" and higher taxes in the future. Instead the Tories would "target" tax help such as freezing council tax and payroll tax for small firms.But he was attacked by Labour and Lib Dem opponents for being "confused" and "out of his depth" in his analysis. Instead of boosting spending to speed-up the economy, Mr Osborne said the Conservatives would "put money direct into people's pockets" by freezing council and business taxes.

I'm not too sure I follow his reasoning either. The government gets its financial backing on the basis of the sort of income streams investors reckon will get them their money back - with interest. To reduce that income will reduce confidence. Giving money into people's pockets is basically just what happened over the last few years and got us into the current mess anyway. If there is insufficient money moving about, banks will lose their income streams and we would have to bail them out once more.

The Keynesian approach is dangerous. The money splurge could end up as some super-PFI 'let's all rob the government' exercise or the works planned ill-chosen. It will again put money into people's pockets. I work, I get paid, I go out and spend. Seems simple enough to me. Depriving councils will merely lead to them making cut-backs. Rubbish removal once a month anyone? If I am a refuse worker and am made redundant I have no money to spread and will look for government help - from a government that has had no benefit from business tax.

I am surprised that no one has yet broached the subject of a referendum as to where we go next.

As for the two generations being saddled? Well, that does not have to be the pay back period.

Foreign news

The search for the Imam's contact lens goes into its third day

Piling in for Palin

I do not follow American politics - our own brand causes high blood pressure and spots before the eyes - but I do find the Palin woman attractive. Not in the sexual connotation (I'm 75 for Christ sake!) but as a new player on the scene with none of the tired old mannerisms one sees elsewhere. I had hoped that Condy Rice would put her hat in the ring but I suppose she appreciates that her private life would become an issue that she does not want to have to defend or justify in what would become cruel and ultra-personal campaigning by her opponents. So, it was a little heartening to read this report:

DALLAS (Reuters) - Sarah Palin has emerged as the new darling of social conservatives, and this political capital could make her an influential vice president -- or propel her as a candidate for the prime spot in 2012 But even within Republican circles the moose-hunting Alaska governor is a polarizing figure who highlights her party's divisions between fiscal conservatives and conservative Christians united by their strident opposition to abortion and gay rights.

"If they do in fact lose on Tuesday she becomes one of the central figures for 2012," said Matthew Wilson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. "Clearly, Palin is a star with the social conservatives but many of the country-club Republicans just find her completely unpalatable," he said.

The 44-year-old mother of five has become the northern light that has electrified the Republican Party's conservative evangelical base -- its most reliable voting bloc. She has won conservative hearts and minds on many fronts: she is a devout evangelical; she chose to have a child even when she knew through prenatal tests he would have Down syndrome; she is a populist; and she knows how to use a gun. Polls show the McCain/Palin ticket currently losing ground with many demographic groups but still retaining the support of around two out of three white evangelical Protestants.

McCain, who has broken with this wing of the party on many key issues including his support for stem cell research and his failure to back a federal amendment to ban gay marriage, could not garner this level of evangelical support without Palin, analysts say. A Pew Research Center poll conducted from October 23 to 26 found 93 percent of registered voters that categorize themselves as conservative Republicans backed McCain. A number of influential conservative Christians including Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention have pegged Palin as the rising star of the Republican Party's social conservative wing. If McCain loses on Tuesday, this puts her near or at the front of the Republican pack for 2012.

"I think that she will be a major contender ... and she will certainly be in the running," said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, an influential conservative lobby group with strong evangelical ties.

All alone, alone

There are many aged persons who are having to face a life alone. Increasing numbers of couples who swore to stay together 'until death us do part' are going through the divorce process. Fear of what is outside the door keeps many inside. With the shorter marriages and longer lives, more elderly people than ever are living alone, and a new report by Help the Aged suggests over one million them say they often or always feel lonely. For Pat Higgs, a 70-year-old pensioner from Hornchurch in Essex, what she fears most is that she will die and no-one will notice. "Some days I could just sit here and cry," she says, her voice breaking. " I'm terrified that one of these days I'm going to die and they're not going to find me for a week or so."

The reality for Mrs Higgs is that she spends much of her time virtually housebound within a world shrunk by her disabilities. "It's lonely and it's a lot of responsibility as well, because you have all the things to do to maintain your home, and when you're getting old, you can't even change a light bulb, and that's when you feel at risk," she says. And like many people in her position she is reluctant to be a burden on those around her, even on her own children. She says she talks on the phone with friends and family "now and again", but adds: "They're all busy, who wants to pour gloom on other people's lives?"

Amy Swan of Help the Aged said: "A lot of people lose confidence. Some of them say the only person they see is the postman popping round. It's very sad when you hear from somebody who literally has not been out of their house for a week, two weeks, a month even. Can you really imagine having that life? Trapped inside with nowhere to go?" Ms Swan added that there are projects run by Help the Aged and other organisations that reach out to old people living alone, but she also says there have been fundamental "changes to how our society works".Mrs Higgs has felt those changes for herself. "Everybody's busy trying to earn a living, even more so than when I was young, The world has just got smaller now, but people have got further away."

All the trials and tribulations of a long life. The struggles to stay afloat and do the right thing. And this is how it all ends.

Time wasting

Did you think there was some tiny teensy sort of world-wide problem right now? Something that could impinge upon our lives quite considerably and for a longish period of time?
Well, if you did, you were mistaken. There cannot be any drama that our government should be focussed upon. See what business they got up to today:

The Government is to scrap seven-year-old rules which meant that motorists who put national flags on their number plate faced a £60 fine. This ban also hit the Cross of St George, the Scottish saltire and Welsh dragon along with symbols such as CYM for Cymru or SCO for Scotland.

The use of national symbols on number plates has been banned since June 2001, when the regulations were forced through by the Government in the teeth of opposition from Tory, Liberal Democrat and nationalist MPs.As a result the only symbol permitted on number plates has been 12 yellow stars on a blue background.Since then there have been complaints from motorists who have been fined for the offence, although the number involved is not known.

Note that today is not the sum total of wasted time on this topic - " the regulations were forced through by the Government in the teeth of opposition from Tory, Liberal Democrat and nationalist MPs."

Isn't there something about 'those whom the Gods would destroy, they first make mad' ?

As one does

Vicar went to hospital with potato stuck in bottom

A vicar attended hospital with a potato stuck up his bottom - and claimed it got there after he fell on to the vegetable while naked.

The clergyman, in his 50s, told nurses he had been hanging curtains when he fell backwards on to his kitchen table.

He happened to be nude at the time of the mishap, said the vicar, who insisted he had not been playing a sex game.

The vicar had to undergo a delicate operation to extract the vegetable. Hospital staff say this sort of thing is a relatively frequent event. Other items have included a can of deodorant, a cucumber, a Russian doll – and a carnation.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Blame where it lies

I am as guilty as the next man, (Hello - nice to meet you), when it comes to adopting a bit of a scatter-gun approach to the legal authorities and the way they decide to do whatever it is they are responsible for undertaking. However, in this snippet from an outgoing DPP. In his last interview as Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir Ken Macdonald says Muslims should know that new religious hatred laws offer them little protection.

Turning to hate speech in Britain, Sir Ken pointed out that the new offence of incitement to religious hatred in the Racial and Religious Hatred act 2006 offers Muslims little more protection than they had before the law came into force last year.

This is because a prosecution can be brought only if there is evidence of deliberately threatening behaviour that was deliberately intended to stir up hatred to a high degree. Recklessness and even deliberately stirring up ridicule, hostility and contempt were excluded by Parliament. There are also broad exemptions protecting freedom of speech.

“So you end up with an offence that was presented to particular communities as something to their benefit and which doesn’t actually have much use,” Sir Ken said.

It was important to explain this to those who had expected protection from the new law. “Right from the start, we were very frank in our various engagements with Muslim communities that this law was going to be very challenging to apply and we didn’t expect to see very many prosecutions.”

That was not the message the Government wanted to hear, it was suggested. “It’s what Parliament wanted,” he replied.

Rub of the green

A man who spent two years in jail before being cleared of rape has had his attempt to claim damages from his accuser denied at the High Court.  Mr Hunt, a former senior traffic warden, had his conviction for the alleged 1995 offence overturned at the Court of Appeal in December 2005, when judges heard evidence from two new witnesses. The conviction was also quashed on the basis of inadequate direction to the jury.

Mr Hunt argued that the woman (AB) became the prosecutor by giving a witness statement to police in 2002 and by agreeing to give evidence against him - although the charge was brought by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). AB's counsel, Anthony Metzer, said there was a "wealth of evidence" showing her initial reluctance to report the incident, let alone prosecute Mr Hunt. The chain of events leading to the prosecution of Mr Hunt was started by a friend of AB, who she had spoken to in confidence.

Until a recent overhaul of the laws relating to rape, it is unlikely that the charges would have been brought. One of the essentials in evaluating the victim's account was that she had complained at the very first opportunity to do so. Lack of a fresh complaint would most likely bar any police action.

That was all changed when it was considered that the laws of evidence and procedure militated against rape convictions and led many women not to complain at all. Now it would seem the pendulem has swung too far in the opposite direction.

Rape is a dreadful crime; it has a mental effect far in excess of almost any other offence. The fact that this man spent time in prison and was, it seems, lucky that the new witnesses came forward after such a long delay, illustrates that it can have as dreadful an effect upon the man where justice goes wrong. To be denied some relief only adds to the situation.


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Fresh fields and pastures green

I now have a new template. Courtesy of Gemmak - see her clicky bit on this new page, The lady also runs a blog - see gemmak in the links.
It anyone has a blog that may need a fresh look - I cannot say other than ask gemmak. She is a gem; I do not know what the ak signifies.

Well, she did the hard work. All I now need is to find stuff worthy of my new look.

Be back soon.