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Friday, 31 May 2013

Killing badgers. 

 Humaneness of badger cull to be judged on noise of dying animals.



 "Observation of a shot animal's behaviour and vocalisations is the only method available to determine the degree of pain that may be experienced during the dying process." 
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

The badger cull could begin any time from 1 June in parts of Gloucestershire and Somerset.

 There is no such thing as "humaneness" in killing badgers (or any other animal for that matter). Particularly when the "link" between bovine TB and badgers remains questionable in many scientific circles. In addition to this, many scientist and vets who do consider that there is a link, advocate a programme of vaccinations to address the problem rather than a wild-west shooting spree. Whichever camp you agree with, the wholesale killing of badgers is barbaric and has no place in modern society.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

More than 500,000 people forced to use food banks


More than half a million Britons are using food banks to stave off hunger and destitution

A volunteer at a Trussell Trust food bank sorts donations to the charity

Since the early part of 2012, I have been posting the occasional comment, in this and other media, on the subject of Foodbanks and the way in which they have become a growing feature of British society.
Today, I return to that subject in the wake of new evidence which indicates that this scandalous phenomena continues to grow and is accelerating at at alarming rate.
In December of 2012, it was predicted that this year, 2013, foodbanks would be feeding some 200,000 people, double the number of 2012. It is now May, less than six months into 2013, and the figure is more than 500,000, more than half a million people who are today reliant to some extent or other on the provision of charity food distributed though Foodbanks around the country.
Reading through the comments sections of many national papers and those newspapers appearing only on line, it is sad and often quite nauseating to read a few, though fortunately not the majority, of contributions which can only be described as malicious in content or tone and mischievous in intent. Constant references to living on benefits, 57inch plasma televisions, scroungers buying booze and cigarettes before food, and other even more odious references litter the contributions. These nasty postings are aimed directly at those people, the majority of whom through no fault of their own, find themselves in the position of having to rely on the charities in order to feed themselves and their families, and who initially have to endure means tested assessments in order to obtain a referral letter from one or other of the appropriate bodies.
There are many Foodbank users in this country. Today there are more than 500,000 people visiting Foodbanks regularly. Admittedly there are some, a small minority, who abuse the system by convincing a referrer that they are in need, and thus manage to obtain an appropriate authorisation. However, the vast majority of users are ordinary people many of whom are actually in paid employment, but who's level of additional benefit is insufficient to meet the ever increasing day to day living costs.
There are those who may have recently been made redundant and now find the significant reduction of their income a considerable problem. Then there are those, such as the disabled, who find that their benefits are either reduced, or frozen, leading to financial hardship. There are many groups of people who for one reason or another find that the costs of everyday living are such that there is never enough disposable income to meet all needs and consequently, having paid the absolutely essential household bills, find that some assistance with food is welcome. The pedlars of bile, spite and prejudice, who's letters fill the comments sections, may consider themselves fortunate that they are not in the position of others and may perhaps pray that their circumstances do not change for the worse at some point in the future.
Not only is the increasing reliance on Foodbanks a phenomenon about which we should all feel shame, but the comments by politicians from the ConDem coalition exacerbate a problems which has been gaining momentum for decades. Chris Steward, York Tory councillor claimed in January this year that, Foodbanks are for people who can't budget and today, Ed Davey denies any connection between the rise in Foodbank user numbers and government policy. These comments, and remarks by others, are by accident or design, creating divisions in society and aggravating other splits which are already there.
Foodbanks and the usage of them is growing at an alarming rate. In Great Britain, in the first part of the 21st Century, it is to our shame that we have collectively allowed such a situation to come about. Unless we act soon to reverse the current trend the number of people reliant on the Foodbank charities may well be in excess of one million by the end of this year, less than 6 months from now. History will be a stern judge if we allow such a situation to come about.

Weymouth ferry terminal repair project encounters more problems..


The cost of works will rise to more than £4.4 million and that is only the latest estimate.


Repair work continues at Weymouth ferry berth three
I have never been as optimistic about this repair project timescale and costs as Weymouth and Portland Borough Council seem to have been. Going back over some comments made by Condor Ferries since before the Olympic Games in 2012, it seems (reading between the lines), that they too did not share Weymouth's confidence that the repairs would be complete and operations from Weymouth would recommence in May of 2013. The date for the return of the ferry operator from Poole is now scheduled for July of this year, but it seems that even that date is questionable. The comment form Condor that "...The company is keen to return and will start sailings on July 17 – if the work is done." is a qualified one and does not seem particularly confident.
I have posted blog entries on a number of occasions prior to the Olympic Games, and since, expressing doubts in respect of the Harbour repair project, and the likelihood of Condor Ferries returning to their Weymouth operations.

( New Agenda 5th October 2012.  )

This latest announcement of a further increase in the estimated cost of the repairs, together with more "technical" problems being  uncovered again throws into doubt the completion date and consequently the return of Weymouth's major employer.
Had Weymouth and Portland Borough Council allowed Condor to operate from Portland while the repairs were carried out, this present uncertainty would have been avoided. The repairs could have been completed while Condor remained in Portland, but the decision to prevent the ferry operator making that short move while the repairs were carried out, on the grounds that "the increase in traffic through the town (Weymouth), would cause severe congestion on the new improved road system for Olympic Games visitors", is (another) bad decision that the Council and its members will ultimately regret.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Linda Wootton

Transplant Patient Linda Wootton Dies After Being Judged 'Fit For Work'

linda wootton
Linda Wootton


This is the DWP response to an appeal against an assessment carried out by Atos on Linda Wootton, “We have decided that you are not entitled to Employment and Support Allowance because you have been found to be capable of work following your recent Work Capability Assessment.” 

At the time when the ruling to remove her benefits came, Mrs Wootton was in hospital, dying. Her husband Peter said "I sat there and listened to my wife drown in her own body fluids. It took half an hour for her to die – and that’s a woman who’s ‘fit for work’.
The Department for Work and Pensions, the Secretary of State Iain Duncan-Smith, Atos and the ConDem coalition government are equally culpable in the creation and  implementation of a system of "reforms" which rates amongst the most callous and reprehensible pieces of government policy ever produced in the area of social "care".
This is not the first example of tragedy arising from callous "cost saving", nor I fear will it be the last. However, those in government and those in the parasite organisations employed by government, will ultimately pay for their evil actions.

Hypocrisy fueling escalation.

Any move to arm the Syrian opposition would dangerously escalate the violence in the region

Free Syrian fighters attack Aleppo international airport in Syria
"Free Syrian Army" fighters

 In another example of extreme hypocrisy, the British, the French, the Americans all jump up and down screaming "Support the rebels, provide weapons, Assad must go", while the Israeli's lurk on the margins giving little prods to McCain and Kerry, awaiting the right moment to fully intervene and occupy more territory. 

S300 missile defence systems
However, when another player in this tragedy announces that it will honour its current, legal contracts with a foreign government and supply a quantity of S300 missile defence systems, the "western powers" immediately scream "FOUL" and criticise the decision as inflaming the situation, as the White house announces that they are instructing the Pentagon to draw up plans for a "no fly zone" in Syria. In direct response to the missile contract, the  Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon. "If, God forbid, they do reach Syria, we will know what to do." 

Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon
This whole escalation of the situation, in less than 36 hours, has pushed the region and the world, into a distinctly more dangerous phase where events rather than diplomacy will be determining the situation.    

"Fair play and International Standards"

Israel looking to mend ties with UN Rights Council, but says 'built-in discrimination' must end

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Likud hard-liner Zeev Elkin.
Benjamin Netanyahu and Deputy Defense Minister Zeev Elkin
The nerve and hypocrisy of the Israeli's is breathtaking. They require that " fair play and international standards are applied towards Israel,” in order to resume ties with the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council. There is no reference to "fair play and international standards" for the people of the occupied territories. 

Popular Resistance against Israeli occupation in Qaryut West Bank
A Palestinian demonstrator talks to Israeli soldiers.

Netanyahu and Zeev Elkin should remove the Israeli occupation force from Palestine, dismantle the illegal settlement in Palestine and end their occupation of East Jerusalem. Perhaps then the rest of us may then believe that the State of Israel actually wants to reach a settlement with the Palestinians.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

William Hague pushing for intervention in Syria.

 The UK and France have led calls for the embargo to be relaxed.

Image: France's Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, left, welcomes Britain's Foreign Minister William Hague, right
France's Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, left, Britain's Foreign Minister William Hague

The British and the French have done more than enough damage in Syria already, dating back as far as 1917. Now this inept Foreign Secretary, in cahoots with French, is itching to get British weapons into the hands of one, or more, of the fragmented elements of the "rebels" fighting Bashar Al-Assad. As is invariably the case with British foreign policy in the Middle east, Britain, (Mr. Hague) has no idea who to give the weapons to or which section, or sections, of the "Opposition", Britain should support. British and French involvement in the Middle East generally is littered with bad judgement leading to bad decisions.
 The provision of weapons to any component of the Syrian opposition, would be compounding an already disastrous situation by an ill conceived and indefensible intervention. The long term consequences of such an intervention would plague Europe and perhaps the world for generations to come.  

The rise and rise of Islamophobia.

Police probe footballer who encouraged riots and bomb attacks on mosques

Shaun Tuck called for All the mosque’s in England to be bombed or gassed out and Muslim children to be beheaded

Why are the police only "....considering taking criminal action against him under the Malicious Communications and Public Order Acts." ?
If he were Muslim, he would be labeled as a radicalised Jihadist and already arrested under counter terrorism legislation. The double standards of the "authorities" is making a deteriorating situation even worse.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Artillery Road, Woolwich


'Snooper's Charter' Will Be Revived in wake of Leigh Rigby murder.

Drummer Leigh Rigby

 The horrible murder of Drummer Leigh Rigby has quite rightly provoked outrage and disgust across the country. Having said that however, it is difficult to understand the motivation for the hysterical media coverage, spearheaded by Sky News and BBC News 24, which has been a constant feature of their programmes over the past week. It is not as if there has been no other deaths of British soldiers over the past decades upon which the reporters could have lavished such hyperbole and repetitive rhetoric.
The effects of an IED in Hellmand are equally if not more traumatic on the human body than are knives in Woolwich, but the media chose only to report the lurid details of the killing and to publish photographs of the alleged attackers, video of conversations they had with passers by and the video with sound track of the eight shots fired by police to end the incident. The following hours and days have been filled with numerous interviews with “witnesses”, contributions from various experts on “terrorism” and the usual meaningless rhetoric from politicians lining up to make cheap points and provoke reaction with practically every other word uttered being either “Islamist” or “Muslim” or “Jihadist” or “terrorist” or some other emotionally charged phrase.
The effect of course was predictable. The EDF on the streets, arrests of demonstrators, racist postings on Twitter and numerous other social media outlets, and counter demonstrations on the streets of towns around the country. (Even at the height of the “troubles” and the IRA attacks in London, Manchester and other cities, together with the associated loss of life, both civilian and military, can anyone recall such intense media coverage of terrorist actions.)
All this against a background of hundreds, perhaps even thousands of people going to Artillery Road, Woolwich to leave flowers and tributes as a mark of respect, which is of course commendable but, I wonder, how many people would have been moved to make the visit had it not been for the overwhelming media coverage.
In the wake of the outrage and the public reaction to it, politicians now move to implement some rather vague measures under the general description of “security”.
Theresa May has plans for a “fresh crackdown on extremists groups”, David Cameron announces the launch of a “Task Force” to tackle extremism and radicalisation” and as Medi's morning memo reports the Mail on Sunday vows, “I'll gag the hate clerics”. This and more in the media over the last few days, all very inspiring blood curdling stuff, but is it real? The empty rhetoric of Downing Street stoking public perceptions and ensuring that the threat of terrorism is maintained as justification for further erosions of public liberty.
Home Secretary Theresa May.

 Something that is very real and very sinister, is the plan by Theresa May to revive the so called “Snoopers Charter” and slip it in under cover of the general public outrage, rather like the use of the Reichstag fire in February 1933, to implement the Reichstag Fire Decree” and in March of the same year, the “Enabling Act”.
The media and the politicians have gone to great lengths in a rather vain attempt to convince us all that this murder in Woolwich, and other's elsewhere, are not related to government foreign policy. This proposition is, of course is utter nonsense and defies all logic. The comments proposing a “new task force” or gagging hate clerics rather suggests the opposite.
The danger that we must be aware of and vigorously resist, is the use by government and its agencies of some event to further restrict or remove entirely, the civil liberties of people, under the guise of counter terrorism measures in furtherance of the so called “War on terror”.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Legalising the theft of Palestinian lands.

Israeli court considers landmark property law cases


Ali Ayyad stands close to the Cliff Hotel
The Cliff Hotel is on a hill in a strategic location in Abu Dis, on the outskirts of Jerusalem


Israel legalising state theft of Palestinian lands. The United Nations and the "International Community" condemns the Israeli action, but does nothing.

 Israel's Absentee Property Law was passed in 1950.

Again the Israeli's get away with it not because they have right on their side, but simply because they are Israeli's and get away with this and worse every day. The International guilty conscience prevents any real sanction against state theft, apartheid and terrorism. Israel conducts such actions every day and then wonders why ordinary people around the world,  loathe and despise them. 

Another lunatic proposal from the ConDem coalition ?

A cap on the number of times patients can visit their GP in a year is being considered by the Conservative Party

Cap on GP visits?

Now you will have to plan when to feel ill over the coming year and mark it on your year planner. Rather like planning your holiday in fact, if you are still able to afford one that is.
I wonder if Doctors will follow the example of the travel firms and offer discounts for early bookings?
Like all things emanating from Cameron and the incompetent ConDem coalition, this latest proposal is sheer lunacy.

Payday loan boss recommends ditching unfair dismissal rules.

 Tory donor's bid to curb job security 


Adrian Beecroft Chair of  Dawn Capital, whose portfolio includes

Payday loan boss donates £530K to the Tory party. Cameron asks him to examine how employment law could be overhauled and Mr Beecroft has recommended ditching unfair dismissal rules.

Payday loans

This news comes at the same time as Citizens Advice report that "Payday lenders" have broken 12 of the 14 industry pledges in the industry charter which was launched 6 months ago.
The problem with so called "self regulation" of this (or of any industry) is that it just doesn't work.
Unless the "guidelines", "charters", "pledges" or any of the other promises made by the members of the industry are enforced by law, there is little prospect of any changes to the behaviour and practices  of the industry, except perhaps at the margins. Turkey's do not vote for an early Christmas.The answer is of course to legislate and provide for tough sanctions to deter businesses from transgression of the rules. Alternatively, the business, particularly the Payday loan companies should have their licenses revoked to prevent them trading. That however would be problematic, as we should not forget the £530K donation and all the other donations flowing into Conservative Party coffers.