30 November 2012

27 November 2012

Virtually all of my photos are lost

Ten days ago I had two external HDDs containing five years of photos and loads of other files.Then I broke one by dropping it. I was going to replace it and i wish I had. Yesterday the other drve died with the click of death.

I have some photos on my computer but at the moment it looks as if I've lost most o my work unless ther'sa way through this.

I could scream.

26 November 2012

Another British victim of the Gulags

As I said earlier I need to dig out my copy of  Francis Beckett's Stalin's British Victims. Here is part of an article he wrote back in 2004 when the book was published regarding another of the British victims Unlime Rosa Rust this does not have a happy ending

Rose Cohen was born in 1894 in London, where her father Morris worked as a tailor after the family had fled persecution in Lodz, Poland. In those days, almost the only way for a working-class child from the East End to acquire an education beyond the three Rs was through the Workers' Educational Association. Rose was a fast and hungry learner. The WEA gave her an extensive education in politics and economics as well as fluency in three languages. For a poor immigrant, and a woman at that, this was itself a remarkable achievement. It made her a welcome recruit, first on the staff of the London County Council, and then at the Labour Research Department, which had become a centre for young leftwing intellectuals by the end of the first world war. Rose, her friend and admirer Maurice Reckitt recalled, had great vivacity and charm. "It was natural," he wrote, "that she should plunge into and swim with the communist tide which flowed so strongly in 1920."

Rose was a founder member of the British Communist party that year and, from the start, one of the small circle of young communists who soon came to dominate the party. She was, according to everyone who knew her, lively, intelligent, literate and hauntingly beautiful, with brown eyes and long dark hair. All the men who knew her talked of her smile, but say she was unaware of its magical quality. A packet of letters written to her during the 1920s clearly indicates a large band of obsessed male admirers throughout the British left.

Perhaps the most ardent of them all was Harry Pollitt. In 1926, the year of the general strike, Pollitt had already been identified by the Comintern as the man on whom the future of communism in Britain was going to depend. A short, heavily built boilermaker from Lancashire, Pollitt had a ready laugh and a natural warmth that communicated itself to those around him. A strong orator into the bargain, he quickly established himself as one of the key figures in the fledgling Communist party.
He fell passionately in love with Rose Cohen. On the back of a picture of Rose taken in Moscow is an inscription in Pollitt's hand: "Rose Cohen, who I am in love with, and who has rejected me 14 times." By 1925, he knew for certain he had lost her - to Max Petrovsky, whom Rose met in 1921 when the Soviets stepped in to guarantee contract work for the LRD to keep it alive after its links with the Labour party were severed.

In 1924, Petrovsky was sent to Britain as the Comintern representative, to be guide and mentor to the infant British party. Petrovsky, when in England, used the name Bennett. He managed to avoid the British police for five years - a remarkable feat, which no subsequent Comintern representative ever equalled. His influence on the British Communist party was huge. It is unlikely that any major decision was made without his approval.  Rose and Max Petrovsky moved permanently to Moscow.

They were the golden couple of the expatriate community in Moscow: both had exciting, important jobs, and their son Alyosha was born in December 1929. They were devoted to him. In 1932, Rose became foreign editor of the new English-language paper, the Moscow Daily News.

The big show trials began in August 1936.Kamenev and Zinoviev were shot. All the most distinguished of the old Bolsheviks followed them to execution. On March 11, the secret police had come for Max. A month later, the British Communist party's political bureau was told that he had been arrested as a "wrecker" and all British communists who had had any contact with him were to make statements giving full details of what they knew about him.

Harry Pollitt, who did know about Max's arrest, wrote to Rose. It was an attempt to cheer her up: "My visit to Spain [to the International Brigades fighting in the Spanish civil war] gave me great satisfaction. There is quite a story about how I got there, which will make you laugh ..." And then, at the end, he wrote as much as he dared about her troubles: "We all send our love. Don't lose heart."
She never saw Harry's letter. I found it, more than half a century later, in a dusty Comintern archive, where it was originally deposited, so that it could be used, if need be, to help show that Pollitt, too, was a traitor.

Rose was one of several foreign communists and Comintern leaders who were arrested in the spring and summer of 1937. People will say anything under torture. Rose, it is said, broke down completely in prison, and cried constantly for Alyosha, right up to the moment, on November 28, 1937, when they took her out and shot her.

Nothing to add to thi


Horse at the Chase Dagenham

Hadleigh Cstle

25 November 2012

Broken Cross

Designer vaginas for pre pubescents? More Lazy hackdom from the Mail and the Expres and the Sun and....

Jenny Hope is  Daily Mail journalist who seems to write on health issues. A few days ago she wrote a piece of shit with the headline


Hundreds of young girls are having ‘designer vagina’ surgery on the NHS, say researchers.

 Figures show 343 operations were performed on girls aged 14 or under in the last six years, possibly for cosmetic reasons. The procedures involve reshaping female genitalia and requests may be granted on the grounds that the problem is psychologically damaging.

Researchers from University College Hospital, London, led by Dr Sarah Creighton, claim it is ‘disturbing’ that there is no minimum age limit for the surgery. They say demand may be growing for such procedures because of poor and inaccurate information available on the internet, usually from private clinics....

They also use confusing terminology and do not highlight surgical risks, according to the research published in BMJ Open. A survey of 10 websites found little information was given on short-term or long-term surgical risks either from individual clinics and their surgeons or from the medical literature. ‘'Unsubstantiated claims of physical, psychological and sexual benefits were present on every website’ said consultant gynaecologist Dr Creighton.

Charlotte Meredith  is a Journalist for the Daily Express Her ile of lazy billshit oh I'm sorry OI meant her story was given the headline


CHILDREN as young as nine, influenced by 'pornstar chic', are asking for vaginal cosmetic surgery on the NHS, a British Medical Journal Open study shows.
An incredible 343 labiaplasties were performed on girls aged 14 or younger over the last six years, the journal reveals.

There has been a huge surge of cosmetic labiaplasty – which reduces the size of labia – in recent years and cosmetic surgeons have reported a rise in requests of 'designer vaginas' modeled on Playboy bunnies and pornstars.

The Department of Health says it only carries out the procedure for clinical reasons, such as on those with vaginal injuries.

The Sun gives the story

 Hundreds of young girls getting ‘designer vaginas’

he story has no byline

In fact the paper Creighton published with others was called An analysis of the content and clinical implications of online advertisements for female genital cosmetic surgery and can be downloaded in PDF form from the internet

One paragraph relates to labiaplasties conducted by the NHS

The absence of a lower age limit for any of the FGCS procedures is most disturbing of all. In the past 6 years,   343 labiaplasties were performed in the UK NHS on girls aged 14 or under.26 The indications for surgery in this group of children are unknown, but labial anomal- ies requiring surgical interventions are extremely rare. In addition, significant numbers of labiaplasties on girls under 18 years of age are reported in the medical litera- ture with publications dwelling specifically on labial reductions in adolescents for hypertrophy or asymmetry of the labia minora.4 In a recent observational study of referral patterns, girls as young as 9 years with normal labia had presented for labiaplasty.27 The labia minora change as part of normal pubertal growth with develop- ment completed as the individual approaches adult- hood. Given the fact that anatomy continues to change throughout the lifespan, the younger a girl begins her FGCS journey, the higher the number of lifetime opera- tions and the greater and more multiple the risks.

Yes perhas it is concerning given that puberty of course means huge changes (and water is wet yes I know!)

But essentially Hope is lifitng a minor piece of a much longer report taking it out of context having a sub editor put on a lurid but misleading eadline to cause readers to rant over their cornflakes... But it's lazy journalism.

So what does the NHS say about it all? Here is a considered response from the NHS

...The  media focused on a type of surgery known as labiaplasty, which involves removing a section of labia tissue (the labia makes up part of the external structure of the female genitalia).  While the study does accurately quote NHS statistics showing more than 300 labiaplasties were performed by the NHS on girls aged 14 or younger in the last six years, there is no evidence that these operations were performed for cosmetic reasons (to create ‘designer vaginas’).

There are a number of clinical reasons why a labiaplasty may be performed, such as an excess of labia tissue (labial hypertrophy) causing pain and making a child vulnerable to repeat infection or causing them problems with urination.

This is a worthwhile study on a new and controversial cultural phenomenon. It found that the quality and quantity of medical information provided by such online clinics on labiaplasties (and similar cosmetic procedures) is poor, unscientific and at times incorrect. It found that none of the websites gave a lower age limit for cosmetic labiaplasty procedures.
However, the media has ‘spun’ the results of this study to suggest that unjustified female genital cosmetic surgery in children is somehow commonplace in the NHS.
The Department of Health has reportedly said that labiaplasties, or other types of genital surgery, would be carried out in the NHS only on patients “who have a clinical need.”

Where did the story come from?

The study was carried out by researchers from University College Hospital London. There was no external funding.  The study was published in the peer-reviewed, open-access medical journal, BMJ Open.

Of the reporting of the study, only The Independent provided a balanced view of the findings, reporting that cosmetic surgery websites provided poor quality information on female genital cosmetic surgery. All the other newspapers reporting on the story (Metro, The Sun and the Daily Mail) lead with the baseless accusation that labiaplasties on children for cosmetic reasons have been undertaken hundreds of times by the NHS over the last six years.

While the researchers argue that labial anomalies requiring surgical interventions are extremely rare in teenagers, they do not provide any evidence that the NHS is carrying out unnecessary surgeries.
The study raises valid concerns about the advertising of female genital cosmetic surgery (FGCS), but the majority of the news reporting has not focused on this.

What did the research involve?
The researchers identified websites offering FGCS using Google (chosen because it is the most popular search engine) and entering the term “designer vagina”.
The first five UK and five US providers to appear in the search results were included in the study.
The researchers developed 16 information categories or criteria for analysing the content of the websites, building on the Questions to ask a surgeon article on the NHS Choices website, adding questions about clinical effectiveness and adverse effects. The 16 criteria were:
  • types of procedure offered
  • description of procedure (information on surgical technique)
  • use of medical terms (to suggest that treatment is for a medical condition)
  • symptoms that surgery treats (such as physical discomfort or concerns about appearance)
  • benefits of surgery (such as improving discomfort, appearance or hygiene)
  • success rates (what percentage of women achieve the benefits listed)
  • reference to psychological and social advantages (non-medical benefits such as confidence)
  • reference to enhancement of sexual experience (any mention sex will be improved for patient or partner)
  • risks of surgery (such as infection and bleeding)
  • absence or presence of a caution section (whether consumers were advised to think carefully before proceeding to FGCS)
  • aftercare (basic wound hygiene)
  • immediate outcomes (short-term benefits and risks)
  • long-term outcomes
  • absence or presence of positive testimonials (for example personal stories)
  • absence or presence of before and after images
  • lowest age limit for surgery (any mention that 16 years is the age of legal consent for surgery)
Each website was evaluated to confirm suitability for inclusion and to collect the information relevant to each category. All websites were then assessed independently.

What were the basic results?

The researchers found that the 10 websites named 72 different procedures using non-standard terminology. The researchers say these probably refer to the most common surgeries. Names included “vulval reshaping”, “vulva and vaginal rejuvenation”, “revirgination” and “Mommy Makeover”.
Below are the main findings:
  • all websites claimed that surgery would improve the appearance of the female genitalia and give discomfort relief
  • 5 out of 10 sites claimed improved sexual relationships and pleasure
  • 4 out of 10 sites claimed improved hygiene
  • none of the sites mentioned the current absence of evidence for clinical effectiveness
  • only three sites made reference to “appearance diversity” – the fact that the size and shape of external female genitalia (labia) varies widely, but they still recommended surgery
  • all sites mentioned that surgery has risks, but these were not named on 4 out of 10 sites
  • all sites gave general aftercare advice
  • there was no information on short-term or long-term outcomes of surgery based on actual data
  • there was no mention of alternative ways of managing appearance concerns
  • none of the sites gave a lower age limit for surgery

How did the researchers interpret the results?

They conclude that the quality and quantity of clinical information on the websites is poor and in some circumstances contained errors. “Impeccable professionalism and ethical integrity is crucial for this controversial practice,” they argue. Adding that clear and detailed guidelines on how to raise the standard of information to women on all aspects of FGCS are urgently needed. They also argue that the websites themselves may be contributing to cultural stereotypes of an “idealised vulva”.
The researchers conclude that the absence of a lower age limit for any of the procedures is the most disturbing finding. In their discussion, they state that 343 labiaplasties were performed in the UK NHS on girls aged 14 and under in the past six years, pointing out that “the indications for surgery in this group of children are unknown, but labial anomalies requiring surgical interventions are extremely rare”. While the papers have interpreted this to mean that the surgery is being done on the NHS for cosmetic reasons, it is perhaps more likely that the authors were saying that it is rarely medically necessary and that is why there have only been around 57 per year.

This study of the information on female genital cosmetic surgery by private providers raises concerns about its quality. As the researchers point out, they did not conduct a systematic search of such information, and used only one search term and one search engine (Google).
However, the study does offer a glimpse of what women and girls may come across when searching for this kind of information on the internet.

It could be argued that guidelines on advertising should be developed in this area, in particular on the terminology used to describe the surgery performed.

On the issue of FGCS within the NHS, a Department of Health spokeswoman told the media that “there is no such thing a designer vagina on the NHS. Of course there is cosmetic surgery carried out on the NHS, but this is only for patients who have a clinical need for it (such as reconstructive surgery after an accident) and absolutely not for those who would simply like to have it done.”

So what conclusions can you draw? Well one I can draw is that Jenny Hope, Charlotte Meredith and  a number of other journalists are lazy hack working for papers that would far rather present bullshit to enrage their readers than bother with the truth. If they had any integrity they would have focused on the crap spewed out by cosmetic surgery websites and looked into the reasons why the NHS performs labiaplasties on young girls.

23 November 2012

Red Eared Sliders

CPS to grow a spine over FGM

The Guardian reports that the Crown Prosecution Service has announced that it will not be so bloody spineless over Female Genital Mutilation .  FGM has been a criminal offence for nearly 30 years for which there has never been a prosecution.

There has been growing concern that the practice continues to take place in the UK and that young girls are taken abroad by their families to undergo it. The very few attempts to bring a prosecution have all ended in failure

Keir Starmer, director of public prosecutions, has now published an action plan in a bid to turn the tide. "It's critical that everything possible is done to ensure we bring the people who commit these offences against young girls and women to justice and this action plan is a major step in the right direction," he said.

"Everyone who can play a part in stopping FGM – from the doctor with a suspicion that an offence has been committed and the police officer investigating the initial complaint to the prosecutor taking a charging decision – needs to know what to do to improve detection rates, strengthen investigations and, for the part of the CPS, to start getting these offenders into court. I am determined that the CPS should play a key role in ensuring that the impunity with which these offenders have acted will end."
The first step is to gather good data on the potential scale of the problem, says the CPS. It then intends to look at the allegations that have fallen by the wayside, to see what has hindered the investigation and prosecution. It will attempt to learn from prosecutions in other countries and ensure police and prosecutors work closely together from the very start of investigations.

Carrying out or assisting FGM has been a criminal offence since 1985. The law was made tougher in 2003 with the passing of the Female Genital Mutilation Act, which makes it an offence for UK citizens of permanent residents to take a child abroad for cutting, even where the practice is legal. The maximum penalty is 14 years imprisonment.

But only three cases have ever been referred to the CPS – the first in 2010 – and not one of them made it to court. In the first case, the victim gave conflicting accounts of what happened, where it took place and who carried it out. In the second, there was an allegation that a girl was at risk, but no evidence was found to support a charge. The third was a "sting" mounted by a woman posing as the aunt of two young girls, who recorded conversations with two doctors in Birmingham who were allegedly willing to operate on them. The doctors were arrested, but the woman refused to sign the draft statement and, says the CPS, there were inconsistencies in her account.
Prosecutions for FGM are particularly difficult because they could require a girl to implicate her own parents in a crime. There are also cultural taboos and communities may stay silent or close ranks. It is also hard to obtain reliable evidence if the crime is carried out abroad.

But midwives, who often see the result of FGM in women in childbirth years later, are delighted that the CPS is taking a tougher line. Louise Silverton, director for midwifery for the Royal College of Midwives, said she warmly welcomed the groundbreaking action by the CPS. "It concerns me that so many UK midwives are seeing cases of FGM and we need to have good mechanisms in place for midwives to report and take appropriate actions about FGM. The RCM takes a zero tolerance stance on FGM and will continue to work to see this practice stopped in the UK. We look forward to continuing to work with the director for public prosecutions about the action plan," she said.

Labour MP Diane Abbott said: "I really welcome this. The issue has lurked in the shadows for too long, and I think it's got to be brought into mainstream consciousness more. About 20,000 children in England and Wales are deemed 'at risk' every year. The situation is similar in France, yet whereas some 100 parents and practitioners of this have been convicted in France, there has never been a single prosecution in the UK. I think many of the people who are affected by this are voiceless and unprotected, and we've got to do more to understand it."

ABOUT FUCKING TIME! No matter which way you look at it it is a barbaric practice that has no place in this country.


22 November 2012

A British Teen in the Gulag

Some years ago  by Francis Beckett wrote an interesting book about four British women who became victims of Stalin's terror one of these was a young girl called Rosa Rust. I have no idea where my coy of the book is but I was interested to find this 1998 article from the  Independent about one of the victims Rosa Rust who was just sixteen when she fell into the hands of Stalin's terror machine

Rosa Thornton tells her grandchildren about her younger days, they must find it difficult to believe their ears. Few British children went to school in Moscow alongside the offspring of Mao, Tito and the international revolutionary elite. Fewer still found themselves shipped off to Kazakhstan at the age of 16 to shovel copper ore for 14 hours a day, seven days a week. 

Rosa Rust was born in 1925, the daughter of William Rust, a devoted British Communist, and his wife, Kathleen. She was named, of course, after the German communist revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg.  Rosa took her first steps across the table in a prison visiting-room, where Bill Rust was one of 12 prominent British Communists held for sedition at the time of the General Strike. He was, her mother told her, more interested in news of the class struggle than in Rosa's battle with gravity.

In 1928, Rust was summoned to Moscow to work for Comintern, and took with him his wife and three-year-old daughter. There he became a popular figure, not least for his propensity to denounce his backsliding British comrades.  "He had a lot of admirers," says Rosa, who still speaks with a pronounced Russian accent. "My mother was `just his wife'." The marriage was doomed, and with her mother also swept up in the expatriate revolutionary scene, Rosa was left to her own devices. She had spoken Russian from the beginning, having learned it during a fortnight in a Moscow isolation hospital.

In 1930, Rust was sent back to London to edit the new Daily Worker. Before he left, he secured her a place in what she calls "a specialised children's home for foreigners". The Politburo had decided to establish the special boarding school in Ivanovana Niskienz, a textile town outside Moscow, for the children of "fighters against Fascism" and Communist revolutionaries, many of whom were living hazardous underground lives in their own countries. Among them, Rosa remembers particularly Tito's son, Jakov. "He was a horrible boy," she recalls. "I hated him." His idea of fun was to take some food and barricade himself beneath the floorboards.

But the foreign Communists came increasingly under suspicion in Moscow. Rosa's mother had stayed on in the city, working on an English-language newspaper. She acquired a lover, but when in 1938 he was declared an enemy of the people and disappeared, she knew it was time to leave. She visited the school and told Rosa she would return for her in a year or so.

But the Hitler-Stalin pact of 1939 intervened, and then, in 1941, the German invasion of Russia. Rosa was still in the country, with both her parents in London, apparently confident that she was in good hands. This was far from the truth. Separated from school friends, Rosa found herself with displaced Germans, shipped by cattle truck to the far reaches of Kazakhstan. There she spent three years, first in a collective farm, then as a smith, and finally in a copper mine.

Malnourished and partly blind, she wrote to her old school to ask for help. Only then did officials in Moscow appreciate that the death of the daughter of a leading British Stalinist would not be good for Anglo-Soviet relations. Rosa was sent a pass, allowing her to leave what was effectively a slave labour camp, and make her own way back. The train journey to Moscow alone took 17 days. Finally, she arrived in Scotland by way of a Murmansk convoy, with the war still raging.

On her return to the UK Rust lived with her mother, learned English at Regent's Street Polytechnic,  Later, she got a job as a telephonist and receptionist with Soviet Weekly, and then for Tassuntil it was closed down by the Foreign Office as the Cold War began in earnest.

In 1949 she married George Thornton, a student of Polish. She was given away by Harry Pollitt, the leader of Britain's Communists during the Second World War. The singer Paul Robeson appears in the wedding photographs. Such people were her only family. She says now that all her life she has shunned "three things: politics, religion and nationalism".

Rosa Rust died in 2000.She and her husband had four children.

I know that she was just one swallowed y Stalin's terror machine but each and every victim had a story to tell

Pope Benedict concentrates on the real issues of the day

Today's Telegraph  reports that Pope Benedict has stated that in a new book on Chist that, contrary to popular belief, Jesus's birth was not presided over by oxen, asses, camels or indeed any other beasts.

"There is no mention of animals in the Gospels," he wrote in the third and last volume of his biography of Jesus Christ, which like the previous two books is expected to become an international best-seller, with an initial print run of a million copies.

But be not worried the  pontiff said that the tradition of donkeys or oxen beside the manger was so deeply entrenched that it would doubtless survive his scepticism. "No one will give up the oxen and the donkey in their Nativity scenes,"
The belief that animals were in the stable where Christ was born has proved an enduring tradition even in the Vatican - the elaborate Nativity scene set up in St Peter's Square in the weeks before Christmas each year has featured livestock such as sheep.

The Pope also sounded a note of caution over the popular belief that angels sang to the shepherds to proclaim Christ's birth, as recalled in the Christmas carol "Hark! The herald angels sing, Glory to the new-born King."

He writes that when the gospels refer to the "heavenly host" of angels "praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest", they in fact spoke the words rather than sang them.

"According to the evangelist, the angels "said" this," Benedict writes. "But Christianity has always understood that the speech of angels is actually song, in which all the glory of the great joy that they proclaim becomes tangibly present."

The misunderstanding spawned the tradition of carol singing, the Pope said. "To this day...simple believers join in their caroling on the Holy Night, proclaiming in song the great joy that, from then until the end of time, is bestowed on all people."

he accounts of Matthew and Luke are not myths taken a stage further. They are firmly rooted, in terms of their basic conception, in the biblical tradition of God the Creator and Redeemer,"

Well there you have it. Angls spoke and there were no livestock in the stable.... Oh well that does not make me less well disposed to catholicism.....

Sadly this kitten's been dead for around a century

A 1903 film of a kitten

21 November 2012

Still watching tv

From the Kims to the Assads: We still love you

Deutsche Welle  reports that Kim young 'un has sent a message underlining his regime's support for Syria's Bashar Assad. 

As debate rages over whether the international community should provide weapons to the Syrian rebels attempting to overthrow Bashar al Assad, Kim has reminded the Assads how much he and his missus (or perhaps not missus) still love him
"Please accept my warm congratulations to you and the government and people of your friendly country on the 42nd anniversary of the rectification movement in Syria, The rectification movement was a historic event which provided a landmark occasion in the struggle of the Syrian people to defend the sovereignty of the country and build a highly civilized and prosperous new society
 Availing myself of this opportunity," the message concluded, "I wish you success in your responsible work, reiterating the firm solidarity of our people with the struggle of the Syrian Arab people to defend the sovereignty, peace and stability of the country...oh and Bahr Asma if things do go tits u for you therewill always be room on our couch for you"

Three days before Kim's effusive praise for Assad, sources in the United Nations were quoted as saying that the North had been caught attempting to transport missile parts to Syria, in contravention of a ban on weapons exports imposed by the UN Security Council. 

 The 69,225-ton freighter is owned by a Chinese firm based in Shanghai and has been inspected on at least 19 occasions since 2005. The inspections were carried out by the US Coast Guard, as well as naval authorities in Colombia, Australia and the German port of Hamburg.
And so on... With Kim and Assd it proves once again that shit loves shite. Of course Russian sales to Syria eclpise North Korea's.....

Atos Sites Lack Disability Access

The BBC reports that  Atos, the firm carrying out fitness-for-work assessments for the government lacks disabled access at a quarter of its premises.

Employment minister Mark Hoban said 31 of 123 centres run by Atos lacked ground-floor access for wheelchairs.  Six centres in particular had "terrible" problems, causing almost three-quarters of case backlogs by failing to inform applicants and arrange enough home visits instead.
One MP called the situation "potty".

The Labour government replaced Incapacity Benefit with the Employment and Support Allowance four years ago.  The government is using French firm Atos to carry out the resulting face-to-face assessments of disability benefit claimants' eligibility - known as the "limited capability for work assessment".

Those judged able to do some work are given support to find jobs, while those judged able to work full time are moved on to Jobseekers Allowance.  The Commons Work and Pensions Committee heard evidence from Mr Hoban, who said: "There's a challenge in ensuring interview centres are accessible. What we don't want to do is to get people to turn up to centres that they can't effectively access."

Mr Hoban said that, in cases where wheelchair access was not possible, home visits were offered as an alternative.  He revealed that 31 of Atos's 123 sites did not have such access. Six centres - in Croydon, Ealing, Birmingham, Luton, Mansfield and Norwich - were responsible for 73% of the case backlog.

Mr Hoban said: "I think it's terrible. I think it's unacceptable that six centres account for 73%."
He added: "I think it's something that, over time, we should drive out."

Hold on the company that is running fitness for work assessments do not have disabled access in a quarter of its sites????  That is a bloody disgrace.Clearly Atos is not fit for purpose and should not be let withing a mile of  an ill or disabled person  Some of the decisions that it seem to have reached in the past underline this

20 November 2012

While still reclining

A Chocolate Train

KEYC - Mankato News, Weather, Sports - A new world record for a cocolate train and indeed at 112 feet the longest chocolate structure in the world. Just so long as it was made of Hershey bars. The idea of the good stuff being used strikes me with horror!

19 November 2012

Watching tv with Boris

First of all let me state absolutely that I wholeheartedly support Israel's right to exist and to defend itself. I also consider Hamas to be scumbags who don't give a damn for the people of Gaza.. The current situation cannot go on but one solution proposed by Gilad Sharon in a recent  Jerusalem Post is most certainly not the answer

Anyone who thinks Hamas is going to beg for a cease-fire, that Operation Pillar of Defense will draw to a close and quiet will reign in the South because we hit targets in the Gaza Strip, needs to think again.

With the elimination of a murderous terrorist and the destruction of Hamas’s long-range missile stockpile, the operation was off to an auspicious start, but what now? This must not be allowed to end as did Operation Cast Lead: We bomb them, they fire missiles at us, and then a cease-fire, followed by “showers” – namely sporadic missile fire and isolated incidents along the fence. Life under such a rain of death is no life at all, and we cannot allow ourselves to become resigned to it.

A strong opening isn’t enough, you also have to know how to finish – and finish decisively. If it isn’t clear whether the ball crossed the goal-line or not, the goal isn’t decisive. The ball needs to hit the net, visible to all. What does a decisive victory sound like? A Tarzan-like cry that lets the entire jungle know in no uncertain terms just who won, and just who was defeated.

To accomplish this, you need to achieve what the other side can’t bear, can’t live with, and our initial bombing campaign isn’t it.

THE DESIRE to prevent harm to innocent civilians in Gaza will ultimately lead to harming the truly innocent: the residents of southern Israel. The residents of Gaza are not innocent, they elected Hamas. The Gazans aren’t hostages; they chose this freely, and must live with the consequences.

The Gaza Strip functions as a state – it has a government and conducts foreign relations, there are schools, medical facilities, there are armed forces and all the other trappings of statehood. We have no territorial conflict with “Gaza State,” and it is not under Israeli siege – it shares a border with Egypt. Despite this, it fires on our citizens without restraint.

Why do our citizens have to live with rocket fire from Gaza while we fight with our hands tied? Why are the citizens of Gaza immune? If the Syrians were to open fire on our towns, would we not attack Damascus? If the Cubans were to fire at Miami, wouldn’t Havana suffer the consequences? That’s what’s called “deterrence” – if you shoot at me, I’ll shoot at you. There is no justification for the State of Gaza being able to shoot at our towns with impunity. We need to flatten entire neighborhoods in Gaza. Flatten all of Gaza. The Americans didn’t stop with Hiroshima – the Japanese weren’t surrendering fast enough, so they hit Nagasaki, too.

There should be no electricity in Gaza, no gasoline or moving vehicles, nothing. Then they’d really call for a ceasefire.

Were this to happen, the images from Gaza might be unpleasant – but victory would be swift, and the lives of our soldiers and civilians spared.

IF THE government isn’t prepared to go all the way on this, it will mean reoccupying the entire Gaza Strip. Not a few neighborhoods in the suburbs, as with Cast Lead, but the entire Strip, like in Defensive Shield, so that rockets can no longer be fired.

There is no middle path here – either the Gazans and their infrastructure are made to pay the price, or we reoccupy the entire Gaza Strip. Otherwise there will be no decisive victory. And we’re running out of time – we must achieve victory quickly. The Netanyahu government is on a short international leash. Soon the pressure will start – and a million civilians can’t live under fire for long. This needs to end quickly – with a bang, not a whimper.

When I first read this I wondered if he would add in nits make lice and consider a final outcome to the Gaza situation... I won't suggest another description.  This sort of action is not going to  solve Israels problems.

I really wish I knew what the answer to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was. Whatever it is it will have ultimately to be peaceful. I know that Northern Ireland is  different case to that of Israel/Palestine but....

More Amrita Sher-Gill

This is a portrait of the artists sister Indira

18 November 2012

While watching a recorded episode of Romanzo Criminale

Amrita Sher-Gill

A self ortrait by Indian-Hungarian artist Amrita Shergill. While thousands were flocking to the Tate Modern in 2007 to see Gilbert and George "Poo Bum Willy" art a couple of small galleries on the same floor were set aside for a free exhibition of Shergill's work

Shergill a prodigious talent, was born in 1913 but died at the age of just 28 in 1941. She was a prodigious talent. One can only wonder what she would have produced if the world had been graced with her presence for longer.

17 November 2012

Event Horizon III

Event Horizon II

Event Horizon I

One of th Iron men from Anthony Gormley's Event Horizon installation in London in 2007

Alison Lapper Pregnant 2007

I've been digging through old photo folders and found some of the ics I took of Marc Quinn's Alison Lapper Pregnant statue.  Alison Lapper is an artist who was born with no arms and truncated legs. The statue was displayed on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square from 2005-2007.

As far as I am concerned it is the best of all of the installations the fourth plinth has seen. I know it's a cliche but Alison Lapper Pregnant is a Venus de Milo for our age

16 November 2012

Congratulations to the people of Bettws Ward

Yesterday the good peole of England and Wales turned up in their millions, sorry thousands, sorry hundreds, sorry dozens, sorry in their ones and twos to vote in the Police and Crime Commissioner elections. Well not all of us - We Londoners didn't get to vote.....

Anyway the overall turnout at around 15% was risible but not surprising since there was virtually no publicity. As a result apathy won but in one place apathy won with 100% of the vote. According to the BBC one ward, Bettws in Newport, Wales had a zero turnout. Absolutely no one in the ward voted at all.

That there were no votes in Bettws speaks volumes about the public perception of these pointless elections

An old cat and his tongue

15 November 2012

And some Paul Roland too

And a new PaulRoland album being released around now too

And some Hawkwind

The 1991 album Palace Springs has just been re-released with extra tracks and a live CD (the California Brainstorm set). Will have to get that soon

A bit of Niyaz

A new Niyaz album is out now and they are playing London next week.Can't afford to see them sadly...

14 November 2012

This is a Catholic Country............

A tragic news report from Ireland is almost certainly set to blow oen the debate on abortion in that country again.

The Irish Times reports that Savita Halappanavar  who presented with back pain at the hospital on October 21st, was found to be miscarrying. She died died of septicaemia a week later.

Her husband, Praveen Halappanavar (34), an engineer at Boston Scientific in Galway, says she asked several times over a three-day period that the pregnancy be terminated. He says that, having been told she was miscarrying, and after one day in severe pain, Ms Halappanavar asked for a medical termination.

This was refused, he says, because the foetal heartbeat was still present and they were told, “this is a Catholic country”.

She spent a further 2½ days “in agony” until the foetal heartbeat stopped. The dead foetus was removed and Savita was taken to the high dependency unit and then the intensive care unit, where she died of septicaemia on the 28th.

An autopsy carried out by Dr Grace Callagy two days later found she died of septicaemia “documented ante-mortem” and E.coli ESBL.

A hospital spokesman confirmed the Health Service Executive had begun an investigation while the hospital had also instigated an internal investigation. He said the hospital extended its sympathy to the family and friends of Ms Halappanavar but could not discuss the details of any individual case.
Speaking from Belgaum in the Karnataka region of southwest India, Mr Halappanavar said an internal examination was performed when she first presented.

“The doctor told us the cervix was fully dilated, amniotic fluid was leaking and unfortunately the baby wouldn’t survive.” The doctor, he says, said it should be over in a few hours. There followed three days, he says, of the foetal heartbeat being checked several times a day.

“Savita was really in agony. She was very upset, but she accepted she was losing the baby. When the consultant came on the ward rounds on Monday morning Savita asked if they could not save the baby could they induce to end the pregnancy. The consultant said, ‘As long as there is a foetal heartbeat we can’t do anything’.

“Again on Tuesday morning, the ward rounds and the same discussion. The consultant said it was the law, that this is a Catholic country. Savita said: ‘I am neither Irish nor Catholic’ but they said there was nothing they could do. That evening she developed shakes and shivering and she was vomiting. She went to use the toilet and she collapsed. There were big alarms and a doctor took bloods and started her on antibiotics. The next morning I said she was so sick and asked again that they just end it, but they said they couldn’t.”

At lunchtime the foetal heart had stopped and Ms Halappanavar was brought to theatre to have the womb contents removed. “When she came out she was talking okay but she was very sick. That’s the last time I spoke to her.”

At 11 pm he got a call from the hospital. “They said they were shifting her to intensive care. Her heart and pulse were low, her temperature was high. She was sedated and critical but stable. She stayed stable on Friday but by 7pm on Saturday they said her heart, kidneys and liver weren’t functioning. She was critically ill. That night, we lost her.”

Mr Halappanavar took his wife’s body home on Thursday, November 1st, where she was cremated and laid to rest on November 3rd.

What can one say. Thanks to the machinations of those reactionary bastards in the Catholic Church abortion was made constitutionally illegal  following a referendum in 1983.

While information on abortion services and for women to travel abroad are allowed and there is a legal basis to permit abortion where a woman's life is in danger but no government has legislated on the matter.

To deny an abortion in a case like this is a callous and heartless act especially when the foetis was in the process of being aborted naturally anyway. The Haappanvar's may have lost a baby but the couple would almost certainly still be together.

In the process of protecting one life the law killed two. The law needs to be changed and changed now

Planet Ahashver?

 Artist impression of CFBDSIR2149 - from the Daily Telegraph

The Telegraph  reports that scientists have discovered the first first ever homeless planet - one that does not orbit a star.

With a truly snappy provisional name CFBDSIR2149 is the first isolated planet of its kind ever to be discovered by scientists, after more than a decade of searching in a process described as “looking for a single needle in amongst thousands of haystacks." Up to seven times the size of Jupiter, it is free-floating with no gravitational link and meets the specific criteria of mass, temperature and age to be designated as a “planet”.
Between 50 and 120 millions years old, it has a temperature of approximately 400 degrees Celsius and is believed to be part of a group of around 30 very young stars known as the AB Doradus Moving Group. he planet was discovered by researchers at the University of Montreal, who consulted with French colleagues and data from the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope and the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope.
Although scientists have known this type of “homeless” planet existed, they have not been able to
observe one until now.

It is believed the isolated planet could have been flung away from other bodies during its formation.
Its very existence already supports theories that this type of “homeless” object is more common in
space than currently thought.

"Although theorists had established the existence of this type of very cold and young planet, one had never been observed until today," said √Čtienne Artigau, an astrophysicist at UdeM.
"This object was discovered during a scan that covered the equivalent of 1000 times the surface of the full moon.We observed hundreds of millions of stars and planets, but we only found one homeless planet in our neighbourhood. Now we will be looking for them amongst an astronomical number of sources further afield. It's like looking for a single needle in amongst thousands of haystacks."

The team of astronomers have finally been able to study it due to its comparative proximity, and the absence of a bright star very close to it.

"Looking for planets around their stars is akin to studying a firefly sitting one centimetre away from a distant, powerful car headlight," says Philippe Delorme, lead author from the Institut de planetologie et d'astrophysique de Grenoble, France. "This nearby free-floating object offered the opportunity to study the firefly in detail without the dazzling lights of the car messing everything up.

Again another truly fascinating find. In ten years I have no doubt their discovery wil be common place. Still this is an excellent discovery

Don't Abandon Iran's Internet Generation to Online Oppression

This article appeared on the  PBS Tehran Bureau site. For all the minor issues we may face blogging we are truly fortunate compared to our brothers and sisters in Iran.  We are not going to be beaten to deeath by Special Branch or the FBI if we criticise our governments.

As for other matters I can see no reason why Adobe or anti virus updates are denied to them.

Imagine you live in a country like the Oceania of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, where Big Brother seeks to control almost every aspect of your life, particularly your interaction with the media -- determining the news and information to which you are permitted access and watching every move you make on the Internet. Imagine yourself struggling to open a small window in the invisible but all too real wall erected by the ruling system to take a peek at reality, or to scream out so others might hear that you exist and are hurting. You want to feel what it is like to live emancipated, if not in the real world at least in the cyber realm. You are aware that every time you make such an attempt, the government is likely to detect it, and if it feels threatened in any way by your activity will hunt you down and throw you in one of its grim prisons. You hold out hope that those who enjoy freedom on the "other side" do not forget you, and if they do not lend a hand in opening that little window, at least will not act, however unwittingly, in concert with Big Brother.

Yet that is the gist of what now confronts Iran's Internet generation, the young people whose courageous defiance of the engineered presidential election of 2009 brought Iranians' long-stifled aspirations for democracy and freedom to the world's attention. The situation has been highlighted by the death last week of Sattar Beheshti, 35, a Green Movement supporter who maintained a blog in which he criticized the regime and its treatment of political prisoners. A laborer living in one of Tehran's poorest suburbs, Beheshti -- despite not using his full name on his blog page -- was tracked down and arrested in early November by the Islamic Republic's cyber police. His death was reportedly the result of torture he endured during interrogation.

Beheshti's tragic death underlines the deeply besieged mentality of Iran's theocratic regime and how far it will go to suppress any voice of popular opposition. The aftermath of the 2009 election impressed on the government the grave danger posed to it by a free flow of information and an informed citizenry. An enormous amount of money was allocated to the acquisition of some of the world's most sophisticated systems for monitoring and tracking electronic communications, restricting the Internet, and jamming satellite broadcast signals.

During the Green Movement's rise, as with the Arab Spring a year and a half later, email services like Google's Gmail, social media like Facebook, video-sharing sites like YouTube, and blogging services played crucial roles in organizing street protests and disseminating news about them. Over the past two and a half years, access to a growing number of such services as well as to a vast range of news and information websites has been prohibited. Officials have prophesied that the Internet will eventually be replaced by a national "intranet" and that the widely popular Gmail will be supplanted by a locally developed and controlled email service. Gmail is a particular target because it encodes messages during delivery, which makes it difficult for the regime to monitor the content of communications on a broad scale. Two months ago, using the YouTube posting of the anti-Islamic video "The Innocence of Muslims" as a pretext, the regime blocked access to Gmail, though it backed down after a few days.

Iranian Internet users and the state's censorship apparatus now play a cat-and-mouse game around the government's so-called filtering process. Users do their best to circumvent the state's efforts through virtual private networks (VPNs) and various antifiltering applications, while the state attempts to render those countermeasures ineffectual or, whenever possible, exploit them to spy on Internet users -- for example, by promoting and administering fraudulent VPNs. The antifiltering applications supplied by Radio Farda, the Persian-language service of Voice of America/Radio Free Europe, have been especially valuable to Iranian citizens who seek free access to information. Such applications need to be updated regularly to ensure their ability to circumvent the filtering system and defend against regime attempts to hijack them.

For almost any 21st-century Iranian activist, a minimum computer security system, including firewall, antivirus security, antispyware, and timely updates to those applications as well as to operating systems and browser plugins, has become essential. It is not clear how vulnerable Beheshti's computer was, but the fact is that all the components of a basic online defense system are available free of charge over the Internet -- except increasingly not for Iranians.

Since last year, for example, two of the best-known free antivirus programs, AVG and Avast, have stopped Iranian IP users from downloading their software or updating their virus definitions -- though no sanctions mandate this. Adobe does not permit Iranian users to download its free Flash and PDF-reading systems, which are used by hundreds of millions of people across the globe. This is particularly important in the case of Adobe Flash Player, the dominant streaming video plugin. During the height of the Green Movement, Iranian activists took great risks to capture and post video clips of street demonstrations to inform the world about what was taking place inside Iran.

There is no comprehensible logic to denying the Iranian people access to such technology. Whom do these software companies imagine is going to suffer as a result? Iran's authoritarian rulers? Rest assured, the regime is not using the free versions of antivirus software to protect its multibillion-dollar nuclear and military projects against highly sophisticated malware programs like Stuxnet or Flame. Nor are its nuclear technicians unable to open the how-to videos and manuals for their uranium enrichment centrifuges because they cannot download Flash Player or Adobe's PDF reader.

The impact, however, is entirely different on ordinary Iranian Internet users, undoubtedly including Beheshti. Over the past year, the rial has lost nearly two thirds of its value against the dollar and euro, yielding high inflation in almost every sector of the economy. With middle- and working-class incomes stagnant, most Iranians are now struggling just to keep their heads above water. Even those few who can afford paid versions of security and other online applications find it nearly impossible to make such purchases. No internationally accepted credit cards are available inside the country, and the sanctions imposed on its banking system have crippled Iranians' ability to remit money abroad.

The choking off of access to essential online technology is punishing a people already subject to relentless oppression by an increasingly totalitarian system. It also signifies the larger problem of the overzealous application of supposedly "smart" sanctions that extends them far beyond their intended targets and dumbs down their effects in flagrantly counterproductive ways.

While the regime in Tehran and its loyalist beneficiaries exploit the nation's resources to circumvent sanctions, ordinary Iranians bear most of their ever-growing weight. The death of Sattar Beheshti is a reminder of the extravagant price that the overstretched sanctions regimen is exacting from the Iranian people.

More Tim III

13 November 2012

Another revised Tim Pic

© Shaun P Downey 2012

Some Poetry From the Tayside Tragedian

by William McGonagall

FRIENDS of humanity, of high and low degree,
I pray ye all come listen to me;
And truly I will relate to ye,
The tragic fate of the Rev. Alexander Heriot Mackonochie.

Who was on a visit to the Bishop of Argyle,
For the good of his health, for a short while;
Because for the last three years his memory had been affected,
Which prevented him from getting his thoughts collected.

'Twas on Thursday, the 15th of December, in the year of 1887,
He left the Bishop's house to go and see Loch Leven;
And he was accompanied by a little skye terrier and a deerhound,
Besides the Bishop's two dogs, that knew well the ground.

And as he had taken the same walk the day before,
The Bishop's mind was undisturbed and easy on that score;
Besides the Bishop had been told by some men,
That they saw him making his way up a glen.

From which a river flows down with a mighty roar,
From the great mountains of the Mamore;
And this route led him towards trackless wastes eastward,
And no doubt to save his life he had struggled very hard.

And as Mr Mackonochie had not returned at dinner time,
The Bishop ordered two men to search for him, which they didn't decline;
Then they searched for him along the road he should have returned,
But when they found him not, they sadly mourned.

And when the Bishop heard it, he procured a carriage and pair,
While his heart was full of woe, and in a state of despair;
He organised three search parties without delay,
And headed one of the parties in person without dismay.

And each party searched in a different way,
But to their regret at the end of the day;
Most unfortunately no discovery had been made,
Then they lost hope of finding him, and began to be afraid.

And as a last hope, two night searches were planned,
And each party with well lighted lamps in hand
Started on their perilous mission, Mr Mackonochie to try and find,
In the midst of driving hail, and the howling wind.

One party searched a distant sporting lodge with right good will,
Besides through brier, and bush, and snow, on the hill;
And the Bishop's party explored the Devil's Staircase with hearts full of woe,
A steep pass between the Kinloch hills, and the hills of Glencoe.

Oh! it was a pitch dark and tempestuous night,
And the searchers would have lost their way without lamp light;
But the brave searchers stumbled along for hours, but slow,
Over rocks, and ice, and sometimes through deep snow.

And as the Bishop's party were searching they met a third party from Glencoe side,
Who had searched bracken and burn, and the country wide;
And sorrow was depicted in each one's face,
Because of the Rev. Mr Mackonochie they could get no trace.

But on Saturday morning the Bishop set off again,
Hoping that the last search wouldn't prove in vain;
Accompanied with a crowd of men and dogs,
All resolved to search the forest and the bogs.

And the party searched with might and main,
Until they began to think their search would prove in vain;
When the Bishop's faithful dogs raised a pitiful cry,
Which was heard by the searchers near by.

Then the party pressed on right manfully,
And sure enough there were the dogs guarding the body of Mackonochie;
And the corpse was cold and stiff, having been long dead,
Alas! almost frozen, and a wreath of snow around the head.

And as the searchers gathered round the body in pity they did stare,
Because his right foot was stained with blood, and bare;
But when the Bishop o'er the corpse had offered up a prayer,
He ordered his party to carry the corpse to his house on a bier.

So a bier of sticks was most willingly and quickly made,
Then the body was most tenderly upon it laid;
And they bore the corpse and laid inside the Bishop's private chapel,
Then the party took one sorrowful look and bade the corpse, farewell.

I can hear the Don gnashing his teeth as he sees another one of his poems here!

As ever Don't forget McGonagall Online

New Sponge species discovered

One word: Wow!

12 November 2012

An Arsehole Not a Criminal

A 19 year old  has been taken in for questioning after loading the above image of him burning a poppy. According to the Mail he included the caption "How about that you sqaudey (sic) c****"  Not sure if he wrote c with the asterisks or cunts.

After a comlaint to police House was arrested on suspicion of malicious telecommunications. He apears still tobe in custody at time of writing.

Given the nature of the poppy symbol and the day in question it was an obnoxious and crass thing to do. Being drunk at the time as he may have been  does  not provide mitigation. But should he have been arrested?

No. What the arsehole needs is a proper lesson in what the poppy represents and not to be such a bloody idiot in future

Shirley and Robyn revisited

10 November 2012

Condoms? Oh the horror, the horror!

A coule o days go  the Independent reported that porn producers are up in arms and are threatening to quit filming in Los Angeles after voters approved a measure requiring adult-movie actors to wear condoms during shoots to protect them from sexually transmitted diseases.

The industry asked the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to delay implementing Measure B, which also mandates that producers acquire public health permits. Diane Duke, executive director of the Free Speech Coalition, an industry trade group, said it would challenge the initiative and trust the "calm, serious deliberations of the legal system" to prove it's unconstitutional.

Measure B, sponsored by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, "is going to have a dramatic effect on our economy," said Stuart Waldman, president of the Sherman Oaks, Calif.-based Valley Industry and Commerce Association, which represents businesses in the San Fernando Valley, the part of Los Angeles where most adult-movies are made.

Steven Hirsch, founder of Los Angeles-based adult entertainment company Vivid Entertainment Group, said he expected some producers to start filming in Las Vegas. "Ultimately, we'll find a solution, because performers don't want to be mandated to wearing condoms," he said. "Producers and the viewing public also don't want it."

Measure B won 56 percent of the vote, according to the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder. It requires condoms for all acts of anal or vaginal sex during the production of adult films, and was supported by groups including the American Medical Association and the American Public Health Association.

The Los Angeles Times, in its editorial pages, recommended voters reject the initiative, saying it may "stymie county government and bring little benefit to performers."
The newspaper said the industry employs "thousands of sound, lighting, stage, technical and other crew members and post-production workers in between gigs in more-mainstream film and television productions."

The industry accounts for about $1 billion in revenue in the county, according to Valley Industry and Commerce Association. The condom mandate would "destroy the commercial value of the product," said Theo Sapoutzis, chief executive officer of the trade publication Adult Video News.
Supporters of the measure, called the County of Los Angeles Safer Sex in the Adult Film Industry Act, said it would protect entertainers and the public at large.

"It isn't fair that people, and the community as a whole, are contracting infections, some of them life threatening and lifelong, in order to make a living," according to the argument in favor of Measure B in the county voter guide. "Pornographers should not be exempt from the basic safety rules that protect everyone else. Public health should not be sacrificed on the false claim that this is a free speech issue."

There haven't been any HIV cases in the industry since 2004, according to Vivid Entertainment's Hirsch, who said performers are tested every 28 days, with results posted online.

Amber Lynn, a porn actress who opposed the measure, said on Twitter that actors should wear flesh-toned condoms to hide their presence.

Well there you have it. The porn community sound like whining kids to me. I can't see the problem about condoms myself... then again I am not a consumer of these cinematic delights. For me sex is lie cricket.Great if you take part but boring to watch