Archive for In the news

Uncontrollable Youth

For some time now I’ve been resisting blogging about this for fear that my somewhat synical attitude to this kind of thing was just getting in the way, but after reading a few posts on the BBCs have your say I realise that I’m not alone in this, far from it, so I’m going to rock the boat a little bit.

The bottom line is I think that the law and society as a whole has far too soft a touch when it comes to dealing with yob culture and kids on the street that just don’t know how to behave. I really feel for the people who have been posting in have your say; they see a problem, have the presence of mind to tackle it but receive no support from the law. It has to stop.

Kids soon realise that if they lose out due to bad behaviour they shouldn’t misbehave. The thing is what disincentives do we have today? School teachers can’t even yell at misbehaving pupils anymore – there are laws against it that cause teachers to go through enquiries and be threatened with losing their jobs, members of the public who intervene when youths are causing trouble either risk being beaten up or stabbed by the youths in question, or picked up by the police later with a charge of assult on the basis of the say-so of a youth who cannot be charged under law with the vandalism they have just committed. So paying a home visit we hope that perhaps the parents can help, well no, the law stops that too. Smacking children has been banned and parents are threatened with social services by their own children. Even the police are reluctant to tackle youth crime because convictions are rare due to the age of many youth gangs.

We need to move away from the books of law and out onto the street to tackle this problem. Police need to be given the rights to stop paper pushing and deal directly with the issue, being given a ride in a police car isn’t enough, a clip round the ear is what these kids need to bring them into line. Parents need their rights back. While I accept that child abuse does go on and its shocking and needs to be dealt with, there is a huge difference between the good discipline of out of control teenagers and abuse. We need to ensure parents have the rights and are given the confidence by the police and the law to tackle the problem of yob culture directly – in the home. Then we have members of the public. It shouldn’t be their responsibility to approach youths causing trouble, but if they choose to they should be in the right under the law. It’s insane to charge a resident with asault on a youth when that youth is a part of a gang vandalising property all night every night – it’s common sense to see whos in the wrong here.

The police and the law need to put things into perspective. The resident who tries to stop yobs vandalising their car is not the criminal, the yobs are. This needs to be a clear point of law and one on which the power is put back into the hands of the victims of this kind of crime. The time has come for the police to stop reaching for the pen and get out onto the street. Its the only way we’re going to get back the kind of local communities we want to live in rather than the lunacy we have to put up with now.

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Farewell Paul Hunter

It was with great sadness that I heard the news of the death of Paul Hunter after an 18 month battle with cancer. He was a superb snooker player, on his way to the top of the world rankings, he exhibited superb sportsmanship in all tournaments and was very well respected by fellow players and snooker fans alike.

Something that will always stick in my mind was the way he decided to take part in the championships despite being in the middle of chemotherapy. There he was on the world snooker stage, playing his best, wowing his audience and yet the whole time had so very much to deal with besides his game.

I feel we can all take something from the determination and commitment shown by Paul in that championship; to never give up, and to always do your best against all odds. Farewell Paul, you will be greatly missed.

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Abby’s Identity Revealed

While away in Jersey I read one morning in an interview with the Guardian newspaper that the identity of the author of one of my favorite blogs, Girl with a one track mind, had been uncovered by a tabloid journalist. “The Girl” as the blogs author is known online, writes both the blog and a recently published book under the pen name of Abby Lee and for many of us this was quite enough information, in fact the annonymity of the whole thing was what gave it that even greater intrigue.

Clearly however this isn’t enough for some people and I was upset to see the life of a great blogger turned upside down by a tabloid in search of a quick buck by revealing The Girl’s true identity. I think this behaviour is shameful and I really feel for Abby in this. By the early blog postings it is very clear that the blog was never supposed to be a money making scheme, far from it, merely an outlet for her own thoughts and feelings on a subject not often talked about and something that is rarely found shared in such an open way.

To the un-named journalist who did this deed I hope you realise how many issues you have caused for Abby and how many of Abby’s readers you have pissed off, and even if you don’t I’m sure you’ll sleep easier knowing that you have a few more enemies in the world now won’t you.

I hope Abby keeps writing as even with the unmasked identity I feel sure her postings will continue to be of interest to readers from around the world. To all who have read her blog and enjoyed it, please buy Abby’s book as I feel sure that a confidence boost at this stage would really help yet another individual trapped and hounded by the modern day excuse we have for news.

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Middle East Crisis

I was in two minds about if to make this posting, firstly because its bound to cause a large amount of disagreement and discussion and secondly because there has already been an inordinate amount of coverage in the press about the whole business anyway. The problem is that in many respects the comments in the press and the official sources, while giving the issue plenty of attention, are not approaching it from the correct angle at all.

The reality on the ground is really quite simple. We have two sides firing blind at each other with nothing but hatred and thoughts of revenge in their hearts. Casualties in the intended target range on both sides (miltary/terrorist type targets) are minimal if not non-existant, while civilians continue to die in ever increasing numbers. Irrespective of what you read, that really is the bottom line of the situation – there is no getting away from it.

One must ask the question then; who with the power to broker peace terms between the sides fighting this losing and devastating battle is selfish and inhumane enough to sit on the sidelines and watch people be slaughtered? It’s not my place to name countries or political groups etc. because the blame game is not the answer. The answer I would hope to see to that question is no one, after all do we not all strive for peace?

I think the peace loving people of this world need to take a long hard look at the people who result in you answering that question in a way other than I have described. Do you want them to make decisions that implicate non-violent and peace loving people in the slaughter of innocent civilians? I’m not saying go out there and just march on anti-war demos because the problem runs deeper than that. We live in a society where there are accepted norms and irrespective of how shocking the consequences of those norms are we are unwilling to challenge them. It’s high time people stood up to this stigma and made a concious personal decision about what and who to support and why.

Just because others around you in the street are beating the crap out of each other doesn’t mean you have to join in or even support one group of people or another. Why then are our governments dragging us into a situation where we not only have to take sides and get involved in issues on our doorstep but that require us to travel to the next town just to put the boot in. Its time to stop being the sneering mob behind a few big bullies, after all a bully without its mob is barely a bully at all in the face of a whole playground of opposition.

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BBC plan web advertisments

In the Guardian today I read an article on the BBC’s plans to include advertising on it’s website network. While the BBC has stressed that the advertising would be low-key and not include animation or banner ads, I really do think that this is a worrying step in the wrong direction.

Quite frankly I don’t feel the BBC have the right to place adverts on any of its services, simply because I feel one of the primary reasons for funding the BBC with tax payers money is so we can recieve information be it news, finance, education or anything else without commercial influence and without interuption from the purpose for which sit through a TV program or read a website. We don’t do either of those things to be sold products, and while in some situations it is the being sold products to that funds what we consume, the BBC isn’t supposed to work like that. On a more serious note who wants to be reading about a famine crisis and then have an advert in the middle of the article for ice cream? Sounds extreme but I’ve seen it done on other sites.

I use the BBC because I trust them. I still read their articles with the same level of scepticism as any other source of information on a topic I am as yet unfamiliar with, however I trust the way in which it is delivered. I firmly believe that their main reason for providing the information to me is because taxes have been payed to them for that very purpose. Introducing a commercial element into this information delivery puts a slur on this transparency. Not only are we left to question the sources of the news which is provided to us (as one should do with any news), but we are also left to question if any part of an article has been written in a certain way or placed in a certain location to better enhance the advertising which is interspersed with it.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think the proposed level of advertising spells the doom and gloom for the quality of the BBC to the levels that I have detailed so far, but I do feel it opens the gate just that little bit more to the amount of advertising increasing at a later date to levels in which they could have an extremely negative impact.

I urge everyone who uses the BBC as a regular source of news and information online, on radio and on television to write to them about your concerns. I will always choose BBC television and radio over any other simply because of the lack of adverts, and only then choose between the channels and stations to find content I want. I think the BBC need to be made aware that it is support like this they are spitting in the face of if they sell out on any of their information mediums.

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Weapons amnesty

I read in the news today about a knife amnesty that is currently going on; essentially allowing people in the possession of illegal knives and other weapons to turn them into a police station without fear of prosecution. I personally feel its a great idea, but when I saw some of the things that were being turned in, I was really glad it was going ahead. After all, you don’t want to round a corner one day to be looking down the barrel of a rocket launcher with a range of 350 metres do you?

Rocket Launcher handed in to police during weapons amnesty

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Lecturer strike called off

The long-standing boycott of the marking of student exams and assesment is now over, at least on a temporary basis while a recent pay deal is put forward to the members in the form of a ballot. This means that for the time being work is being marked and assement is moving forward for those students that need it the most such as those graduating this year. Its really good to see a final resolution to this and I hope that the ballot allows things to get on as normal.

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Unmarried couples rights

I read in the paper yesterday that the government are seriously looking into the status of couples who have chosen not to get married from a legal standpoint. Essentially they are saying that unmarried couples need to have some of the rights bestowed upon them that married couples do, to try and protect them in the event of death of one partner or other issues which would make life financially difficult for either partner. This sounds quite fair, and many people will start supporting the concept based on this idea. There are however some flaws with the argument.

What about couples who are not married because they don’t want to be legally tied to each other, but are living together? Under the proposals, if a couple live together for more than two years and then decide to split, each party will be able to make claims against thier ex-partner for financial assistance and other such things simply on the basis of the fact they had a relationship and lived together. This is irrespective of the fact that there may have been no children involved in the relationship.

This presents a serious problem, its almost going as far as to say you cannot have anything verging on a serious relationship with someone without having legal obligations towards them. This is insane. Relationships before marriage should be a commitment of love and no more; a big reason for not getting married straight away is not being sure of if you want to make a commitment. Havinging made one legally just by living with them kind of ruins this idea. There is also no opt-out clause proposed for this; they even go as far as to suggest that couples sign a “cohabitation agreement” if they are concerned by legal ramifications of living together. What the f**k !!?? I’ve heard of such things before marriage, but before living in the same house? This is insanity beyond belief.

The government needs to take a chill pill and stop poking their noses into people private lives and making us all a slave to financially orientated legislation. If they really want to help unmarried couples in this way they should make the legislation opt-in only and allow couples who don’t want to commit in any way financially but to still live together to go on doing so. Student couples often cohabit for more than two years simply by the nature of the fact a degree lasts for 3 or more years, and I feel sure that there will be many student couples who have been made uneasy by this news. Feel free to post your comments on this news, especially if you are a student, a partner in a couple to which these new proposals would apply, or have in the past been in a relationship to which it would have applied.

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AUT reject good offer

Today the AUT rejected a pay deal of 13.1%, an increase on a previous offer turned down a week or so ago. While I do support the strike in the sense that lecturers do deserve more pay, I think at this stage the AUT are really pushing their luck. The universities are starting to offer figures which are borderline on what they can afford to, and the AUT are rejecting them without balloting their members on the subject.

I will continue to support my lecturers on the issue of low pay, however I feel that this has gone on for long enough for the time being, and that the 13.1% offer should have been accepted with a view to bringing up the issue again next year. Its a lot better than previous offers, a lot better than nothing, and while its not the end of the business, it would at least allow students who deserve it to graduate and those waiting for marks to recieve them. It will also bolster student support for when the issue needs to be brought up again in the future. I really want to support the campaign and I want my fellow students to do so also, but this really has gone on for long enough.

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Victory for bloggers

At long last a court ruling that the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) can be proud of; online journalists and bloggers officially have the same rights under law as conventional journalists the US court has ruled, hopefully setting a legal precedent in favour of the smaller journalists on a previously grey area which debated if online journalists and bloggers had the same right to protect their sources as the conventional media. Apparently they do, which is good news for those who want to report on something but don’t have the backing of a big news agency. Free speech appears to have been reinforced rather than being eroded for once :)

You can read the article on the BBC here

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