November 2007

No-one blamed

Stefan Kiszko, mum and auntieStefan Kiszko, mum and auntieRonald Castree has been given a life sentence for the murder of the little girl Lesley Molseed 32 years ago. The judge also castigated him for allowing an innocent man to spend 16 years in jail. Stefan Kiszko was wrongly accused of Lesley's murder, suffered unimaginable horrors in Wakefield and Grendon Underwood prisons and, as a result, became a schizophrenic. He died soon after his release as did his mother. However, it was not only Ronald Castree who was at fault.

Ex-Muslim Council

Ex-Muslim Council
 of GermanyEx-Muslim Council of GermanyHuman rights activists founded the 'Central Council of Ex-Muslims' in Germany in February 2007.. Its leader Iranian born Mina Ahadi hopes to turn this into a pan-European movement. The rationale is to form a counterweight to Muslim organisations that fail to represent secular Muslims and to give help to those who wish to renounce their faith. As expected Mina is now under police protection after having received death threats.

Human Rights are lucrative.

Shabina BegumShabina BegumCherie Blair gave a lecture at Chatham house, organised by the Radio 4 Today programme and the Royal Institute of International Affairs. There was no mention of fees but she said that:\"Culture and religion cannot be used as an excuse for discriminating against women.\"

Because I say so

kids love energy companieskids love energy companiesGreat Britain is leading the world in saying that it will cut carbon emissions by 60% by 2050. Note the words in saying that ; our own civil servants at the new DTI , forgettably named the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, say, in a leaked document, that even the EU Renewable Energy Target of 20% by 2020, that Tony Blair signed up to, is impossible. At present renewable sources provide 2% of our energy and they say that even a 9% total renewables target by 2020 is really pushing it and would cost us an extra £4 billion per year. Nonetheless, what's a few billion here or there? That's another expensive problem for Alistair Darling, who is, poor man, between a rock and a hard place.

Suburban utilitarianism

Britain's legacy

Keep Britain TidyKeep Britain Tidy

There are two words that are rarely heard in government circles These are: happiness and beauty. The two go together. If one lives in beautiful surroundings one tends to have a greater chance of happiness. Why is it that in one of the richest countries in the world many of us live in run down, litter-strewn environments where ugly concrete buildings prevail? The argument is that there is not the money, that employee costs are too great, so that skilled workers cost too much, that money must be spent on schoolsandhospitals and that there is no money left for fripperies such as aesthetics. The Victorians built for glory and many of our towns would look even worse if they hadn't built fine municipal buildings. We still retain Areas Of Natural Beauty, mostly in country areas. Here we see sensitive building, clean streets even lovely red telephone boxes. Some city centres have been renovated and attractive buildings retained, with areas to sit and enjoy the sights. However, most of us live outside the city centres in the suburbs and these are becoming grim, grubby and grey, attractive housing is being 'modernised' and charming features such as our red telephone boxes being retained only in tourist areas.


Archived Stop Press article

Jamal and Muhammad al-DurrahJamal and Muhammad al-Durrah

The British media have been very concerned recently about the manipulation of images, phone-ins etc. The famous reversing of the Queen's entrance into a photo shoot, making it seem that she was storming off in a huff, resulted in a reluctant resignation; the insertion of a photo of an MP into a photo-shoot that he missed has been discussed at length. Even the BBC's positive coverage of Europe has been queried (though Mark Mardell, the Europe journalist, has been allowed to twitter in a jolly, optimistic way about all things EU). However, as usual, our media is extremely parochial, as a similar story with immense implications, has barely been mentioned in the mainstream British media.

The appeal to a case that rivals Dreyfus is being heard today in Paris.This is a cause célèbre has been quietly raging over the past 7 years. It relates to whether the film of the shooting dead of a Palestinian boy in 2000 September was faked. The photos of Muhammad al-Durrah and his father cowering against a bullet-marked wall in Gaza have become iconic, similar to that of the napalm-burned little girl running naked in Vietnam. There is even a memorial statue in Mali. If the incident has indeed been faked this would be a massive scandal around the world ( though perhaps not in Britain).

Curve Ball

Archived Stop Press article

Curve BallCurve Ball We know now that the USA wanted to go to war in Iraq. They had to make a case for war and the 'jewel in the crown' of their rationale was an Iraqi called Rafid Ahmed Alwan, codenamed 'Curve Ball' CBS 60 minutes have recently shown a programme depicting the sorry tale. He wanted to get a green card in order to live in Germany so he concocted the fake story of the Mobile Biological Weapons Programme, which he told to German Intelligence. He said he was a top chemical engineer who had been the director of a biological weapons facility. He named to site and described how lorries would enter one building, fill up with biological materials and exit at the other end. He said 12 people had died from a spill. He did not want to be interviewed by the Americans and never was. The Americans wanted to use this information and the Germans wrote to George Tennant saying that they could but emphasised that the information was unverified. Mr.Tennant said he never got the letter. MI6 had also evidently informed the CIA in 2002 that the evidence was probably fabricated. Curve ball's information was relayed to the world by the duped Colin Powell as fact. The same 'facts' appeared in Tony Blair's 'dodgy dossier'.

A shared past, and future?

From 1932 until 1968 the Portuguese were ruled by their dictator Salazar.Time moves on. Portugal is a democracy and now it's the turn of the Portuguese to have the EU presidency and they see absolutely no problem with Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe attending the EU-Africa summit this December.This despite the EU travel ban on him visiting any of the 27 EU countries.

Remembrance Day

Poppy Appeal

The poppy of remembranceThe poppy of remembrance

I was born after the Second World War and can remember that, right into the 1950s, there were bomb-damaged buildings in the town where I grew up. I can also remember the nervous ticks and odd behaviour of some of the 'survivors', the walking wounded who lived in that town. This war was to me so far in the past that I assumed the emotions of my parents' generation would never be felt by mine; then there was the Falklands War. This woke me up and I have been aware of the role of the armed forces in the service of this country ever since. So please take a look at this site.

NHS plays Blindman's Buff

We have all heard about the wildly expensive new drugs that the NHS finds hard to fund, leaving it with the agonising problem of prioritisation. We now learn that it is deliberately bowing to the wishes of the pharmaceutical giant Genentech.

The NHS has licensed the drug Lucentis to prevent wet macular degeneration. It costs £1,793 per injection and is only recommended for about 20% of cases and only a few authorities will fund this. Hence, elderly people are going blind. However, another drug, Avastin, also developed by Genentech, technically a cancer drug, is just as effective and costs $30 per dose from America. It is not licensed for eye use in this country and hence only available to private patients.We are unsure as to whether Genentech's claim that Lucentis is the superior drug is based on research or financial considerations. There must certainly be a conflict of interest.The firm says that it is only concerned about patient safety, however, if you're rapidly going blind I think you'd be prepared to take the odd risk. Patricia Hewitt immediately stepped in to fund Herceptin for a breast cancer patient in Stoke, overriding the local trust simply because the mainstream press caused a furore. Elderly people going blind would appear not to be as newsworthy as breast cancer patients.