Locking up wheels

I realise that social media is a magnifier, that it is the Daily Mail of the internet.

Everything bad is going to happen.

Everything you enjoy doing is going to make you unwell.

And so on.

But the scary amount of motorbike thefts that I have heard about in the last couple of weeks have energised me to do something.

The final straw was hearing about the theft – from his locked garage – of Jody’s brand new Blade.

It seems that having the normal, factory-fitted steering lock, no longer stops criminals from stealing one’s treasured two-wheeled possession.

So, even though my bikes are kept in my locked garage overnight, I went out and bought a pair of bright yellow disk locks.

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These little, hi-visibility goodies, just lock on to the front disk of your bike, immobilising it completely.

The added bonus of these locks is, unlike the heavy steel chain and clunky padlock that I bought last year, these devices are light enough to be carried in a rucksack.

And for just £23 each, why wouldn’t buying these be a good idea?

There is no cure for stupidity

Jason Thomas, a 33yo uninsured and disqualified driver from Dudley, West Midlands, collected his three children from school in his Vauxhall Vectra.

On the way home, Mr Thomas was flagged by police. Instead of pulling over, he refused to stop.

In the ensuing chase, he drove through red lights, he drove against traffic lights and road signals, he reached speeds exceeding 100mph.

All this, with his three children in the back of his car.

What stuns me most about this, isn’t his failure to stop. It isn’t that this was his sixth conviction for dangerous driving. It isn’t that he has eleven previous convictions for driving whilst disqualified. It isn’t the futile sentence of 22 months in prison (out in six months with good behaviour), or the extraordinarily pathetic ten year driving ban.

No..

What stuns me most about this was after Jason Thomas T-Boned, at speed, another car, Mr Thomas abandoned his car – with his three children in the back – and attempted to flee the scene.

Three children? Abandoned in the back of a car? After a high-speed chase? After a serious collision?

There is no cure for stupidity.

But how do we allow people like this to breed?

Wasting police time

Serial police botherer, Kate McCann, is reported as being ‘Disappointed in the Home Secretary’ for failing to throw even more police resources at what many people feel is a fruitless search for Kate’s missing daughter, Madelaine McCann.

‘I can’t get my head round the Government giving up on Madeleine’, said Kate McCann. ‘Why are missing children not important? They look for terrorists, why can’t they look for child abductors?’

What?

Let’s look at some indisputable, documented facts for a minute:

  1. In 2007, Mr & Mrs McCann took three children on holiday to a foreign country
  2. Whilst there, they left all three children unattended, out of sight and unmonitored
  3. One of the children, a three-year-old girl, mysteriously disappeared from the unattended holiday apartment, while the parents were enjoying a meal at a restaurant*
  4. The local police mounted a search
  5. The national police mounted a search
  6. Considerable British diplomatic and police resources have been expended investigating, checking and validating the details in this sorry episode
  7. Kate McCann wants more done

* I’m discounting the view that the McCanns ‘regularly checked’ on the children. This is not a fact backed up by evidence, it is a statement. All of the above bullet points are facts, not statements, and I’m concentrating on facts.

And speaking of facts, Mrs McCann has said she doesn’t understand why terrorists are more important to look for than one missing child?

Clearly, this woman’s stupidity doesn’t end with leaving three children unattended in a foreign country.

If I had my way Mr & Mrs McCann would be charged (and with the outstanding weight of evidence available to us, which is very clearly against them), would be swiftly found guilty of multiple child abandonment.

For this woman to compare a terrorist with a missing child underlines the gulf of her disconnect from the real world.

So I’ll spell it out.

A missing child = one life. A child missing through criminally poor parenting, is still one life.

A terrorist, as has been clearly demonstrated, could take many lives.

It’s time the British media pulled the plug on Kate McCann, she’s clearly unwell.

Or perhaps it’s time she was charged for her criminal offence. Let’s include wasting police time to the charge of child neglect.

Germaine Greer, fumbling and dropping the ball

Anyone who has stuck with me for an extended period of time will know that I’ve expressed nothing but sincere admiration for Germaine Greer.

As a writer, I have found her work to be thought-provoking, intelligent and, frankly, ahead of its time. Away from the writing circle, I have long admired Professor Greer’s ability to position herself in such a way that she was slightly distant from the academic environment, being seen to enjoy a firm grounding in the ‘every day’ world.

But, if what I read in today’s print media is correct (and that, in itself is a significant point!), it appears that Germaine Greer has lost the plot.

Speaking at last night’s Cheltenham Literary Festival, Professor Greer allegedly put forward the notion that a ‘name and shame’ website should be created, to enable women to list men who, they allege, have raped them.

*pause for breath*

The first problem I have with naming and shaming, is that we have a legal culture of being innocent until proven guilty.

I have no issue with naming and shaming those who are found guilty – whether it is men found guilty of rape, or women found guilty of making false allegations of rape – but I do have a significant problem of anyone making unfounded allegations outside of the legal process.

Let me put this in to perspective for a moment.

It’s like me, as the father of a 13-year old girl, putting a post on this blog that makes a clear statement that Fred Flinstone of 32 Burnt Offering Crescent, Burbletown, is a paedophile who has sexually molested my daughter.

Because, frankly, where is the difference?

What Professor Greer seems to be advocating is a website that stands outside of the legal process; the creation of a website where people are able to make unfounded, unsubstantiated allegations about – and let’s get this perspective straight – crimes of a sexual nature.

The website Professor Greer is advocating isn’t about naming and shaming some thug from across the road who throws stones, swears a lot and shouts at his (or her!) neighbours.

We are, in Professor Greer’s model, accusing a named person of being a rapist, and we are accusing that person of being a rapist without the least shred of evidence, and without getting anywhere near due legal process.

The big issue here is that being accused of a sex crime makes the accused person guilty by implication.

Do you remember the very sad situation a few years ago where Yvette Cloete was hounded out of her house by a mob because someone daubed the allegation that she was ‘a paedo’ on the walls of her home?

The reality is that that Dr Cloete’s only crime was to be a paediatrician.

But that kind of mud sticks.

Just as I cannot be allowed to pull up a website and state to all of Google that Fred Flinstone of 32 Burnt Offering Crescent, Burbletown is a paedophile who has raped my 13-year old daughter, without going before the law and having that allegation subjected to scientific evidential scrutiny, no woman can be allowed to pull up a website and allege that she was raped by Barney Rubble of 34 Burnt Offering Crescent, Burbletown.

Because allegations are not always the truth.

I make this statement as someone who was identified – as a schoolboy – of being a rape assailant.

Fortunately I had an unshakeable alibi. While I was supposed to be carrying out this terrible crime I was actually at a family dinner party at a remote farmhouse 15 miles away. The dinner guests included my uncle. The Chief Constable of Gwent Police.

I’ve said enough on this for now, but I do hope that I have gone some way towards demolishing Professor Greer’s flawed thinking.

But just in case I haven’t done enough, here are just a few links, each one goes back to a high profile case where a woman has lied in the making of *at least one* (and sometimes more) false allegation of rape:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1224122/Women-rape-ALWAYS-sent-prison-appeal-court-warns.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-398817/Stalk-case-consultant-calls-anonymity-men-accused-rape.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1196362/Policemans-daughter-cried-rape-night-ex-lover.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1292055/Student-jailed-rape-claim-invented-extension-course-work.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1003683/Jailed-The-evil-21-year-old-seduced-soldier-accused-rape.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1186202/The-rape-lies-ruined-lives-Taxi-driver-wife-reveal-devastating-cost-drunk-teenager-cried-rape.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-432637/Church-ministers-daughter-cried-rape-times-jailed.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1127303/BBC-personality-40-false-rape-allegations-ex-boyfriend.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-442772/Jilted-lover-lied-rape-jailed.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1244204/Cry-rape-businesswoman-falsely-accused-father-jailed-18-months.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1039281/Wicked-woman-ruined-marriage-crying-rape-jailed-months.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1225823/Nursery-assistant-cried-rape-times-jailed.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-460743/Woman-false-rape-claim-jailed-months.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1285876/Mother-falsely-accused-policeman-rape-jailed-2-years.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1050583/Jail-Wren-cried-rape-seducing-lover.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1198088/Woman-cried-rape-date-man-met-internet-chatroom-jailed-year.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-513702/Jail-young-mother-cried-rape-cover-secret-night-stand.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1201224/Mother-cried-rape-jailed-years.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-125949/Snooker-star-cleared-rape.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1046530/Woman-jailed-making-false-rape-claim-family-row-night-out.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-433819/Girl-cried-rape-times.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-487985/Man-freed-years-jail-double-rape-accuser-liar.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-416170/Six-months-girl-cried-rape.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1184989/Court-rules-taxi-driver-falsely-accused-rape-receive-compensation-legal-first.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1311522/Woman-jailed-rape-charge-drove-ex-try-kill-twice.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1056570/My-rape-hell-Wrongly-accused-man-tells-11-month-nightmare.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1224454/Woman-cried-rape-sex-man-met-online-jailed-months.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1283234/One-man-killed-life-destroyed-All-girl-falsely-cried-rape-So-does-say-herself.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-454224/Woman-cried-rape-justify-lovers-attack-ex-boyfriend.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-429835/Bestselling-writer-lied-rape.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1049854/X-Factor-girl-false-rape-claim-ex-fiance-walks-free-court.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1299310/Woman-admits-SECOND-rape-offence-spared-jail-heavily-pregnant.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1197118/Mother-falsely-accused-husband-rape-wanted-life.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1200746/Ruined-lies-children-The-teachers-destroyed-false-allegations-pupils-know-theyre-untouchable.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-444298/Lesbian-accuses-innocent-stranger-rape-win-lover.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1294947/Leyla-Ibrahim-jailed-crying-rape-despite-7-months-pregnant.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1010364/Schoolgirl-escapes-prosecution-false-rape-claim.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1048754/Binge-drinking-mother-jailed-crying-rape-devout-Muslim-taxi-driver.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-181088/Hamilton-accuser-guilty-perverting-justice.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1168295/It-happened–I-wrongly-jailed-rape.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1167723/Estranged-wife-jailed-falsely-accusing-husband-sex-attack.html

Whistling like a boiling kettle

I am not well.

No!

Please, you have to at least try to keep that massive outpouring of grief and sympathy in check.

It’s just a flesh wound tummy bug and, I’m sure, I shall be back to my normal rude health tomorrow.

But being of not rude health is obviously affecting my head.

Or my heart.

Or both.

This story on the BBC has got me absolutely furious – here’s the gist, in a copy and paste kind of way:

A teenaged boy who raped two seven-year-old boys has been given a three-year community rehabilitation order.

The youth, 16, who cannot be named because of his age, admitted two counts of rape against the boys at Manchester Crown Court at an earlier hearing.

The boy, from Longsight in Manchester, was also given a six-month curfew.

Now ask yourself these two simple questions:

  1. Do you think this boy’s punishment would have been the same if he had raped two seven-year-old *girls*?
  2. Do you think the courts should punish sexual assaults on males with the same degree of severity as sexual assaults on females?

I’m actually finding it very difficult to keep a lid on my anger over this.

Close to boiling over.

Might actually explode.

Or spontaneously combust.

Or something.

It’s a dogs breakfast

Here are two contrasting situations I’ve spent some time mulling over…

1. On Thursday this week, one year will have passed since Ian Tomlinson died after a police assault at the G20 protests in London.

No charges have been brought against the police; no one has been punished.

Despite 300 official complaints about the policing of the protests, and plenty of video and photographic evidence to back up the complaints, no officer has faced serious disciplinary proceedings.

Those police officers who removed their identification numbers, beat up peaceful protesters and bystanders and then repeatedly lied about what had happened remain untroubled, either by the law, their consciences or their superior officers.

There has been no apology to Ian Tomlinson’s family.

2. In June last year a Nottinghamshire police officer directly caused two deaths. As soon as it happened, the police reported themselves to the Independent Police Complaints Commission and launched their own investigation.

A chief superintendent told the press: “We will certainly take any lessons we can get from this process and make sure we put them in place so this sort of thing never happens again. It has caused immense sadness and immense shock.”

The papers carried pictures of officers paying tribute to the deceased, saluting the flowers left outside police headquarters.

There was no cover-up, no botched post-mortem, no lies about the victims or their families.

The officer responsible was quickly charged and, though his victims had died as a result of his neglect not an assault, last month he was convicted over the deaths.

There’s a significant difference between the two cases.

The two deceased Nottinghamshire victims were dogs.

The officer had locked the two police dogs in his car in +30c heat, and forgot about them while he completed some paperwork.

Judging by their response to these two tragedies, both police and prosecutors appear to care more about dogs than human beings.

Or, to look at it the difference between these two unfortunate events another way, the police and prosecutors care more about police dogs than civilian human beings.

What do you think?

Original reportage provided by George Monbiot

Lying by omission

When estate agents Geering and Colyer listed an advertisement for ‘an exceptional fisherman’s cottage’ in Kent, you really would have thought that the estate agency would also have mentioned at least one of the two nuclear power stations right next door.

Wouldn’t you?

Dungeness

But no, although the good people at Geering and Colyer have chosen to wax lyrical about the proximity of the cottage to a nature reserve, they completely fail to mention the proximity of Dungeness nuclear reactor ‘A’, and Dungeness nuclear reactor ‘B’.

Perhaps it is not a coincidence that Geering and Colyer have also chosen to not mention the forthcoming Dungeness nuclear reactor ‘C’?

But the thing is – and here’s my very simple question – if Geering and Colyer have chosen not to inform prospective purchasers about these two (and the soon to be arriving) nuclear power stations, what other, less noticeable, things might these estate agents be in the habit of forgetting to mention?

And here’s an alternate way of looking at this story from NewsARSE.

Psssst, want a quick photo opp?

Here’s a cautionary tale.

Most of us take photographs.

Most of us have Flickr (or some other webservice) accounts where we stuff up the pics for a wider audience to see.

And generally speaking we don’t mind who sees them – else we’d password protect them.

But wouldn’t you find it galling to learn that if you’d done this, some third party came along and clipped the photos and then…

Proceeded to sell them on Ebay?

It happened here.

So I guess the message is – people are learning that someone else’s intellectual property has financial value and that we should all be careful.

But what kind of a complete tosser would rip off somebody’s photographs and sell them?

So sympathies to Yurt16 and bad karma to the thief.

B.

How things change…

I thought I’d throw this one out to see what views come back. I kow the answer to the second question, I can guess the answer to the first.

But I’m interested in what you might think.

Q1:
What punishment would a 13-year-old boy, convicted of breaking in to an office and stealing items of clothing, get today?

And then…

Q2:
What punishment would a 13-year-old boy who was convicted of breaking in to an office and stealing items of clothing have received if the crime was committed in 1835?

Views in a comments please?

B.

It’s now time to punish the parents

14-year-old Brendan Harris attacked, kicked and killed Sophie Lancaster in a park in Lancashire; he was drunk at the time.

He was joined in his crime by 15-year-old Ryan Herbert who was also drunk at the time.

The degree of injury they inflicted on the poor girl they killed was so severe, that the first-call ambulance staff were unable to tell her gender from her facial features.

They kicked her head, repeatedly, as if it were a football.

The judge has said both boys are likely to get life imprisonment when he sets their tariff.

However the punishments shouldn’t stop there.

Two sets of parents have neglected their children; allowed them to drink, allowed them to be out of control, failed to bring them up with any sense of moral value and completely and utterly failed to teach them right from wrong.

Two sets of parents are culpable – accessories to murder.

They should now face imprisonment too.

It’s the only way neglectful parenting might be addressed.

B.