Posts Tagged ‘UK Politics’

‘Down with foxes… Down with foxes…’

Ordinarily, I would wait until the end of the week to respond to the week’s news, but this one couldn’t wait…

On Saturday 5th June, an ‘urban’ fox was able to get into the window of a residential building in Hackney, East London. As result, two baby twins, Isabella and Lola Koupparis, were attacked by an unknown number of foxes, have been admitted into Royal London and are said to be in a “serious but stable” condition. Now, this is a real shame. I don’t doubt that. What I question is the unnecessary fear that has been whipped up for any mother with a child since the incident, as if foxes everywhere are plotting against children. That they have decided children are their dish of choice and that they ‘want a piece o’ that’. Obviously, this is ridiculous. Most likely, the fox managed to find its way in – either through an open door or an open window – probably trying to find food and found itself in the scenario where it felt its safety was jeopardised or that the children were food. If you were an animal and your sole functions in life were to eat, sleep and to survive by any means necessary, wouldn’t you? Not that I’m condoning the attack, but it’s an animal. I mean, how often do fox attacks happen? I can bet the statistics show the attacks to be significantly lower than a lot of household-related incidences of A&E admissions.

Anyway, the thing that irked me from this particular story was that in a follow-up, it was revealed that as result of the incident, a fox close to the scene of the attack was captured and killed… A fox… Who knows if that was the ‘right’ fox?! It could’ve been an innocent by-stander, caught up in the furor.This is typical of people, to want some kind of scapegoat for what should be the parents responsibility. You wouldn’t leave the window open of your car and leave a baby inside, would you?

Part of my day-job is to collect data published by the Health Protection Agency and analyse it for patterns or unimaginable peaks in numbers. Later in the week, a little after the incident on the 5th, I picked up the week’s data. Since I work in the North East region, and Hackney sits in my region, I noticed “Fox incident”. Now, this is only ridiculous for those who know the usual data that HPA publish – and why would you, unless you work in my field. For those who don’t, HPA particularly specialise in monitoring infectious diseases which threaten national security, so things that could potentially become epidemics like Mumps or Legionella or suchlike. So if I told you that I found “Fox incident” in the context of my weekly round-up, you can probably sense why I was perplexed. Are foxes an issue of national security now? Is David Cameron going to announce a state of ‘War Against Foxes’? In actuality, the comments for the spreadsheet noted that the babies were given rabies shots – not because they were believed to have contracted rabies but rather that it was suspected… but they didn’t say ‘Suspected: Rabies’… The said, ‘Fox Incident’.

And this afternoon, I picked up the freebie paper, as I so oft’ do, and noticed the title, “We’re being held hostage by foxes in our garden”.

These are all symptoms of a much bigger problem: People have been rendered incapable of rational thought by fear, and fear of something that isn’t a problem. Foxes AREN’T our predators. They can be kicked in the face, after all. Plus, we have guns(!) And secondly, WILD foxes aren’t cuddly animals. Why are we surprised? It’s like watching the film, ‘Grizzly Man’ all over again! Of COURSE the fox will try to attack you! Most humans, including our own Prime Minister, want them dead(!) If this becomes ammunition for him to legalise fox hunting, I wouldn’t be surprised, and in this state of rampant stupidity, I can only imagine what the public verdict would be…

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“We’re living in broken Britain”

I get the Times online daily news bulletin and Tuesday’s bulletin informed me that I am living in a broken Britain, and I don’t doubt that. There was a time when being British meant something. There was an unspoken pride in being British. We didn’t need to wave our flag and shout ‘USA!’ (or rather, UK, as is more apt) to people to make the point known. Ours was a good and noble country and plenty scaled the non existent walls to hop, skip and jump to get in. Now, our politicians have sullied our name, we’re just barely – and I mean barely at 0.1% – out of a recession, Neo-Natzis are running out every Black, Asian and Eastern European person in sight, and those who are still around can’t wait to get their money and get the hell out. There’s no solidarity and we haven’t felt kinship as a nation probably since humans first stepped on the moon, even if it was the Yanks that did it, and we’ve become such an introverted nation that everyone looks at everyone else suspiciously without cause. Mass media and movies suggest that every other person is a rapist, murderer or thief, so of COURSE, I get dirty looks all the time from mothers when I smile at their children, as if I am undoubtedly a child molester. Apparently I’m not the only person being suspected of wrong doing. I read in the paper a while back that an old lady’s camera was confiscated because she happened to take photos in a park and was thus suspected of taking photos of the children in the area for pornographic use! Talking of the children, they have better phones than I do, yet can’t find a belt that would sufficiently hold up their trousers and emulate the glamorous lifestyles of a gangster to make up for their own broken families. AND, to top it off, apparently our hellish ways are simply drawing in fundamentalists who want nothing more than to blow us up in the name of their God. Wonderful.

So, it is hardly surprising that in their poll, The Times discovered, SHOCK HORROR, that 70% of people believe that this country is broken. I feel sorry for here and now.

One of my favourite graphic novels, The Watchmen, pertained to this concept that war against some other entity created solidarity among people. This makes me wonder sometimes if we shouldn’t just penetrate the skies, annoy some aliens and get to shooting. Then perhaps people wouldn’t care so much about micro nations and just consider us as one. I could suggest that perhaps some political party might come in and ‘save the day’, but I’m far too realistic to suggest such a thing. In the meantime, I will just sit here in this chair and wait for Will Smith to infiltrate a space ship with a common cold. Then every nation can sing and dance together for a day. A girl can hope can’t she? A girl can hope…

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This Week in the News: Week Beginning 11/01/2010

On Wednesday, I picked up The Telegraph and was met with the front page title, ‘Immunity for MPs who repay expenses‘. The article informed me that the Government had made secret Parliamentary deals to protect MP identities involved in the ‘expense fraud’ shenanigans from being divulged to the public; MPs involved would be expected to pay back any inappropriately requested expenses and privately apologise to the Committee of Standards and Privileges.

Whilst I agree that this method is apt where, as John Lyon of the Committee reported in the above article, “there was no clear evidence that the breach [of Commons rules] was intentional and it was at the less serious end of the spectrum”, I also believe that MPs, as with other public services, have a responsibility to their constituencies to act in a transparent way where public funding is concerned.

I am not alone in this assertion. Apparently, Gordon Brown thinks so too – at least in the name of garnering allies in the populace. Regardless, back in April of 2009, Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Commons leader, Harriet Harman announced plans to reform the expenses rules and allowances in exchange of a more simple and less generous system in a bid to return trust to the public and portray an image of openness. The proposals can be viewed respectively, here and here. As result of these proposals, MPs are required to publicise their financial allowances on the Parliament website and future breaches of expense rules promise imposed fines, prison time and penalties. This was a positive move by the Government towards good practice and learning their lessons, but if this breaking news of immunity is the case, it threatens to undo the positive progress made and to undermine our democracy.

In other news, disaster struck the Republic of Haiti on Tuesday 12th when a 7.0 Mw earthquake hit before 17:00 (local time) along with six recorded aftershocks. This has caused major damage to many buildings – including the National Palace and local infrastructure – and numerous deaths. The full scope of the disaster is unknown at this time with regards to the death toll. This is being assessed by authorities and volunteer aid. Unfortunately, it looks to be anywhere from 50,000 to 500,000 people dead.

Children are without parents, local prisons have collapsed increasing danger to the vulnerable and many are still trapped under buildings. Those who have survived the ordeal walk and sleep in the streets of Haiti, fearing loss of building structure following the disaster. Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world and so the disaster has also meant a substantial blow to their economy. The nation are currently relying heavily on Humanitarian efforts such as donations from other countries and assistance in the form of volunteers to deliver supplies and to move building debris to recover survivors. Many of the main roads are also blocked by the debris, and so food, water, medicinal and shelter materials are slow to filter through to those who need it, not helped by looters who have reportedly been carjacking the supplies which have been able to make their way through to survivors. Troops from around the world are being deployed to Haiti to ensure the country maintains order.

With that in mind, to donate towards the Haitian “relief assistance”, you can follow one of the links located on the lower half of the Haiti ‘Earthquake Information and Emergency Response’ page, here, through Americares, DEC, Oxfam, MercyCorpsThe Salvation Army, Care, Doctors Without Borders, IOCC, UNICEF, PIH or via Google (thanks to NY Times, Haiti officials and Google for providing this comprehensive list of contributors). Alternatively, if you would like to use your love of things to benefit those in need, you can now buy items on Etsy from participating sellers and have the proceeds donated towards the Haiti disaster – at last, Capitalism without the guilt! Seriously though, please do help if you can.