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Monday, 24 October 2011

Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown

Further pressure has been applied on Libya's new government, the National Transitional Council (NTC), as the bodies of 53 Gaddafi loyalists were found in a government controlled hotel late yesterday afternoon. After only a brief examination of the bodies, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) have suggested the bodies were found bound with a single bullet wound to the head suggesting the Gaddafi loyalists were executed by government forces only hours after the announcement of Gaddafi's death.

Officials from the NTC have denied all involvement in the apparent executions and have insisted on a full review, this however may not be enough to appease either NATO or the UN after an official post mortem carried out Sunday concluded that Gaddafi had also died of a bullet to the head whilst bound.

Peter Bocukeart of the HRW has called for the NTC to keep a closer eye on those who fight for them, saying "The evidence suggests that some of the victims were shot while being held as prisoners, when that part of Sirte was controlled by anti-Gaddafi brigades who appear to act outside the control of the NTC"

This may not be the end of the problem for the NTC as the Human Rights Watch are also looking to link them to the 'suspsicious' deaths of an additional 95 Gaddafi Loyalist all found near to where Gaddafi was captured.

What are your opinions?
Do two wrongs make a right, does the end justify the means?

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Bigger Issues in the World?

You would have to be living under a rock to not be aware of the Royal wedding on Friday, but what is the big deal?

I, as a British citizen, could not care any less about the marriage between Prince William Mountbatten-Windsor (because nobody ever seems to use his last name) and Kate Middleton. Media coverage in my country has been phenomenal, even greater than that of the twin towers disaster, Haitian earthquake and Japanese Tsunami, and with newspapers even giving out free 'Kate 'n' Wills' bunting and posters this occasion has even overtaken the football world cup.

This was of course to be expected in my own country with our notoriously over-patriotic newspapers trying to cash in, however what I didn't expect was the massive influence the wedding would have overseas. Experts at the BBC have estimated an absurd 70%  of the viewing figures will be foreign and are even translating the event into 17 languages including Turkish, Hindi and Japanese.

As a Englishman it's hard to be upset by this given that the one day event is set to bring in around £50billion ($83billion) to the economy, but how do my many Canadian, American and European folllowers feel about the event and it's importance in the news?

Saturday, 16 April 2011

No News is Good News.

Sorry I haven't been able to post anything in a while but all my efforts so far have been put towards finding a new job after being laid off thanks to David Cameron's massive cuts to the public sector.

I'll be back before you know it. Stay safe,

                              - Obi-Wan

Monday, 11 April 2011

Freedom or Safety?

The controversial new law banning Muslim women from wearing a full Burka cam into effect yesterday in France, since then it has been confirmed that at least two women have been arrested and are still currently being detained by French authorities for wearing the religious garment in public.

The French authorities have claimed that although the women were breaking the law by wearing their veils this was not the reason they are being detained, instead saying the women were arrest for 'joining an unauthorised protest against the ban'.

The law as it stands will result in a £133 ($217) fine for any woman caught wearing a Burka in public and a maximum sentence of 2 years imprisonment for anybody forcing women to wear Burkas. In an attempt to quell religious concerns, if found in public the women are first transported either to their home or the nearest police station before being asked to remove their veils.

I live in the most culturally diverse city, in the most culturally diverse country in the world so to me it seems outrageous that the French police can get away with such policies. What are your opinions?  

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Fresh Dangers For Japan

Last Month's Tsunami
Breaking News
Japan has once again released a massive tsunami waring to all residents in north-eastern Japan after a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck just of the coast of Honshu with enough force to shake inland Tokyo buildings. The Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) fear more damage may have been done to the Fukushima power plant adding to the toll of the Tsunami only a month ago.
What is your take on the situation?

Monday, 4 April 2011

Obama To Run For Re-Election

Barack Obama has made it clear he wishes to stand for re-election in the upcoming 2012 elections by releasing a video on his own site ''. The use of this online video is reminiscent of Obama's use of social networking to gain the support of millions of Americans back in 2008, which many senior officials claim was the main reason behind his victory.

Although President Obama does not appear in the video he has stated that his intentions are to 'start off small and grow over time'. Many opposing officials claim Obama is starting his campaign earlier to hide the fact that he failed to deliver many of his campaign promises, a statement which was disregarded as nonsense by a presidential spokesman.

Not being an American myself I have no opinion on Mr. Obama, but will you be voting for him come 2012?

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Outrageous Intolerable Bigotry, Libya and Getting Completely Charlie Sheened

Outrageous Intolerable Bigotry
Today marked the eleventh death since the start of anti-US protests in Afghanistan since they started three days ago. The protests revolve around the burning of the Qu'ran two weeks ago by Pastor Wayne Sapp from Florida, which US President Barack Obama described as "outrageous intolerable bigotry". In an attempt to reduce the violence across Afghanistan, President Obama released a statement to Afghan television saying "The desecration of any holy text, including the Koran, is an act of extreme intolerance and bigotry. However, to attack and kill innocent people in response is outrageous, and an affront to human decency and dignity."

A poll by the BBC found the majority of people believe foreign involvement in Libya will go on for some years. In response to this the British foreign minister William Hague quickly reassured the British public that the situation in Libya would not become like that in Afghanistan and Iraq, stating ""Let's be clear, if the Libyan regime tries to hang on in this situation, they are internationally isolated, they can't sell any oil". Meanwhile the defected Libyan Foreign Secretary Moussa Koussa is still being question by British police.

Getting Completely Charlie Sheened
Charlie Sheen was booed of stage last night during the first night of his one-man show 'Violent Torpedo Of Truth: Defeat Is Not An Option'. Attendees at the event in Detroit have said Sheen was greeted with massive applause but had people walking out as early as only 15 minutes into his show, and to make matters worse, Sheen refused to return to stage after the interval only an hour into his own show. Needless to say many entertainment critics have ripped into Sheen's show, which was supposed to be 'the real story of his life', instead referring to it as series of nonsensical rants.

- What else can Obama do? What are your thoughts on Charlie Sheen?

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

News in Brief: The NATO Conference, Libyan Ministers and Violent Elderly

The NATO Conference
A conference made up of delegates from over 40 different countries has determined by majority that the allied air strikes should continue in Libya. British foreign minister William Hague led the talks in London earlier today in which Hillary Clinton said the US would do everything within their power to "prevent a potential massacre". Even with the allied forces at hand the Libyan rebels are still being beaten into submission by Gaddafi's main forces.
-Are NATO right in this ruling?

Violent Elderly
A 98-year old man in court today on attempted murder charges is believed to be the oldest man to ever stand trail. Sylvester Nowak from Scotland has been charged after being arrested for trying to use an axe to kill two police officers, however at the beginning of the case Nowak's lawyers pleaded insanity so the case has been adjourned until Nowak completes and mental health assessment at nearby Murray Royal psychiatric hospital.
- What are your opinions on this?

Libyan Minister
Moussa Koussa
The pressure from the air strikes has had some affect at least as one of Gaddafi's closest allies, Libya's foreign minister Moussa Koussa has officially quit and fled to Britain. Upon his arrival in the UK Koussa said that he was no longer willing to represent the country's tyrannical regime, but in a Libyan press conference later on that day Gaddafi said Koussa was only traveling abroad for a diplomatic mission. Prime Minister David Cameron is yet to make a statement.
- How many more will leave?

Friday, 25 March 2011

Purge Violent Extremism II

You all might have remembered the event to counter violent extremism I hosted a few weeks back? After hosting this event I did say I would be uploading the footage of the event so you could all see what it was about, but due to the sensitive nature of the discussions in the footage and being required to protect the identity of our speakers I had to go a different way when making the video. Here is the resulting video:

Let me know what you thought of the video and if you want to subscribe to my YouTube channel that would help get my boss of my back.

Stay Safe
- Obi-wan Mikenobi

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

News in Brief: Disorientation, Money and Beards

The US military have reportedly opened fire upon a group of unarmed civilians injuring six people, one of which a child who had to have his leg amputated. The incident was said to have occurred as Libyan rebels tried to help out a crashed US pilot, who whilst disoriented believed the civilians to be hostile forces and called for the help of a nearby US attack helicopter. Civilian tensions are rising in Libya with fears of the US presence causing further injuries or even deaths as was the case in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Downed US fighter jet in Libya
The end of the financial year is fast approaching, and with it comes a new national budget in most developed countries which is sure to cause a few problems giving the current economical climate. On a personal note, as an Englishman I've got personal tax and national insurance prices increasing as well as an 2% increase on my beloved alcohol and cigarettes (if I smoked).

- How is it in your country?

A Jewish Rabbi is suing the US military for breach of his religious beliefs after being told he could not join unless he shaved his beard. Rabbi Stern feels he was willfully discriminated against and said "I was told my application to join the army would only be accepted if I shaved off my beard". The US military have stated that their rules and regulations are clear on beards, currently the regulations state that beards are forbidden unless the recruit is unable to shave due to medical issues. The US military did go on to say that he would be allowed to sport a moustache as long as it didn't grow past the edges of his lips.

- Who's side are you on?

Monday, 21 March 2011

News In Brief: Obama, Mutilation and Hobbits

The situation in Libya continues to grow more tense as fierce fighting is being reported only 200km (130 miles) miles east of Libya's heavily populated capital city, Tripoli. In a conference today President Obama said that he will be 'playing down' the U.S' role in Libya until receiving a full recommendation from US military commanding officers, and then referred to the invasion of Iraq as the US military "acting unilaterally and without full international support" and had "ended up bearing the full burden"
- Will more Libyans suffer whilst Obama waits?

In regards to the previous story, US Military officials had to reduce their focus on Libya after horrific pictures were published in the German investigative magazine, 'Der Spiegel'. The pictures, said to be only a few of over 4,000, show US soldiers 'disrespectfully posing' with the corpses of Afghan civilians killed in conflict. Since the release of the magazine hundreds of the pictures have been anonymously uploaded to various image boards with reports of some pictures even showing soldiers pretending to have sex with an undressed female corpse and the mutilation and amputation of body parts from various civilian corpses.
- What effect will this have on Middle East relations with America?

Filming for the original J.R.Tolkien novel 'The Hobbit' officially started this morning after many set backs and delays regarding new filming legislation in New Zealand.. The movie's director Peter Jackson had even threatened to take production of 'The Hobbit' to Eastern Europe, but was finally given the go ahead after an 'army' of LotR fans from all over the world took to the streets of New Zealand demanding  production stay where it was. The film is expected to take over two years to complete and will have British comedian Martin Freeman playing the lead role of 'Bilbo Baggins'.
- What are your thoughts on the new film?

Thursday, 10 March 2011

News In Brief: Billionaires, Kinect and Air Strikes

The 'Xbox Kinect' by Microsoft has today entered the Guinness book of world records for being the fastest selling device in history. The Kinect sensor has even outsold the iPod and any version of the iPhone in initial sales with the device selling on average of 133,000 units a day worldwide. As well as profits from the device, Microsoft have also sold over 10million Kinect-based titles.

Do you own a Kinect?

Civil War
France have announced that they will now officially considered the rebel forces in Libya as the country's legitimate government, effectively cutting all ties to the Gaddafi regime. NATO have arranged a meeting later on today to discuss the implementation of a no-fly zone of Libya in an attempt to halt the predicted air attack on rebel controlled cities from pro-Gaddafi militia. The attitude towards foreigners has intensified under Gaddafi, with three BBC journalists being kidnapped, tortured and even being recorded in a mock execution before being released yesterday by Gaddafi militia.

Do we have any right to enforce a no-fly zone?

The record for new billionaires has also been set this week as FORBES adds another 200 billionaires to it's list, six of whom are related to facebook, including founder Mark Zuckerberg. Even with his success with Kinect, Bill Gates has been second place for a second year running now, this time being knocked of the top spot by Mexican telecommunications tycoon Carlos Slim. This year also saw the biggest loss of money since records began with Ikea founder, Ingvar Kampard, losing over $11billion in only one financial year.

What are your thoughts on this?

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

News in Brief: Doctors, Libya and Sheen

Civil War
Airstirikes from pro-Gaddafi militia continue over the rebel controlled port of Ras Lanuf, although thankfully nobody has been thought to have been hurt. Ideas of a diplomatic truce are wavering as Gaddafi's army increases it's strong hold over Libya using heavy machinery such as helicopter gun ships and airstrikes. In an attempt to protect civilians Britain has drafted a NATO outline for the implementation of a no-fly zone over Libya, much like the one used over Iraq during the start of the first Gulf war.

Will this help civilians or provoke the military?

After nearly a month of deliberation and slander between Charlie Sheen and Chuck Lorre, Warner Brothers Television (WBT) have finally sacked the highest paid actor in US television Charlie Sheen. WBT have yet to make a comment on whether or not the show 'Two and a Half Men' would be making a return to the screen after being suspended in late February due to Sheen's 'antics', however as it stands WBT are contracted with CBS to continue the show until early 2012. When asked if he would sue, Sheen replied with only on word; 'big'.

Can/should the show continue without it's lead actor?

British doctors fear that their official slang may be banned for fear of offending the public. The many slang acronyms have been used by doctors on official paperwork for decades but now they fear it may be coming to an end. From a list of hundreds of phrases, here are a few of my favorite examples:
  • Dismissing an irritating patient to hold a TTR (Tea Time Review)
  • Referring to dull-witted / brain damaged patients as LOBNH (Lights On But Nobody Home)
  • Scaling tattooed and/or scruffy patients according to the DBI (Dirt Bag Index)
  • Trauma to drunk patients being down to PFO (being Pissed and Falling Over)
  • Referring to certain children as a FLK (Funny Looking Kid) 
- Would you be offended if you knew what your doctor really meant?

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

News in Brief 01/03/11

Actor Charlie Sheen is demanding a raise to $3million an episode to continue filming the hit American TV show 'Two and a Half Men'. Sheen is already the highest paid actor in US television history at $2million an episode but has been in rehab since the show was canceled (on account of his behavior) earlier this year. When asked about his drug problem Sheen replied "I probably took more than anybody could survive. I was banging 7 gram rocks. Because that's how I roll. I have one speed. I have one gear: Go."

- Am I the person who thinks Sheen is a massive tool?

The population of earthquake struck New Zealand held a two minute tear-filled silence today exactly one week after what has been described as the biggest disaster in the country's history. The death toll since the earthquake stands at 154 confirmed dead, but if you add on the number of people reported missing that figure could rise as high as 240, especially when you consider the fact that rescue workers haven't pulled free a survivor since Wednesday. The economical impact of the earthquake is estimated at around £9.3billion ($15billion).

- Do you know anybody affected by the earthquake?

Col Gaddafi has been branded as 'delusional' by many senior US officials after the release of an exclusive interview with the BBC in which he states that all protesters are members of the terrorist organisation al-Qaeda, Gaddafi then went onto to state that he was 'loved by all' in his country. Although the EU have completed the extradition of their citizens many Egyptians are stuck with no place to go, around 2,000 Egyptians an hour flee to neighbouring Tunisia from Libya but say that they are being ignored by their new government.

- Has Gaddafi lost his mind or is he just looking for support?

Equal Rights
An EU court has ruled that the differing insurance premium costs between men and women is 'unfair'. Currently in the EU insurance quota's are charged in accordance with the clients age and gender, for example an 18-year old male is charged on average of £4,400 per annum, whereas a female of the same age would only be charged on average of £2,700 per annum. Insurance companies will be forced to find a middle ground between the two to maintain fair prices, but experts believe that women are likely to see a 25-30% rise in their premiums while men should see a 10% drop.

- Are the changes in insurance premiums fair?

Monday, 28 February 2011

News in Brief 28/02/11

Many countries have spoken out against Col Gaddafi's rule over Libya at an emergency UN Human Rights conference called yesterday, minutes from the meeting show US secretary of state, Hilary Clinton, taking a firm stance against Gaddafi by out fight stating he 'must go'. After this conference the EU has imposed a travel ban around Libya for all of it's citizens. Gaddafi is still refusing to step down even as the battle is slowly going against him after defected military pilots made a crippling air assault on Gaddafi's eastern ammunition dumps. British military extraction efforts have been doubled after small arms fire entered the cockpit of a RAF C130 Hercules.

Google have accidentally wiped the inboxes of approximately 150,000 Gmail users. A spokesperson for Google said "This is affecting less than .08% of our Gmail user base, and we've already fixed the problem for some individuals". Google are now trying to restore the erased data and have stated that the messages were not 'permanantly deleted'

A British high court has ruled that some Orthodox Christian couples will not be allowed to foster children if they have homophobic views. Lord Justice Munby said that the ruling was necessary to protect people from being discriminated against because of their sexual orientation.

A German man who has been convicted of armed robbery has launched a compensation case against the German police asking for £200, 000 ($322,339). The unnamed man is claiming that his basic human rights were breached after being lead to a police car with his trousers around his ankles. I wonder if the 5 bank staff he threatened to kill at gun point feel the same?

- What are your opinions?

Saturday, 26 February 2011

News in Brief 24/02/11

Britain is expected to have extracted all of it's citizens from Libya by this afternoon in it's final flight from the country's capital Tripoli. Over the last few days Britain has been extracting EU citizens from Libya using commercial airplanes and military aircraft such as the 'Hercules' gunship and the AC-130. Yesterday a Royal Navy battleship extracted over 200 people of European decent as well as citizens of New Zealand as their authorities deal with the current earthquake crisis.

New Zealand
The earth death toll now stands at 144 with 200 people still reported missing. The Prime Minister John Key has accepted that rescue workers are now looking for bodies in the wreckage and are longer expecting to find survivors, after meeting with the relatives of those reported missing the PM released a statement saying "I think its fair to say they fear the worst but there is still a glimmer of hope."

The London restaurant, Convent Garden has added a new product to it's menu, an ice cream made entirely from breast milk. The ice cream 'Baby Gaga' is churned from the breast milk of local resident, Victoria Hilet, who hopes that the new ice cream will encourage more women to breast feed. The man behind the new ice cream, Matt o'Conner has said "Some people will hear about it and go yuck - but actually it's pure organic, free-range and totally natural"

In an attempt to counteract the increasing levels of cyber-crime, the British government have set up a new website with the National Fraud Authority (NFA) for people to forward all their 'scam' emails to. The hope behind the new scheme is to give the NFA "unprecedented information about criminal activity", for more information visit the site Action Fraud.

-What are your opinions?

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Government Approved Massacre

Image Courtesy of BBC
Scenes of violence and conflicts are increasing in scale as Col Gaddafi fights hard to maintain control of Libya's capital, Tripoli. What Gaddafi first thought would be a small revolt has grown into a small army as the number of protesters rise bolstered by large numbers of defecting soldiers.

The main conflicts are in the west of Tripoli as the east are still largely under the control of what have been referred to as 'Gaddafi's death squads'. Reports from within eastern Tripoli claim that these 'death squads'  are killing anybody caught on the streets, these reports including a group of civilians being gunned down whilst queuing at a local bakery. There have even been reports from city doctors stating the death squads opening fire within hospitals, bringing the death count up to a 300 confirmed dead with many more feared unconfirmed.

In response to these reports Col Gaddafi's son, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi went live on air to inform the Libyan public that everything was 'normal' and that airports, schools and hospitals were still open.

President Obama
President Obama who has up until now been reluctant to form a public opinion has said Gadaffi's actions were 'Outragus' and that his government must be held accountable for the actions, Obama finished his address by stating; "Change is taking place across the region, being driven by the people of the region - it is not the work of the United States or any other power but the aspirations of people seeking a better life". The US join many other countries and all of the EU in advising it's citizens to leave Libya immediately.

In the first public address in days, Gaddafi referred to the protesters as 'rats and cockroaches' and pledged that he would either crush the revolt or die a martyr.

-What are your opinions?

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Violent Extremism: Speak Up

Today was the day of my organisations 'Speak Up' event at a local college, which is relevant because I live in the most cultural diverse city (Birmingham) in one of the most culturally diverse countries on the planet (England). The event itself was six weeks of planning, but it went really well with presentations from a  man who spent three years undercover in the British National Party (BNP) and a former recruiter/brainwasher for Al-Quada; both of whom can not be named for fears of reprisal. We even had a few local artists play, expect the event video to be up and running at some point over the next few days.

On a side note continuing on from the Libya post, there have been reports of two top ranking Libyan pilots defecting to Malaysia after being told to use military aircrafts to bomb protesting civilians.

Monday, 21 February 2011

The Start of Civil War

Protesters before 'massacre'
Libya has become the most recent Arab country to suffer deaths due to protests, with protesters rallying against the country's 41-year old regime under their leader Col Gaddafi.

Officials with Gaddafi say they fear for civil war after last night marked the first large scale conflict between the protesters and supporters of the regime. The streets of Tripoli, Libya's capital city, were filled with civilian conflict into the earliest hours of this morning until Libyan authorities were ordered to use live ammunition to forcefully disperse crowds. After a confirmed 233 dead, the streets in Tripoli now only play host to patrolling authorities.

Col Gaddafi
Colonel Muammar Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi was quick to release a lengthy speech after video footage of what has been described as a 'massacre' was released. In this speech Col Gaddafi stated that he would make some changes to his regime in order to quell protests but warned that he would not be steeping down and that he would 'fight to the last bullet' with protesters if it came to civil war, however Gaddafi did admit that the country's second largest city Benghazi was now under protester control.

Leaders of the US, UK and France have all firmly condemned Gaddafi's actions with senior military and political officials worldwide predicting much more violence, the UK is also the first country to schedule emergency flights out for all British citizens currently in Libya. Oil prices are now at an all time as a result of British Petroleum (BP) pulling all employees out of it's Libyan oil refineries.

- Can anything be done to prevent further violence? 

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Jilted Generation

Short post today, check other post to find out why. Here is the video of my interview with the authors before the release of their book 'Jilted Generation' on the 2nd of February. In case your not aware Jilted Generation is a book that talks about how young people are being over looked in society and now face a massive debt left to us by previous generations. Had to manually upload because YouTube was being a dick.

If you are British and get a chance to download it then gove it a read, if you are not British and are aged between 12- 26 do you feel as though your opinions are being listened to?

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Fighting a Losing Battle

Cybercrime is something that we are all aware of, latest figures researched by Norton suggest that 60% of those that use the Internet on a regular basis have been a victim to it at some point in their lives. I can't confirm the validity of that as Norton may be 'sugercoating' these figures in an attempt to sell software, but what I can be sure of is the independent report by intelligence officers at the National Counter-terrorism Centre which suggest cybercrime now costs corporations over $1trillion worldwide.

The most common forms of cybercrime are spam, hacking and copyright infringement, but this is just the public face of a crime that delves into terrorism, assisted suicide and child pornography. Many governments world wide have come up with various unsuccessful methods of tackling cybercrime, in an attempt to counteract the effects of cybercrime the British government, which is one of the hardest hit with a loss of $42b (£27b) annually have pledged to enforce the law in full to anybody involved in cybercrime from organised crime to 'spotty boys on their computers'.

- What more can be done to prevent cybercrime?   

*Note- Short post today as I've got to edit 4 hours of footage for work*

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Past the Point of Caring?

Pope Juan Paul II once said "A society will be judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members and among the most vulnerable are surely the unborn and the dying", but is that still the case today? 

The Health Service Ombudsman, which deals with only the most serious cases regarding the NHS, has today published it’s in-depth review into cases of the mistreatment of the elderly in care.

This review found that many patients over the age of 65 ‘suffered unnecessary pain, neglect and distress’. Of the ten case reviewed the report found that half of the elderly patients were not given adequate food or drink and even showed cases of patients being refused toilet facilities and being left in soiled clothing for long periods at a time.

One case in particular found that a confused and frightened elderly woman was forcefully discharged after surgery without being given any instructions on how to get home and was even refused access to a phone to call her relatives by a senior NHS nurse.

Nigel Edwards
Many charities based around the elderly care nationwide expressed concern with the findings, Michelle Mitchell of Age UK said “The inhumane treatment of older people described in this report is sickening and should send shockwaves through the NHS and government.”

In response to this Nigel Edwards of the NHS Trust said that although the case were unacceptable, they were also very rare and stated “It is of course important to put these 10 examples in perspective. The NHS sees over a million people every 36 hours and the overwhelming majority say they receive good care”

- Do you know anybody mistreated in hospital?
- Is it fair to expect a few bad cases amongst millions in an underfunded NHS?
- What more can be done to prevent this from re-occurring?
- For those non-British followers, is this a problem in your country?

Monday, 14 February 2011

Love of Profit

Why do we celebrate Valentines day? Every year on February 14th I tell all those close to me the real story behind Valentines day only to be told that I am a 'misery-arse' and that I need to 'cheer up'. This year is my first year with a blog so with this post I aim spread my message of hostility all over the world.

The Original Valentines Day:
Although Saint Valentine was a real person who lived during the 2nd century, Valentines day is not actually named for him. Instead 'Valentine' is a pseudonym for all unknown Christian martyrs used by Pope Gelasius in 496 in implementing a day to remember the fallen Christian soldier, so in reality when you're asking somebody to 'be your valentine' you are actually asking them to give their lives for a noble Christian cause. This is still well known in the Catholic church which is why in 1969 Pope Paul VI, appalled with the commericailisation of this historic day, ordered  the removal of Valentines day from the Christian Calender.

How it all went Wrong:
As I mentioned Valentines day was never about love, so how did it become so? Well the first recorded incident of  a Valentines day day as we know it today was during the English Renaissance, where world renown poet Geoffrey Chaucer wrote 'Parlement of Foules' which reads; "For this was Saint Valentine's Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate".

Google's Valentine Logo
Valentines Day as We Know It:
Although Chaucer had wrote this poem, it was still only the upper class and social elite who were even aware of his work, so at what point did it become the Valentines day you and I celebrate? Well believe it all not Valentines day wasn't publicly known worldwide until the early 19th century. Valentines day only became  so popular after the boom of the UK's greeting card industry in the late 18th century and was created to fill gaps in profit between Christmas and Easter, a trend which quickly spread across Europe and to the US.

So there you have it, although the Romans first created Valentines day, it was an Englishmen who first made it about romance, and the British who made it about profit. Every year the profit form Valentines day trade increases with last year totaling £1.3 in the UK alone, with traditional cards going out of fashion in lieu of bigger more expensive gifts (mostly perfume or jewelry).

-Profiteering or innovation at it's best?
-Who is to blame? The companies or the suckers who are willing to pay?

Saturday, 12 February 2011

A New Egypt

The scene on the streets of Egypt yesterday quickly changed from hostility to that of fireworks, flag waving and cheering as Hosni Mubarak stepped down after 30-years of presidency. All presidential powers will given to the Egyptian Military's high council until the new elections in September of this year.

Many have described yesterday as the 'Day of Glory' in which thousands of citizens took to Tahrir Square, not in anger but in jubilation. This freedom is a new feeling for many at Tahrir Square as many of those celebrating are under 30-years old so have never known what it is like not to live under emergency law under one President. One of those celebrating is local Egyptian journalist, Ibrahim Ahmed, who said "This will be a liberal, civilian country, like those in Europe. We want democracy, freedom of speech, no corruption and free and fair elections".

Outside of Egypt many foreign authorities have been congratulating the people of Egypt. In an attempt to gain the favour of the new ruling party, US President Barack Obama quickly released a statement saying "The United States will continue to be a friend and partner to Egypt. We stand ready to provide whatever assistance is necessary and asked for to pursue a credible transition to democracy". However many Egyptian  leaders may find this to be somewhat hypocritical as the US has been a long time ally of Mubarak by donating $1.5 billion a year to his regime, and even having former President George W. Bush stay for a week's vacation in one of Mubarak's villas.

British Prime Minister David Cameron also offered his congratulations but warned that the Egyptian people must be careful in electing their next president and offered his aid in implementing a fair election come September.

- What are your opinions?

*I realise that I'm a little bit behind on the situation but I haven't had chance to update because I've been busy working on my Purge Violent Extremism Campaign*

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Purge Violent Extremism: Terrorism is a Choice

Terrorism is a Choice
The presence of violent extremism is a direct threat to any community, anywhere in the world. Parents in cities the world over are losing their children to violent extremism and can do nothing but watch as they enter a world full of hatred and terrorism.

For those few of you untouched by it, violent extremism is defined as the demonstration of unacceptable behavior with the aim of justifying, glorifying or provoking a terrorist act. The most common cases of violent extremism are those in which somebody in a position of authority uses the power entrusted in them to corrupt vulnerable young people by inciting racial hatred and murder. Their have been many cases of violent extremism occurring in the United Kingdom, a country defined by it's massive cultural diversity and tolerance.

Abu Hamza
One of the most popular cases was that of Abu Hamza, a Muslim cleric who once described Britain as "....a paradise, where you could do anything you wanted". On the 7th of February 2006, Abu Hamza was found guilty of 11 charges pertaining to violent extremism including 6 charges of soliciting murder in the name of religion. Hamza is currently serving out the remainder of his prison sentence in Belmarsh, the UK's highest security prison after successfully appealing against extradition to the US.

Violent extremism is often incorrectly labeled as an issue pertaining to Islam, however this is simply not the case as the conviction of Neil Martin confirmed. Mr. Martin was sentenced to 3-years in prison on the 6th Oct 2006 after launching a vicious Internet campaign inciting hatred for black people and those of African decent. For more information on violent extremism convictions follow this link to the Crown Prosecution Service.

Violent Extremism is a very real issue in our modern society, so to must be its prevention. In the wake of the epidemic of violent extremism gripping the streets of Britain, the British government formed an in-depth plan to counteract the problem.  The 'Preventing Violent Extremism: Winning Hearts and Minds' campaign aims to take the power away from those who wish to incite hatred, and give it to those most vulnerable.

The organisation I work for Social Breakfast [embedded video of me incase you wondered what I look/sound like] is based round improving the lives of young people who feel they are being overlooked by society, so this issue directly effects us. To better understand this problem we have set up a workshop event in a 'demographically vulnerable' area, the Speak-Up Event is taking place on the 22nd February so be sure to sign up and check it out.

- Have you or somebody you know ever been affected by the issue of Violent Extremism?
- What is the best form of solution to counteract the incitement of hatred?

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

The Evolution of Protest

Protesters Outside Parliament

Today marks the 16th day since the infamous 'Day of Anger' which marked the beginning of the protests and the anti-Mubarak demonstrators are still holding strong, but unlike only a week ago the protest is one of peace and not of hostility.

Hundreds of protesters now gather at the entrance to the Egyptian Parliament preventing any Government officials from entering, a spokesman for the group said that they would not move an inch until Mubarak conceded to an immediate resignation.  This peaceful protest is taking form all over the country with over 6,000 industry and dock workers going on strike, thus crippling the economy, until Mubarak steps down.
Abdul-Rahman Samir
Sources leaked form within Mubarak's office state that the president fears his opposition may attempt a coup d'etat if he could not resolve the situation, but Mubarak warned that anyone attempting to do so would be acted upon forcefully. In response to this comment Abdul-Rahman Samir, a spokesperson for Egypt's youth, said "...he [Mubarak] is threatening to impose martial law, which means everybody in the square will be smashed, but what would he do with the rest of 70 million Egyptians who will follow us afterward?"

With over 300 confirmed dead the main group of demonstrators have been willing to change their tactics. Unfortunately conflict is still present between opposing protesters outside of Tahrir Square,with a another confirmed fatality at New Valley Provice (300m south of Cairo) only this morning.

- With Mubarak determined to live out his presidency, will peaceful protest be enough?

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

[No News is Good News]

Haven't had chance to update on the Assange situation yet, as I've been at ante-natal classes with the soon to be mother of my son. Will update first thing in the morning when I get to work though, and because I'm running GMT all you American followers will probably be updated before you log off for the day.

Again, so that this post isn't a complete waste of time I'm going to direct you my other blog in case your not following, and to prove that this life isn't all doom an gloom here is a link to perhaps the prettiest blog going.

 " stay classy San Diago"

Monday, 7 February 2011

Welcome to the Show Trial

Banner outside court
Today is the first day in court for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, the London trial will decide whether or not Assange can be extradited to Sweden for alleged rape charges. Assange is adamant that there not be a decision to extradite him as once in Sweden the US authorities will be able to relocate him on terrorism charges which could lead to 'interrogation' in Guantanamo Bay or even death by execution.

The trial is still very much in its early stages so I'm providing two articles that I wrote for work before I set up this blog so you can get a sense of what is going on. You can also check out the Brief History of Wikileaks I created last year.

December 5th 2010
For anybody who isn’t aware of the site, WikiLeaks is an anonymous user contributed database (wiki) based around the gathering and releasing of sensitive material being withheld from the public by senior officials. It has been around the news a lot recently with reports leaking out about how US officials really feel about Afghanistan. Although it is perhaps most famous for uploading a report stating Russia had already been chosen by FIFA, six days before it was announced publicly.

The founder Julian Assange states that the site has opened up the world to information they should already have access to and was meant to take power away from officials and give the power to the people, and that WIkiLeaks is journalism in its purist form. However many governments (including the US and UK) have branded him an ‘Anarchist’ saying all reports on the site were kept form the public for a reason, and that the means used to access this information (mostly hacking official accounts) is criminal therefore Julian Assange should be treated as one. [END]

December 18th 2010
After making his £240,000 bail through known acquaintances and anonymous funds Julian Assange was released on December 18, 2010 and will be due back in court on February 7th 2011. As part of his bail conditions Mr. Assange must wear an electronic tagging device at all times and remains within a set perimeter of a chosen location.

Since being released Assange has been residing as the guest of millionaire supporter Vaughan Smith in his Norfolk mansion. In an attempt to remove the bad image given to him by the US media, Assange released pictures of himself enjoying a traditional Christmas with all of his family and close friends. Assange states that the charges placed against him in Sweden were “politically based revenge tactics” and expects the charges to be dropped very shortly.

Julian Assange
However Assange does fear that he may be extradited to the US on espionage charges in which he could be sentenced for life under US law. This is made even more real in the wake of the US Republican Party releasing plans to investigate WikiLeaks as a terrorist organisation meaning Assange will be put on the US most wanted list which will allow him to be legally targeted by attacks from the US military. In response to this Julian Assange has reluctantly agreed to a lucrative $1.8m book deal. Assange has says he has been forced to do this as all of his WikiLeaks funds have gone towards legal fees and the money from his autobiography will go towards further funding for WikiLeaks. It is also hoped that in being able to provide his side of the story, Assange will be able to de-stigmatise himself in the massively biased, government controlled US media. [END]

I'll try to keep you updated on the trail whenever anything of importance comes up, but if you'd prefer to know every little detail of the trail you can follow the live twitter update here. You can also check out my other blog Critical Hit for more light hearted look at the world; life doesn't have to be all doom and gloom.