RIP Maggie


Margaret Thatcher, Britains first female prime minister has died today, aged 87.

In my opinion she was the best PM that this country has had since Churchill. Her role in reshaping this country, her contribution to the collapse of the USSR, and her  anti-union position are just some of the highlights of her career, not forgetting the Falklands Campaign.

We have not had a decent leader since. She was dubbed the “Iron Lady” by a Russian journalist. Shame we haven’t seen any “Iron Men” since she was ousted from power.

Perhaps if she had still had a hand in our government we wouldn’t have been in the economic trouble that we are. Do you think she would have stood for any nonsense from the banks and their money grabbing self serving bosses ?

At Long Last – Arctic Medal campaign is won


HMS Scylla

Long over due, the British Government finally see sense. Now we all hope that they and their bureaucrats get their collective digits out and make sure the medals are available while there are still some deserving recipients alive to make all this worthwhile.

It would also be right to award the medals posthumously to those who couldn’t hang around while this country had its governmental knickers in a twist.

So in this sudden period of enlightenment do you suppose there is any chance that this government might also allow the Russians to present the Ushakov medal.

Arctic Medal campaign is won – Defence – Portsmouth News.

Two-Cow Politics


Some of you out there will know that I belong to a photographic group: Photography Cafe One of our regular contributors, BigAl, posts various bits of humour on a daily basis. Just recently he started posting, each day, a couple of definitions from “Two Cows” Political Philosophy. I trawled the web and have gathered most that I have found into this post. So, in no particular order, here for your delectation, I present a selection   …..

Two-Cow Politics

DICTATORSHIP: You have two cows. The government takes both and shoots you.
MILITARIANISM: You have two cows. The government takes both and drafts you.
ANARCHY: You have two cows. Either you sell the milk at a fair price or your neighbors try to kill you and take the cows.
BUREAUCRACY: You have two cows. At first the government regulates what you can feed them and when you can milk them. Then it pays you not to milk them. After that it takes both, shoots one, milks the other and pours the milk down the drain. Then it requires you to fill out forms accounting for the missing cows.
PURE DEMOCRACY: You have two cows. Your neighbors decide who gets the milk.
REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY: You have two cows. Your neighbors pick someone to tell you who gets the milk.
AMERICAN DEMOCRACY: The government promises to give you two cows if you vote for it. After the election, the president is impeached for speculating in cow futures. The press dubs the affair “Cowgate”.
BRITISH DEMOCRACY: You have two cows. You feed them sheep’s brains and they go mad. The government doesn’t do anything.
SINGAPOREAN DEMOCRACY: You have two cows. The government fines you for keeping two unlicensed farm animals in an apartment.
CAPITALISM: You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull.
HONG KONG CAPITALISM: You have two cows. You sell three of them to your publicly listed company, using letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at the bank, then execute a debt/equity swap with associated general offer so that you get all four cows back, with a tax deduction for keeping five cows. The milk rights of six cows are transferred via a Panamanian intermediary to a Cayman Islands company secretly owned by the majority shareholder, who sells the rights to all seven cows’ milk back to the listed company. The annual report says that the company owns eight cows, with an option on one more. Meanwhile, you kill the two cows because the feng shui is bad.
ENVIRONMENTALISM: You have two cows. The government bans you from milking or killing them.
TOTALITARIANISM: You have two cows. The government takes them and denies they ever existed. Milk is banned.
POLITICAL CORRECTNESS: You are associated with two differently-aged (but no less valuable to society) bovines of non-specified gender.
COUNTER CULTURE: Wow, dude, there’s like… these two cows, man. You got to have some of this milk.
LAWFIRMISM: You have two cows. You force them to produce the milk of four cows, then act surprised.
SURREALISM: You have two giraffes. The government requires you to take harmonica lessons.
CAFEISM: You have two cows. You look around for a third to balance the composition.
FRENCH CORPORATION : You have two cows. You go on strike because you want three cows. The cows go on strike to keep out American hormone-fed milk and launch a stampede through a McDonalds franchise at Euro-Disney. The French Cow Liberation Front hacks into the Cheddar website with images of Roquefort and WAV files declaring “Vive la France!” You go to lunch and drink wine. Life is good.

Russian ambassador’s regret over medal row – Britains Shame


Britain’s Shame !!!

The convoys kept Russia supplied to keep fighting the Nazis on Germany’s eastern front. But while the Ushakov medal has been handed to veterans from Australia, Canada and the United States for their role in the convoys, the British government is refusing to allow it to be given to British veterans.

When our stuffy government sticks by rules that are both antiquated and unfair then they should be ashamed and so should we as a nation.

There is no time limit on valour. There is no time limit on doing ones duty. There should be no time limit on recognising duty and valour.

The Russians clearly recognise this

In a letter seen by The News, Alexander Yakovenko told veterans the Russian Embassy in London has ‘profound regret’ that the British government will not allow them to be decorated.

‘Under the circumstances the embassy only has to express its profound regret that while the authorities of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA have granted permission to the veterans of the Arctic Convoys to be awarded the Ushakov Medal, we are not in a position to honour in the same way the courage and sacrifice of the British heroes of the Arctic Convoys.

The full Russian Embassy Press Release can be found here

This issue has been the subject of a motion put before the British parliament but to no avail and some are addressing the Russian Embassy directly to request that they ignore the British Governments appalling decision and go ahead and award the medal….. See here

The “five-year” criteria is a farce and has been waived by the British Government in recent times.

Next year, 2013, will be the Year Of The Convoy

Although I have posted on this subject before I think “Keith at Tregenna” states the issue very clearly so I’ll close with the following quotes from him.

The Foreign Office state that the rules of acceptance of foreign awards had to have taken place within the previous five years or that permission cannot be granted if they have received a UK award for the same services. This is somewhat contradictory to the award of the Pingat Jasa Malaysia Medal for those who served in operations in Malaya/Malaysia between August 1957 and August 1966. This medal was first struck in 2005 and in 2011 unrestricted permission was given by Her Majesty The Queen for the acceptance and wearing of this medal, even though those who served in this theatre had already received the British General Service Medal, with additional Malaya/Borneo Clasp.

the award of the Naval GSM and GSM with Suez Canal Zone Clasp which was awarded in 2003 to those who had served between 16th October 1951 and 19th October 1954. This award was also originally subject to the five-year rule and should not be considered, which was later changed and the Honours and Decorations Committee endorsed the recommendation.

It would seem rather ironic considering the Prime Ministers recent speech the other day on national television in regard to the millions of pounds, rightly so, the Government are going to put into the forthcoming 100th Anniversary of the start of WWI, as an act of remembrance to educate those at school and the sacrifice made by so many, but they are not willing to consider an award to those veterans of WWII still living by stating a rule that has been overturned with previous awards.

Another previous post on this subject
Russian ambassador’s regret over medal row – News – Portsmouth News.

Heroes barred from receiving Russian medal – Why ?


Between 1941 and 1945 British warships escorted 78 convoys carrying thousands of aircraft, anti-aircraft guns, trucks and tanks, fuel, food, tools and other vital supplies through the Barents Sea to the Russian ports of Murmansk and Archangel in a voyage Winston Churchill described as ‘the worst journey in the world.’

The Foreign Office has blocked plans by the Russian government to honour Arctic Convoy veterans with a medal for valour.

Commander Eddie Grenfell at The Royal Naval War Memorial on Southsea Common Picture: Malcolm Wells (112873-1909) Ref The News

The convoys kept Russia supplied to keep fighting the Nazis on Germany’s eastern front, and have been credited with ensuring Hitler did not triumph.

But while the Ushakov medal has been handed to veterans from Australia, Canada and the United States for their role in the convoys, the British government is refusing to allow it to be given to British veterans.

Ushakov Medal

Apparently “rules are rules”

Under UK law, citizens are allowed to receive foreign medals and awards only if the British government gives them permission, and only if the award relates to the recipient’s activities within past five years.

A spokesman for the Foreign Office said: ‘The rules on the acceptance of foreign awards state that for permission to be given for an award to be accepted, there has to have been specific service to the country concerned and that service should have taken place within the previous five years.

‘Additionally, permission cannot be granted if they have received, or are expected to receive, a UK award for the same services.

‘All British Veterans of the Convoys were eligible for the World War Two Atlantic Star. Additionally, a lapel badge (the Arctic Emblem) was introduced in 2006 and some 10,000 have been issued.’

This unbelievable, bureaucracy gone mad and it is a slap in the face for the veterans.

It is time that the faceless civil servants in Whitehall woke up and its time that our government stopped dithering with regard to recognising the exploits of our servicemen.

How can there ever be a time limit on recognising the sacrifices our servicemen make.

For once I am in complete agreement with Mike Hancock. He said

‘It is absolutely ridiculous and shameless. This country can’t even give them the medal but we can stop them from getting a medal from the people they went to help. It’s an absolute disgrace on his (Hague’s) part and it’s a slur on this country.

It seems that our government can waive this rule when it suits them which makes this decision much more of a slap in the face for the arctic veterans.

Veterans of a conflict in Malaysia in the 1960s were allowed to wear the Pingat Jasa Malaysia Medal, given to them by the Malaysian government in recognition of their service.

Not only was that conflict 50 years ago, but the veterans of it had also previously been given a medal from the British government.

A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office accepted the rules had been waived once, but said that it had to treat all World War Two veterans the same or else be faced with thousands of medal requests.

Seems all the civil servants are worried about is a sudden increase in their workload.

Despicable.

It is time to get a sense of perspective and give these folks the medal they deserve.

Heroes barred from receiving Russian medal – Defence – Portsmouth News.

One rule for some and another for Arctic veterans – Defence – Portsmouth News

Words For Teenagers


The viral message started its life in an April 2010 newsletter put out by the principal of Kaikohe’s Northland College, John Tapene, quoting a youth court judge’s tough advice for bored teenagers. In short, the judge told teens to stop complaining they had nothing to do, urging them instead to take responsibility and “develop a backbone”.

Words For Teenagers

This cutting has been doing the rounds both via Facebook and email and although this article was originally published two years ago I believe the sentiments expressed have been relevent for many years and are still relevent to this day. Anyway, Mr Tapene’s words struck a chord with me and I felt I had to reproduce them here.

500,000 buttons and counting for Waterlooville school’s Holocaust project


I well remember seeing the 2004 movie “Paper Clips” that has so inspired these pupils and their button collection.

The movie is a documentary about the children of the Whitwell Middle School in Tennessee who try to collect 6 million paper clips representing the 6 million Jews killed by the Nazis. They did this whilst studying the Holocaust.

I wish the pupils of Oaklands Catholic School, in Waterlooville, well in their endeavour and hope that the additional publicity that I can gain for them through this post goes to help with their button collection.

500,000 buttons and counting for Waterlooville school’s Holocaust project – Education – Portsmouth News.

Headteacher in Forest of Dean vows to shop parents over pupils web use, including social networking


Paul Woodward is to be applauded. His is a voice in the wilderness.

A primary school head has threatened to shop parents to social services if they allow his pupils to use Facebook and other networking sites.

Paul Woodward is concerned that youngsters who use the sites risk being exposed to porn and online grooming.

He has warned parents that persistently letting children flout Facebook’s 13-plus age rule could warrant investigation by child protection teams.

He estimates that at least 60 per cent of the 270-plus children at his school in the Forest of Dean have access to social networking sites.

Reporting parents to social services is, on the face of it, a bit extreme. However, where the parents have been informed and they take no action then I think he is justified.

Mr Woodward, a branch secretary for the National Association of Head Teachers, the country’s biggest heads’ union, yesterday demanded a ban on children setting up social media accounts – because of the risk of accessing inappropriate material.

Unfortunately a ban would be a waste of time. How on earth could this be policed. The only way to stop the underaged from gaining access is to enforce some kind of  control based round a credit card or some other kind of ID that can be validated on line.I believe that Facebook themselves would not want to do this unless they could actually charge a nominal fee for the  for the privilege.
Of course there will always be the kid that steals, sorry, borrows his parents card to bypass these controls.Just take a look at how six-year-old  Jake Sadler ran up a bill totalling nearly £1,000 while playing a game on his parents’ iPad.
Then there are the parents who are either too stupid to recognise the risks or choose to give in to their kids pestering for a quiet life.
Mr Woodward should also be a tad cautious before tagging parents as persistent offenders.
There are many kids out there who routinely create more than one facebook account. There is the one they keep for parents and family access. Strange that they don’t seem to access this account from one week to the next and they only have a few “friends”. Strange that their mobile is constantly pinging and buzzing as they chat with their “friends”. I have first hand experience of this having stumbled on my granddaughters facebook presence on which she has over 2500 “friends”. This is despite the fact that she has been on the receiving end of the dark side of Facebook and claimed to have ditched her Facebook account. Her public, to the family, Facebook account only has a few hundred “friends”.

Many parents lack awareness of the potential dangers to children from the variety of links and ‘apps’ that can be accessed through Facebook and other sites, he warned.

As soon as his school becomes aware a child has a Facebook account it contacts the company to get the profile blocked.

Now this is an action which I think deserves more support. I wonder how quickly the likes of Facebook are at shutting down these accounts. In the past they have been somewhat reticent.
Many of the comments received for this article on the MailOnline website have derided Woodward’s stance.

This is too far. He is a head teacher and should stick to teaching not snooping. I thought we wanted an end to big government and its snooping or is only when it serves us that we agree with it.

This is not snooping. This is trying to protect our children.
When I was a pupil my parents had an expectation that the school, to which they had entrusted me  for five days of the week, would provide me with the same protection that they did for the rest of the week. Nowadays there is an apparent expectation that teachers are only there to teach the subject matter.

Maybe he should concentrate on teaching rather than parenting! Interesting how DM have two opposing articles written from the same perspective.. Anyway, if he cares about children being exposed to the horrors of Facebook why not do that old-fashioned thing and TEACH about the dangers rather than sit in some sort of arrogant pious judgement of others.

Teach them about the dangers, that’s a laugh. Our schools are doing such a grand job of teaching about the dangers of drugs, getting pregnant and so forth lets put the responsibility on them to teach about the dangers of the Facebook and the internet.
I’m not criticizing the schools. I think they have an impossible task and they don’t get the support of the parents.
No I think that Mr Woodward has the right approach. Keep on shopping the underage kids to Facebook. Keep on warning the parents.
Ultimately it’s the parents responsibility but when they don’t step up to the mark then thank god for people like Paul Woodward.

Headteacher in Forest of Dean vows to shop parents over pupils¿ web use, including social networking | Mail Online.

It’s Polling Day !!!


The News, our local rag, has run an article imploring us to use our votes.

If you asked me, I would only be able to name two of our local councillors and only one for my own electoral ward.

The local candidate is Margaret Beauvoisin. I have never seen her, she certainly hasn’t come knocking at my door. Nor have any of her supporters.

So how do I know that she exists ?

Well someone stuck a screwed up leaflet through my letter box and I have read it.

I would have enjoyed the opportunity to discuss with her the issues that are important to me i.e. the slow death of Waterlooville Town Centre. I would have enjoyed the opportunity to discuss how she believes the further annexing of the Town Centre, by pushing additional commercial enterprise into the West Of Waterlooville development zone, is going to be

an asset to our town

Lifted from her leaflet.

Well at least I got a leaflet from the Labour candidate. Haven’t heard a dickie bird from any of the others.

So The News wants us to

Please make sure you have your say at the ballot box

Will there be an option that allows me to say that I have no idea what any of my local candidates stand for ?

Oh, at the beginning of this post I said I could name two local councilors.

The other was Penny Mordaunt and I know she stands for elephants.

‘Please make sure you have your say at the ballot box’ – Local – Portsmouth News.