Friday, 30 November 2007

The Religion of Peace My A$$!!!

Well, the religion of peace does it yet again! Thousands of people were out on the streets of Khartoum following Friday prayers, (Amazing the kind of actions that are incited by those prayers!) demonstrating against what they see as a the lenient sentencing of Gillian Gibbons. Gillian is the British woman who has been working as a teacher in Sudan, who committed the heinous crime of allowing a class of small children to call a teddy, Muhammed.

Gillian Gibbons, 54, from Liverpool, was jailed for 15 days on Thursday after allowing children in her class to name a teddy bear Muhammad."

BBC report

Yes, after Friday prayers, encouraged by their devotion to their faith, there were people out on the streets of Khartoum, burning effigies of Gillian Gibblons and calling for her to be executed!

According to Sky News:

"The perceived leniency incensed Sudan's hard-line Muslim clerics."

Indeed, the demonstration is said to have been orchestrated, rather than having been a spontaneous outburst of feeling.

"The crowd had been ferried in on pick-up trucks after Friday prayers. Riot police kept them away from the presidential palace.

Journalist Andrew Heavens told Sky News: "There were signs that this protest was highly orchestrated. This was not the spontaneous act of a mob."

Clearly the mob had been incited to action by the words of the clerics at Friday prayers. What kind of religion is that, where its preachers encourage people to violence and calling for a death penalty for something as trivial, in my opinion, as calling a teddy bear Muhammed? It's a religion that cannot cope with any kind of criticism. It's a religion whose followers take to the streets, facing contorted with hatred, inciting violence and calling for executions for anyone whom they see as offending their oh-so-delicate religion.

During Friday sermons, the Muslim cleric at Khartoum's main Martyrs Mosque denounced Mrs Gibbons, saying she intentionally insulted Islam.
Ms Gibbons was jailed for 15 days
Ms Gibbons was jailed for 15 days

"Imprisoning this lady does not satisfy the thirst of Muslims in Sudan," said the cleric, Abdul-Jalil Nazeer al-Karouri, a well known hard-liner."

Sky News

Does not satisfy the thirst of Muslims in Sudan? What are they thirsting for? Answering yet another of my own questions, I guess it's blood they're thirsting for. What strange and inhuman people the religion of peace has created.

I simply do not understand a religion that incites its followers to violence and killing over slights and misdemeanors.
The Religion of Peace my a$$!!!!!!

Tuesday, 27 November 2007


It is with deep sadness that I write about the death of Jilona. For those who have ever posted on the BBC message boards, or one of several other popular boards, the name will be familiar. Jilona died suddenly on November 12th.

Jilona was passionate in her beliefs and strong on her principles of justice. Her comments on message boards were well-researched and went straight to the heart of any issue being discussed. She was strident and clear in her opinions, ate trolls for breakfast, and was one of the most intelligent and articulate message boarders ever to grace the internet. And grace the internet, she did.

A very sad loss for good debate and online friendship and my thoughts are with her husband at this time of his very sad loss.

YouTube Video For Jilona

Monday, 26 November 2007

The Glasgow Story

A street in the Gorbals, circa 1950

I was born in Coatbridge, which is one of those towns you will miss on your way from Glasgow to Edinburgh. My father was born and raised in Glasgow, in that part which is probably synonymous with slum Glasgow, the Gorbals. Many of my father's family lived in the Gorbals throughout my childhood and we visited there often, walking from the bus stop in Duke Street, down through Glasgow Green and over the bridge into Florence Street to see my Auntie Minnie who had a shop in that street, and my Uncle William, who lived there.

Much has been written about the close-knit communities that existed in areas like the Gorbals, and that is the memory I retain from my visits. My Uncle William had a daughter, who was close to my age, and two sons. I was always sent out to play with my female cousin and this meant, usually, playing, "roon the middens." Behind the tenement buildings, there were areas, known as, "the middens," where there were brick-built sheds, housing the large bins that domestic refuse from the flats was thrown into. These sheds were dirty, offensively-smelling places, crawling with rats, but used by many kids as hiding places.

My cousin would take me out, round the back of the tenement, where dozens of kids congregated, climbing over the high brick walls into the neighbouring midden area, which served another part of the street. These kids absolutely terrified me. They were foul-mouthed, brash and bossy and often made fun of me for being a wimp who was scared of walking along the tops of some of the high brick walls. To me, my cousin was every bit as street-smart as the rest of the Gorbals kids, and I felt like the small town ignorant relative in comparison.

The above is a photo of a Gorbals street from the 1950s. I don't know what street it was, but Florence Street was very like this at the time.

In the 1960s, the Glasgow Fathers decided, in their wisdom, to start knocking down the tenements, build high-rise flats and send thousands of displaced people out to new housing estates in places like Castlemilk and Easterhouse. The most famous, or rather, notorious, of these high-rise flats were those designed by Sir Basil Spence, 19 storey blocks on stilts, on the banks of the Clyde. Hailed at the time as brilliant architecture, the buildings were demolished in the 1980s; apart from being bleak boxes that no one, especially people with families, wanted to live in, they were sinking into the boggy land by the Clyde!

Gone were the close-knit communities. By the late 1960s, it had begun to dawn on the City Fathers, the Councilmen, that they might have made a few mistakes! There then began an experiment in which instead of knocking down the tenements, which were solid Victorian buildings, they renovated them. They knocked a few interior walls down and put in bathrooms and toilets and created more living space than there had been in the old, "Room and kitchen," and,"Single End," dwellings. A, "Room and kitchen," was a two-roomed flat, the room being the bedroom in which whole families slept; the kitchen being living-room, dining-room and kitchen all-in-one, where the whole family congregated, cooked and gathered to listen to the radio or watch TV. The facades of the tenements were cleaned, and the midden areas were turned into children's play areas and car parks. What were once slum dwellings are often now sold privately for a good market price.

The Glasgow Story web site:

The Glasgow Story

Here you will find fascinating insights into Glasgow's history from the Industrial Revolution right up to the 21st Century, how the city has undergone great upheaval and change, and has entered this new century as a bright, colourful city of culture.

For people who trace their family to Glasgow, there is a very useful link on The Glasgow Story site to, "Valuation Rolls." (Link top left) If you want to know where your relatives lived, you can search by street name or by ward.

The Valuation Rolls contain information that includes descriptions of Glasgow properties; street number and street; the proprietor's name and address; name and occupation of tenant; occupier and "inhabitant occupier" and information relating to the value of the property for rating purposes. They are an invaluable source for family historians, and we have digitised a complete set of the Rolls for Glasgow for the year 1913-1914."

Not all of the changes to the city have been changes for the good of the communities who once lived in places like Florence Street. Where the old Victorian buildings stood, with the road leading to the river, there are now, blocks of flats and a Neighbourhood Centre. There are huge open spaces, which I am sure were intended to bring new amenities to the residents of the area, amenities which were thought to be lacking in the crowded-together tenement buildings. However, the wind that blows off the river is now tunneled between the high-rise blocks and blows unbuffeted across the huge open spaces.

Still, I love it. It's my kind of town, Glasgow is, my kind of town! I like Buchanan Street even better now that it has been pedestrianised and you can saunter through the small shopping arcades of little niche shops and wander up to the impressive shopping mall at the top.

It's a fine city and well worth a visit. If you do find yourself in the previously known, "NO Mean City," don't forget to include a trip to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum to view the city's most praised piece of art, the Salvador Dali, "Christ of St John of The Cross."

Go well, now! Be safe!

Sunday, 25 November 2007

What Has Happened To Our Schools?

I was looking through stacks of books in a school library recently, books that were for sale and I found, "An Introduction To Botany," by Priestley, Scott, Harrison. There are nearly 700 pages of information-rich text, with mostly line drawings and a few photographs. When I did A Level Botany, this was the kind of textbook I used. I know! This sounds like, "In my day bla bla," but in comparison, the modern textbooks look like comic books, with bite-sized chunks of text and comic book type illustrations, looking like someone's idea of how to illustrate a textbook for, "cool," young people.

It seems to me that education is now delivered in packets, like cook-chill food, nicely packaged and presented in meal-sized portions, delivered in the ubiquitous hand-out.

And when did we stop asking kids to copy notes, and to read a few books and start handing out reams of paper? I asked a year 10 class (around age 15) to copy two, not very long, paragraphs recently. "Do I have to write all that? Why Can't I just stick that in my book?" Because, dear child, if you write it out, you might remember some of it!

Seems to me that the internet has brought a revolution in information into the classroom. Kids now have access to such a wealth of information, but they want to copy and paste it, without reading or understanding a lot of time. Here's a nice chunk of information, I'll have that! Looking over a year 9 student's shoulder, reading research he was doing on protein in the diet, I read about, "long chain molecules." and, "peptide bonds." So, I asked what a molecule was! Don't know! Well, what's a, "peptide bond?" Don't know!

Every school, secondary and primary, in the UK, now has a reprographics department. When I see the stacks of paper sitting there and the ream upon ream that gets printed on every day, I can see where a load of that money is going that the Labour government has poured into education. The plastic chairs may be falling apart and the formica-covered tables are wobbling, but look at the lovely hand-outs!

And will somebody please tell me when it became OK to swear at teachers and for there to be no consequences? I think this must have been around the same time that it became OK for girls to turn up at school in lycra skirts that just cover the gluteus muscles, carrying their make-up and mobile phone in a cute little pink handbag, with no room for useful stuff like pencils, pens and rulers!

Laptops in classrooms could be an absolutely briliant addition to the resources for learning that teachers have to offer. Unfortunately, they are also a brilliant way for many young people to update their, My Space, Bebo, or Face Book sites, and communicate with their mates in chatrooms. Jeez! These kids think I don't know what a minimised page looks like! I am so sick of spending so much time saying, "Close that page." There must be better ways to use my time.

A lot of the time I feel like I'm doing crowd control, rather than what I trained to do, teach! If I have the same number of kids in the room at the end of a lesson as I had at the start, that's some kind of success! I haven't sent any to, "Isolation," and I haven't lost a few to join the so-called, "tourists," who roam the corridors.

I am having a jolly good rant today about this, but this is what working in a secondary school is like for many of us in the UK now. A colleague commented the other day that the only skill needed to work in many schools is the ability to cope with verbal abuse. If I was a waitress I'd have more rights! Anyone who came into my cafe and called me a, "stupid f*****g bitch," would be banned, yet, as a teacher, that's one of the milder insults!

And then there's the league tables! Exam results are shown to have been improving year-on-year! So, how come kids who can hardly string a sentence together in meaningful English are achieving a few GCSEs? I shall leave that question until another time.

Any sensible job offers that would take me away from all this are very welcome.

Saturday, 24 November 2007

Please bear with me, dear readers!

Dear Readers,

It sometimes takes a long long time for me to draft a post and publish it because of the difficulty in editing. I set the font type and size, then preview and I find that the font has changed into something pretty weird-looking. This morning, I have spent around an hour attempting to persuade the software not to make..........

......this phrase look large and squashed up.

From an article in New College Clarion by Jessica Ablamsky, reported May 2007 in:

So, apologies, dear reader. The software is making its own decisions about this.

Friday, 23 November 2007

New Jersey And The Death Penalty

There are currently eight men, their ages ranging from 30 to 70 years old, on New Jersey's Capital Crimes wing and it is said they have more chance of dying of old age than they have of being executed. Their ages range from 30 to 70 years old.
New Jersey has not executed a single person since the United States Supreme Court permitted executions to resume in 1976. The last execution in NJ was in 1963. New Jersey is now on track to become the first state to repeal the death penalty.
A bill that would abolish New Jersey’s death penalty was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee this spring and is now on a fast track to be considered by both houses within weeks. Senator Richard J Codey, Senate President said he plans to bring the bill to a vote by the full chamber by the end of the year. Gov. Jon S. Corzine has said that he will sign the measure into law if it reaches his desk.

Recently the Supreme Court of the United States placed all executions across all states on hold, pending an enquiry on whether death by lethal injection breached the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, which states that punishment should not be, "Cruel and unusual."

Execution by lethal injection. A look at some of the published articles.

Elizabeth Wrigley-Field (ewriglyfield@...) is a graduate student in sociology and a member of the International Socialist Organization.

Badger Herald

Thursday, November 15, 2007
Last month, without much fanfare, it became clear that there is a de facto moratorium on executions in the United States. The Supreme Court indicated it will put all executions on hold while it evaluates the constitutionality of the lethal injection procedure used across the United States.

From an article in New College Clarion by Jessica Ablamsky, reported May 2007 in:

Yahoo Group CEDP

Writing about execution by lethal injection in an article titled, “Behind the Curtain - How Modern Day Executioners Botch Their Job”


"Lethal injection protocols vary from state to state, but generally the condemned
is strapped to a gurney. Two needles are then inserted into usable veins. The
needles are connected to long tubes that run through a hole into another room,
where one or more executioners release the lethal drugs. After a signal from the
warden, the curtain is raised and the inmate is exposed to the witnesses who
watch from another room. After the inmate makes his final statement, the lethal
drugs are injected.

The first drug is a fast acting barbiturate that ideally renders the inmate
unconscious. The second drug paralyzes the inmate and stops the lungs. The third
drug, the killing drug, stops the heart. A lot of the current controversy
surrounding the lethal injection has come from doctors who have testified in
court that if the fast acting barbiturate wears off before the inmate dies, then
he will feel the pain of suffocation during the execution but be unable to cry
out because of the paralytic drug.”

Those who administer the drugs.

"And the guys who do that, they're not doctors. They weren't during Willet's
tenure at least. No one was. Not the people who tied the restraints, not people
who inserted the IV, not the executioner. "The only place a doctor comes in� he
comes in and does all the things a doctor does to pronounce death," said Willet.( Former warden of the Huntsville Unit, the prison where
Texas' death row population goes to die.)"

Behind the scenes

"But, before the curtain that veils witnesses from the death chamber opens,
technicians sometimes struggle for up to an hour to insert the IVs into an
inmate's veins so that the lethal drugs can flow. The serenity of the lethal
injection, that just going to sleep, is due to a paralytic drug that is
administered as part of the lethal injection process. This drug that saves
witnesses from having to view involuntary spasms as the inmate dies, and saves
the public from having to hear about them, prevents the inmate from crying out
if the painkiller wears off before their heart stops."

Botched executions

Bennie Demps: June 2000

"On June 8, 2000, Bennie Demps was executed by lethal injection by the state of
Florida. Technicians struggled for 33 minutes to insert two IVs into Demp's
veins. When the curtain opened, Demps was already strapped down, with needles
inserted. During his final statement he said, "They butchered me back there. I
was in a lot of pain. They cut me in the groin, they cut me in the leg� This is
not an execution, this is murder," according to the Miami Herald. Demps said the
medical examiner would find a wound on his leg that technicians sutured back up.
"I was bleeding profusely," Demps said.

When Demps was killed, the lethal injection was new to Florida. Florida had
switched from electrocution to the lethal injection only months before. "This
being a fairly new procedure at the time, I did not have any expectations," said
George Schafer, Demps' lawyer, who witnessed the execution.

Everyone assumed that when the method of execution changed from electrocution
to lethal injection that it would be more humane, and that assumption needs to
be reexamined," Schafer said."

Joseph L. Clark: May 2006

"On May 2, 2006, Joseph L. Clark was executed by the state of Ohio using the
lethal injection, the sole method available in that state. After the curtain
opened, with the IV already in place, Clark raised his head and body and said,
"It don't work. It don't work," five times, according to an article in the
Canton Repository by Paul Kostyu. The curtain was closed, and witnesses heard,
"moaning, crying out and guttural noises," according to the Columbus Dispatch.
The curtain did not reopen for another 30 minutes. It took the state an hour and
a half to kill Joseph Clark."

Is there a Doctor in the Room?

"Clearly this whole lethal injection procedure is borrowed from the medical
profession," said Richard Dieter, Director of the Death Penalty Information
Center, an anti-death penalty group. "Now you have prison guards and non medical
personnel performing medical procedures," he said. To conduct the lethal
injection without an unnecessary amount of pain, a doctor would needs to oversee
the procedure. "They'd have to be willing to step in if necessary and
intervene," said Dieter, "I don't think that doctors are willing to do that."

Thirty five botched executions

"There have been at least 35 botched executions in 13 states, according to
information compiled by Michael Radelet, a professor at the University of
Colorado who studies the death penalty, and Deborah Denno, a lawyer and
professor at Fordham University who is an expert in death penalty law. Of those
botched executions, 14 were in Texas, which does the most executions each year.
Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, and Oklahoma each had 3 botched executions, Arkansas
had 2, while Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Nevada, South Carolina, and
Virginia each had 1 botched execution."

Doctors in the USA are very reluctant to become the State's executioners.
First of all, do no harm. It is not within the principles of a doctor's professional ethics to become a killer for the state. So, medically unqualified personnel have been administering what amounts to complex medical procedures. Time for this to be be stopped and I applaud the Supreme Court for taking up this issue and putting all executions on hold.

Baby Grace

The strange case of Baby Grace has not managed to find its way into the mainstream media in the UK with any great alacrity. Why not? The case of the small boy, whose body was found in a suitcase in a pond in Australia, was reported widely. So, why not Baby Grace?

The body of a small child, who has been given the name Baby Grace by the police in Galveston, Texas, was found in a storage box on an island in Galveston Bay.

There has been much speculation about how much the sketches by a forensic artist look like Madeleine McCann. Sketches can be seen here.

Galveston Local News

“Based on the totality of the circumstances, we do not believe it’s her (Madeleine),” Tuttoilmondo said and added that his office is working with the FBI to completely rule out the possibility."

Today there is news that the child is most likely to be Riley Sawyers, who has been missing since the summer of this year. Riley's mother, 19-year-old Kimberly Trenor, moved from Mentor, Ohio, to live with her new partner. In June, Riley's grandmother tried to find out where Riley was.

" Trenor’s family members in Ohio told Sawyers that sometime in late July, someone claiming to be a social worker came to Texas and took the girl, Sawyers said."

Photographs of Riley compared with that of Baby Grace, lifted from the Daily Mirror forum and with nodding thanks to MulderScully....and grovelling appreciation!

MulderScully's photos

DNA results are expected soon in an attempt to establish the identity of this little girl.


"Detectives have gathered a total of 11 DNA samples to try to find her identity. Officials requested nine of them and two were given voluntarily, sources told KPRC Local 2.

The samples include the parents of 4-year-old Madeleine McCann from Great Britain, who disappeared May 3 while the family was on vacation in Portugal.

Seven others are from around the United States and three are from Texas."

This little girl needs a name. She is somebody's daughter, somebody's grandchild, and somebody in her own right. I hope that she will be identified soon and laid to rest in peace. God bless you Baby Grace.

Samantha Osborn Is Safe and Well and Suing Me!

Please read the comments on the previous post about Samantha Osborn. Sammy, or someone representing Sammy, has threatened legal action if I do not remove the photo AND THE BLOG! Since all the details of Sammy's being missing are in the public domain, am I breaching copyright? What copyright is there on reporting that a young person is missing? Perhaps Sammy will sue all of the newspapers who still have the story available in their search facility?

The photo of which Sammy speaks is, in fact, in the public domain.

Daily Mirror