2019

As you get older the years seem to go faster. I remember 1982-83 and thinking that they went on and on. But what is in store for 2019 and will it be a great year that people hope it will be.

The current climate as we have witnessed over the past few days seems like we can scream and shout whatever we want as long as we are heard. The MP Anna Soubry has had to endure appalling abuse by far-right thugs who harassed her in the most dreadful way while trying to get into the Houses of Parliament.

Majority of people in this country are law abiding decent citizens who are appalled at this sort of mindless behaviour which show a lack of respect for someone else’s opinions and beliefs. When we become abusive and using terminology which is offensive that’s when we lost the argument.

I explained in a post back in 2017 the differences between free speech and hate speech. There is a line that shouldn’t be crossed but the emboldenment of the far-right and other hate groups has somehow legitimised the use of people making threats to others. Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (Tommy Robinson) has complained for years about not being able to say what he thinks about Muslims and the religion of Islam while saying what he believes about Muslims and Islam.

Another thug appearing on the scene is someone called James Goddard who has fallen for the conspiracy that somehow Muslims are looking to take over the world and if we don’t so something about it we will be living under their rule in a few years time. Echoing the horrific anti-semitic mood that poisoned the minds of some during the 1930s when Jews were vilified not only in the press but through carefully constructed propaganda of the Nazis.

It a sad situation that this country faces. Brexit for some means that we should be allowed to say what we like to people regardless of how offensive some of that speech is. Well we can’t. There are, rightly so, laws protecting all of us from suffering under the hands of mindless uneducated thugs.

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My honest belief that the will get worse before it gets better and others make a stand that we cannot continue as a nation while other abuse those who are in power and who are democratically elected to represent us on a governmental level.

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Parsons Green Tube bomber Ahmed Hassan sentenced to life

Teenager Ahmed Hassan is sentenced to life with a minimum term of 34 years after leaving a homemade bomb on a packed underground train.

He just looks like any other teenager. His hair is a little crazy and looks like he hasn’t slept or eaten a decent meal in weeks. But Ahmed Hassan is a convicted terrorist who brought shock and panic to the capital September last year.

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‘I sentence you to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 34 years. You will have plenty of time to read the Koran in prison. The Koran is a book of peace. Islam forbids breaking the law of the land. Islam forbids terrorism. You have violated Islam and the Koran by your actions.’

These are the words of Mr Justice Haddon-Cave the judge who sentenced Hassan. These aren’t taken lightly and not out of malice. They aren’t words that have been used in the heat of radicalisation or without knowledge and experience. Yet there are those people still in this country who have no idea how and what Muslims believe. They have taken it upon themselves to be educated by tabloid newspapers and right-wing commentators who claim to speak for the ordinary working man.

I have seen all sorts of ridiculous claims over the last few months about misconceptions and blatant fallacies when it comes to Islam. I challenged one person who said ‘They never arrest any Muslims and send them to prison like they do to Britain First leaders’. I gave them numerous examples of how this wasn’t the case; facts don’t matter to them.

Islam is a religion of peace. I will say that until my dying day. It is those who chose to distort, lie and make up their own rules to suit their interpretations of Qu’ran. You can take any holy teachings or writings and mangle them to your own way of thinking. You will see the world how terrorists and right-wing commentators want you to see it that process is called radicalisation. You are believing misconceptions, biased opinions, perverted and altered for their own ends.

I want peace, calm and tranquillity. I want unity among people of different faiths, religions and practices. I want to live in a world were people of different backgrounds and countries can learn from each other. I want to know how and why people think they way they do and educate myself. Make myself a better person and not shutting myself off from other human beings. This planet is an amazing place. It is full of decent, wonderful, hardworking people who make a great contribution to it. Closing your mind to the world is ignorance.

Parkland – Florida​

A town which remained unremarkable in history until this week. Things changed dramatically for it residents and it would never be the same again. 

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Sometimes you draw a breath and you are stunned about how much a country and its people can take without inaction. The fact that news agencies are arguing over what has been classed as a school shooting is a testament to the fact that these incidents are happening far too often.

Seventeen people are dead at the hands of a teenager with a gun. If you ever experience a fraction of the hurt that this causes someone surely a person with a rational mind says ‘enough is enough’ and this cannot be allowed to continue.

It’s no longer about rights to protect someone’s ownership of a gun but the lives of those who are innocent and slaughtered.

I said in my blog post from last year when the horrific shooting took place in Las Vegas.

“If ISIS had carried out this attack, USA would have reacted. If North Korea had done the same they would have bombed their country. The utter madness and insanity in this that America cannot and will not police itself. Believing their second amendment right outweighs the rights of those who tragically lost their lives.”

The USA has to realise it has a serious problem. The problem is gun control. This problem isn’t just of mental health, which isn’t unique to America, it is all over the world. It is how we respond to it out children and their children will judge us.

Gun Control – Las Vegas

I don’t think I have ever spoken about gun control on this blog. But the tragic news today has made me think. 

Firstly, my thoughts and condolences are with the families and friends who have lost loved ones in this horrendous tragedy. It’s appalling to think that so many people lost their lives in such a way that is easily preventable.

This wasn’t a natural disaster like a hurricane or an earthquake. Something that couldn’t be avoided or stopped. This was a deranged terrorist (and rightly named) who brought carnage, death and suffering on an unimaginable scale.

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Yet I am still hearing that people in America will not move on the idea that there should be stricter gun laws in the country. I have heard commentators repeating their mantra that they should be allowed to access weapons as it’s this is their right.

All I can say is that thank goodness I live in the UK and not USA. It is almost laughable that a progressive country like the USA is allowing its citizens to carry out mass-murders without sensibly addressing the issue.

When the Dunblane massacre occurred in 1996 stricter laws in the UK were brought in and I believe made the country a safer place. I had to reassure my class at the time as they were frightened that a gunman could do the same in the school. They were genuinely worried.

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If ISIS had carried out this attack, USA would have reacted. If North Korea had done the same they would have bombed their country. The utter madness and insanity in this that America cannot and will not police itself. Believing their second amendment right outweighs the rights of those who tragically lost their lives.

The USA has collective denial. Some of those people who were affected by the Sandy Hook tragedy have campaigned for tighter gun laws. This was reflected in Barack Obama’s attempt and failure to change the country’s law regarding guns.

Everyone can own and drive a car with a license that’s attained by certain standards. These standards are legally required drive on UK roads. There are yearly checks made on a vehicles roadworthiness. Billions of pounds is spent implementing safety measures in vehicles so people are less likely to be injured or killed as a result of an accident. Yet America is not prepared to do so on guns which are solely designed to insure or kill. If you don’t know that a definition of madness is, this is it.

 

Bletchley

They seemed like a group of WI or some nursing home had a day out … but it was very different. 

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These men and women were gathered to remember the outbreak of war in 1939. They all worked at Bletchley Park during the second world war and were part of a highly secretive group who were there to intercept the German communications and break codes that the enemy was using to keep their movements and plans secret.

To others they are heroes, a term quickly dismissed by some of the group who were in this reunion, which, to me, strengthens my belief that these people are unique and should be celebrated. They didn’t see that their work was in part bringing an end to the mass killing of millions of people. They didn’t need medals or adulation, they were simply doing their job.

The UK and the world would be a very different place had Hitler and the Nazi’s succeeded in their quest for dominance. I have the utmost respect and honour for these people and proud of the work that they did in breaking Germany’s secrets. In a time of uncertainty and ‘rumours of war’ I feel we can declare these people ‘heroes’.

Newcastle another Rotherham

When sexuality is distorted,  a deviant streak is created.

I, like others, are appalled at the crimes that have been uncovered in the north east of England. Men who have abused, coerced and forced girls into sex. Plying them with alcohol and illegal drugs to satisfy their needs.

Racists will, with almost certainty, try to capitalise on the situation and likely be planning a march in Newcastle (I wrote this a few days before a march organised by EDL was announced) to air their righteous indignation with a dose of ‘told you so’ about those bloody foreigners . If only life was so simple as their minds. It isn’t clear cut as that and I will attempt to explain why.

Sexuality and human relationships are complex things and where equality and gender is considered. If one sex is seen and superior to another, distortions and conflicts will arise.

In many religions the man is considered superior to the female. Stemming from thousands of years previous that, because the man is physically stronger than the female, she is therefore considered inferior. A woman should stay at home and a man go out to work to provide for the family. But to most in the western world we know that’s bollocks.

We have progressed and gender equality is written into law, although, as recently commented there is still a long way to go when it comes to giving men and women equal pay.

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There are still those who consider women to be there for the man that they should serve the man. You only have to look at tabloid newspapers and hear general conversation where women are considered ‘birds’ and other words which I won’t use here.

If this attitude towards women is ingrained in a culture as it used to be in the UK decades ago planting yourself into another culture where women are seen as vulnerable and open to exploitation this distortion will occur. It’s no secret that the men convicted in other towns and in Newcastle were from a predominately Pakistani heritage. It only becomes racist if you say that all men from this background are into child exploitation.

For me the problem has been the lack of knowledge and education, not of those who perpetrate such crimes but those who have been in power to stop them. Police and Social Services have been too complicit in turning a blind eye to the problem. They haven’t understood the culture and background of the men and dismissed the girls as being wayward and out of control.

What if then these men targeted boys? It would have been dealt with immediately. The imbalance of our attitude towards each sex is highlighted. You would be considered a pervert if you targeted someone who was a male and 13 years old but because they were female well they get what they deserve.

Our attitude should be that both boys and girls of that age are children in the eyes of the law and that where the investigation should start. People have been for a long time unable to say what they feel in fear of offending a part of a community.

I rang into a radio show once to talk about a restaurant that in was trouble with council officials because they wanted to call it ‘The Fat Buddha’. Officials believed this would offend the Buddhist community. It was absolute nonsense. There was a time when the Buddha starved himself and then gorged himself to find ‘Nirvana’ or enlightenment. In some parts of the world the Buddha statue itself is seen as a symbol of prosperity if the person rubs the Buddha’s belly.

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It’s this lack of understanding and knowledge that has caused so many problems. We have place religious understanding and knowledge of communities to one side and allowed officials to make ridiculous statements and decisions without consulting others first.

I understand how and why these men exploited vulnerable women and young girls. Doesn’t mean I don’t condemn these repugnant crimes. Education and understanding isn’t the same as being complicit or condoning such behaviours.

Police

Watching news items today in the wake of terrorist attacks and the appalling Grenfell tower fire, it’s apparent that the police are under an enormous pressure to investigate horrendous crimes and multiple deaths.

It was commented, by some in the force, that the stress that the police are under has caused serious mental health problems and consequences of this can only be imagined. Some chap decided to go on a news channel and say, in a nutshell, that the ‘people should manage their time better’ and there is ‘room for improvement’. Personally, I feel like punching someone in the face, when they come out with crap like that.

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I know what it’s like to spend hours and hours working for little or no recognition, only to have managers criticise your every mistake or take you up on something you inadvertently forgot to do. People aren’t treated like human beings anymore, they are commodities that are easily replaced. This has to stop.

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The culture in work isn’t about team work; although companies will insist it is. It’s about ringing out as much as you can get from a person. I saw it in education numerous times, where people had breakdowns or strokes due to overwork and stress. No matter how long you have worked, or how much to have done to build a career, putting your health on the line isn’t worth it.

The Government has to act now to reverse the cuts to police forces. Stop putting out sound bites that say that ‘crime is falling’ and other faux-justifications for cuts. General crimes like robbery and burglary may have fallen, but other crimes have risen, such as knife and cyber crime.

The abuse that the police get is unjustifiable. Criticising the police with one hand and then the next week demanding they solve a crime that you might have been affected by is not acceptable. It’s hypocritical and childish.