Monday, September 28, 2009

Roman Polanski Must Go Back To The US

Roman Polanski is an acclaimed Oscar winning Film Director. He is the man responsible for films like Chinatown and The Pianist.

He is also the man who admitted the drugging and sexual abuse of a thirteen year old girl, while he was photographing her for a magazine in 1977. He fled the USA before he could be sentenced and has been openly 'on the run' ever since, living mainly in France.

Last weekend, he was detained in Switzerland while travelling to the Zurich Film Festival where he was expected to receive a Lifetime Achievement award. He now faces being extradited back to the USA.

Polanski is now 76 years old and has lived what can only be described as an eventful life. He was the son of parents with both Polish and Jewish backgrounds and he was forced to run from the Germans, when they sealed off his Jewish Ghetto in Krakov, in 1940. His mother died in the gas chambers of Auschwitz.

In later life his wife, the actress Sharon Tate was murdered by the infamous Charles Manson cult while she was eight months pregnant.

With this background, it is hardly surprising that Polanski has lived his life in the headlines.

His thirteen year old victim was plied with drugs and champagne before Polanski had unlawful sex with her at the home of the actor Jack Nicholson. Of course, despite admitting his guilt, he maintains that the girl was sexually experienced and her participation was consensual.

So, should Polanski be dragged back to the US after 32 years, to be sentenced for his crime?

The answer has to be yes.

He may well be a famous old man but he is also a self confessed child abuser. The passage of time does not erase the act that took place over thirty years ago, or change it's status in law.

Polanski maintains that the legal process, after he was charged, was flawed and the prosecutor and judge dealing with his case had been negligent.

If he has a case to make against the legal procedures prior to the time of his escape, now is the time to challenge them.

The law is the benchmark by which all decent society survives. It cannot be allowed to suffer from alzheimers.

Polanski must go back and face his past. Celebrity, fame and wealth, cannot be allowed to re-write the truth.

Perhaps, Polanski is about to receive his Lifetime Achievement Award after all!

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Andrew Marr Angers PM's Aides

Aides to PM Gordon Brown are said to be furious that he was sandbagged, during an interview with Andrew Marr, on BBC1, when asked whether he is taking prescription painkillers.

Marr said:

"A lot of people in this country use prescription painkillers and pills to help them get through. Are you one of them?”

The PM relied:

“No. I think this is the sort of questioning which is all too often entering the lexicon of British politics.”

There has been much speculation over the last couple of weeks about the subject (I wrote a post 2 weeks ago) but until today, it seemed that no-one from the mainstream media was prepared to actually ask the question directly.

Whether this is because the media machine at Number 10 had deliberately tried to suppress such an enquiry or whether it was because none of the favoured political commentators wanted to risk their controlled access to the PM, we cannot be sure.

However, it is a justifiable enquiry to make and one to which we should all have the right to an answer.

If the PM is to survive until the next election and beyond, he needs to come out fighting and forget the scripted answers that his advisers prepare for him before interviews. He needs to 'shoot from the hip' and look like he is in control.

If he does that, then we might start to think of him as a worthy leader after all!

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

BBC Bans The Word 'Butcher'

I am irritated!

Tonight, while travelling home from work, I was listening to the excellent Eddie Nestor who hosts the drivetime programme on BBC London 94.9FM.

Eddie is one of the few broadcasters who has the rare gift of being able to discuss any subject, however sensitive, in a fair and amiable way, while still being able to express his own opinion without causing offence.

Tonight, he was engaged in a telephone conversation with respected financial expert, David Kuo, about a new London initiative called the Brixton Pound. It is a concept that is aimed at promoting trade in the locality of Brixton and David was explaining why it might not work in reality.

To help his explanation, he was using the examples of a Butcher's shop and a Grocer's shop to demonstrate how the Brixton Pound might be used in practice.

However, half way through his explanation, he was told by Mr Nestor that he could not use the example of a butcher as it could cause offence to those with certain religious beliefs, or non-meat eaters. Nestor had been told to explain this, by his programme producer, while Kuo was talking.

Are you getting irritated yet?

Has the normally excellent BBC finally become a censor for the political correctness movement?

Surely the whole point of a phone-in show is to exploit the values and principles of free speech and to hear the views of the callers by promoting discussion? It is not to publically admonish a guest expert for describing a profession that has been the mainstay of most high streets and food stores for as long as commerce has been in existence.

Sadly and unusually, Mr Nestor did not challenge the instruction he was given by the time I arrived home. I can only hope this is because he was in a state of shock at being given such a pathetic instruction by his producer.

In reality, though, I fear incidents like this will become more common.

If you are one of those whom the BBC assume would be offended by the mention of professions to which you do not approve......tough!!

Last time I checked, the majority of us were still sane.....just!

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

PM Finally 'Graduates' From Business School

"We are doing the right thing to make sure that for the future as we move into a full recovery we will invest and grow within sustainable public finances - cutting costs where we can, ensuring efficiency where it's needed, agreeing realistic public sector pay settlements throughout, selling off the unproductive assets we don't need to pay for the services we do need"

The above words were spoken by Gordon Brown to delegates at the TUC conference in Liverpool today.

They describe what most students learn, in chapter one, of the guide book to running an efficient business.

So, why after all these years in power, has this government only just discovered how to run UK plc?

Time to man the lifeboats methinks!

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Is Our Prime Minister Depressed Or Just Useless?

There has been an increasing level of discussion in the 'world of blogs' over the last week about whether Gordon Brown, our Prime Minister, is suffering from depression and whether he is being treated with medication.

To my knowledge, the mainstream media have not, so far, made reference to the theory but I am sure they are fully aware and are just waiting for the right moment.

If it were true, it might help to explain why we have seen so little of the PM over the last few months and why, when we have, he has seemed so unconvincing. It might also explain why the likes of Lord Mandelson and David Miliband are taking so much of the limelight and announcing initiatives that by right should be publically introduced by the PM.

If GB is depressed, it is fully understandable and should not be interpreted as a weakness. There are few of us who can honestly say they have never suffered from the ailment at some point in our lives - especially at times of stress.

Sadly, though, depression is a mental illness and anything that has the word 'mental' in it, is instantly judged as something we should all fear. However, many successful and brilliant people have lived with the condition for most of their lives and despite their personal burden, the public have not even noticed.

When it comes down to it, depression is really just a 'flu of the mind' and can easily be eradicated or controlled.

If the stories are true, I hope that the PM will 'come clean' and help to educate everyone who would stigmatize those who suffer from mental problems.

If they are not, then maybe he is just useless as a Prime Minister after all?

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

ITV Need More Than Just Product Placement

The government is expected to announce a trial to allow independent television companies like, ITV, to profit from product placement in their programmes.

This is another form of advertising where the bottles behind the bar in Emmerdale or the drinks in front of the judges in the X Factor will become paid space for manufacturers who have the money to pay for the exposure of their products.

The benefits are obvious as the broadcaster can make easy money and the manufacturer avoids the present situation where many viewers just avoid watching their expensive adverts, during the commercial breaks, by either flicking to another channel or putting the kettle on.

ITV have been campaigning for product placement for ages and have been using the excuse of financial hardship caused by a reduction of advertising, due to the economic climate.

What product placement will still not solve, however, is that if decent programmes are not being provided by the broadcaster, then neither the ad breaks or the product placement will be visible to the viewers as they will not be bothered to watch the channel in the first place.

It seems that ITV, in particular, have been slow to catch on to this most basic of theories!

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Dying To Negotiate A Bargain!

According to a report in today's Independent, the average cost of bidding farewell to one's dear departed, is now £7,018 taking into account legal costs, funeral expenses and flowers etc. This is a rise of 42 percent over the last five years.

The funeral industry says the cost of new environmental procedures has been largely responsible for the steep increase, but others say it is a lack of competition amongst funeral directors, since many have been taken over in recent years by larger companies.

Another factor is that bereaved families are often loathe to haggle over the price at such a distressing time.

It seems that we no longer just have to struggle to survive financially when we are living but now we have to worry when we are dead too!

I think I have the answer....

I am going to refuse to die unless they give me a good price first!

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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Calling Time On Alcohol? - Mine's A Large One!

We have a habit in the UK of punishing the majority for the sins of the minority.

The latest attempt to deprive us of choice comes from the British Medical Association (BMA) who are campaigning for a complete ban on all alcohol related advertising and to bring an end to the supermarket special offers and happy hour deals that are so popular with all who enjoy a tipple.

Of course, the pub trade will be in a bit of a dilemma, as they blame the cheap supermarket deals for their own problems. They will not, however, want to back anything that will ultimately reduce their profits any further.

There has never been any firm proof that advertising bans work - although campaigners against anything at all will always try to claim success.

The advertising ban on cigarettes has not stopped people from smoking; the young, who see it as being a cool thing to do, are not that gullible.

The fast food advertising ban on TV during the hours that children might be watching, has not seen a rise in healthy kids, nor has it seen the likes of Mc D's complaining about a fall in profits. All it has done is deprive companies like ITV of the money needed to commission and supply quality programming for children and destroy an industry that was once the envy of the world.

Being rebellious is part of growing up and we have all drunk, eaten or smoked too much at some point in our lives. Most of us grow out of it but there will always be some who will not be able to break the habit. Their problems will not be solved by the absence of advertising, or of alcohol, or of any other substance.

We drink because it is what we want to do. Those of us who are responsible - and can handle it - should not be punished because of those who do not have the ability to know when to stop!


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Monday, September 07, 2009

BBC - Face To Race!

Today's big 'storm in a media teacup' is whether the BBC should invite a spokesperson for the British National Party (BNP) to sit on the panel of the political discussion programme Question Time.

Of course they should. It is a no brainer!

The BNP are mainly known for appearing to be a party with extreme and racist views and their outlandish statements have been seized on by the media and our MPs as being unacceptable. But, they have managed to openly voice the concerns that are genuinely held by a large number of voters worried about what is perceived as being a huge increase in immigration in the UK.

There have been many varied and diverse arguments, both for and against an appearance on Question Time, but like it or not, the BNP are becoming a legitimate political party because an increasingly disenchanted public are using them as a protest vote against the humbug spoken by our mainstream political leaders.

Many of those in favour of the BNP appearing on the programme, have said it would expose them as having no other policies and no idea what they would do about things like the economy but hey....we have been watching the regular panelists for years who suffer with the same problem.

The real reason for them appearing, though, should be because we constantly preach to the world that we live in a democracy where everyone has a voice and we cherish the right to freedom of speech, however distasteful the words that are spoken.

We should remember that the leaders of Sinn Fein - who were accused of far worse things than the BNP could ever hope to achieve - were once gagged by Margaret Thatcher. Their voices were muted on newsclips and replaced by a commentary.

Today they are entitled to sit in the Houses of Parliament.

But whatever we all think, the real winners will be the BBC who will get an increased rating for a programme that most people would normally avoid watching.

I can't wait!

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Friday, September 04, 2009

Wake Up Prime Minister And Face Reality!

On the day that Labour MP, Eric Joyce, resigned his job as parliamentary aide to the Defence Secretary, our Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, has decided to try to convince us all that things are really going well in Afghanistan.

Mr Joyce, a former army major, said last night in his letter to the PM:

"I do not think the public will accept for much longer that our losses can be justified by simply referring to the risk of greater terrorism on our streets. Nor do I think we can continue with the present level of uncertainty about the future of our deployment in Afghanistan."

The PM said today that we need to train Afghan troops with more urgency to allow us to hand over control to them sooner rather than later.

He also said that the tactics of the Taliban had changed from a head-on military conflict to guerrilla warfare using explosive devices - 1,000 of which had been dismantled this summer.

Hello....!! isn't that what 'terrorists' do?

Probably the most stupid thing the PM said was that there was "nothing more heartbreaking" than meeting the families of those killed, or those who had been seriously injured, while in action in Afghanistan.

Sorry to disappoint you Mr Brown but there certainly is something "more heartbreaking".

It is to face the reality that your loved ones are returning to the UK in a coffin, after being killed in a conflict that has never been fully justified nor explained and in a country of which most of us have no idea of its location or politics.

Perhaps, Prime Minister, it is time to stop trying to justify the unjustifiable!

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Thursday, September 03, 2009

The Camera Never Lies - Except In Afghanistan!

The conflict in Afghanistan is taking a heavy toll on resources and human lives in both the US and the UK.

The media and public in both countries have taken a long time to wake up to the fact that it is not going to be an easy war to win against the Taliban and that our military might is easily matched by the terrain of the country and the unpredictability of the opposition.

Our politicians are panicking at having to face up to the the problem of convincing us all we are making progress, before there is a political price to be paid, domestically, for our continued involvement. They need to show us that normality is returning, due to our efforts and we are liberators and not occupiers.

Enter the media and Public Relations experts!

What is more normal than to go out into the streets of what was once one of the most dangerous towns in Helmund province - the area where the majority of deaths and casualties to our troops have occurred - and buy an ice-cream?

You can almost hear the collective brain of the media machine suggesting the idea as a classic illustration of normal life returning due to our military efforts in the region.

Cue Lieutenant General Jim Dutton, Deputy Commander ISAF (NATO’s International Security Assistance Force) as the man nominated to be sent into the busy town bazaar to purchase the ice-cream.

There is no doubt that it would make a convincing picture - just as long as the 50 US Marines, British army troopers, Royal Marines, Afghan army troops and the police who were providing his protection were not seen in the resulting image!

Just a few miles South, both US and UK troops were still in the thick of the fighting.

The camera never lies......or does it? Beware of false images!

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