Britain's Got Talent got off to a wacky start last week. Would it be more of the same? Of course, but intermingled with a little talent as always.
BGT was in Blackpool where the last time Simon held auditions he had a very bad time. A wet a dismal looking Blackpool looked as if it had little to offer. The first act was pretty terrible. A female singer backed by hunky male dancers. Lily and the Pineapple Chunks failed to wow the audience. Shame she could not sing and they were not hunky. On it went in this way for a fair few acts. There are a lot of misguided people in the UK.
The first talented performer was a young man playing a xylophone, at speed. Simon Cowell and Alesha Dixon soon buzzed him out but thanks to David Waliams and his quirky taste he played till the end of his set. Of course Mr Walliams wanted him to go through. In the end so did Simon and in the end, mainly as the audience loved the act, he went through. Hosts Ant and Dec appeared to love the guy too.
And of course all the guys loved the next act. Simon described her as an English Dita von Teese. Beatrix von Buorbon was dressed immaculately in a red suit. With a glimpse of a tattooed leg showing maybe we should have guessed she was not what she seemed. Her prim yet erotic strip was a crowd pleaser. Of course the winner of BGT will perform in front of the Queen at this year's Royal Variety Performance. The judges did not see this as a problem. Maybe they know she will not win. As the public has the casting vote they should not know that though. Obviously Simon and David wanted to see her perform at least one more time.
Boy band The Men proved what determination can do. All admitted having done wrong in the past. All wanted a better future from one laden with debt and no prospects. Their unusual performance of Sitting on the Dock of the Bay wowed the panel and the audience. Simon was over impressed. Keep an eye out for this act.
The show's auditions moved on to London. DeJaVu was a female group of older ladies. Ouch. What can I say. Out of tune and rather embarrassing really. The following dance act was in a league of its own and easily put through to the next stage of BGT.
The final act of the day was a young man, Ryan O’Shaughnessy. He accompanied himself on guitar as he performed his own song. Good voice, good guitar and good song. An easy one to put through to the next round.
Aired on ITV March 31, 2012, between 8pm and a little over 9pm the show soon whizzed by. After the dismal start it ended up quite entertaining. More BGT will follow. Watch this space.
George Galloway's Bradford election win -Good or bad news for UK politics
When the UK followed the US into war in Afghanistan and Iraq Labour MP George Galloway was a vocal protester . In 2003 he was expelled from the Labour Party. He went on to form his own political party called the Respect Party. Since that time George has been no stranger to controversy. At times he has spoken sense whilst at other times he has sailed very close to the wind
, seeming out of touch and extreme.On Thursday March 29, 2012
, Gorgeous George
, as he calls himself, stood in the Bradford West by election. This was a safe long standing Labour seat. Held by Labour since 1973 it was a sure fire win for Ed Miliband's Labour.Against the odds Mr Galloway won a resounding victory.Whilst political pundits may claim that this is a one off win for George how will it impact on UK politics?Put aside your personal feelings regarding George for a moment.
Since Thatcher decimated large swathes of the UK little has changed. Tony Blair's New Labour swept to power on a good majority with the promise of change. Perhaps their aspirations suffered at the hand of World events such as 9/11.In the end Blair proved himself a firm part of the UK establishment bailing out the Royal Family during their darkest days, after the death of Diana.
After such hopes and promises the New Labour dream predictably all ended in tears. It so often does .In the end the British people were left with more of the same as far as UK politics went.The 2010 General Election looked set to change the two party stalemate. Nick Clegg was forecast to be Kingmaker and he ended up just that. The minority Tory government could not stay in office without the support of the Lib Dems. However in throwing their weight behind the Conservatives the Lib Dems shot themselves in the foot. Their credibility is now non existent.
Unless there is a dramatic change this is how they will remain. They are now, in many voters eyes, a less right wing faction of the UK Tory Party. This leaves most voters in the UK looking at a vote for the Tories or for Labour. A two party system with a few lunatic fringe ones thrown in for good measure. Many who feel
no affiliation to either have few other choices. This is a dangerous situation. Extremist groups such as the BNP, British National Party,
and English Defence League are the ones who will gain from the impasse. It is one way that George Galloway and the Respect Party secured a win.
Like him or loather him he has been berated and ignored by the mainstream media. Ed Miliband felt that Bradford was such a safe seat he had planned a victory visit after an election win. An arrogant assumption that has cost Ed and the Labour Party dearly. If during such austere times Labour cannot win a safe seat do they pose any threat to the Coalition? Whilst this blogger would hope that they did obviously they have a long way to go.George Galloway's win should teach voters and politicians a great deal. For voters each vote is important, even if you are discouraged with those politicians on offer.
Keeping politically aware is vital also. For politicians it must tell them that it is time to end arrogance in politics. It is time to lead by example. It is time to stop being complacent.George Galloway and the Respect Party will not be many voters ideal politicians.
The alternative could however have been much worse. Complacency and gullible, desperate voters can lead to a rise in extremist wins such as ones by fascists. By the time people become aware it is usually already too late.Galloway won the election in spite of media abuse and being ignored by many journalists.
He won it by going to the people. In three weeks he levied a campaign on the streets. For him this paid off. He is back and back in Parliament to be a thorn in the side of mainstream politicians. Perhaps now they will acknowledge that the British electorate has changed over the years. In order to win votes UK politicians need to get their act in order. If they do not they leave the country open to a wide range of extremists gaining power.
That must never happen.
Jokes, weird and wacky stories plus a whole lot more drop into our email inboxes almost by the minute each day. Every so often an email arrives that deserves a little more attention and exposure. Here is one well worth sharing:
" No one has been able to explain to me why young men and women serve in the U.S. Military for 20 years, risking their lives protecting freedom, and only get 50% of their pay. While Politicians hold their political positions in the safe confines of the capital, protected by these same men and women, and receive full pay retirement after serving one term. It just does not make any sense.
If each person that receives this will forward it on to 20 people, in three days, most people in The United States of America will have the message.. This is one proposal that really should be passed around.
Proposed 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution: "Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators and/or Representatives; and, Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and/or Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States ."
Sounds good sense. It is about time governments in the West stopped governing by the rule of "Do as I say not as I do" We hear much of fairness these days and this is a prime example. There is nothing wrong with becoming prosperous but it does depend just how you reach that privileged position.
Spying on citizens is a tricky one. Often installing spying on our streets, such as CCTV is justified. as the right step in the fight against crime and terrorism. CCTV has been used to catch criminals, prevent crimes and protect members of society. All such methods are always open to misuse.
These days however there are much more sophisticated ways that governments can keep an eye on what their citizens are up to. How they use and store this information is up to them. They may pay lip service to human rights activists but whether they play by the rules is debatable.
As you tweet away, posting a comment here, an article there you may feel that you are in the privacy of your home and undetected. Of course in reality you could say the whole world is watching. In truth these days your every move is trackable. The latest technology allows those who have the means to paint a virtual internet footprint for you and seek out your every move. The information gleaned could be legitimately needed but it more probably will not.
This "sneaking about online" by governments and officials could be useful for statistics, services, have commercial uses or have more sinister ones..
Whilst authorities around the globe are gradually restricting our freedoms the US is going full steam ahead. As so often is the case they lead the field. Sadly this time though that is not good news.
RT carried a report a few days ago which is worth reading. Whether you choose to believe all of it, none of it or some of it is up to you:
"After revealing that NYPD has been spying on New York Muslims for years since 9/11, the Associated Press reports that the Big Apple Police force has also been doing the same with the city's liberals. Undercover cops were sent to collect information at meetings of peaceful liberal activists and created a database on certain leaders who planned protests across America.
This is according to NYPD documents obtained by the AP that show how lawful activities were at the center of law enforcement's counter-terrorism efforts.The NYPD is no stranger to using controversial tactics to start profiling individuals and the extensive history of penetrating political groups repeats the happenings of a case in 2004.
Eight years ago, law enforcement spied on religious groups, environmental activists and anti-war organizations across the country leading up to the Republican National Convention.These procedures were kept secret until they were later revealed in a New York Times article three years later. The notorious practices sparked an ongoing federal civil rights lawsuit over how the police behaved toward convention activists.
According to the police, the spying was essential in preparing for the massive crowds that were expected in the Big Apple. In a document recently obtained by the Associated Press, the spying continued way past the Republican Convention. The report includes cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and New Orleans as some of the places members of the police squad visited to gather intelligence.
"There was no political surveillance," said David Cohen, the NYPD’s top intelligence officer to the AP. Cohen’s testimony is part of the ongoing lawsuit over NYPD's handling of protesters at the Republican Convention. "This was a program designed to determine in advance the likelihood of unlawful activity or acts of violence," Cohen added.
One such individual who was caught up in Cohen’s task force was Jordan Flaherty. Flaherty’s name appeared in one of the police reports which were obtained by the AP. Flaherty, a writer for The Huffington Post, attended the People’s Summit in New Orleans back in 2008. The summit is known as a convention for liberal groups who oppose America’s stance on economic policy and the effect trade agreements have on the US, Mexico and Canada to come together.
As Flaherty introduced a film, he was unaware that an undercover NYPD officer was in the crowd observing his every move and listening to every word. "One workshop was led by Jordan Flaherty, former member of the International Solidarity Movement Chapter in New York City," officers wrote in April 25, 2008. "Mr. Flaherty is an editor and journalist of the Left Turn Magazine and was one of the main organizers of the conference. Mr. Flaherty held a discussion calling for the increase of the divestment campaign of Israel and mentioned two events related to Palestine,” the report stated.
According to Flaherty, the event in the report was a film festival in New Orleans that same week, but the journalist said the film he presented wasn’t related to the summit and believes that law enforcement isn’t being straight forward about the reach of their spying task force.
"The only threat was the threat of ideas," Flaherty said.
NYPD has been under fire recently for spying on Muslims students. In 2009 three NYPD officers went to speak to local authorities to investigate the students who were attending the University at Buffalo.
According to the police, their mission was “to develop assets jointly in the Buffalo area, to act as listening posts within the ethnic Somali community.”
NYPD in the past has defended its work, claiming the threat of terrorism means police cannot wait for a crime to happen in order for officers to open an investigation. Under the department's policy officers are allowed to go anywhere the public goes and can prepare reports for "operational planning."
The NYPD’s tactics have been compared to the "pre-crime" unit in the film Minority Report, where people are arrested for crimes that they have not yet committed, but are expected to – which results in many people fearing their practices.
"I think this idea of secret police following you around is terrifying. It really has an effect of spreading fear and quashing dissent."
Opinion: It is a fact that most western countries are trying to reign in their citizens freedoms. As times get tough most want to make sure that Governments keep the upper hand. In attempting to prevent violent protests or riots governments run the risk of alienating the people. In the end it is the people who choose the government and as such they, the politicians, are the servants of the people.
Perhaps they should remember that from time to time.
UK woman suffers serious burns decanting fuel - Well done Francis Maude
If you live in the UK and watched last night's Question Time on the BBC you will know that the "blame culture" is alive and well in politicians. News of a possible strike by UK fuel delivery drivers has caused chaos this week. It was not so much the news that there may be a strike over Easter 2012 but the Government's foolish advice and how the Great British Public responded.Last night's QT involved a Labour, Lib Dem and Conservative minister. The Tory and Lib Dem ministers were in unison as far as their opinions went, which is hardly surprising as they both form part of the Coalition government. These two women insisted that this week's madness has been due to the Unite Union threatening strike action could be a possibility in the fu
ture. The Labour minister insisted that it was Tory Minister Francis Maude and UK Pm David Cameron who had whipped up a storm of panic buying.In truth probably all sides have some responsibility.
Unite is one of the Labour Party's funders which seems to be ammunition for the Coalition. However the news today that a woman from York has suffered 40% burns following this week's UK panic buying could be laid at the Coalition's door.According to the Guardian,"The woman was decanting fuel at her home in York on Thursday when it ignited and set fire to her clothing, resulting in 40% burns. She was treated on the scene by paramedics, before being taken to Pinderfields hospital with "serious and significant" burns to her whole body, said North Yorkshire fire service spokesman Peter Hudson. "Her daughter asked her mum for petrol because she had run out," said Hudson. "She did not think about the fact the gas cooker was on. The petrol then went up and she got burnt. Thankfully we were there very quickly." Two firefighters wearing breathing apparatus used a hose reel jet to extinguish the blaze in the kitchen and removed the remaining petrol. The accident took place as some petrol stations ran dry amid fear of a possible tanker drivers' strike. Government minister Francis Maude was criticised by fire chiefs for suggesting people should fill jerry cans with petrol to prepare for potential industrial action – because of the threat of fire.Mr Hudson went on to warn, "In domestic situations fuel containers must not be stored in living accommodation such as kitchens, living rooms and bedrooms or under staircases. Any storage place should be well away from living areas and be secured to protect against the possibility of vandalism or arson. "Never bring petrol inside your home. If you do smell petrol fumes in a garage or outbuilding ventilate the area and make sure nobody smokes or turns electrical switches on or off. The slightest spark could cause an explosion."If Mr Maude wanted to offer the advice that he did perhaps he should have thought of issuing relevant safety advice and warnings too.
A sensible approach would have also been how to manage fuel more efficiently to enable more usage to the gallon or litre.As it is the strike over Easter has been called off
as both sides try once again to compromise and reach a deal which suits all. Of course they had never set a date for a strike in the first place.The panic buying this week has left some fuel stations closed as their pumps ran dry, tussles at some stations and members of the public storing dangerously high amounts of fuel at home.For one lady in York it has had disastrous consequences. She is being treat at the specialist burns unit Pinderfields Hospital.
She is in a critical condition but is stable.
Self styled politician "Gorgeous" George Galloway is back. Expelled from the UK Labour Party in 2003 he has in some ways remained a thorn in the side of established Labour politicians. No stranger to controversy many people in the UK will remember him for his rather embarrassing stay in the Celebrity Big Brother household. George's performance as a cat and the sight of him in a far too clingy leotard will remain etched on many people's minds for a long time.Putting all of that to one side though, to many people George talks sense, that is when he is being serious.
Yesterday, March 29, 2012 Mr Galloway won the Bradford West parliamentary seat from Labour with a large majority,This is a remarkable victory. Labour's Marsha Singh had held the seat since 2010, having secured a majority of 5,763.
He resigned recently on health grounds. Scotsman George only campaigned in Bradford for the past three weeks but clearly his message has hit home. George has maintained an anti war stance since leaving the Labour Party. He was anti the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns. This led him to form the Respect Party
Controversially in he past he met with Libya's Colonel Gaddafi and challenged the UK government on their stance as Libyan civil war broke out. Bradford is in the North of England
and has a high migrant and multii cultural population. Labour's defeat in Bradford will prove humiliating for the party and leader Ed Miliband.It could of course be a one off but only time will tell.Result: Respect 55.9%
Green 1.5%(Correction - Marsha Singh
Sheila with her twin boys
In 1985 a family were shot and killed. A young man was accused of the murders, that is of killing his family. Jeremy Bamber allegedly shot and killed his adoptive parents June and Nevill, his sister Sheila Caffell and her six-year-old twins Daniel and Nicholas, at their Essex farmhouse. He was found guilty and sentenced to life in jail. He remains one of the few people in the UK who have been sentenced to a whole life term n jail.
Now aged 51 Bamber still maintains his innocence. Throughout the trial and period since he has insisted that he is innocent of these terrible crimes.
Tonight ITV in the UK aired a brief 30 minute documentary about Bamber, his hope that he will be freed and various people who either feel the conviction was right or unsafe. One participant in the show was a cousin of Bamber who, to this day, is still positive that Mr Bamber carried out the killings. Others are not so sure. The program interviewed many of those involved in the case and went over the evidence.
Bamber was just 25-years-old when he was convicted of the murders. He was damned by many for his apparent easy mood after the murders were made public. In a way similar to Amanda Knox his attitude was seen almost as a confession of guilt. One crucial witness for the prosecution of Bamber was his girlfriend at the time of the murders. Julie Mugford, after the couple split up, told police that Bamber had confessed to her, that he had hired hitman to carry out the murders.
This was disproved yet the judge at Jeffrey Bamber's trial told the jury that they could convict him on Julie's evidence alone. Recently however it has been revealed that Mugford was accused of burglary, smuggling cannabis into the UK from Canada and cheque fraud just prior to the trial. Police agreed to drop the investigations into these accusations if she testified against Bamber.
She was noticeable by her absence from tonight's documentary. She had declined to be interviewed.
Jeremy Bamber has now launched an appeal against his sentence. Those who believe he is innocent claim that his is one of the worst miscarriages of justice in the UK. Others vehemently disagree maintaining that he is guilty.
Mr Bamber claims that his sister Sheila killed the family and then herself. Whilst there appears to be some flaws in this scenario it is not outside of the realms of possibility. Previously the Criminal Cases Review Commission has rejected appeals by Jeremy Bamber but now they may have to at least listen, perhaps reopening the case.
The sun may have shone this week in the UK, making it seem more like Summer than early Spring, but it is official - we are back in a recession.UK Chancellor George Osborne has in the past made much of how his fiscal plans, and recent budget
, will steer the Good Ship Great Britain to safety as it rides the tide of EU Economic disaster but it appears that we have sailed too close to the wind.Osborne can hardly blame the global economic climate
ad wider picture as after all former Labour leader Gordon Brown was denied this get out clause. It would seem George that you have made your bed and we, the Great British Public are going to have to lie in it with you.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) announced the gloomy news today, March 29, 2012. No more posturing and paying lip service to a possible recovery. It is a recession, with all its associated problems, plain and simple.In a nutshell,
"UK Gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to shrink by 0.1% in the first three months of this year, according to the OECD
, after the economy contracted 0.3% in the fourth quarter of 2011." Chancelor Osborne may attempt to prtety up the state of the UK economy but he cannot deny recession. In truth hopefully we will not be as hard hit as in 2008 but it is still bad news.A little over a week ago Osborne announced his Spring budget to the House and the country. He predicted
the economy would avoid slipping into recession.Are Chancellor Osborne's austerity measures working? It would seem that they are not.
Summer Madness has come early in the UK. Hot weather, a lack of rain and a possible fuel shortage. Supplies of fuel were fine but, with the threat of a possible strike by fuel tanker drivers, the Government has proceeded to make matters worse.March 28, 2012, Government Minister Francis Maude and UK PM Cameron offered citizens advice. Instead of offering advice on how to economise fuel usage and get better mileage the advice seemed to simply but to panic buy.It may have been dressed up to sound different but in the end UK drivers did just that, and went on a panic buying spree.As usual this spread like wild fire. Those who perhaps had no intention of panic buying fuel felt pressured to join in. After all to wait could mean that pumps had dried up by the time you wanted to buy.
Each driver interviewed had what they thought were valid reasons for "having to buy fuel".A vicious circle of queues at petrol pumps, lack of supplies and yes already an increase in prices has begun. UK fuel is already at a record high but today the price at some filling stations has increased further. A shortage always does this. Some people have even wondered if the government tried to create a short for various reasons. One reason would be to undermine the Unions and damage any strike. The other would be to rake in a much higher level of fuel duty as the financial year in the UK draws to a close.Since the last strike by these workers in 2000, in the UK the number of petrol stations across the UK has dropped considerably.
This adds to the problem. People are already taking the car out when they would not have, simply to drive around and find a filling station with fuel The latest news is that Police have had to close some fuel stations as tempers began to flare and the safety of other road users was under attack. Those panic buying are filling up Jerry cans too and the situation looks wet to worsen.Update: Sky News have reported that, "According to the AA, the number of customers who raced to buy petrol on Tuesday could have earned the Treasury an extra £32m in fuel excise duty." Well, well, well!