I, Editorial Bear, have sadly decided to cease my opinionating.
There are various reasons for this, including an exciting new career which makes my trademark inflammatory indignation somewhat imprudent.
Time restraints factor also. Despite being a bear who burns the Bunsen at both ends, Editorial Ursavus does require sleep from time to time!
But it’s been fun. Whether you agreed with E.B.’s opinions or not, I hope my thoughts have been interesting. This blog will remain in place, to allow unwitting web-surfers the opportunity to stumble over Editorial Bear’s brain-spillings and respond accordingly.
With the greatest gratitude for your readership,
Ban the Burkha...
I don't want to be accused of being culturally insensitive, but I think we've had more than enough evidence presented to firmly establish that the wearing of a burkha - a traditional Muslim headscarf that covers a woman's entire face - is often entirely incompatible with national security.One of the failed London bombers managed to skip the country while wearing his sister's burkha. He breezed straight through airport security without anybody checking his identity OR gender.And today, a new burkha story hit the headlines, managing to squeeze onto Yahoo's front page in between all of Alistair Campbell revelations. A juror in a London murder trial sat smugly in the Jury Box, her burkha disguising the fact that she was listening to her iPod instead of listening to the evidence.She's soon going to be facing a jury of her own. They've charged her with contempt of court.Advocates of a Muslim's right to wear a burhka often talk about 'respect.' Respect for freedom of choice and sensitivity to a different culture. But respect is a two way street and this woman obviously has very little of it. She chose to listen to music, rather than evidence which might let a killer walk free, or send an innocent man to jail.It's very simple. Whether it's at the airport or in the courtroom, there are times and places where it is completely inappropriate for a burkha to be worn and it's about time somebody established legislation to that end.
There is a journalist sitting at Yahoo's Shaftsbury Avenue headquarters with a copy of Alistair Campbell's new biography.Every time they finish reading a chapter, whatever revelations Campbell made that morning find their way onto Yahoo.co.uk's news headlines.At the time of writing, three of the six top headlines feature Campbell's comments. Yahoo must be saving a fortune on Associated Press content.
Now I'm sure the secrets of Tony Blair's former Director of Communications make for great reading - but does pushing his new book really take precedence over other headlines, like the conviction of the 21/7 London Bombers or the release of the 3 year old girl kidnapped in Nigeria?One thing's for sure. Campbell's ability to manipulate the headlines obviously hasn't diminished since his departure from Tony Blair's right hand.
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Terrorism on the Cheap
9/11 was the most devastating terrorist attack in living history. Saturday's attack on Glasgow airport was not. In fact, as time progresses, it seems al-Qa'eda's ability to strike at the heart of the Decadent Imperialistic Western World is getting more and more eroded.I think security has a lot to say for this. The last six years have seen an explosion in intelligence. There's now one CCTV camera in the UK for every 14 residents. You can't enter the United States without your biometric data getting whipped around the FBI, CIA and BCIS computers.Al-Qa'eda's ability to organise and enable large scale terrorist bombings, like 9/11 or the Madrid attacks, has been fatally compromised by American and British security services.But wiping out al-Qa'eda's organisational ability hasn't wiped out the terrorist attacks in Britain. In fact, it's just highlighted the danger Islamic Fundamentalism poses. Unlike the IRA - or perhaps any terrorist organisation in recent history - the fundamentalists are capable of operating entirely independently.The car bombs found in London and the SUV which plowed into Glasgow Airport were home made. Simply cars stuffed with ineffective explosives, nails, screws and propane canisters. The kind of weapons blokes like me could have made.And that's the whole point. The lack of a cohesive organisational structure has not made the Islamic Fundamentalists any less dangerous. Now, it's small groups of determined men and women (many of whom were born and raised in England) making the spontaneous decision to attack when and where they can. This will make any future attacks in England very unpredictable and dangerous.Because the minority of Islamic fundamentalists blend in seamlessly with the majority of peaceful British Muslims, it's almost impossible to keep track of them. It creates more and more disparity between the Muslim population and the rest of an increasingly suspicious Britain.This will make the lives of Britain's peaceful Muslims more and more difficult and, inevitably, that will make the ambitions of the al-Qa'eda taskmasters easier.
Sadly, growing up in Britain during 'the troubles,' my generation is no stranger to terrorism.
Back in the day, it was a regular occurrence to see news reports of bombs going off in shopping centres or city streets. The IRA had a pretty good structure behind it - murdering civilians over in the UK, while simultaneously presenting a whiter-than-white facade to their American financial backers.
It's still a common misconception in New York that the IRA never targeted non-military targets. If only that had been true.
But if 9/11 had any benefit - which of course it didn't - it was in ending the IRA's reign of murder and terror. Now that America had been introduced to the realities of terrorism, it was no longer a legitimate political tool. New Yorkers who might once have slipped five bucks into a tin to support 'the boys back home' had woken up to what their money was paying for.
Sadly, as the events of the last few days have reminded us, the end of the IRA has not led to an end to terrorism in Britain. True Islamic Fundamentalism - the stuff behind murder and mayhem for decades in the Middle East - has arrived in force in the UK. While the methods, organisation and objectives of the new millenium's terrorists may be different - the consequences seem to be the same.
Speed Camera Appeal Reveals a European's True Rights
If they both weren't so arrogant and difficult, Idris Francis and Gerard O'Halloran could have been national heroes.
The retired petrol heads have fought a long battle to have their convictions for speeding overturned, based on the philosophy that signing a release form confirming who was driving a speeding vehicle breaches a citizen's 'right to silence.'
And they're absolutely right. In the UK, if a Gatso camera catches you breaking the speed limit, you are required to sign a statement confirming that you were behind the wheel of the car. That's plain and simple self-incrimination if I ever saw it, which breaches the whole "you have the right to remain silent" spiel.
However, the European Court of Human Rights revealed the truth about this perceived 'right to silence.'
Their statement was: "The court did not accept the applicants' argument that the right to remain silent and the right not to incriminate oneself were absolute rights."
Translation: There is no right to silence. No Fifth Amendment for us Europeans.
In fact, we already knew this, didn't we? A few years ago the mantra a police officer repeats as he's arresting somebody was changed so that a suspect's right to remain silent could actually be used in court to infer guilt.
As far as this legal battle goes - if Idris Francis and Gerard O'Halloran had been fighting for something slightly more significant than their right to break the speed limit, perhaps this insight into what rights a European Citizen has might have made more of an impact on people.As quite often happens, a case in America is mirroring the one in Europe. Larry Lemay (yes, that is his real name) is suing the New Hampshire Department of Transport for the speed limits in his area to be raised, claiming that they're set unfairly low.He has suggested that speed limits aren't there to encourage safer driving - merely to help raise money for the Police Department in the form of fines. This accusation is the same one often aimed at Britain's Gatso cameras, which generate about 21 million pounds of revenue every year (about the same as American Idol star Simon Cowell pays in income tax in the UK.)Whether there's any truth in the accusation, I couldn't tell you. When I was working on advertising with the Hampshire County Council Road Safety Department, however, I was told that the 30 mph limit was not intended to prevent accidents OR raise revenue.Whether the limit is 30, 40 or even 50, there might only ever be the same number of accidents on a stretch of road. However somebody hit at 30mph has an 80% chance of survival. At 40mph, that becomes a 80% chance of fatality.So even if higher speed limits might not cause more accidents, it's entirely reasonable to assume that they might cause more severe injuries in those involved.
Who's responsible for your children?
It's terribly sad.
An eighteen year old girl from Waterford, Pa., was charged with involuntary manslaughter today after she fell asleep while babysitting - and the two toddlers she was looking after took advantage of the opportunity to go swimming. Tragically, both children died.
The babysitter fell asleep. Now she's being held responsible for the death of the two children.
How come the parents of Madeleine McCann, who left three children alone while they went out for a boozy dinner, aren't being held equally liable? If they hadn't left their kids alone, the opportunity for Maddie to be snatched might not have occurred.
Find out more about the toddlers here.
Cindy Sheehan 'Retires'
"Good-bye America ... you are not the country that I love and I finally realized no matter how much I sacrifice, I can't make you be that country unless you want it."'Peace Mom's' decision to stand down from her anti-war crusade was marked by that statement, which she posted on her blog.Both the right wing and left have concluded that it's about time. Sheehan's recent behaviour has been erratic, earning her a label as "anti-American" even amongst the liberal left who once supported her.It's no great surprise, really. Cindy Sheehan isn't a politician. She's simply a grieving mother. A woman who lost a child and who found a target for her rage in George Bush.It was the anti-war movement who adopted her and focused her grief. But at the end of the day, they couldn't control Cindy Sheehan any more than she could control America.She shook hands with dictators and terrorists - and the militant left sidled quietly aside and distanced themselves from this wounded woman.What they left behind was an exhausted, grief stricken woman..When she ceased to be useful, she was abandoned by the movement that had thrust her into the public eye in the first place. She started off losing her son. Now she's lost her crusade. It adds a whole new layer of tragedy to an already heartbreaking story.The right wing often see Cindy Sheehan as their enemy. They shouldn't. They should see her as a victim. The less scrupulous members of the anti-war movement simply scooped her up and now she's of no further use to them, they sent her home even more broken then she was before."It's up to you now." Article about Cindy Sheehan's retirement.
Has Political Correctness really gone mad?
It's a grossly overused expression, often motivated by one too many gin and tonics and a Daily Mail headline. "That," the cry goes, "is Political Correctness gone MAD!"Occasionally the 'mad' bit is drawn out and sounds something like "maaaaad" or a very bad sheep impression.Anyway. Despite being uttered many millions of times in recent years, it appears Political Correctness has actually gone totally bonkers down in sunny Australia.The Peel Hotel, which isn't actually a hotel (trade descriptions, anybody?) has just managed to legally ban heterosexual and lesbian patrons.The Peel is a gay bar, just to clarify. It's one of Sydney's hottest spots for gay men and owner Tom McFeely wants it to stay that way."When large numbers of heterosexuals are in my hotel, many gay men feel uncomfortable."McFeely has managed to get his bigotry ratified by a Civil Tribunal, which supports his right to ban customers based on their sexuality. Unless you're gay, you can't play. You'll have to visit one of Sydney's other drinking establishments (for whom I have coined the expression "Not Gay" bars.)This decision annoys me. It takes any pretense of equality and chucks it out the window. It's legally binding proof that there's one rule for some and another for the rest of us.Imagine if the situation was reversed? If a bar in Sydney (of which there are many) refused service to gay men. In rugged, macho Australia, I'm sure there'd be no shortage of volunteers.The result would be uproar. Marches. Banners. Newspaper headlines. Bigotry and homophobia would be the overused mots du jour. In modern society, it would be completely unacceptable to ban people from bars because of the gender they choose to sleep with.Yet this is exactly what's happening here. The only reason the Civil Tribunal has passed this ridiculous law is because they've bought into the Politically Correct illusion that bigotry and intolerance don't go both ways.Customers are being excluded based on their sexuality. That's the sort of ruling gay pride movements have spent the last forty years trying to abolish. Ironically, they're all for intolerance and discrimination if it works in their favour.I'm sure I don't need to point out that this Civil Tribunal breaches Australian law. The question is, are we all too Politically Correct to say anything about it?Read about the madness here.