crash

The fury over the release of the convicted terrorist guilty of the Lockerbie atrocity (above) intensified yesterday over the medical advice given to the Scottish government on how long he has to live. It emerged that the prognosis that Abdel Baset Ali al-Megrahi had a life expectancy of only 3 months or less was supported by an unnamed doctor who reportedly has “no expertise” in the treating of terminal prostate cancer. The final report on Megrahi’s condition which went to Scottish Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill was drawn up by Dr Andrew Fraser, director of health and care with the Scottish Prison Service.

The 3 month time limit is important because Scottish Prison Service guidance says that compassionate release from prison “may be considered where a prisoner is suffering from a terminal illness and death is likely to occur soon. There are no fixed time limits but life expectancy of less than 3 months may be considered an appropriate period.” Apparently there’s nothing in the Scottish Prison Service guidance about grubby oil and trade deals so officials were able to make up their own minds regarding a recommendation for early release. What is supremely ironic about this whole farce is that the politicians who wanted to appear so compassionate must now be praying that this bloke dies quickly.

 grand_ayatollah_ali_khamenei3

An Iranian MP claimed yesterday that there is proof that some reformists were sexually abused in prison after the disputed presidential election in June. “Raping of some detainees through baton and soda bottle has been proved to us,” the unnamed member of the investigative committee was quoted as saying. His comments are the first official acknowledgment that prisoners were violated. Until now, Iran’s leaders had dismissed such opposition claims as mischief-making. But in response yesterday, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (pictured above), rebuked opposition leaders for calling attention to alleged abuses of detainees. The Ayatollah criticised them for highlighting claims of mistreatment in Kahrizak prison, one of the main sites where protesters are being detained. “Some ignore defacing of the system while highlighting the issue of Kahrizak,” he was quoted as saying by the state Islamic Republic News Agency. “This way of thinking is an open unfairness.” Hey, with a relaxed attitude like that to alleged sexual abuse, if he was ever considering converting to Roman Catholicism he’d doubtless be welcomed with open arms and a senior position in the Hierarchy. Mind you, with a German in charge at the Vatican there would only be room for one Supreme Leader. Ein Congregation – Ein Church – Ein Fuhrer.

  fsa

In the UK the government’s top financial regulator last night backed radical plans for a multi billion-pound tax on banks as a way to tackle the City’s persistent bonus culture. Lord Turner (pictured above), Chairman of the Financial Services Authority (FSA), warned bankers that he would support a new wave of taxes on the City to prevent excessive profiteering if they continue to take excessive risks. In a searing critique of the industry, Lord Turner described much of the City’s activities as “socially useless” and questioned whether it has grown too large. The FSA Chairman, who has faced criticism for “going soft” on bankers’ pay, said a tax on the millions of transactions in the Square Mile would cut banks’ profits and reduce the pool of money available for bonuses.

Which just goes to show how out of touch Lord Turner is. Taxes on millions of transactions would end up being paid for by us – the consumer – and bankers would continue to pay themselves bonuses. The only way to stop the bonus culture is to make such payments, if  not clearly justifiable, a criminal offence and then prosecute and JAIL the greedy bankers who avail themselves of such undeserved payments. 

  kennedy

In the US thousands of people are expected to pay their respects to the late Senator Edward Kennedy (pictured above right), the ”Lion of the Senate”, before his funeral on Saturday where President Obama will deliver the eulogy. It is expected that 5 former presidents – Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George Bush senior and junior and Mr Obama – will attend the funeral at Boston’s Our Lady of Perpetual Help church. Senator Kennedy’s family attended a private Mass at his Hyannis Port compound in Cape Cod yesterday before the 70-mile drive to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston where the body will lie in state. As Americans – or some Americans – mourn, they might care to reflect as they look at the above photo that some of the “Lion of the Senate’s” friends were not necessarily ones you’d invite home to tea. But of course, in the topsy-turvy world of politics, certain US leaders have always been allowed to be selective about which terrorists deserve compassion and which terrorists don’t.

 bankjobs

Bankers are more likely to discriminate against job applicants (above) with mental health problems than any other profession. Almost half (46%) of bank workers admitted they would be reluctant to employ someone with a mental illness, according to new research. The survey by national anti-stigma campaign “Time to Change”, asked more than 2,000 people if having a mental illness would be a barrier to employment and found evidence of entrenched negative attitudes across all sectors. But bankers were particularly prejudiced against potential job applicants with mental health problems. Surprising really, when you consider that the actions of bankers in recent times have been reminiscent of people who are clinically insane – if not criminally insane.

 Eduardo

For a change, soccer. The European football authorities (UEFA) are reviewing an incident from last Wednesday that led to Arsenal being awarded a controversial penalty during their 3-1 win Champions League win over Celtic. Celtic’s players were furious after Eduardo (pictured above right, alongside Hibs reject, Celtic’s Scott Brown) appeared to dive in the penalty area and the Arsenal striker could face a 2 match European ban if found guilty. “We are reviewing the match to see whether a disciplinary investigation should be launched,” said a UEFA official. The Chief Executive of the Scottish Football Association, Gordon Smith, has urged UEFA to punish Eduardo using video evidence. “Eduardo is a terrific player who has battled back from a serious injury to resume playing at the highest level,” said Smith. “However, last night he showed disrespect to the game by his actions in winning a penalty against Celtic.”

Well, everyone knows that diving goes on. And maybe Gordon Smith should get his own Scottish backyard in order before complaining too much. Because it’s a bit rich for Celtic (or Rangers) to be whingeing about being “cheated” when other Scottish football clubs – and their supporters - outwith the Old Firm have suffered for decades at the hands of biased referees favouring Celtic and Rangers, awarding them crucial dodgy last-minute penalties (like for Rangers against Hearts at Tynecastle last Sunday?) at the drop of a hat, never mind the drop of a centre forward. Payback’s a bitch, isn’t it ?

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obamakenn

US President Barack Obama has hailed the late Edward Kennedy (both pictured above) as “the greatest United States senator of our time”, after the announcement that the 77-year-old senator had died of brain cancer. Senator Kennedy, who was left to head the Kennedy clan after his brothers President John F. Kennedy and Senator Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated in 1963 and 1968 respectively, was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor in May 2008. President Obama said he and his wife Michelle were “heartbroken to learn” of Kennedy’s death, calling him an “an extraordinary leader.” Obama continued : ”‘I valued his wise counsel in the Senate, where, regardless of the swirl of events, he always had time for a new colleague. ‘I cherished his confidence and momentous support in my race for the presidency. ‘An important chapter in our history has come to an end. Our country has lost a great leader, who picked up the torch of his fallen brothers and became the greatest United States Senator of our time.’

Yes all well and good. But before the state funeral gets organised and Arlington made ready it might be appropriate to remind those either too young or those with conveniently selective memories rushing to re-write history that there was another side to the coin. Like the man who in 1969 left a young woman called Mary Jo Kopechne to die in a car which was driven off a bridge at Chappaquiddick Island. Or the man who effectively supported the Provisional IRA at a time when British soldiers and civilians were being killed in Northern Ireland. Now no cancer victim’s death is to be mocked, cheapened, trivialised or not attract sympathy ; but Americans have been very quick recently - and rightly so – to condemn certain politicians in Scotland and the UK for showing “compassion” and thereby appearing to succour terrorism. They should not now be hypocritical by displaying over-the-top mourning for a man who showed no compassion for a dying woman and who, because of his family background and domestic political expediency, succoured terrorism for many years.

 cherie

The lack of women MPs at Westminster has been described as ”unacceptable” by Cherie Blair (pictured above, looking more like Michael Jackson than ever – although whether before or after he died I’m not sure) during an appearance at the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland. The pushy wife of former Prime Minister Tony Blair also described the ill-effects of being “knocked out” by swine flu during a recent bout of the illness. The current percentage of 19% of MPs who are women is still not good enough, she added. “You might think that’s okay, but I think that’s unacceptable,” she told an audience at the Edinburgh Book Festival tonight during a question and answer session. She reportedly droned on : “I think it’s unacceptable because I think politics and representative democracy should be exactly that. You don’t have to have exactly 51% women – because there are actually more women in our population – but it does need to have a proper, not just women’s voice, but a woman’s face.” And with that final valedictory statement, judging by the above photo, I’m sure she lost most of her audience.

 trouble

In the UK the National Health Service (NHS) has set up a “stress-busting” phone line for people worried about money during the credit crunch (example above). Health workers will take calls from people who are depressed by fruitless job hunting, anxious about losing work or stressed about bills they can’t pay. The service is designed to give mental health advice as well as practical help and information about debt, housing and employment. Instead of spending money this way, the government might do better to force the people causing the stress, the greedy bankers, to relieve it by lending again at reasonable rates to businesses and individuals instead of withdrawing overdrafts, repossessing homes, closing down businesses and profiteering at a time where everyone is at their most vulnerable.

 bur

Dressed from head to toe in a traditional Muslim woman’s burkha, pictured above is the moment a robber raided a travel agent. Brandishing a knife, he threatens the two women staff before making off with an undisclosed amount of cash. The robbery in Luton, UK came just 6 weeks after a similar incident in nearby Dunstable and, this week, a £150,000 raid on a jeweller’s in Banbury, Oxfordshire. Police are investigating the possibility the crimes are linked. I wonder what inspirational Sherlock Holmes type detective genius came to that earth-shattering conclusion ?

 ali

Boxing legend Muhammed Ali (pictured above) was in Manchester, UK yesterday at the start of a British tour. The “Greatest”, now 67, he most certainly was, with a personality and charisma that transcended sport, racism and politics. The 3-times World Champion was a master of the art of boxing and many of his fights were unforgettable. But for those of us old enough to remember him in his prime, it is somewhat sad to see him now. And even sadder to recall that an American government robbed us of what would probably have been his 3 best years in the ring, between 1967 and 1970, due to political expediency over something as crass as the Vietnam War. 

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brown

Prime Minister Gordon Brown (pictured above, with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu) said yesterday he was “repulsed” by the heroes’ welcome given to the Lockerbie bomber on his return to Libya last week. In his first comments since the freeing of the allegedly terminally-ill Abdel Baset Ali al-Megrahi, the PM said he was “angry” at the jubilant scenes that greeted Megrahi in Tripoli. As if he really thought Gaddafi would do otherwise ? Mr Brown went on to say that he had no role (yeah, sure) in the Scottish Government’s decision to liberate Megrahi, and declined to comment as to wheter he supported the release. Opposition parties accused the PM of “evasion” and a “failure of leadership”. Well he’s consistent.

After talks with his Israeli counterpart Binyamin Netanyahu, Brown then went on to say he was “as realistic as ever but more optimistic than before” about peace in the Middle East. “We share a vision of a secure and confident Israel accepted and welcomed by its neighbour alongside – after decades of waiting – a secure and viable Palestine in a region at peace with itself,” he said. So Brown’s prattling on about “sharing visions” again. That should set the Middle East peace process back even further that Tony Blair’s pathetic efforts have done so far.

  Abdullah_Abdullah

Wonderful news from Afghanistan. With the final result of that country’s presidential election expected over the next few days, supporters of the opposition leader Abdullah Abdullah (pictured above) have delivered a grim message, threatening violence if their candidate loses. Standing by the black marble grave of their fallen leader Ahmed Shah Masoud, former mujahedin fighters said they still had their guns and warned that they had not forgotten how to use them. Like most of Afghanistan’s Tajik community, they had voted for Mr Abdullah, a former foreign minister of Tajik and Pashtun ancestry, who fought alongside their beloved Commander Masoud against the Soviet invaders and then the Taliban. So yet another bloody mess brewing up in that hell-hole of a country – and our troops will be struck in the middle. Let’s get our soldiers out - NOW.

 cop

British police are taking valuables from unlocked cars to teach drivers to be more careful. Motorists have been returning to their cars to find that handbags, laptops and sat-navs have been replaced with a note telling them they can retrieve their belongings from a police station. The scheme has been introduced in Richmond upon Thames, South-West London, which suffers from a high number of thefts from cars – up 40 % in a year. Police from the area’s Safer Neighbourhood teams are being told to look out for cars with open windows or doors. If they find valuables on display they will try to find the owner nearby, but if they cannot they will take the goods to Twickenham police station. Now call me cynical, but haven’t the police got better things to do – like maybe catching muggers, thieves, rapists, terrorists and murderers ? And slice it any way you like, to my mind if they enter an unlocked car and remove items they’re committing THEFT.

 doc

In the UK a doctor based in Hull has allegedly been threatening to withhold a patient’s medication unless she agreed to have sex with him, a  professional hearing has been told. Dr Michael Rusling (pictured above) is said to have slept with the “vulnerable” woman at his surgery and her home, the General Medical Council (GMC) has heard. The twice-married father of 5 is appearing before the Council accused of having sex with 2 patients and a member of staff. If the case against him is proved, he could be struck off. Can I suggest that never mind the GMC, if these kinds of allegations have been made it’s not just a case of possible professional misconduct – he should be arrested and charged with blackmail – for starters. If found innocent, he should be publicly cleared. If found guilty, they should throw the key away. Or send him to Libya I suppose.

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