Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Are Liberty goping after the WRONG targets (again)...?

I saw this on Twitter today, and it rang a bell.

I see protects civil liberties and promotes human rights for everyone... unless you're a officer.

Sadly, I can see what he's driving at. Liberty was created to ensure that all people on this small planet of ours receive the same Human Rights and treatment from their respective governments, authorities, organisations, and fellow Human Beings. However, over the meany years since it was created, Liberty has made announcements and policy decisions from the sensible through to the (to me) utterly bazaar.

Now, personally, I find it rather strange that over the last few years, the only times I've ever heard anything either about or from Liberty (mostly via the popular press, admittedly), is when they've been doing something or other in places where the chances were better than even that the local (most likely) despotically lunatic regime isn't about to grab 'em by the scruff of the neck, and sans a fair trial, tie a blindfold over their heads, line 'em up against a convenient wall, and summarily shoot them in the back of the head for "subversive actions against the state". Odd, that. Understandable, in that they, like the rest of us, don't want to see the back of their collective heads part company with the rest of their skulls, but still a bit odd, given Liberty's original intent to spread the word of Human Rights.

After all, you'd be forgiven for thinking that their much-publicised efforts would be needed the most in places like those, not back here in Great Britain, where democracy - despite it's many fully acknowledged faults - already works, where our rights are already enshrined in law and regulations, and where, despite the financial burden on plaintiffs, recourse to inhuman treatment, and (for sake of example) recourse to libel and slander is available to all who can afford it through the courts system.

With the above in mind, don't they think their efforts and monies (gleaned by donations from the public, who DO want to see a better world for everyone) would be better spent on, for wild example, halting the ultra-right-wing efforts of certain persons and organs of the state in Russia, from tramping down the rights of certain sections of their own citizenry, instead? Oh yeah. It's probably because that same former communist state'd probably arrange for them to receive a kick in the groin, then several savage stamps on their heads, with steel-capped combat boots. Naturally, said treatment would not come from official sources. It'd be blamed on over-enthusiastic minorities. Who'd never see the inside of a courtroom for their actions.

Just saying, of course.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Hmm. Public versus private blogging...

Well now, isn't this interesting; being so busy tends to interfere with your reading habits from time to time. Here's a case in point...

It's been a couple of months since I looked at a couple of blogs that I marked to be followed on Blogger, and one of them appears to have become private to invited readers only in that space of time. Needless to say, I wasn't invited.

Fair enough, you might say, it's his blog, and he can do with it whatever he wishes. You're absolutely correct, and since I don't actually know the guy personally, not receiving an invitation to read it is not the end of the world. It's irritating, but that's all. It's nothing to get het up over, or scream about from the rooftops (better not do that, they're well slippery this time of year, and the fall's got a real nasty sudden stop at the bottom).

However, this all said, there's a problem. Since it's become a private blog, and I'm not on his white list to read it, I can't reset the administrative feed instruction within my Blogger 'control panel' to unfollow the damn thing. It's a design flaw within Blogger, of course.

So it's sitting there, irritatingly taking up a slot on my 'followed' list, and I can't read whatever he may be writing. It's a shame, really. I'll miss his use of the language, as it was absolutely magnificent: He had a way of being able to capture a moment in time practically poetically, and in such a way as to cause you to empathise with his world view. There aren't many people who can do that, so it's all the more unfortunate that he's restricted access to his blog.

However, think I have a fairly good idea as to why he made his blog private, and it relates to the last entry I was able to read, before he made it private. I won't comment in any detail at all about the subject matter, but I will say that it was unfortunately open to excessive misinterpretation, which for someone with such a good command of the English language was a shame. The upshot though, is that in these Politically Correct (or is that Politically Charged? I think the latter, in this case) times, it only takes one misstep, misspeak, or a poorly-worded publicly-spoken opinion, and the world and it's pet of choice comes along to crush you down to microscopic dust. And I think that's what may have happened here.

So, he's taken what is most likely the most prudent course, that of keeping what he has to say to a rather exclusive audience from that point on. Fair enough, it's his right, and who am I to challenge it, given that it's a right to privacy?

But it does, however, leave that irritating entry on the 'Followed' list that I cannot remove.

And that IS worth running around in ever-decreasing circles and shouting - or in this case writing - about.

Every so often, a nice day comes along!

This will sound like a sponsored advert, but it's not - I'm genuinely enthusiastic about the place I'm about to tell you about!

With that caveat out of the way, onto the meat of today's entry!

Being a late shift bus driver tends to mean that most of my free time is to be had when most sensible people are either at work, or asleep in bed. This kind of puts the kybosh on having a vibrant and active social life, but we have to find a way to pay the bills somehow, after all.

However, once in a blue moon, I actually like to be able to get off my backside and do things, like braving central London to buy certain stuff (in today's case, a new backpack for the Living History hobby I enjoy), or hit a pub with friends, or whatever. Generally, this'll happen when I get a pair of rest days back to back, and get to reset my body clock to daylight hours. I'll then have time to do things while there's a smattering of daylight to be had on the second day.

Such a day was today, and for once, everything seemed to gel together nicely. The buses arrived just after I got to the stops, so no waiting in the cold was suffered; I didn't miss the trains (again, no waiting in the cold was suffered), and the shops had what I wanted - and I also got to do something I've been meaning to do for some time, which was visit a certain style of fast food shop...

Probably the best fast food shop in London!

"Herman Ze German" is a newish fast food business. It's the German equivalent of a fish and chip shop, but instead of fish, it serves up German Sausages and Chips; I was lucky enough to sample this form of Schnelleimbiss (literally, "Fast Snack"), as I was told it's called in Germany, back in 1993, when I was over there for a shooting competition on the Territorial Army's time and expense; I acquired, at a shop in Hamburg, in one marvellous mouthful, a taste for Brockwurst (yes, that's the spelling I used - apparently there are arguments over whether it's spelled "Brockwurst" or "Bockwurst". Go figure!), which is smoked and slightly spiced pork sausage. The closest we come to over here is Cumberland sausage, and really, that isn't even in the same class as a proper Brockwurst.

So, when I learned a couple of years ago, that a Schellimbiss shop had opened up in London, I made a note to visit it the next time I was nearby. Well, it took a while, but it was worth the wait!

There are two Herman Ze German branches at the time of writing this; the first is on Villiers Stret, opposite the eastern stairs exit to Charing Cross railway station, the other, more recent addition to the firm, is their branch on Old Compton Street in Soho.

I visited the Villiers Street shop shop just after the lunch time rush was over, at around 2pm or so; the shop was still doing a regular trade, with people popping in and out while I was there. The staff, two pleasant young ladies, were friendly, professional, and seemed to be genuinely happy in their work - that's a rare and pleasant thing to see in a fast food shop these days!

I'm sorry to say that I didn't take photos of the food, as I was too busy scoffing it down my throat (it almost failed to hit the sides!), but wow, it tasted good; the sausage was the right temperature, consistency and taste. The fries, or "Pommes Frites", were incredibly crisp, and hadn't got a trace of the sliminess that so often curses our own chips that we get from fish 'n' chip shops, and with mustard on the sausage, and mayo on the chips (Europeans tend to put mayo on chips, not salt and vinegar, that's a British perversion!) things could only get better - which they did!

To add to the excellence, the coffee, a 'Plain Flat' (British style white coffee) was absolutely bang on - right colour, temperature and flavour, and with just a hint of the bitterness that all good coffees should have (if you aren't having a snack, at least go for the coffee - it's that good!)

It all combined to bring back some very good memories from days when I was much younger, lighter, and fitter! Needless to say, I'll be calling in there again, the next time I'm near Charing Cross!

Herman Ze German has a web presence at http://www.herman-ze-german.co.uk/, so you can find out more about the menu and the firm; personally, I'd highly recommend a visit - your stomach will thank you!


(OK, sorry, but I couldn't resist!)

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Justice must be seen to be done, or society as a whole suffers.

Amanda Knox has been hitting the headlines of late for the murder of Meredith Kercher, since her conviction for murder was reinstated in an Italian court, after a retrial in which the evidence was closely reviewed.

Just like the most courts in the western world, this was a transparent, fair, and unbiased retrial, following a fair, balanced, unbiased and transparent trial and its resulting appeal.

The guilty verdict therefore, is fair and just.

The US, like most countries, refuses to extradite its citizens to other countries if there is a possibility that a death penalty might be imposed. That's quite reasonable, and very understandable.

In this case however, there is no chance of a death penalty being imposed whatsoever. Unlike the US court system, in EU countries, of which Italy is a member, there is no recourse to a death penalty - right or wrong, and there are many opinions on the topic, life imprisonment is the maximum penalty permissible in the EU.

Therefore, there is no reason that Knox should not be locked up in Italy. Yet, she's publicly refused to go back to that country. The only recourse to this cowardly behaviour is for a warrant for her extradition to be issued by the Italian courts.

If the US then fails to honour, or permit, that extradition, then punitive action should be taken throughout the EU: For instance, the UK-US extradition treaty, which many have said is unbalanced in favour of the US to the cost of British subjects, should be torn up, and the members of the EU should follow suit by tearing up their own extradition treaties with the US.

Yes, this will cause one hell of a diplomatic ruckus, but the point MUST be emphasised with a hell of a lot more than politely worded letters of complaint, which invariably have little or no effect. Instead, as the US tends to understand grand gestures, since it tends to make them a lot, a set of EU-wide grand gestures with some actual meaning and effect and teeth, which tearing up these treaties would have, should be ready in the wings, should Knox fail to be extradited to face her sentence.

In the final analysis, it must never be forgotten that an innocent British subject, Meredith Kercher, was murdered, and that the Italian courts have found Knox guilty of that horrendous crime. Justice MUST be seen to be done, or society as a whole suffers. Knox has had her trial, her appeal, and her retrial (this last in absentia). As a now convicted murderess, she must now face the consequences of her actions - her sentence.

There can be no alternative.

Footnote: This will be hardly a surprise to anyone, but according to reports in the media, apparently she's planning to appeal this fresh affirmation of her conviction. It remains to be seen if this will succeed or fail.