Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Brown Coronation Threat?

Hurrah! Not that I hate GB or anything, I just can't bear the idea of a shoe-in or the dour lady in waiting he has been. I know he has a poor public profile, and I don't find him appealing, but I don't vote for Charisma. I remember Tony Benn saying that he didn't know what New Labour was all about because he was a socialist, I am with him on that front, so obviously I feel the loss of socialism from our political system.

The Brown camp are apparently fearing a Miliband leadership challenge after a policy debate Alan Milburn and Charles Clarke are beginning today. They say it is only a discussion, but some of Mr Brown's allies are treating the move with suspicion, they fear that the real aim is to flush out a credible challenger to him for the leadership.While the media will be endlessly discussing splits & factions in the party, I wanted Milliband to run, because there needs to be an opposition with enough credibility to be a real challenge. I also wouldn't mind hearing about his policy vision.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Meeting Nagra

Just did & trying to wind down now, I have a literary crush, & met the poet laureate of Cheshire - did you know there was such a thing? Daljit was lovely, not enough audience this time, but last time in Leicester he was at the Belgrave library (picture on the left) which I suspect was a tad more animated. Life is a treat sometimes & aren't we lucky when we have such moments.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Before & After

My favourite Oscar frocks! I don't usually find Nicole a pleasing sight at all, but she looks fab & that dress really does it for her. Kate proves she is no longer the fat girl & I want to borrow Helen's dress for my wedding! All so superficial, refer to profile, I veer from social comment to hidden shallows... Actual important stuff shall resume tomorrow, maybe.

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This Time He is the Bride!

Too late for the bookies but would you like a late steer on this year's Oscar winners? The word on the ground at the Kodak theatre is that the Academy has dragooned Spielberg, Lucas and Coppola to present this year's best director Oscar. Three giants of 70s American cinema on stage to hand over the statue? Does this not slightly give the game away? It's a safe bet they won't be giving it to Paul Greengrass. (Courtesy of The Guardian).
The daft heading refers to that always the bridesmaid never the bride phrase which is so endearing...


Sunday, February 25, 2007


Perhaps my self-publicity was self-sabotage. My request for Alex James to reflect on The Verdict did not appear on BH. It wouldn't have fitted into the programme very well, but I am guessing he didn't want to talk about it, & I don't blame him.

I met Alex once, with Damien Hirst I think, at the Groucho Club. I don't remember actually talking to them, although someone I was with did know them, so a loose version of meeting anyone really.

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Saturday, February 24, 2007

I Dream about Being on Paddy's Team!

As a frustrated journalist, hence the blog? I dash off the odd missive to many a programme/publication. Sometimes my efforts appear in print, mostly they don't, but I hope anyone logging in here listens to Broadcasting House tomorrow to find out what I wanted to ask Alex James. I wrote to him, BTW, at The Independent & heard nothing, but he was probably busy with the sheep! I'm podcasting so I can imortalise my idea, not like the time my PM blog entry was read out & I nearly crashed the car...

Subj: RE: Q for Alex James
Date: 24/02/2007 16:34:36 GMT Standard Time


What a good idea. Your email has got me replying in the same font somehow! My brother is obsessed with the programme The Verdict too, and I suspect you are in tune with many others who'd like to hear him reflect on it.

Thanks for joining the BH editorial team !

All the best,
Paddy O'Connell Presenter, Broadcasting House

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Willy on Tour

Hurrah, last time Willy Mason was due on these shores, his success got to him in not such a good way, & he stayed home instead. It solved the dilemna of a diary clash for me, but he is my favourite man with a guitar, you can listen to him at his website. I wish I was brave enough to have him over to my house, but I am just too much of a fan, & shall be braving the sticky floor of The (legendary) Charlotte instead!

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Way We Are

I've written before about being proud of my friends, and I can't really say that I am friends with Kevin because I was just at primary school with him, but we may have been friend then! Well, he remembers me as being nice, not something I remember about myself, but I have a tendency to remember the bad bits in life somehow.
If I had a scanner I would scan in the photo I have somewhere of Kevin and Oliver Saunders on the steps of the swiss chalet on a school trip to the Isle of Wight, I was in love with Oliver Saunders, sadly he doesn't remember me at all! So look at what Kevin is doing now, so amazing, & he loves his job too.
"Kevin Bakhurst became Controller of BBC News 24 in December 2005. Previously he was Editor of the BBC Ten O'Clock News, having been appointed in March 2004 after being Acting Editor since September 2003.

He was born in 1965 and attended Haberdasher's Aske's School in Elstree and then St John's College, Cambridge where he read French and German. (All later sucess predicated on first attending Cromer Road Primary School in New Barnet!)

After a brief spell with PriceWaterhouse, he became a researcher, then assistant producer at the BBC Business and Economics Unit in 1989. In 1990 Kevin became a producer of the BBC Nine O'Clock News. He gained production experience in Brussels for BBC News in 1994/5. From 1996 to 2001 he was assistant editor of the Nine O'Clock and Ten O'Clock News. From 2001 to 2003 he was an editor at BBC News 24 and from 2003 to 2004 he became acting editor of the BBC Ten O'Clock News - and was confirmed in that position in March 2004.

In 2004, the Ten O'Clock News received a Bafta for its coverage of the Madrid bombing, and a Royal Television Society Award for News Programme of the Year. The programme also won an the RTS News Event award for its coverage of the Darfur crisis in 2004 and the Ten won a second Bafta in 2005 for coverage of the July 7th bombings in London. He was in Washington to cover both the Bill Clinton and George W Bush elections and also the political aftermath of 9/11. He also covered the Hong Kong handover in 1997."
I nearly met up with him at TV Centre a couple of years ago, having got in touch through friends reunited, but I was to be on TV to talk about M&S & I lost my nerve. Once You and Yours got in touch to talk about cycling in London cycle lanes, & my mouth got so dry talking to the researcher, I knew I would only be good for dead air probably why I didn't call Eddie Mair on Any Answers last weekend. Nobody who knows me would ever take me for someone who could be struck dumb... I think Oliver is doing something interesting to do with medieval history, & I know who I'd rather have lunch with, so maybe I'll squidge that in when I am less busy writing a paper about paedophiles; oh I know how to live!

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Monday, February 19, 2007

Democracy In Action

On the basis that our MP's work for us, TheyWorkForYou gives us some insight into the voting records, speeches, & other activities, of said parliamentary members. I write to my MP occasionally, & he always writes back, but never agrees with me. He isn't of my political hue, but that doesn't prevent me from feeling a little depressed about his voting habits;For my part, I don't really mind either way about the smoking ban, not sure about ID cards, haven't got a clue about foundation hospitals, & even agree with him voting against student top-up fees. I don't really know about the anti-terrorism laws either, so perhaps just as well I'm not the MP really, but I do know New Labour has been a bit legislation happy. I would agree with an investigation into the Iraq war, but am most disappointed he voted for it, & even more so that he voted against equal gay rights. Actually, on reflection, I don't mind most of what he does, but what I do mind, I mind very much. Why don't you go ahead and see what you think of your MP.

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Saturday, February 17, 2007

You Shall go to the Ball Hugh!

Always the need for trivia in lieu of blogging about gun crime, so does Hugh & Jemima splitting up mean he can go to Liz's nuptials? I bet he would love to see all those elephants, costume changes & take a trip to India. Liz also needs to have a decent A-list line up for OK!

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Uncle remanded over toddler death

A man has appeared in court charged with the rape and murder of his niece who was found dead in her bedroom. I don't like to say I told you so about anything, but this was to be found on the BBC after 2 year old Casey Mullen was found dead at her home in Oak Tree Crescent, Gipton, Leeds, on 11 February following a disturbance outside the house. Two men, believed to be Casey's 20-year-old father and his 19-yearold brother Lee, initially arrested.

"Her uncle, Michael Patrick Mullen, 21, of Lawrence Road, Gipton, appeared at Leeds Magistrates' Court on Thursday. No application for bail was made and no pleas were entered. He was remanded in custody to appear again on 21 February. Mr Mullen, slim with short black hair and wearing a grey jumper, stood in the dock with two security guards as the charges were read to him. He spoke only to confirm his name, age, address and that he understood the charges during a 10-minute hearing in front of District Judge Christopher Darnton. The judge initially banned the child from being identified but this ban was lifted after representations from the media."

This child was raped and suffocated according to reports thus far. We need to widen the focus of Sarah's law and acknowledge that the predatory paedophile is far from the greatest risk to our children, her family were known to the local authority although there is nothing to suggest any agency had regular involvement.


Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Women's Aid are using Valentine's day to highlight domestic violence. It is a subject I care deeply about, not least because it could happen to anyone. The message on their Valentine's rose is; "Suzy, I told you to shut up you stupid cow, it’s your fault I hurt you. Pete".

Victims don't conform to a stereotype, rather they are someone whose self-esteem has been eroded within a damaging relationship, and you don't have to be stupid to think it is all your fault.

It takes an average of 35 incidents before a woman leaves, maybe she can see the person she fell in love with somewhere inside the violence, or sometimes she is just scared. I say 'she' because it is mainly women, although not exclusively.
Those who know they care about child protection, also know that children who witness domestic violence, suffer the effects almost as badly as if they were the victims. It is toxic, and affects whole families, as well as the victim.


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Myth of Stranger Danger

I am writing about the concept of 'stranger danger' at the moment, & I am sure all of the faces above are not only recognisable to you, but give us all a chill. But another child has died today, & although it is too soon to draw any conclusions, those being questioned are known to the family.
Most children who experience abuse do so at the hands of those related to them, others they are acquainted with, or those who have a trusted place within their family. Strangers present the least risk in terms of child protection, which is why the proposed Sarah's law is not only almost irrelevant, but actually runs the risk of obscuring those who do present the greatest risk to children.
Children are vulnerable, & as adults, it is our serious responsibility to protect them all. It might seem logical to expose those on the register of sex offenders (ViSOR) but, not only are many paedophiles not listed because they have not been convicted, it is also illegal to reveal the names of the victims which would prevent most names on the register from being revealed.
The media has done a great job in lifting some of the taboos around abuse, enabling survivors to come forward, but children still fear breaking up their families. It is often many years, & often well into a damaged adult life, before intra-familial abuse is revealed. Even then some children are ostracised from families who don't want to believe them.
My heart aches for those who have to live with the loss of a child, or who are living with the knowledge that their child has been abused.The predatory The predatory paedophile does exist, that sociopath group are probably not treatable, & our children should be secure from the threat they present. BUT not speaking to strangers is not the only message we should be giving them.

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Monday, February 12, 2007

Are We Wrong About Climate Change?

I believe that the climate is changing, but am really unsure about the cause, as well as suspicious of the current political response. Whether it be nother opportunity to tax us, or a bid for votes, the evidence has been shaky and Nigel Calder, former editor of New Scientist, says the orthodoxy must be challenged. The pictures, while relevant, are just because I love penquins!

"When politicians and journalists declare that the science of global warming is settled, they show a regrettable ignorance about how science works. We were treated to another dose of it recently when the experts of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued the Summary for Policymakers that puts the political spin on an unfinished scientific dossier on climate change due for publication in a few months’ time. They declared that most of the rise in temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to man-made greenhouse gases.

The small print explains “very likely” as meaning that the experts who made the judgment felt 90% sure about it. Older readers may recall a press conference at Harwell in 1958 when Sir John Cockcroft, Britain’s top nuclear physicist, said he was 90% certain that his lads had achieved controlled nuclear fusion. It turned out that he was wrong. More positively, a 10% uncertainty in any theory is a wide open breach for any latterday Galileo or Einstein to storm through with a better idea. That is how science really works.

Twenty years ago, climate research became politicised in favour of one particular hypothesis, which redefined the subject as the study of the effect of greenhouse gases. As a result, the rebellious spirits essential for innovative and trustworthy science are greeted with impediments to their research careers. And while the media usually find mavericks at least entertaining, in this case they often imagine that anyone who doubts the hypothesis of man-made global warming must be in the pay of the oil companies. As a result, some key discoveries in climate research go almost unreported.

Enthusiasm for the global-warming scare also ensures that heatwaves make headlines, while contrary symptoms, such as this winter’s billion-dollar loss of Californian crops to unusual frost, are relegated to the business pages. The early arrival of migrant birds in spring provides colourful evidence for a recent warming of the northern lands. But did anyone tell you that in east Antarctica the Adélie penguins and Cape petrels are turning up at their spring nesting sites around nine days later than they did 50 years ago? While sea-ice has diminished in the Arctic since 1978, it has grown by 8% in the Southern Ocean.

So one awkward question you can ask, when you’re forking out those extra taxes for climate change, is “Why is east Antarctica getting colder?” It makes no sense at all if carbon dioxide is driving global warming. While you’re at it, you might inquire whether Gordon Brown will give you a refund if it’s confirmed that global warming has stopped. The best measurements of global air temperatures come from American weather satellites, and they show wobbles but no overall change since 1999.

That levelling off is just what is expected by the chief rival hypothesis, which says that the sun drives climate changes more emphatically than greenhouse gases do. After becoming much more active during the 20th century, the sun now stands at a high but roughly level state of activity. Solar physicists warn of possible global cooling, should the sun revert to the lazier mood it was in during the Little Ice Age 300 years ago.

Climate history and related archeology give solid support to the solar hypothesis. The 20th-century episode, or Modern Warming, was just the latest in a long string of similar events produced by a hyperactive sun, of which the last was the Medieval Warming.

The Chinese population doubled then, while in Europe the Vikings and cathedral-builders prospered. Fascinating relics of earlier episodes come from the Swiss Alps, with the rediscovery in 2003 of a long-forgotten pass used intermittently whenever the world was warm.

What does the Intergovernmental Panel do with such emphatic evidence for an alternation of warm and cold periods, linked to solar activity and going on long before human industry was a possible factor? Less than nothing. The 2007 Summary for Policymakers boasts of cutting in half a very small contribution by the sun to climate change conceded in a 2001 report.

Disdain for the sun goes with a failure by the self-appointed greenhouse experts to keep up with inconvenient discoveries about how the solar variations control the climate. The sun’s brightness may change too little to account for the big swings in the climate. But more than 10 years have passed since Henrik Svensmark in Copenhagen first pointed out a much more powerful mechanism.

He saw from compilations of weather satellite data that cloudiness varies according to how many atomic particles are coming in from exploded stars. More cosmic rays, more clouds. The sun’s magnetic field bats away many of the cosmic rays, and its intensification during the 20th century meant fewer cosmic rays, fewer clouds, and a warmer world. On the other hand the Little Ice Age was chilly because the lazy sun let in more cosmic rays, leaving the world cloudier and gloomier.

The only trouble with Svensmark’s idea — apart from its being politically incorrect — was that meteorologists denied that cosmic rays could be involved in cloud formation. After long delays in scraping together the funds for an experiment, Svensmark and his small team at the Danish National Space Center hit the jackpot in the summer of 2005.

In a box of air in the basement, they were able to show that electrons set free by cosmic rays coming through the ceiling stitched together droplets of sulphuric acid and water. These are the building blocks for cloud condensation. But journal after journal declined to publish their report; the discovery finally appeared in the Proceedings of the Royal Society late last year.

Thanks to having written The Manic Sun, a book about Svensmark’s initial discovery published in 1997, I have been privileged to be on the inside track for reporting his struggles and successes since then. The outcome is a second book, The Chilling Stars, co-authored by the two of us and published next week by Icon books. We are not exaggerating, we believe, when we subtitle it “A new theory of climate change”.

Where does all that leave the impact of greenhouse gases? Their effects are likely to be a good deal less than advertised, but nobody can really say until the implications of the new theory of climate change are more fully worked out.

The reappraisal starts with Antarctica, where those contradictory temperature trends are directly predicted by Svensmark’s scenario, because the snow there is whiter than the cloud-tops. Meanwhile humility in face of Nature’s marvels seems more appropriate than arrogant assertions that we can forecast and even control a climate ruled by the sun and the stars."


Sunday, February 11, 2007

Shock at the Brutality of a Soldier

An ex-soldier with mental health issues handed himself into police admitting that he had murdered 4 members of his family.
The police made much of their surprise at how calm David Bradley was during interviews; "As he described this horror to us, it was as if we were interviewing him about shoplifting. "You'd think he'd been caught stealing sweets in a supermarket, rather than him talking about killing the four people closest to him.
My own surprise is that we expect soldiers to be brutal in combat but to leave that behind on the battle field when they return to civilian life. It is a fundamental dichotomy at the heart of soldiering, and inhuman of us not to anticipate the impact of the scenes soldiers witness. As well as mental disturbance, ex-soldiers are vulnerable to substance abuse, and the perpetration of domestic violence.
Where are the support systems, are there any?


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

For Sale; Banksy With House Attached

For sale: five beds, one Banksy mural The owners of a five-bedroom house in Bristol spray-painted by the graffiti artist Banksy three years ago have decided to put the 25ft by 6ft mural up for sale through an art gallery - with the attached house thrown in for free.
The house's sale had reached the completion stage several times before, but buyers had always insisted that the mural be painted over. "The owners are not prepared to obliterate it," says Sarah Anslaw, of the Red Propeller Gallery in Devon, which is selling the mural through sealed bids. "They want this important work of art to be preserved. They have fought off several attempts to have the graffiti removed, and are hoping to set up a street art gallery in the adjoining derelict printworks with the proceeds."
The Gallery is hoping that, in the wake of a forthcoming auction at Sotheby's featuring seven Banksy works, the mural will sell in excess of £200,000 - the house's market price, and also the exact amount reportedly paid by Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt for a single Banksy canvas last year.

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