Saturday, August 11, 2007

Britain Censors Milbloggers

When U.S. authoritias tried a similar stunt with a similar rationale, there was a big outcry that forced a substantial backdown. But the British are used to doing as they are told:

"New guidelines have been issued to all members of the Armed Forces to ensure that they receive proper authorisation before divulging their thoughts and experiences in internet blogs, chat rooms and other forms of communicating with the public.

The dramatic rise in new technological ways of bursting into print has forced the Ministry of Defence to remind servicemen and women to beware of saying anything that might breach or compromise operational security.

The guidelines, which have been circulated to all three Armed Forces, embrace everything from YouTube videos to blogs. The decision to update existing guidelines to include the new forms of technology followed the publication of the report by Tony Hall, the former head of BBC News and now chief executive of the Royal Opera House, into the MoD's handling of the media after the release of the 15 sailors and Marines who were seized and detained by Iran.


UK police arrest homeowner for burglar's fall

A homeowner was arrested after a burglar plunged from the balcony of his top-floor flat. The intruder suffered head injuries and is fighting for his life after falling around 30ft on to a concrete path. Later police arrested the owner and are investigating whether the intruder was pushed.

The incident happened early on Monday when Patrick Walsh, 56, awoke to find the 43-year-old man rifling through his flat. They argued and the confrontation moved towards the rear window of the flat. It is believed the intruder then smashed the window and clambered out on to a narrow ledge and fell to the ground.

Mr Walsh phoned police and at around 6.30am officers found the man on the ground outside the smart Victorian apartment block in Chorlton-cum-Hardy, He was taken to hospital with serious head injuries.

Officers arrested Mr Walsh on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm with intent and are trying to establish whether the intruder was forced out of the window. The arrest is expected to fuel arguments about the rights of householders to defend themselves against burglars....

Another resident said: "I presume we will have to respect the burglar's rights while his victim has the nightmare of court hanging over his head. It all seems so unfair."


Big rise in Brits leaving Britain

As low-skill immigrants move in, high-skill Brits move out

BRITAIN is facing a mass exodus of people looking to escape the crime and grime of modern living. The country's biggest foreign visa consultancy firm has revealed that applications have soared in the last seven months by 80 per cent to almost 4,000 a week. Ten years ago the figure was just 300 a week. Most people are relocating within the Commonwealth - in Australia, Canada and South Africa. They are almost all young professionals and skilled workers aged 20-40.

And many cite their reason for wanting to quit as immigration to these shores - and the burden it is placing on their communities and local authorities. The dearth of good schools, spiralling house prices, rising crime and tax increases are also driving people away.

Obtaining a visa to live abroad can cost as little as 1,500 pounds for the right candidates. Plumbers, electricians, construction workers and doctors are famously in demand. The only obstruction to emigration from the UK is a criminal record, poor health, advancing age and being a "third country national".

Liam Clifford, a former immigration control officer, set up as a one-man band 12 years ago. He now employs 60 people and is in the process of opening new offices in both South Africa and Australia. Mr Clifford said: "It's absolutely phenomenal. People are trying to get away to wherever they can, and most are successful. "Ironically, one of the main reasons for leaving is the overstretch of services due to increasing immigration into the UK. People are looking for the better standard of living offered by other countries, as even the most idyllic villages in Britain are under pressure from rising populations.

Skilled labour is obviously an advantage, but so is speaking the English language. Most countries are harder to get into if you don't speak English. UK plc simply isn't fighting hard enough to keep its people. Some are telling us they are fed up with living in this country. Even business people are saying they've had enough. "They're saying `I can't put my children into the right school, but if I move abroad I can'. Most people are very patriotic and don't want to leave. They're almost terrified about it. But they say they just have to.

"It's a shame people at the top don't recognise they're not doing enough to retain highly skilled workers in this country. A lot of them are quite young, and they're not idle. They just can't see a future for themselves in this country. They want to get married and settle down and buy homes, but they can't see it happening here. "And time and time again they are saying to us they don't want to be seen as racist because they are quitting because of immigration. We tell them of course they're not."

According to the most recent Office of National Statistics figures, in 2005 the official number of people leaving UK shores was 352,000 - up from 249,000 in 1995. The majority - around 150,000 - migrated from London and the south east.

Among those who headed out were Simon Blood, 26, and Rachel Roberts, 23, who moved to Australia four months ago. The couple, from Stoke-on-Trent, are loving their new life in far north Queensland so much that they've decided it's permanent. Apart from family, football and a few television programmes, there's nothing they miss about home. Embracing the warmest winter they've ever known - averaging 24C daily - both relish the commute to work which takes just five minutes, leaving plenty of time for walks on the beach. Simon, a marketing executive, and Rachel, a nurse, followed their dream after seeing a newspaper advertisement for nursing recruits Down Under. "It all went very smoothly," said Simon. "It's beautiful here and we've no plans to go back for good."


British patients leave hospital half-starved and the NHS is chucking food in the bin. Surely there is a solution

How lucky we are to have meals provided in hospitals. In some countries all you get is your treatment and the bed, and your family has to traipse in with your dinners. Bad luck if you don't have a family. But bad luck over here as well if you don't have a family, because droves of NHS patients are leaving hospital with malnutrition, particularly the elderly. Yes they get their dinners, but the food is either too ghastly to eat, or they can't feed themselves.

Nothing new in that; it has been going on for years. The bad news is that it's getting worse. The number of people leaving hospital starving has gone up by two-thirds and 13m meals worth 162m pounds have been thrown away over the past five years. Why bother to provide food in the first place if no one can eat it?

I had to slog into hospital with snacks for my mother, to make sure that something went into her mouth, otherwise she too may have pegged out from malnutrition. True, my mother was a fusspot over her food, it takes a lot of time and patience to feed a sick and grumpy person and the nurses are run off their feet, but it has to be done by someone, because when one is poorly, the most important thing to do is eat properly and get your strength back. You need lots of lovely chicken soup, or broths, or soothing rice pudding, or jellies for sore throats, tempting morsels to perk up the jaded appetite. If every parent or grown-up knows this, why doesn't the NHS?

Luckily, my mother was in hospital just up the road, so I could nip backwards and forwards, supervising her food and drink intake, and - even better - she was forthright. To be properly fed in hospital you need to speak your mind and have a bossy daughter or friend around to back you up. If you're on your own, heaven help you. And it's no good being too meek, polite and sensitive.

Rosemary's aunt was in hospital with an injured arm; she couldn't stretch it out, reach her food or get it into her mouth, but she was much too polite to bother the nurses. Rosemary was worried she might starve to death, but she couldn't feed Auntie, because she and all the other visitors thought Auntie didn't want to be spoonfed. "It's too humiliating," said Rosemary, and wouldn't spoon in the dinner. The nurses didn't have time, and if they asked Auntie why she'd eaten practically nothing, she would say very politely that she'd had quite enough, thank you. Auntie made it home. Just.

So it's not always the hospital's fault. And on an up note, not all of the food is bad. I know because I finished my mother's hospital dinners off, and the kosher meals were even better. You can always pretend to be Jewish.

Better still, the NHS could perhaps cut down on administrators and pay proper dinner ladies instead, who would have time to sit down next to people for five minutes, chat to them and help them to eat and drink, save their lives and save all that money on wasted dinners.


More British IT bungling: "A multimillion-pound government project to give greater protection to the public by managing offenders more closely is threatened with collapse because of financial problems, The Times has learnt. Ministers have halted all further development work on the project while officials conduct an emergency review of the costings and capabilities of the 244 million programme. The crisis is the latest setback to an IT system that underpins the whole of the Government's strategy to manage offenders from conviction and during their prison sentences to supervision in the community by the Probation Service. About 155 million has already been spent on the project but this year it was revealed that there was a 33 million shortfall on capital funding. It is understood that it has now been discovered that the initial costings did not include VAT and that cancelling the project will cost the Ministry of Justice 50 million in fees to EDS, the private contractor in charge of developing the system". [The British Health Service computer system has cost 12 BILLION and is still not working!]

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