Sunday, October 07, 2007

British firemen demoted and fined for shining torch on outdoor homosexual activity

Disrupt lawbreaking in Britain and YOU will get prosecuted, not the lawbreakers

Firemen who shone their torches at four men they found having sex in bushes have been disciplined by their bosses. The crew spotted the men engaged in illegal 'dogging' - outdoor sexual activity with strangers - on parkland known as the Downs in Bristol late one night. After embarrassing the men by pointing their torches at them, the crew continued on their way to their fire station.

But one of the 'doggers' complained to Avon Fire and Rescue, ultimately accusing the four-man crew of being homophobic. The firemen, who have 26 years of service between them, were then suspended on full pay for three months during an internal investigation. Yesterday it emerged that two have been fined œ1,000 each, another demoted to a rank which will see him forfeit a similar amount of money, while a fourth has received a stern written warning.

It is believed Avon Fire and Rescue plans to give the money raised from the fines to a gay rights charity. Among those being considered is the Jamaican Forum for Lesbians All-Sexuals and Gays. The crew have been transferred to other stations and ordered to attend an equality course. But no action has been taken against any of the men believed to have been involved in the dogging. The one who complained is said to be 'happy' at the outcome of the disciplinary proceedings in which the firemen were charged with bringing the service into disrepute and misuse of fire equipment.

The firemen, formerly members of Avon Fire Service's Blue Watch at Avonmouth station in Bristol, have been banned from discussing the incident, which took place at about 10.30pm on June 27. But one of their colleagues said yesterday: 'This is a complete farce. All four officers have been let down by their senior officers when they needed their support the most. 'They have been treated as the criminals and it has been forgotten that they witnessed criminal activity occurring in a public place.'

Another fireman said: 'There are a lot of firefighters in Avon who feel the four involved have been treated very unfairly so the service can be seen as being politically correct.' Fire chiefs were alerted to the incident by the Terrence Higgins Trust, which has supported the man allegedly seen performing the sex act. Simon Nelson, the charity's acting regional manager, said: 'The member of the public simply wanted to know why the fire service was on the Downs at that time of day. We passed on that complaint.'

Avon's chief fire officer Kevin Pearson said: 'There was no justifiable reason for that appliance to be in that location at that time. They should not have been there and there was no operational justification for their actions. 'We received a complaint about the behaviour of our staff and a full inquiry was conducted as a consequence. 'We investigated and the crew were found to be in breach of our internal policies.' He added that the investigation would have had the same outcome if the complainant had been heterosexual. The police confirmed they had not been made aware of the incident.


Halt immigration call

UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage has put immigration at the heart of his party's policy agenda ahead of a possible November General Election. Mr Farage said he wanted to see all immigration to the UK halted for the next five years in a bid to take the strain off public services. Addressing the Ukip annual conference in Limehouse, east London, he warned that immigration, which he said was an "absolute mess", was leading to an increase in community tension.

Britain had always been "tolerant" and had "easily absorbed" migrations, but the current movement of people, particularly from Eastern Europe, "dwarfed" anything seen previously. And he launched a scathing attack on the political class in the UK, who he said were only interested in "self perpetuation". Those who supported demands for a referendum on the EU Treaty were "fair-weather friends" who would "melt away" over the real issue of Britain remaining in the EU, he claimed.

Mr Farage, in a 22-minute speech delivered in the unscripted style seen from David Cameron in Blackpool, admitted his party was not ready for an autumn poll. He said: "We are not ready to fight a snap General Election, which is why you should...tell us that if you are needed you will put your name down and you will stand for us in that snap General Election." The party had to fight the election because Ukip were the only party that believed that the best people to govern Britain were "the British people themselves."

On the subject of immigration, Mr Farage said "pressure" was being placed on public services and it was "putting an unfair burden on the citizen." To cheers he said: "...we believe that there now needs to be a five-year moratorium on any new immigration to this country. We need that time to assess who is here legally and who is here illegally."



That's not the least bit surprising -- as smokers tend to be lower class anyhow and class is a strong predictor of school success. The interesting thing is that there is an effect that goes beyond class. What might it be? IQ, I suspect. Smokers are less likely to be bright and IQ is highly hereditary. This study is therefore NO evidence that secondhand smoke is harmful (though it may be). It probably shows simply that dumber parents have dumber kids. Popular summary below followed by journal abstract

Smoking parents may not only affect their children's health with secondhand smoke, they may also damage their academic performance

Surprising findings in the Journal of Adolescent Health this week show that exposure to secondhand smoke at home decreases the chances of passing school exams by 30 per cent. The study was based on information from 6380 pregnant women and their children. Academic performance was measured on the British Ordinary Level (O-Level) and Advanced Level (A-Level) exams, usually taken at age 16 and 18, respectively. Information was gathered on children's exposure to smoking prior to birth and as teenagers, as well as their gender and socio-economic status. Even after accounting for these other factors, passive smoking at home still increased the chances of failing exams. The findings should further encourage parents to stop smoking around their children, or quit altogether, say the authors.


Adolescent Environmental Tobacco Smoke Exposure Predicts Academic Achievement Test Failure

By Bradley N. Collins et al.

Purpose: Research has linked prenatal tobacco exposure to neurocognitive and behavioral problems that can disrupt learning and school performance in childhood. Less is known about its effects on academic achievement in adolescence when controlling for known confounding factors (e.g., environmental tobacco smoke [ETS]). We hypothesized that prenatal tobacco exposure would decrease the likelihood of passing academic achievement tests taken at 16 and 18 years of age.

Methods: This study was a longitudinal analysis of birth cohort data including 6,380 pregnant women and offspring from the 1958 National Child Development Study (NCDS). Academic pass/fail performance was measured on British standardized achievement tests ("Ordinary Level" [O-Level] and Advanced Level: [A-Level]). Prenatal tobacco exposure plus controlling variables (ETS, teen offspring smoking and gender, maternal age at pregnancy, maternal smoking before pregnancy, and socioeconomic status) were included in regression models predicting O- and A-Level test failure.

Results: Significant predictors of test failure in the O-Level model included exposure to maternal (OR = 0.71, p < .0001) and paternal (OR = 0.70, p < .0001) ETS, as well as teen smoking, female gender, and lower SES. Prenatal tobacco exposure did not influence failure. Similar factors emerged in the A-Level model except that male gender contributed to likelihood of failure. Prenatal exposure remained nonsignificant.

Conclusions: Our model suggests that adolescent exposure to ETS, not prenatal tobacco exposure, predicted failure on both O- and A-Level achievement tests when controlling for other factors known to influence achievement. Although this study has limitations, results bolster growing evidence of academic-related ETS consequences in adolescence.

J Adolesc Health 2007;41:363-370

How stupid can an Archbishop get? "The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has launched a renewed attack on the war in Iraq and called for "urgent attention" to stabilise the country. [And just how does he propose to do that?]

BBC admits goof: "Peter Fincham, the Controller of BBC One, resigned yesterday after the publication of a damning report outlining a litany of errors that led him to release inaccurately edited footage of the Queen. Following him was Stephen Lambert, the producer of the footage, which purported to show the Queen storming out of a photoshoot when she was actually walking in. Accused of "cavalier" editing, Mr Lambert was forced to quit his job as chief creative officer of RDF Media - the production company also behind Faking It. A three-month inquiry by Will Wyatt, a former senior BBC executive, concluded that the incident revealed "misjudgments, poor practice and ineffective systems", with BBC employees described as "naive" although nobody "consciously set out to defame or misrepresent the Queen". [I doubt that there was anything unintentional about it. Lots of BBC types are anti the monarchy]

Decency prevails at last in Britain: "Iraqi interpreters and other key support staff who have risked their lives to work for Britain are to be allowed to settle in the United Kingdom, The Times has learnt. Hundreds of interpreters and their families are to be given assistance to leave Iraq, where they live under fear of death squads because they collaborated with British forces. Those wishing to remain in Iraq or relocate to neighbouring countries will be helped to resettle. After a two-month campaign by The Times, Gordon Brown is set to announce that interpreters who have worked for the British Government for 12 months will be given the opportunity of asylum in Britain. The offer also applies retrospectively to interpreters who worked for the Government but have ceased to do so. Government sources have disclosed that a few hundred vital support staff would also be helped, although they declined to give details."

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