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Showing posts from May 29, 2013

AMANDA PLATELL: Don't pity the predators - protect their victims

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6 shares 37 View comments Barbara Hewson is now advocating reducing the age of consent to 13 to 'end the persecution of old men' Barbara Hewson is a distinguished civil liberties barrister. She’s championed the rights of women and the disabled, among other important causes. So it is all the more astonishing that she is now advocating reducing  the age of consent to 13 to ‘end the persecution of old men’. She made her comments in light of what she calls the ‘post-Savile witch-hunting of ageing celebs’, which she says has echoes of persecution in the old Soviet Union. Ms Hewson, 52, even went as far as to claim that sports pundit and presenter Stuart Hall’s sex crimes were low-level misdemeanours, despite the serial sex offender admitting to 14 assaults, one on a girl of nine. It is unclear whether Ms Hewson is married or has children, yet surely if she did have a 13-year-old daughter she would fight like a lioness to protect her from predatory men, let alon

Brave, yes, but Angelina Jolie is misleading women...

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290 shares 348 View comments Angelina Jolie’s revelation that she had a double mastectomy to reduce her chances of breast cancer has provoked a cruel backlash online. Some have accused her of being an attention seeker — a former sex goddess who’s past her sell-by date and is now trying to use her medical problems to boost her public profile. Others — and I fall firmly into this category — believe it was incredibly courageous to share the details of her dramatic surgery, especially when it’s not yet over. She is due to have a hysterectomy and her ovaries removed to reduce her risk of ovarian cancer. Online backlash: Some have accused Angelina Jolie of being an attention seeker - a former sex goddess who's past her sell-by date and is now trying to use her medical problems to boost her public profile She is doing it for her children, she says. She did not want them to suffer as she did losing her mother to breast cancer when she was just 56. But perhaps the mos

Superstorm Sandy - US election: The real dangers facing America are hatred, division and a collapsing political system

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0 shares 349 View comments Before it hit land, one of America’s innumerable southern evangelical TV preachers proclaimed Superstorm Sandy as ‘a divine commentary upon our sinful country’. Next Tuesday, with the Almighty having spoken in a violent voice of wind and waves, we shall discover which of the nation’s presidential candidates He passed judgment on. An astonishing number of Americans, almost all living in the vast middle of the country, really do  believe God takes a hand in their politics, just as they are sure He frowns on Muslims, gays, socialists, gun control supporters and most folks on the east and west coasts (foremost among them the citizens of that sink of liberal iniquity, New York City). Devastation: 'Superstorm Sandy' has caused huge damage to property in New York 'Divine commentary': One evangelical preacher said the storm was God's punishment for the nation's sins But it is unnecessary to be an evangelical Christi

The BBC can be brilliant - despite its shambolic army of suits and bean-counters

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0 shares 17 View comments Let me assist you to clamber over the heaped corpses of the BBC’s failed, and now sacked, senior executives. I will then tell a fable that reveals what a mess the Corporation has become. A broadcaster friend of mine recently moved into the BBC’s absurd, new £1 billion television palace alongside Broadcasting House. He found, on arrival, that the vast open office floor had no coat-hooks or wastepaper baskets: trendy designers consider them inappropriate to their 21st-century vision. Time for change: The BBC is too vast, bloated and far too management-heavy for any one person or even a group of people effectively to govern My friend sent a note to George Entwistle, then newly-installed as Director-General, wishing him well and begging him to do something about the coat-hook nonsense. Entwistle wrote back, thanking him for his good wishes, but regretting that action on such a matter would be beyond his powers. This story seemed merely comic

MPs' expenses, and the stench of slurry that won't go away in Westminster

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0 shares 105 View comments Politicians complain they do not receive sufficient respect from the Press or the public, and I am sometimes tempted to sympathise. Heaven knows, we all want to encourage better people to stand for public office. To achieve that, we have to treat them decently. But every time we consider the conduct of some members of the House of Commons, and especially of its Speaker, John Bercow, it is plain why MPs earn such contempt. The latest scandal has been caused by  censorship of the names of 51 MPs’ landlords from published parliamentary expenses claims. The MPs have successfully persuaded the expenses regulator, with Bercow’s support, that revelation of their identities and housing arrangements ‘could place their personal security at risk’. Censorship: Commons Speaker John Bercow has allowed details of 51 MPs' housing expenses to be kept secret for 'security reasons' For a moment, this story seems merely comic. It conjures up v

Leveson inquiry: Yes, he got some things right, but it's a tragic blow to liberty and the public's right to know

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0 shares 353 View comments Yesterday was a bad day for the British Press, but a worse one for freedom. Lord Justice Leveson’s report catalogues misdeeds by some journalists that embarrass everyone who works in the newspaper industry. Some people in our trade have behaved like wild beasts, and if they end up behind bars, that will be entirely just. But Leveson’s remedy is to terminate  centuries of bold, brassy, often vulgar and disreputable — but also brave and important — British journalism and dress the Press in a tight, clumsy straitjacket of his own manufacture. He describes his proposals as ‘self-regulation’ backed by law, yet the newspaper industry’s only active role in such an arrangement will be to pay the bills for it. Scroll down for video Lord Justice Leveson has launched a wholly unguided missile. He is seen here with an executive summary of his report following an inquiry into media practices Thoughtful: Mr Cameron considers the speech of Ed Mili

The Chancellor's medicine may be harsh. But Ed Balls would be economic poison

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0 shares 451 View comments George Osborne has many enemies. Something about the Chancellor of the Exchequer exasperates people even when he tries to be nice, as he did during moments of his Autumn Statement yesterday. After telling the nation that he is cutting corporation tax, increasing investment allowances for small business and scrapping the scheduled 3p increase in fuel duty, he said: ‘We’re all in this together.’ Voters could be heard jeering as far off as Colwyn Bay. It’s not his fault, but most of his life has been financed not from his earnings like the vast majority of the population, but instead from the family  fortune. George Osborne may occasionally catch a cold like the rest of us, but he is rash to pretend he knows from experience what it is like to struggle to pay a mortgage. In the spotlight: Something about the Chancellor of the Exchequer exasperates people even when he tries to be nice, as he did during moments of his Autumn Statement yesterda

Patrick Moore and why knowledge trumps the vacuous appeal of celebrity

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0 shares 147 View comments The passing of Patrick Moore, stargazer, great British eccentric and professional grump, leaves David Attenborough as the last survivor of the golden age of telly-teachers. For half a century, the small screen, and especially the BBC portion of it, boasted a galaxy of presenters whose unembarrassed mission was to deliver sparkling lectures on things they knew a lot about: astronomy, wildlife, science, history, art, gardening. Their programmes were unlike almost anything nowadays, on two counts. First, the BBC lavished on them immense budgets, cash on a scale no modern programme-maker could offer — save for a comedian or rock star. Knowledge: The generation of presenters, exemplified by Patrick Moore, all had a quality that before first getting in front of a camera, they had acquired a store of experience and knowledge of their subject The epic Great War series back in 1963 had a staff of more than 50 (including myself as a researcher) l

MAX HASTINGS: We'll need great courage to tackle this deadly new face of terror

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0 shares 194 View comments An unknown number of British and other foreign gas workers have been killed in Algeria for no better reason than that they were Westerners who became targets for Muslim fanatics, and apparently ‘collateral damage’ in a rescue attempt. Al Qaeda, which has been in eclipse since the death of Osama Bin Laden almost two years ago, has won itself another bloody headline. And Algeria takes its place in a jigsaw of areas of extremist violence that extends across the globe. Statistically, a Western traveller or expatriate worker is far more likely to die in a motorway smash in the snow than to be murdered by Al Qaeda. But after every new attack, foreigners will continue to feel unsafe – whether they are on the north Kenya coast, in Egyptian resorts, or, now also, across large tracts of North Africa. Scroll down for video Threat: Terrorists have become more eager to attack Westerners in faraway places. This picture shows militants in Mali As a re