Wednesday, 28 February 2007

Best Stick Up

This is a full page advert from today's Guardian Newspaper. The caption reads:-


Paid for by Ryanair - fighting for tax free travel.

Don't rain on my parade

How the war on terror made the world a more terrifying place

New figures show dramatic rise in terror attacks worldwide since the invasion of Iraq
By Kim Sengupta and Patrick Cockburn (The Independent) Published: 28 February 2007

Innocent people across the world are now paying the price of the "Iraq effect", with the loss of hundreds of lives directly linked to the invasion and occupation by American and British forces.

An authoritative US study of terrorist attacks after the invasion in 2003 contradicts the repeated denials of George Bush and Tony Blair that the war is not to blame for an upsurge in fundamentalist violence worldwide. The research is said to be the first to attempt to measure the "Iraq effect" on global terrorism. It found that the number killed in jihadist attacks around the world has risen dramatically since the Iraq war began in March 2003. The study compared the period between 11 September 2001 and the invasion of Iraq with the period since the invasion. The count - excluding the Arab-Israel conflict - shows the number of deaths due to terrorism rose from 729 to 5,420. As well as strikes in Europe, attacks have also increased in Chechnya and Kashmir since the invasion. The research was carried out by the Centre on Law and Security at the NYU Foundation for Mother Jones magazine. More:

Icon of the Art Nouveau: Tiffany and a trick of the light

Louis Comfort Tiffany has long been credited with creating the lamps that made his company's name. But recently discovered letters suggest they were really the work of one of his assistants. David Usborne (The Independent) reports Published: 28 February 2007

Clara Driscoll knew she had made it in New York when she landed a job with the famous Tiffany Glass Company. It was the turn of the last century and she had a decent wage, good friends and, above all, no little creative responsibility. What she would never get, however, was public recognition.

Until now, that is. For Driscoll, a slightly stern-looking woman with a bun, left behind a record of her Tiffany days in the form of hundreds of pages of round-robin letters written to her mother and sisters back in Ohio between 1896 and 1907. Unearthed by the curators of a new exhibition at the New York Historical Society, they reveal a secret that Tiffany lamp owners everywhere will want to know: it was she - and not her esteemed employer, Louis Comfort Tiffany - who designed almost all of them. In fact, Tiffany, whose father created the luxury jewellery chain Tiffany & Co, was a quiet pioneer of bringing women into the workplace. More than 30 women worked at times at his main studios in Manhattan. They were the Tiffany Girls; supervising them was Clara Driscoll.

In her letters, Driscoll describes the breadth of her responsibilities. She was in the front line when the management - the "Powers that Be", she calls them - introduced a new system of contracts in 1898 to ensure pay more commensurate with the amount of work each girl actually did. On a "smotheringly hot day", Driscoll bought the women ice cream to soften the news of their tougher new working conditions.

She was also the mediator when Tiffany's male workers, mostly at his manufacturing plant in Queens, went on strike in protest at his employing women, who were barred from their union, and paying them equal wages. She brokered a deal to put a cap of 27 on the number of Tiffany Girls.

The letters also provide glimpses of Driscoll swimming the liberating new currents of urban womanhood at the end of the Victorian era. She profited from the new freedoms, visiting the theatre and the opera, riding a bicycle through Manhattan and hobnobbing with fellow artists. Driscoll witnessed the birth of modern New York. She describes the rise in 1903 of one of its first skyscrapers, the Flatiron, and recalls a windy day when "one woman was blown off the sidewalk by the flat iron building and several had to hold to lampposts and be helped out of the vicinity by policemen. There is something about the height and narrowness of the building that seems to increase the force of the wind".

But it is what we learn about the extent of Driscoll's influence on the Tiffany designs that is most important. Nearly all the lamps for which Tiffany became famous (and wealthy) - including his wisteria, firefly and poppy models - sprang not from his genius but rather from hers. "It's pretty entrenched the idea that the Tiffany objects were designed by Tiffany," explains Margaret Hofer, one of the curators of the Historical Society exhibition. "This is really going to surprise people. In fact, Tiffany probably never picked up a glass pipe in his life."

Driscoll remained unsung until now in part because of the collapse of the Tiffany Glass Company in 1932. "All its records were lost and until now we really didn't have a good picture of its history," says Ms Hofer. "But these letters have provided us with a day-by-day account of what was going on." That Tiffany appreciated the work of the girls is not in doubt. "Tiffany understood perhaps that he would have had ugly lamps without them," Ms Hofer argues. "The women had a sense of colour and nimble fingers." With Driscoll, meanwhile, he appeared to share a passion for nature - for flowers and bees and the hues of the seasons - that informed so many of the lamp designs. His respect for her is clear from her letters. She describes being asked to his mansion on 72 Street and Madison Avenue, where he kept a private studio of his own. The studio, she wrote "appears to be miles long and is wholly unlike anything I ever saw ... It is like a dream of poetry and harmony."

Another letter relates Tiffany's reaction when, at the Park Avenue studios, Driscoll shares with him the design for what will become the butterfly lamp, in which she imagined the butterflies exploding in a cloud of beating yellow wings so as to "look exactly like primrose blossom".

"When he heard about the primroses, he braced up at once, seized a pencil and began to make pictures all over ... and talking to himself and to me, while the fan made his thick curls stand up around his beaded brow like a halo". But for all his enthusiasm, she went on, his own drawings "wavered off into such vague lines that you could scarcely distinguish them from the gray of the blotter and then he would say - 'Well, work out your own idea'". And that, evidently, is exactly what Driscoll always did.

But if Tiffany was generous with salaries and praise, he never shared creative glory. "He controlled his publicity very carefully," adds Martin Eidelberg, a scholar of Tiffany and professor emeritus of art history at Rutgers University. "No one's name was ever mentioned except his own." On two occasions, though, the name Driscoll did leak out, leaving the trace that Professor Eidelberg was able to follow so many decades later.

When Tiffany submitted one of his lamps to the World's Fair in Paris in 1900, he was obliged under the rules to disclose its designer, Driscoll. Four years later, a short article about Driscoll appeared in the New York Daily News.

It was in 2005 that Professor Eidelberg made contact with some of Driscoll's descendants. He learnt that some of her letters had been bequeathed by a family member to Kent State University in Ohio. A second trove was found at the Queens Historical Society in New York. Once he read them, the truth behind the Tiffany designs became clear and plans were laid for the exhibition in New York.

"She was a small-town girl with a lot of moxie," said Linda Alexander, one of Driscoll's descendants still living in Ohio, who attended the exhibition's opening. "I am so excited that she is getting the recognition now even if it is 100 years later."

Latest fashion

I can just see everybody rushing out to buy this !!!!
I mean to say ... have you ever seen anything so ridiculous?

Top entertainment promoter dies

Northern Ireland entertainment promoter Jim Aiken has died after a short illness.
In a lifetime of bringing big name artists to Ireland, he was best known for the recent series of concerts in the grounds of Stormont in Belfast.

Mr Aiken grew up in Jonesboro, County Armagh, and started work as a teacher of physics and maths at Harding Street school in Belfast.

He left teaching in 1965 when his work promoting bands began to take off.

The promoter travelled the world encouraging bands and singers to come to Northern Ireland at the height of the Troubles.

He was closely associated with stars like Charley Pride, Sir Elton John, Sir Cliff Richard, Luciano Pavarotti and Garth Brooks.

After intervention by the former secretary of state, Mo Mowlam, it was Jim Aiken who promoted the series of concerts at Stormont which included the Eagles and Rod Stewart.

The Aiken family said he died peacefully at home.

The family said, in a brief statement, that they would like to extend their thanks to all those who had lent their support and sent kind wishes.

Mr Aiken is survived by his wife of 47 years, Anne, son Peter and daughters Claire, Susan, Cathy and Joan and 11 grandchildren.


Toilet racing

Toilet training has taken on a new meaning in a town which has shunned F1 in favour of WC1.

Hundreds of potty competitors and spectators braved sub-zero temperatures to take part in the latest winter craze – portable toilet racing in the Lithuanian town of Trakai.

WC racing features three teams of five – four pushers and one competitor who sits on the throne and holds on for dear life as he is shoved around the track on frozen Lake Galves.

The tactics are simple – be first to the bend and stop opponents barging past.

The Number Twos beat the Number Ones in the final in the alternative winter Olympics. They celebrated with high fives, after washing their hands.

Winning team member Jolanta was flushed with success. 'I've never been to the toilet in public before,' she said.

Tuesday, 27 February 2007

A nice pair of tits

A heart warming story

A Rome hospital that reintroduced a modern version of the medieval foundling wheel, following a spate of abandoned babies, has had its first "deposit".

The device allows women to leave their new-born children in hospital instead of abandoning them in telephone boxes or on doorsteps or, in an extreme case, killing them.

The original wheels were a cylindrical hatch set in the outside wall of a church. Mothers would place their baby in the hatch, close it and then ring a bell to warn the priest or nuns.

The system has been brought up to date with a heated soft bed complete with sensors and cameras to alert staff when a baby has been abandoned.

The wheel, installed at the Policlinico Casilino last year, was used for the first time late on Saturday night, when a three-month-old boy was left there.

The 14lb boy was named Stefano after the doctor who first treated him.

Yesterday Dr Piermichele Paolilo, the unit's director, said: "The only problem we have had is getting him to take milk from a bottle, so he was obviously breast feeding.
The Telegraph:

Murder hunt after discovery of body of child in suitcase in rafters

The tiny body of an unknown baby has been found stored in a battered suitcase and hidden in a roof.

The grim find was made by builders who uncovered a "secret tomb" within the rafters of a 1930s semi detached suburban house.

Murder squad officers have now launched an inquiry into the discovery - which was made in Willesden Green, North West London.

The body, which officers believe has lain undisturbed for 25 years, was found at the home of Mohammed Chaudhry and his wife, Shabeen.

Mr Chaudhry, who bought the house in 1984, had employed a pair of builders to renew his roof. They had started taking down the old tiles when they noticed a sealed off compartment in the loft.

Inside was a battered old brown leather suitcase and contained within the bag was the baby's body.

Police sources described the corpse as "partially decomposed" but said they were unable to tell what sex it was.

A full post mortem examination will be carried out later this week.
Daily Mail:

'Genius' pianists recordings uncovered as fakes

It was one of the most sensational stories to emerge from the music world.

Largely unknown and crippled by ovarian cancer, ailing classical pianist Joyce Hatto released 104 flawless recitals of the most challenging concertos ever written in the last years of her life.

Music experts were amazed by her masterful performances of works by Brahms, Liszt, Mozart and Beethoven, all produced by husband William Barrington-Coupe and released on their tiny record label Concert Artists.

By the time she died last June, aged 77, critics were hailing Joyce as a "national treasure" and "one of the greatest pianists Britain has ever produced".

But in an extraordinary twist, it has now emerged that several of the recitals are fakes.

Instead of being performed by Joyce on her Steinway piano, at least five of the records were by other artists and conductors.

Daily Mail:

Hatto was born in Kilburn, North-West London, in September 1928, the daughter of a confectioner who loved music, especially Rachmaninov.

In interviews she gave before her death, she said she honed her playing technique through hours of practice during the Blitz, cowering under the piano as the German bombs rained on London.

She also claimed influential composer Sir Granville Bantock described her as a "born performer" and failed to get into the Royal Academy when a tutor apparently said it was "more important for a girl like you to cook roast dinner than play piano".

However, no-one who can verify the story is still alive.

In 1970 she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and quit performing in 1976 after a critic wrote harshly it was "impolite to look ill".

Jade discovers the real India - in a luxury hotel

The Independent:
Jade Goody, still recovering from her disgrace over the Celebrity Big Brother racism row, has gone to experience the "real" India - by checking into a £190-a-night luxury hotel in Delhi.

Goody, whose alleged racial slurs against her fellow contestant Shilpa Shetty led to angry protests in Indian streets, arrived yesterday at the capital's five-star Le Meridian hotel on what is being described as "a private visit".

The British Labour Party

The Labour Party has been, since its founding on February 27th 1900, the principal political party of the left in the United Kingdom. It is currently the party of government in the United Kingdom and in the Scottish Parliament (in coalition with the Scottish Liberal Democrats), Welsh Assembly and the London mayoralty (although only the second largest grouping on the London Assembly). It is also the second largest party in Local Government and the second largest UK party in the European Parliament.

Labour won a landslide 179 seat majority in the 1997 general election under the leadership of Tony Blair—its first general election victory since October 1974 and the first general election since 1970 in which it had exceeded 40% of the popular vote. The Labour Party's large majority in the House of Commons was slightly reduced to 167 in the 2001 general election and more substantially reduced to 66 in 2005.

The Labour Party grew out of the trade union movement and socialist political parties of the 19th century, and continues to describe itself as a party of democratic socialism. Under Tony Blair's leadership, however, the party has adopted a number of Thatcherite policies following its failures in the general elections of 1979, 1983, 1987 and 1992; this has led many observers to describe the Labour Party as social democratic or neo-liberal rather than democratic socialist. Wikipedia:

Monday, 26 February 2007

Lamb: Gorecki


A coach driver was taking 50 pensioners on a trip to Spain.

After a while an old lady tapped him on the shoulder and offered him a handful of peanuts.

He ate them, gratefully.

Over the course of the journey the kindly lady gave him several more handfuls of peanuts, until finally he put his hand up, saying: "Please, you should eat some yourselves."

"We can't," she said . "They get under our dentures."

"Then why buy them?"

"Because we like the chocolate they're covered in."

First Post:

Friday, 23 February 2007

3 great Hayley Westenra videos

Bachianas Brasileiras

May It Be

Spiritual Medley (Down to the River)

Thursday, 22 February 2007

A couple from Sweden ....

Woman stabs boyfriend after disappointing sex
A man from Luleå ended up requiring emergency surgery after an argument with his girlfriend about the poor quality of their sex life ended in a knife attack. The woman could face deportation. READ »

TV4 in trouble for vagina dialogues
The Swedish Broadcasting Commission has reprimanded TV4 for not respecting the wishes of a woman who requested not to be used in a comedy sketch involving a chat between two vaginas. READ »

Female chef wins three Michelin stars for first time in half a century

A French woman has triumphed in a resolutely masculine world. Her name was not Ségolène Royal but Anne-Sophie Pic, the first female chef to be given three Michelin stars for 56 years.

The triumph of Mme Pic, 37, was also a triumph for family tradition over globe-trotting, celebrity chefdom. Mme Pic is the fourth generation of her family to cook in Maison Pic, a hotel-restaurant in Valence in the Rhône valley that began as a lunch stop for motorists on the main road from Paris to the south in the early 20th century. She took over the kitchen 10 years ago, with no formal training except by her father, Jacques, who had died five years earlier.
The Independent:

Don't judge too soon ...

Two-headed girl

Requires ActiveX

Russian man pretends to be sexy girl to win beauty contest

The Internet today is full of fake and trash. One of the latest incidents showed that net surfers can only believe what they see. Online beauty contest Miss Virtual Yakutia has quite a long history and is quite prestigious. However this year witnessed that it is not necessary to be a beautiful young female to win the beauty contest.

Angela Adamova e-mailed her photo to the contest organizers. They quickly agreed to put it up for voting on a website. The site visitors were browsing sexy girls’ photos submitting their votes and comments. At the end of the contest Angela managed to obtain 369 points and found herself among top 10 finalists.

Rumors appeared later that the sexy russian girl named as Angela Adamova was actually a 25-year-old male whose name was Oleg Goncharov. The young man apparently had a bizzare sense of humor.

When the true sex of the online beauty queen was revealed, Angela Adamova was disqualified.

It turned out later that Oleg Goncharov just wanted to play a joke. He asked a stylist to change his appearance and then turned to a professional photographer.

Oleg wrote in his new portfolio: “I’m just trying to make every step in life brighter and more remarkable for myself and for people who surround me. Give me your vote and I won’t disappoint you!”

Wednesday, 21 February 2007


Johnny Hallyday au Zénith de Lille

Johnny Hallyday au Zénith de Lille le 19 février 2007, devant 7 000 personnes.

You ain't going nowhere ....

... and here we have a classic example of inconsiderate driving. The two bus drivers in the inside lanes (at the rear of the queue of traffic) have obviously driven along these lanes because traffic was flowing fairly smoothly but when they get to a point where they realise that traffic (in the lanes they should have been in to begin with) is at a standstill they just stop their buses, thus preventing traffic from driving along the now empty inside lanes to turn left into an adjoining road. Of course this also adds to the tailback because traffic that could have driven on is now sitting increasing the length of the queue and blocking other roads further back.

Another example of inconsiderate driving that I witnessed was at a junction where the traffic heading towards the city centre was at a standstill but, because there was a gap in the queue, traffic coming away from the city centre was able to turn right across the queue of traffic and into the adjoining road. For some reason one driver (in the city bound traffic) decided to drive across this gap (even though it was obvious that he would be unable to drive any further) and blocked the gap. Again this prevented drivers moving out of a tailback of traffic and into a road which was clear of traffic and just added to the lengthy tailbacks in the city centre. The attitude of many drivers seems to be 'I have the right of way here and I'm going to exercise that right, even if it means stopping traffic from flowing smoothly in a totally different direction to mine'. I have seen and been subject to this type of mentality so often that I am surprised that I have not been the instigator of a road rage incident! All it takes is a bit of thought and consideration and a lot of needless traffic delays could be reduced.

On a different note - you can see that the buses are empty, this is because passengers, like myself, got off early and walked to our destinations instead of sitting for ages in a queue of traffic.

Tuesday, 20 February 2007

Gorillaz - 19/2000

Traffic Mayhem in Belfast

These were the scenes in Belfast City Center at 5.30p.m. today following a tragic and fatal accident that occurred at 1.45p.m. The whole of the center of Belfast was at a virtual standstill while main routes into the city were backed up for miles. Traffic hold-ups eventually began to clear about 7.30p.m.
For years Belfast has been brought to a standstill by car bombs, bomb hoaxes, paramilitary and political protests but in the past these have been at a number of points around the city, so you would think that by now the security forces would know how to control traffic to avoid disruption. As I left my bus to walk into the city center, to catch a connecting bus, I thought that perhaps the motorway had been closed to allow a motorcade for some important personage to travel to the city without hindrance. Why did this one incident affect so much of the city for so long? This must surely show total incompetence on the part of the authorities who, although investigating a fatal accident, could not deal quickly or efficiently with something that surely should have been routine. We have witnessed other more serious accidents (more serious only because of the numbers involved) - so why was this so different that it caused traffic congestion for hours with many people having to walk to their destinations and I am sure many more must have missed flights from both of the Belfast airports.

How lubricant stops drug addicts

One look at Pete Doherty in the cold light of day does it for some. Others need more proactive persuasion to stop absorbing cocaine through their nasal soft tissue.

The bars and clubs of central London, in the hope that customers will stop shoving their money up their noses in the toilets and shove it across the bar instead, have tried all sorts of things to stop cokeheads.

Some clubs employ bouncers to conduct random searches of toilet-bound customers. But there are drawbacks. The current bouncers' turf-war is one. The prospect of the self-same bouncers consuming their finds is another.

Other establishments remove any convenient coke-sniffing ledges from their loos, including toilet seats, but that is, if you'll forgive the expression, an inconvenience to other customers. In any case, your dedicated cokehead will use any flat surface, even a sticky toilet floor.

Now there's a development that promises a much higher success rate. It's a ploy that began in a Swindon pub, spread to Bristol, and now to a bar towards the north end of Dean Street, Soho.

In the toilets of this establishment, several large notices make the following announcement: "Every surface in this toilet has been sprayed with WD-40."

Excuse me? WD-40? The stuff we used to squirt on our bicycle hubs to loosen the nuts?

That's the stuff. And why? Well, apparently when cocaine comes into contact with WD-40 the resultant mixture, if sniffed, will cause every blood vessel in the nose to explode.

Burly bouncers, searches, missing loo seats... and now WD-40. It's enough to drive anyone to drink.
First Post:

... sounds like an April Fool to me - except this is only February.

Mazda launch first 'Second Life' test drive car

Car firm Mazda has launched its latest concept model - into the virtual reality world of the on-line computer game 'Second Life'.

In a world first, web surfers can now take a cyberspace version of the 'Hakaze' concept 4x4 for a virtual test drive across the online environment.

The car's designers even appear in virtual form to launch the new model. 'Second Life' boasts nearly four million users and has already created real world millionaires from its virtual online currency which can be converted into US dollars.

Users create a profile and cyber image of themselves called an avatar, and are then free to interact with other members and travel across a 3D graphical landscape from their home computer.

Monday, 19 February 2007


Given that Manchester United's turnover is seven times greater than that of Lille, Tuesday's Champions League encounter should, in theory, be a walkover for the Premiership side.

Lille might operate on a budget of just over £23m but the French side have proved they are capable of punching well above their weight even if they will have to play United at Lens' Stade Felix-Bollaert ground because their own stadium does not meet Uefa standards.

Last season Lille beat United at home and drew away in the Champions League and this time around the Ligue 1 side have gone one better by reaching the last 16 of the competition. More:

Marmite Guinness

A new version of Marmite flavoured with Guinness has launched in the UK.

Its flavour is described as less salty and less meaty than the original savoury spread.

Guinness Marmite is made with a strain of yeast used to make the Irish drink.Via:

Sunday, 18 February 2007

Saturday, 17 February 2007

Friday, 16 February 2007

Women's desks 'harbour more bugs'

Women's workstations tend to harbour far more germs than those of their male colleagues, research suggests.

A University of Arizona team found the average office desktop harbours 400 times more bacteria than the average office toilet seat. However, they also found that on average women have three to four times the amount of germs in, on and around their work area but men's wallets provided the most fertile bug breeding ground of all.

The researchers said women's habit of keeping snacks in their drawers could explain why their desks were more germ-ridden and they also warned that make-up and lotions helped to transfer bacteria.

Lead researcher Professor Charles Gerba found that 75% of female employees kept food in their work area. He said: "I thought for sure men would be 'germier' but women have more interactions with small children and keep food in their desks. The other problem is make-up.

"I was really surprised how much food there was in a woman's desk.
"If there's ever a famine, that's the first place I'll look for food."

Professor Gerba added that men's wallets provided a very attractive breeding ground for bugs.
He said: "It's in your back pocket where it's nice and warm, it's a great incubator for bacteria."

Professor Sally Bloomfield, chairman of the International Scientific Forum on Home Hygiene, said people should not be unduly worried by the findings, as most bacteria did not cause disease.
She said: "It is not whether bacteria are present, or how many there are, but what type they are but if you leave food on your desktop that you would usually put in the fridge at home, then you are asking for trouble."

The Arizona team took samples from 100 offices at the university and in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oregon and Washington. They swabbed eight sites in each office: the phone, desktop, computer mouse, computer keyboard, exclamation key on the computer keyboard, pen, bottom of desk drawer, and handle of desk drawer. They also took samples from workers' personal items.

The mouldiest spot was the bottom of the desk drawer, where many people stash food.

The study was commissioned by disinfectant maker Clorox.
Story from BBC NEWS:

Morelli's ice cream founder dies

The founder of the famous Morelli ice cream brand in Portstewart, Angelo Morelli, has died. He was 99.

Mr Morelli passed away peacefully at his home in Cassalattico, southern Italy, on Wednesday, after a short illness.

He had built up an empire of cafes and shops in Northern Ireland.

After Italy declared its support for Hitler in 1940, he was one of many Italian immigrants interned in a camp on the Isle of Man.

He was put on a deportation ship to Canada, but taken off at the last minute.

The ship was sunk by a German U-boat in the Atlantic with total loss of life.

Other local Italians, who had been born on British soil, took over the running of the business.

The family did not let their wartime experiences hold them back, and their businesses developed rapidly.

Angelo returned to Italy in the mid-1990s with his wife.
BBC News:

What is God Doing in Turkmenistan?

A team belonging to the missionary athletes' movement "Athletes in Action" reports from their visit to the Central Asian republics of Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan: "One of the journey's most interesting experiences was to listen to a large number of people telling how they became Christians," writes team leader Jason Taylor. "Previously, they had been atheists or Moslems. Some told us how God had spoken to them in dreams. Others told us how they had had headaches for days after hearing about Christ. As soon as they decided to become Christians, the headache was gone. One woman told us that on the night she heard about Jesus, nothing happened until she went to sleep. While she slept, she had a terrible dream, in which a satanic figure told her 'You will never escape from me.' But now she has also become a Christian."
Did you ever read such a load of old twaddle? .. and this is from so called Christians, who are supposed to be honest, truthful, upright citizens - well I suppose 'thou shalt not tell porkies' is not one of the ten commandments.

Turkmens elect leader

Oh dear, they are all women (c:=

The First Post:

Belfast threw out slavery plan

Arthur Strain
BBC News

Peter Hain has apologised for the involvement in the slave trade of Northern Ireland, or as it was back then, simply Ireland.

While there was opposition to slavery across the island there were also men who made fortunes out of the exploitation of slaves.

Part of Belfast's commercial and industrial advances of the time were linked to trade with the slave economies of the West Indies.

Waddell Cunningham, founding president of the Belfast Chamber of Commerce and first president of the Harbour Board, numbered among those who made fortunes from slavery and tried to set up a slave company in Belfast.

A player in the trading of West Indian commodities, not only did he deal in the produce of slave labour but he was intimately involved in the trading of slaves within the islands of the Caribbean.

Following the Seven Years War he acquired a plantation of his own in Dominica, which he renamed Belfast.

He attempted to establish a slave trading company in Belfast in 1786.

For one radical Belfast citizen, Thomas McCabe, such unscrupulous commercial ambition was to be resisted.

He stood near the Old Exchange at the foot of Donegall Street and tore up the prospectus for the proposed company calling out: "May God wither the hand and consign the name to eternal infamy of the man who will sign that document."

Historian Eamon Phoenix said Belfast had less to apologise for than ports like Liverpool or Bristol.

But the city did enjoy rum and sugar, the fruits of the trade in the Caribbean and did trade with tobacco producing areas in the southern slave owning United States.

"There was a very, very strong pro-abolition and anti-slavery movement in Belfast which chimed with the kind of reception of the French revolution in the city in the 1780s 1790s associated with the rise of the United Irishmen," he said.

There were also anti-slavery advocates who visited the city and were warmly received.

In 1791 freed slave Oloudah Equiano stayed in Belfast and toured Ireland, promoting his book on his life as a slave who had been stolen from Africa as a child.

The radical newspaper the Northern Star noted in April 1792 that anyone who consumes sugar products "becomes accessory to the guilt" of slavery.

In much the same way Fair Trade products are being promoted today anti-slavery advocates of the time urged the boycott of sugar from slave plantations.

One of the opponents of slavery in the Belfast showed steadfast opposition to the practice.

Mary Ann McCracken - sister of the United Irishman Henry Joy - was a founder member of the Belfast Women's anti-slavery society.

There are descriptions of her as an old lady of 88, in the Victorian Belfast of the 1850s, standing by the gangway of ships headed for the southern ports of the USA where slavery was still practised and handing out anti-slavery leaflets to those boarding.

In a letter to a friend she wrote: "Belfast, once so celebrated for its love of liberty, is now so sunk in the love of filthy lucre that there are but 16 or 17 female anti-slavery advocates and not one man though several Quakers ... and none to distribute papers to American emigrants but an old woman within 17 days of 89..."

Christian agencies Tearfund and the Evangelical Alliance held a conference in the city to celebrate the anti-slavery vision of local Christians 200 years ago.

Northern Ireland historian Philip Orr, who spoke at Thursday's event, said Mr Hain appeared to be ignorant of local opposition to slavery.

"Everyone has some kind of guilt but Peter Hain was absolutely ignorant of the significant role played by many Belfast Christians in trying to prevent a slave trading company being founded in Belfast - in fact they were successful."

2007 commemorates the 200th anniversary of the 1807 Abolition of the Slave Trade Act.

This Act outlawed the slave trade throughout the British Empire and made it illegal for British ships to be involved in the trade, marking the beginning of the end for the transatlantic traffic in human beings.

It would be another 30 years before slaves in the empire gained their final freedom.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Thursday, 15 February 2007

Scary stuff

The Nationwide Building Society has been fined £980,000 by the City watchdog over security breaches. The fine follows the theft of a laptop from a Nationwide employee's home.

Well - here's something even more scary ...

Updated: 11:50 a.m. ET Feb. 12, 2007
WASHINGTON - Between three and four FBI laptop computers are lost or stolen each month on average and the agency is unable to say in many instances whether information on the machines is sensitive or classified, the Justice Department's inspector general said Monday.

The inspector general said the FBI is doing a better job of reducing the number of thefts and disappearances of weapons and laptop computers, but that not all problems were corrected as urged in a report five years ago.

"Perhaps most troubling, the FBI could not determine in many cases whether the lost or stolen laptop computers contained sensitive or classified information," said the report. "Such information may include case information, personal identifying information, or classified information on FBI operations."

In a report five years ago, the inspector general said 354 weapons and 317 laptop computers were lost or stolen during a 28-month review.

The new report found that 160 weapons and 160 laptop computers were lost or stolen over a 44-month period.

Wednesday, 14 February 2007

Get your kicks ...

'....Flagstaff,Arizona - now don't forget Winona'

Man blames right-hand driving for crash

Published: 14th February 2007 12:37 CETOnline:

A 79-year-old man has blamed his bad driving on Sweden's 1967 switch from left-hand to right-hand driving.

The man was driving his car to a vehicle inspection in Karlskrona, southern Sweden, when he realised he had got lost. He then reversed the car into oncoming traffic. His erratic driving forced cars on both sides of the road to brake to avoid a crash.

The man then backed his car into a set of traffic lights, knocking them down, according to the local Sydöstran newspaper. Despite a police car approaching him with blue lights flashing and sirens sounding, the man fled the scene. Police later forced the man to pull over.

The man, from the nearby village of Holmsjö, pleaded not guilty to careless driving charges. He said his poor driving was caused by the fact that he had not driven in central Karlskrona since Sweden started driving on the right in 1967.

Massive omlette makes motorists scramble

Traffic had to scramble on an American motorway - when 165,000 eggs spilled out of an overturned trailer and created a 'river of yellow yolk'.

The massive pile of goo congealed and looked like a 'large omelette', forcing drivers to hit the brakes to avoid a sticky end.

Police in Virginia closed off the road for several hours while the runny load drained away.
Bizarrely, the truck driver fled the scene - presumably because he didn't want egg on his face.

The best is yet to come

Check out this playlist - there are some great tracks here.

Kate Moss in wax.

Supermodel Kate Moss has become the latest star attraction at Madame Tussauds.
Her wax figure - reclining on a couch in a Manhattan loft style apartment for a photo shoot - was unveiled at the London attraction in the area reserved for A-list celebrities.

World's dearest Valentine's card?

The Royal Mail has revealed images of what is thought to be the world's most expensive Valentine's card.

Dating back to 1790, the intricately designed Valentine filled with heartfelt messaging would fetch up to £4,000 if auctioned today.

It is currently housed at the British Postal Museum and Archive - and they have no plans of selling the card.

The card is a handmade puzzle which unfolds to reveal poetic messages - a far cry from the short notes written in today's Valentine's cards.

On the outside of the card, the inscription reads:

"My dear the Heart which you behold,
Will break when you the same unfold,
Even so my heart with lovesick pain,
Sure wounded is and breaks in twain."

Tuesday, 13 February 2007


THE PASS OF GLENCOE by Ernest W Hiscox

The Massacre of Glencoe occurred in Glen Coe, Scotland, early in the morning of 13 February 1692, during the era of the Glorious Revolution and Jacobitism. The massacre began simultaneously in three settlements along the glen - Invercoe, Inverrigan, and Achacon - although the killing took place all over the glen as fleeing MacDonalds were pursued.

Thirty-eight MacDonalds from the Clan MacDonald of Glencoe were killed by the guests who had accepted their hospitality, on the grounds that the MacDonalds had not been prompt in pledging allegiance to the new king, William of Orange. Another forty women and children died of exposure after their homes were burned.

Oh cruel is the snow that sweeps Glencoe
And covers the grave o' Donald
And cruel was the foe that raped Glencoe
And murdered the house o' MacDonald
This song is not, as widely believed a traditional song, but is the work of Jim Mclean of Duart Music Publishers, (1963)

They came in the night when the men were asleep
That band of Argyles, through snow soft and deep.
Like murdering foxes, among helpless sheep
They slaughtered the house o' MacDonald
They came through the blizzard, we offered them heat
A roof o'er their heads, dry shoes for their feet.
We wined them and dined them, they ate of our meat
And slept in the house O' MacDonald
They came from Fort William with murder mind
The Campbell's had orders, King William had signed
Put all to the sword, these words underlined
And leave none alive called MacDonald

Some died in their beds at the hands of the foe
Some fled in the night, and were lost in the snow.
Some lived to accuse him, that struck the first blow
But gone was the house of MacDonald

Monday, 12 February 2007

The blogger who took on China

Hounded by internet vigilantes, a blogging westerner lothario is pouring scorn on the idea of Chinese justice, says gary jones
Last August, China's internet vigilantes launched a cyberspace manhunt for the 'Chinabounder', a self-styled western lothario who had sparked fury among the men of Shanghai by boasting of his many and varied carnal encounters with Chinese women on his blog, 'Sex and Shanghai'.

A massive backlash followed, characterised by threats of murder and castration from those claiming he had blackened China's good name. The anonymous rake - thought to be a thirtysomething teacher of English in China's most prosperous city - went into hiding and the internet calmed across the Middle Kingdom. National pride was restored and the bumptious foreigner was effectively made impotent.

Now, he has suddenly thrown himself back into the fray, all guns blazing. With a new posting at, dated February 2, he has taken on not just the critics who drove him into silence - "internet idiots so concerned about China's honour and dignity" - but, it seems, the entire Chinese nation.

"Shame on the citizens of China!" he writes. "Your children are dying and your silence is complicit in their death."

The First Post

So there’s this new girl.

She’s quite the head turner. Young, vivacious, full of life, feminine fire to the masculine mud that is so common in China. Even though she’s expected to conform – for everyone must conform in this society – she finds little ways to be an individual – sometimes just her smile, that twist of the body, that sparkle in the eye that is her individuality; or maybe it’s the way she walks into a room, surrounded by people yet still all herself – or the way she answers a question, or asks one. It’s the way she rides her bike, whipping full of life between the more staid cyclists, up on the pavement, dodging between the lampposts. It’s the way she dances to her music, the way she drinks a cup of tea, the way she twirls a pen between her fingers.

From the first time you see her you know she’s special. She’s got that something, that spark of sass, of drive; it animates her, energizes her. She’s full of secrets and laughter, plans and hopes. Her presence fills a room and her absence empties it. She’s not someone you forget. I want to know her, know what her life is, who she is, how, what she thinks.

She’s young, and she’s got her life ahead of her. She’s not going to become a robot, not going to put up with the grind and the shit, with the third-rate university education China offers, with its meaningless lip service to ideas no one believes in. She’s not going to sit through Mao Zedong theory or learn about Hu Jintao’s trite, risible ‘Socialist Countryside’ (that a once great country comes to this!) She’s not going to wear the staid, dull regulation haircut her tutors will want, and she’s not going to get up at 6am in the morning to do their silly physical exercises and go to sleep at 11pm when they put the electricity off. She’s not going to be a good girl for them, quiet, polite, obedient.

Not her. Not for her the three or four years of rinkydink ‘higher’ education nor all the English tests; not for her the semi-slave labor as some prof’s lab flunkey, nor graduation in some cheap, gaudy robe, nor the kindergarten-style routine of the tassel on her mortarboard being moved from left to right. Nor, after that, the fuss and scrape of finding a job, and having to pick out the right clothes and style to make some dull potato of a Chinese guy offer her some shit job with shit wages in a shit firm, with a shit contract that says she must work as many hours overtime as she’s told and must not get pregnant. Not for her the causal abuses of her humanity that getting a job in China requires (for getting a job here is putting yourself on the slave auction block). Not for her putting up with the inept, bashful wooing of office colleagues, their fawning when they chase her and contempt when she declines, nor the constant drip of sexual harassment coded into the country’s DNA; and certainly not marriage to some passionless clod followed by decades of servitude and conformity.

None of this for her.

None of it.


She’ll have no future, she’ll have no life, no chance, no joy, she’ll never grow and develop and explore her potential, what she could be.

Because she’s dead.

Chinabounder Blogspot

ID theft risk when replacing work PCs

You might think your personal details are safe with your employer – but what happens when your work computers are replaced?

Most companies are not doing enough to stop their secrets – and yours – falling into the hands of fraudsters when they get rid of old machines, a report warns.
Less than half use expert firms to destroy used PCs, with most selling the units to employees or on the second- hand market, a survey of 329 British companies found.

Crooks are then able to obtain sensitive information from the hard drives. The risk of identity fraud is soaring because many machines end up in West Africa, where ID theft and corruption scams are rife.

'We have all heard about PCs thrown away in council tips that have ended up in West Africa, with local extortionists and opportunists selling the contents, such as bank account details, for less than £20,' said Martin Allen, of data security firm Pointsec, which carried out the survey.
'Many corporations also sell their old PCs to second-hand dealers who often do not have the skills or resources to clean them adequately.'

Psychic museum closes unexpectedly

A psychic museum is closing its doors - due to unforeseen circumstances.

Saturday, 10 February 2007

Friday, 9 February 2007

Obituary: Ian Richardson

With his threatening, sardonic look and his cut-glass accent, Ian Richardson became a household name in the BBC's House of Cards trilogy.
As the Machiavellian Prime Minister, Francis Urquart, his line "You might well say that but I couldn't possibly comment", became something of a catchphrase when the series was broadcast in the 1990s.

By now, Richardson had become well-known for playing upper-crust types, most notably as Bill Haydon in the BBC adaptation of John Le Carre's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

Yet, he was born in Scotland to a working-class family with no acting tradition.

It was during Richardson's own National Service in the 1950s that his now familiar delivery was first honed. After a spell with the Army's Special Investigations Branch, the military equivalent of the CID, he transferred to Forces radio where he became an announcer.

When he returned to Edinburgh with his plummy accent, he found it difficult to fit in. He once said: "You were alright in Edinburgh so long as you stayed within the bounds of your own social status."

A chance encounter with an actress, Nancy Mitchell, led to a successful audition at Glasgow's College of Dramatic Art. Asked why he wanted to become an actor, he replied "Because I can conceive of no other career I could possibly exist in."

By 1958, Richardson had joined the Birmingham Repertory Company where he was chosen to replace Albert Finney.

Two years later, he was recruited by Peter Hall for the company that was to become the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC).

It was the start of a 15-year association with the RSC at Stratford and the Aldwych Theatre in London, appearing in all its major productions including the title roles in Hamlet, Richard I and Richard II.

Richardson's other notable parts included Lord Groan in the BBC's adaptation of Gormenghast, and the movie From Hell with Johnny Depp.

He was last seen on TV at Christmas on Sky One as the narrator, the Voice of Death, in Hogfather, the Terry Pratchett work.

The actor was awarded a CBE in the 1989 New Year's Honours List.

Bride and Groom's Dirty Dancing

.... and Ken & Barbie

Valentine's Day

Nice Things

A couple of things I saw on Neatorama that just appealed to me.

Vagina Monologues (update)

A theatre's marquee was modified twice this week after controversy over the title of an upcoming play.

On Tuesday, an Atlantic Beach theater and comedy club altered one of the titles on its marquee, which lists the titles of several oncoming events. The theatre replaced the word "vagina" in the play titled The Vagina Monologues to "hoohaa" after a woman called and complained about being offended.

Two days later, The Hoohaa Monologues was restored to its original title - The Vagina Monologues - after the play's organizers demanded it be changed back.

The organizers are a group of Florida Coastal School of Law students who said the sign had to read the play's original title because they have rights to the well-known play only if they do not allow any censorship of its content.

"We are not allowed to censor anything because the whole play is about being a woman, about telling certain women's stories. Vagina is the essence of a woman, and if you're going to suppress the name, then you're suppressing us as women," said play organizer Elissa Saavedra.

Nude pigeon-beating

A man has been sentenced to a year in prison for the inventive crime of beating a car with a dead pigeon while naked.

No vaginas please, we're Floridian

A theatre in Florida has had to change the title of a charity production of 'The Vagina Monologues' on its marquee, after a woman complained that it was offensive.
The new name? They've decided on 'The Hoohaa Monologues'.
Atlantic Theatres in Atlantic Beach, Florida, received a complaint from a woman who'd seen the advertised title as she drove past with her niece. She said that it had made her niece ask her what a vagina was.
The theatre's Bryce Pfanenstiel commented: 'I'm on the phone and asked “What did you tell her?” She's like, “I'm offended I had to answer the question.”'

Stupid Cow!

Some have welcomed the change to 'The Hoohaa Monologues', while others have expressed some confusion. 'It sounds like a country band,' one passer by commented to local TV station WJXT.

The production was being staged by a group of law students, with all proceeds going to charity. The director of the play has asked that the title be changed back.

The Vagina Monologues, Eve Ensler's award-winning international hit play, is an attempt to celebrate the vagina as an object of empowerment, rather than of shame. There's some way to go with that one, clearly.

Playmate Anna Nicole Smith dies

Former Playboy Playmate and billionaire's widow Anna Nicole Smith collapsed in a hotel room and died on Thursday in Florida, her lawyer said.

"I can confirm that she is deceased. It's as shocking to me as to you guys," Smith's attorney, Ronald Rale, said.

Local police were reportedly forced to shut down streets in the Florida town of Hollywood to help rush Smith, 39, to hospital.

The sudden death of Smith came just five months after Smith's 20-year-old son, Daniel Smith, died in the Bahamas three days after the birth of her daughter.

I can't wait to see the conspiracy theory that is going to develop from this.

'Snowball chaos' at Swedish school

A school in Nybro in south eastern Sweden has begun sending pupils home as snowball fights spiral out of control. READ »

Bored wardens shoot diplomat's dog

Bulgarian park wardens have sparked a diplomatic row after they shot a Russian diplomat's pet dog because they were bored.

I like the juxtaposition of the WWF ad - do you think it was deliberate?

Watch Cheddar cheese mature.

This isn't as boring as it sounds.
Have a look and twiddle the nobs.
Click the pic.

Thought for the day ....

According to my calendar:
'The wise man has long ears, big eyes and a short tongue.'
Ugly bugger - isn't he?

Thursday, 8 February 2007

Falling giraffe injures Swedish zoo boss

An attempt by a Swedish zoo boss to anaesthetize a 400 kilo giraffe went terribly wrong, when the leggy animal fell on top at him. The zookeeper was injured, but Måns the giraffe came off even worse. READ »

Update to the taxi story ....

.........according to a head doctor at Sunderby Sjukhus, the decision to remove the roof of the taxi was entirely correct as one of those injured had suffered a broken neck.

"The slightest head movement would have had terrible consequences for the injured individal. Injuries like these are not always immediately apparent and in this case the symptoms first manifested themselves when the person was sitting in the taxi.

"A single careless head movement could have led to permanent paralysis.

"Sawing off the roof to remove accident victims is the safest way to manage injuries of this kind," said Anders Sundelin in a statement.

The patient was later taken to hospital in Umeå by helicopter and is reported to be doing well under the circumstances, according to newspaper NSD.

Maybe Per Isaksson wasn't such a tosser after all ... but I do wonder how the accident victim was able to walk to the taxi with a broken neck ??


Well at least the severe weather has one consolation - we can post photos of people braving the cold and snow without having to suffer the effects ourselves. First Post has some really good ones here:

Wind, Sand and Stars

Wind, Sand and Stars
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
(an excerpt)
But by the grace of the airplane I have known a more extraordinary experience than this, and have been made to ponder with even more bewilderment the fact that this earth that is our home is yet in truth a wandering star.

A minor accident had forced me down in the Rio de Oro region, in Spanish Africa. Landing on one of those table-lands of the Sahara which fall away steeply at the sides, I found myself on the flat top of the frustum of a cone, an isolated vestige of a plateau that had crumbled round the edges. In this part of the Sahara such truncated cones are visible from the air every hundred miles or so, their smooth surfaces always at about the same altitude above the desert and their geologic substance always identical. The surface sand is composed of minute and distinct shells; but progressively as you dig along a vertical section, the shells become more fragmentary, tend to cohere, and at the base of the cone form a pure calcareous deposit.

Without question, I was the first human being ever to wander over this...this iceberg: its sides were remarkably steep, no Arab could have climbed them, and no European had as yet ventured into this wild region.

I was thrilled by the virginity of a soil which no step of man or beast had sullied. I lingered there, startled by this silence that never had been broken. The first star began to shine, and I said to myself that this pure surface had lain here thousands of years in sight only of the stars.

But suddenly my musings on this white sheet and these shining stars were endowed with a singular significance. I had kicked against a hard, black stone, the size of a man's fist, a sort of moulded rock of lava incredibly present on the surface of a bed of shells a thousand feet deep. A sheet spread beneath an apple-tree can receive only apples; a sheet spread beneath the stars can receive only stardust. Never had a stone fallen from the skies made known its origin so unmistakably.

And very naturally, raising my eyes, I said to myself that from the height of this Celestial apple-tree there must have dropped other fruits, and that I should find them exactly where they fell, since never from the beginning of time had anything been present to displace them.

Excited by my adventure, I picked up one and then a second and then a third of these stones, finding them at about the rate of one stone to the acre. And here is where my adventure became magical, for in a striking foreshortening of time that embraced thousands of years, I had become the witness of this miserly rain from the stars. The marvel of marvels was that there on the rounded back of the planet, between this magnetic sheet and those stars, a human consciousness was present in which as in a mirror that rain could be reflected.

click on pic for another excerpt and the chance to purchase a copy at

Piaf: the triumphant return of La Môme

In October 1935, two tiny, emaciated young women in ragged skirts came to the angle of the Avenue Macmahon and the Rue Troyon from the poor districts of north-eastern Paris. They stood on a corner which was then a Metro entrance, but is now the exit ramp from an underground car park.

One of the young women, no taller than a 10-year-old, began to sing in a booming, haunting voice, which seemed too large to come from such a small body. Her friend went around with a woollen beret collecting money from passers-by. An audience gathered. They included Louis Leplée, who owned a cabaret just off the Champs-Elysées.

He invited the singer - Edith Gassion, 20 years old and 4ft 8in tall - to come and see him at his club. He gave her a job, but insisted that she change her stage name to La Môme Piaf - the kid sparrow.

And so it was that M. Leplée, a once-famous man long forgotten, "discovered" Edith Piaf, who has never been forgotten. She became the best-known and best-loved of all French singers, both inside and outside France.

Her voice - raw, rich, passionate, gritty, tragic, joyful - made her an icon of a timeless Frenchness, like berets, dark tobacco, soft cheese, yellow car headlights, red wine or the burnt-rubber smell of the Paris Metro.
The Independent:

Her life was blighted by a plane crash, alcoholism and dramatic collapses on stage - but the 'kid sparrow' still provided the soundtrack to her nation, as a new film recalls.By John Lichfield

In the next few months, the world, old and young, French and foreign, has an opportunity to discover Edith Piaf again. A new film about her life, La Môme, premieres at the Berlin Film Festival today, and in France next week. It will be shown in Britain and America as La Vie en Rose, probably from 8 June.

Marion Cotillard, a French actress who looks rather like Piaf, plays the starring role with extraordinary success, according to the few French critics who have been invited to advance viewings. "Her interpretation of Edith Piaf surpasses what is generally expected of an actress," Le Monde said.

The inescapable Gérard Dépardieu appears as Louis Leplée, who was murdered soon after discovering Piaf.

La Môme, directed and written by Olivier Dahan, is being billed in France as not just a film but a "film-événement" - a cinematic sensation. France loves, even more than Britain, to dwell on its recent past, and the movie has set off an avalanche of Piaf nostalgia: television and radio programmes, special editions of magazines and compilations of her most successful songs

BA slaps £240 charge on extra bag

British Airways passengers are to be forced to pay up to £240 more for carrying an extra bag on flights.

From Tuesday, BA passengers will pay an extra £240 for long-haul return flights, £120 on short-haul return flights and £60 on domestic returns if they take two bags on to the plane.

Many of the airline's passengers are only expected to learn of the new charges when they check in at airports next week.

The rule means that customers will be able to put a bag with a maximum weight of 32kg in the hold - reducing to 23kg from September 30.

They will have to pay the extra charges even if the combined weight of the two bags is below the limit.

BA's website said the new charging system aimed to introduce a 'single allowance system based on the number of bags that can be checked in'.

It said: 'Our vision for London Heathrow Terminal 5 is to create the best possible airport experience before you fly. 'With this in mind we have announced a new simpler checked and excess baggage policy, which will come into effect on 13 February 2007.'

According to the Daily Telegraph, BA confirmed that its sales staff were instructed not to tell customers in advance when they booked their tickets.

A BA spokesman told the paper: 'They will tell people if they ask about baggage policy. But it is on our website.'

Now that sort of trading has got to be illegal or, at the very least, morally wrong. I think, if customers are not told about the charge beforehand, they should not be expected to pay extra.

A wee bit of snow and the country comes to a standstill

Snowfalls across most of the country are causing travel chaos for thousands as five airports have been closed, train services cancelled and motorists battle treacherous conditions.

Up to 10cm of snow has been reported in Buckinghamshire and 7cm in the South Midlands and Home Counties.

Luton and Cardiff airports are closed.

Bristol International Airport, Birmingham and Stanstead Airports have now reopened after being closed earlier this morning.

Despite teams of staff at Heathrow working overnight to keep the country's busiest airport open, 32 flights were still cancelled this morning.

A Met Office spokesman said the snow blanket stretched from the South and Midlands up to Lancashire and across to the Humber areas. There were snow showers today in eastern Scotland and north-eastern England, he said.

Up to 10cm of snow is predicted in Greater London. A Met Office spokesman said: 'In London it is as bad as we have seen in a number of years.'

Gatwick's runway was closed this morning but has now reopened. British Airways has cancelled about 25 flights.

????? ........ it's not as if they hadn't been warned before hand! What about all of this modern technology? I thought it was designed to cope with extremes. Isn't it just as well this isn't Russia or Iceland - they'd never get off the ground with this sort of attitude (c:=

Taxi driver loses roof in rescue

A taxi operator had one less car in his fleet on Tuesday after rescue services mistakenly cut the roof off a Mercedes Benz E 270.

One of Hans Lantto's drivers was out on a job near Rosvik in northern Sweden when he came across an accident. A bus had collided with a car, leaving two people injured. The driver stopped to see if he could help, newspaper NSD reports.

With temperatures down to a perishing -25 degrees Celsius, the two injured parties walked over to the car and asked if they could take shelter inside.

"Being a nice guy he let them sit there. One of them was shaking like a leaf," Lantto told NSD.

Together they waited for emergency services to arrive.

Soon Hans Lantto received a call from the driver. He has been in a state of shock ever since.

The driver explained that emergency services had begun arriving in numbers. They asked where they could find the two people who had been injured.

He pointed them in the direction of the car and a decision was quickly taken to slice the roof off.

Fearing for Lantto's taxi, the driver informed the rescue workers that the pair were just taking shelter and had in fact been injured while travelling in another vehicle.

But a decision had been taken and there was nothing the incredulous driver could do to stop it. Rather than ask whether the victims were in a fit state to get out of the car, emergency services proceeded with operation roof removal.

Rescue services in Piteå have said that the decision was correct, having been taken after consultation between rescue staff and medical personnel.

Per Isaksson, who led the rescue operation, stands by the decision.

"One of the people complained of neck and back pains. His arms and legs were numb," he told Expressen.

Isaksson added that he has never before had to destroy a car that was not involved in an accident.

"But for me it is crystal clear that we should cut open a car rather than risk a couple of human lives," said Isaksson.
The Local:

........ what a tosser!

Serbian village to erect Rocky statue

A Serbian village is planning to erect a huge statue of Rocky Balboa because locals are fed up with only making the news when their village gets flooded.

The village of Zitiste has suffered regular heavy flooding and landslides in recent years, and has gained a disaster-prone reputation.

But authorities now want to unveil the statue using Rocky as a symbol of the "abilty to bounce back every time you are knocked down".

'Political Correctness gone mad' (again)

Pupils have been banned from making Mother's Day cards - to avoid upsetting classmates without a mum.

... anyone without a mummy please see post below (c:=

Mummified man found - sitting in his apartment for 6 years

Dwellers of an apartment building in the city of Tula, central Russia, were horrified to learn of a discovery made in one of the apartments. The mummified body of a tenant was found in a sitting position in the kitchen of his apartment. The tenant had been dead for six years.

One hazy morning a telephone started ringing in an office of Mark Ignashin, an investigator with the prosecutor’s office of Tula’s central district. “This is a duty officer of a district police station. We’ve received a report on a mummified body found in apartment building No 142 on Lenin Street. We’re sending a vehicle to pick you up, Mr. Ignashin,” said the officer and hung up.

No sooner had Ignashin stepped into a typical Khrushchev-era tiny apartment than he became aware of a pungent putrid smell. A mummified body in a plaid shirt was seated at a kitchen table. The brownish parchment-like skin covered the mummy’s dried-up bones. An empty vodka bottle and a glass sat on a dusty table. One of the policemen brought a bunch of newspapers from a living room. All the newspapers dated back to February of 2000.

Werewolves ... sorry make that ... Zombies of London

Although you may think you've spotted some before on the train into work, London could soon see its streets full of walking zombies.

'Flesh mobbing', where people use the internet and their mobile phones to create spontaneous events dressed as zombies is about to attack the capital.

Commuters in Helsinki, Toronto, Sao Paulo and Brisbane have already been subject to the sight of Hammer Horror-style zombies marching through their streets as they try to make their way home.
London's first lurch is due in April according to website

Wednesday, 7 February 2007

Woman injured in fourth letter-bomb attack

A letter-bomb campaign against firms linked with motoring fines took another turn today after a woman was injured at the DVLA HQ.
Police probing the possibility that the culprit is a disgruntled motorist also revealed that another parcel exploded at the weekend at a private address...
Daily Mail: