Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Sounding off

Second day of the #PornTrial and after fisting, the court has been introduced to urethral sounding; in layman's terms, that's sticking stuff, mainly metal rods or sounds, down your japs eye for pleasure. Like fisting, this is a completely legal act but has landed Mr. Walsh up in court for having a picture of this on an email that was sent to him unsolicited. Let me run that by you again - a man is in court because someone sent him a picture of a legal sex act.

Thinking about sounding for a minute, perhaps an interesting comparison is with the Prince Albert piercing, a piece of metal jewellery is inserted down the urethra and out of a hole pierced at the bottom of the glans. One of the reasons cited for getting the piercing is for sexual pleasure. If Mr. Walsh is convicted of possessing extreme pornography, that would likely make the pictures on the Prince Albert Wikipedia page that I linked to illegal...

Background on the case can be found at the ObscenityLawyer blog and on his Twitter feed.

Monday, 30 July 2012

The long fist of the law

An interesting case has come to court today:
Today the Crown Prosecution Service will attempt to persuade a jury that images of fisting should be classified as “extreme pornography” with the risk to the defendant of three years in custody, inclusion on the sex offenders' register and damage to his personal and professional standing.
Simon Walsh, has been charged with being in possession of extreme pornographic images under section 63 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008: so the Prosecution must prove that the act of fisting is “likely to result in serious injury to a person’s anus”.
More information on the case can be found at the ObscenityLawyer blog and on his Twitter feed.

Section 63 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 states that:
(6) An “extreme image” is an image which—

(a) falls within subsection (7), and
(b) is grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character.

(7) An image falls within this subsection if it portrays, in an explicit and realistic way, any of the following—

(a) an act which threatens a person's life,
(b) an act which results, or is likely to result, in serious injury to a person's anus, breasts or genitals,
(c) an act which involves sexual interference with a human corpse, or
(d) a person performing an act of intercourse or oral sex with an animal (whether dead or alive),

and a reasonable person looking at the image would think that any such person or animal was real.
It's a bloody awful law that came about after the murder of Jane Longhurst.  Because it is so subjective, it has to be tested in the courts to set precedents for future cases. This has led to ridiculous cases like the chap who was up before a judge for possessing a clip of someone having sex with a tiger. It was hastily dropped after it was discovered to be a very obvious fake.

Fisting, which I suspect is a minority pursuit, is a completely legal act and therefore seems odd that it would be criminal to possess an image or film of an act of it. I also suspect that injury is unlikely to occur simply because those who partake in it will have worked themselves up to it over time - you cannot simply just stick a hand up an arse. If there is a conviction for this, what then of other large insertions on film? When is a dildo too big? What about the "larger" gentleman performing or those stretchy ladies who can accommodate more than one man in the same place at the same time? Just these examples show what a nonsense that trying to get a conviction on images of fisting is. I can only wish Mr. Walsh and his legal team the best of luck with this and hope that the case is thrown out.

Friday, 27 July 2012

We are the 1.5%

The Guardian has been ever so excited that Bryn Phillips, occupier and convicted criminal (violent disorder and burglary during the riots last year), put himself down as a candidate for the Farringdon Within by-election in the City of London:

Bryn Phillips, a 32-year-old writer and community organiser in east London, is to contest a byelection for the City of London Corporation, the Square Mile's local authority, and critics have accused it of using its statutory position to lobby for the financial services industry.

I would fully expect any local authority to stick up for the businesses within its boundaries and take on their concerns - that is a good thing.

"I'm convinced that democratic reform of the City of London is the best way to start addressing the problems we face in our banking system," said Phillips, who hopes anger over the Libor scandal will boost his chances of election on 26 July.

The City of London Corporation is a local authority with a few ancient traditions and fancy titles.  It doesn't control how banks operate or are regulated.  Farringdon Within is equivalent to Dibley parish council.

There is of course the obligatory CiF opinion piece and follow up article:

"We want to renew the balance of power in the City and then the country at large," he said. "There will be full elections on 13 February next year and Occupy will be fielding a full slate of candidates at that point. We hope today will be just the starting point."

Here's my prediction - you won't.

The by-election was held on 26th July. Turnout was 172 out of a possible 1,525, just over 11%.  Of this, Phillips got 23 votes which is equal to 13.5% of votes cast or 1.5% of the electorate, rather far away from the 99% who he and Occupy purport to represent. Now where can I find the results and reaction in the Guardian? Hmmm...

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

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Sunday, 15 July 2012

Well that didn't last long...

The latest lefty protest group out to scam a few quid from the gullible appears to have been strangled at birth:


This has only just come to my attention as Pay Up! blocked me on Twitter. I can't see anything on their website why their planned protests were cancelled:

Due to circumstances beyond our control - we've had to hold off on the weekend of action. There are developments. More info soon.

Well they've had a week and a bit now and no further info on this. What is highly probable is that Unite and Sainsbury's staff told them to fuck off because as mentioned previously, their actions would undermine the efforts of the union to negotiate a better deal for staff. Epic protest fail.

Libraries and the Cuts

There's a standard "evil Tories shutting down schools, hospitals, and libraries" line that is forever trotted by the Left that I reckon needs challenging. The story of the closure of Kensall Rise Library got my interest as the campaign against the closure got some fairly high profile backing. There has to be more to it then just ideological Tory cuts surely? Well of course there is - I dug out the consultation responses and replies to those from Brent council and the background and reasons for the closure can be summed up as follows:
  • It costs £186,100 to run the library (staffing and premises costs) and in 2009/10 45,755 people visited (came through the door). This equates to £4.00 per visit to the library.
  • By contrast Willesden Green Library costs just £0.90 per visit. 
  • In 2009/10, compared with other libraries, both attendance and book issues were low.
  • Kensal Rise is the least used library in the borough, the most expensive to run and it is also very close to Kilburn Library on Salusbury Road [just over a mile if you walk it].
  • Kensal Rise is also the library most in need of repair and the estimated costs of that over the next twenty years come to nearly half a million pounds.
  • Only 9% of our budget is spent on books because we are delivering services from poorly used buildings, which are expensive to run.
It should also be noted that the building is owned by All Souls College Oxford and provided rent free to the council.

The Kensal Rise close is one of several as part of Brent's Libraries Transformation Project. The point of it, apart from to save money, is to bring the remaining libraries up to scratch getting new books and facilities in as well as fixing up the buildings. Without knowing the overall cuts that Brent were making and the decision process behind them, it is difficult to put the library closures into context. What is does reveal is that the same services are being provided at Willesden Green just over a mile away at less than a quarter of the cost per visit, and even sharing staff with Kilburn and no rent to pay, facing an average annual cost of £25k for building maintenance, there doesn't appear to be a way of making it more efficiently run. The justification for closing Kensal Rise looks sound but why cut libraries? Context is important here as it would be interesting to know what was saved over what was cut. For that, Labour-controlled Brent council will have the answers.

Olympics Tax Dodge?

UK Uncut are up in arms again; this time it's the Olympics:

The Olympic site has become the world’s newest temporary tax haven. Instead of funding our vital public services, or refunding the British public for paying for the Olympics, billions of pounds of profits made by multinational companies with monopoly rights to exploit the Games will flow directly into the pockets of shareholders and CEOs.

The Games’ ‘partner organisations’ including the likes of McDonald’s and Visa have a temporary exemption from both UK Corporation Tax and UK Income Tax. According to a report published by Ethical Consumer, Olympics-related corporate partners and service providers are due to make £2.7bn in revenues this summer. They will be avoiding over £600m in tax. Forget Bolt and Ennis, the real winners at the Games are the corporate sponsors.

Not withstanding that the Ethical Consumer report attributes that £2.7bn as revenue earned by the not-for-profit International Olympic Committee, this is missing the point somewhat. The tax exemptions are part of the deal of being awarded the Olympics and specific legislation went through parliament to enact this, therefore it cannot be tax avoidance. Olympics or no Olympics, however they came up with the £600m figure which I suspect is a gross exaggeration, it would never have been tax due so in effect HMRC has lost nothing. Surprisingly, UK Uncut have chosen to focus on this rather than the £11bn obscenity of the games themselves...

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Burning Our Money

Call me mean-spirited but I don't agree with this at all:


And from the press release:

All Bristol City Council employees earning below a 'living wage' hourly rate of £7.30 will receive a one-off lump sum that brings their pay up to this level.

Current workforce data indicates that there are 247 Full-Time Equivalent council employees and 372 Full-Time Equivalent schools' employees who fall below the Living Wage threshold.

If this was a payment for outstanding performance or doing a great bit of work then fair enough, but in effect this is a bonus for earning a low wage, nothing more. Please don't get me wrong, I think that £6.08 or even £7.30 is pretty terrible, but these jobs are going to be junior and/or unskilled and since there's no shortage of people who will work for minimum wage, why pay more? The small business owner with twenty or so employees may well struggle to give all of their staff a £2k+ pay increase for no discernible benefit but this is no problem if you're almost entirely funded by the taxpayer. Of course, it is very easy to spend other people's money, as demonstrated perfectly by this and the wholly unnecessary taxpayer funded iPad that the tweet above was posted from.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Terrorbus

I bought an electronic cigarette from China about four years ago in what was to be a failed attempt to stop smoking. I found it to take the edge of cravings but was no substitute for the real thing. The "smoke" given off is actually water vapour and therefore is harmless to those around you and although I haven't heard of any medical studies, I would bet that it's far more healthy to use an e-cig rather than smoke. It attracted a fair bit of interest from people who had never heard of them as well as some dirty looks from those who thought I was polluting the air in the office. Unfortunately, someone unaware of electronic cigarettes sparked a terror alert today:

A fake cigarette prompted armed police to swoop on a coach on the M6 Toll road and close the motorway for more than four hours.

Forty eight passengers on the Megabus Preston to London service were led off the coach and forced to sit apart in a cordon on the opposite carriageway.

The road was closed near Lichfield before police said they were no longer treating the incident as suspicious.

Police said they received a "genuine report" of vapour escaping from a bag.

Armed officers, troops, firefighters and bomb disposal experts all went to the scene.


Well, it's nice to see that we're prepared for such an event but I'm struggling to understand what was going through the mind of the person who reported it. Let's get some perspective; a terrorist attack is a rarity, but when they do happen, they tend to be rather elaborate and spectacular - think the London bombings on 7/7 - rush hour, thousands of people trying to get to work, exploding trains and buses, people trapped deep underground. So why the fuck would a terrorist trouble themselves with a piss-poor target of 48 people on bus travelling along a motorway in the middle of nowhere? The mind boggles...

The knock-on effect of this will no doubt be the usual government overreaction with some sort of clampdown on electronic cigarettes, be it banning them indoors or on public transport being pushed to the top of the list of priorities.