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The GOS has been out-of-touch for a couple of weeks due to a family emergency, and on his return has set about scanning the newspapers and the internet for signs that intelligence and normality might have made a comeback in his absence. Sadly, they haven't.
 
Here are one or two of the stories he is pleased to have missed
 

 
One of the world's most dangerous terror suspects is, in the words of the Daily Mail, "preparing himself for a life on benefits in Britain after judges ruled that his deportation would breach human rights laws".
 
Abu Quatada was stopped by police in 2001 with 170,000 in cash. Some of it was in an envelope marked "for the mujahedin in Chechnya". No prizes for guessing where the rest was headed. He was the spiritual leader of Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, the now-dead Iraqi responsible for beheading Ken Bigley, and an advisor to Rachid Ramda, involved in the 1995 Paris Metro bombing. Videos of his sermons were found among the belonging of the 9/11 hijackers, and he is linked to several well-known European terrorists. He is alleged to have made a speech in 1999 calling for the killing of Jews, and has been convicted of terrorist activities in Jordan.
 
So, clearly a man whose human rights must be protected at all costs, even if it means he will continue to live with his wife and children in West London, safe and secure and supported by our tax money.
 

 

 
British local authorities wrote off 130 million in unpaid council tax last year. Derby City Council alone wrote off more than a million pounds, but still managed to find time to get a 71-year-old woman jailed for failing to pay her tax in protest at the drug-taking and prostitution outside her house.
 
A council spokesman said "It's difficult to track down non-payers who don't speak English, or who move around a lot, but a 71-year-old woman is a sitting target". Actually, he didn't say that at all - but he might as well have.
 
Mind you, this penchant for persecuting the elderly and the innocent isn't confined to the British isles, it seems. An old man in Bologna, Italy had his Rolex watch snatched from his wrist. Moments later the thief returned, threw the watch back and complained it wasn't a real Rolex.
 
The Italian police haven't caught the thief, but they have charged the old man for possessing a fake watch.
 
We'd like to say it could only happen in Italy, but we know that isn't true, don't we?
 

 

 
The Church of England used its single remaining brain cell this week, not to address any of the obvious ills in our society, not to help the poor and starving and oppressed around the world, not to comfort the beleaguered elderly middle-class who provide 99% of the little membership they have left, but to ban the traditional hymn "Jerusalem". St.Margaret's, Westminster - the parish church of Parliament - say that the contrast between "dark satanic mills" and "England's green and pleasant land" discriminates against city-dwellers.
 
Sorry, may I retract the comment about "single remaining brain cell"? There's no evidence here of any brain at all.
 

 

 
There's no comment needed from us about the shameful mess at Heathrow's Terminal Five, except to ask 2012 Olympics? are we serious?
 
But it was revealed this week that the proposed third runway at Heathrow will point straight across the M25, so that any plane that overshoots will crash right into thousands of commuters driving home. Hillingdon Council, the local planning authority, are fighting the scheme, of course. But frankly, if our weasel government want the thing built, built it will be. Three years late and 200% over budget, no doubt, but built.
 
BAA is owned by the Spanish construction firm Ferrovial.
 

 

 
The Royal Navy have been told by the Foreign Office that despite being sent to patrol the coast of Somalia to put down rampant piracy, they mustn't actually do anything to the pirates. If they capture them, they might be entitled to claim asylum in Britain, and apparently there would be nothing a highly-developed nation with an army, a navy, an airforce and its own nuclear weapons could do to stop them.
 
And if they send the pirates back to their native Somalia they might be beheaded or have their hands chopped off by the authorities there, and that would infringe their human rights.
 
Needless to say, the French have no such qualms.When a yacht with 22 French citizens on board was captured by Somali pirates, 50 French commandos went ashore, seized the pirates and took back the ransom that had been paid.
 
A Foreign Office spokesman said "The main thing is to ensure any incident is resolved peacefully". Well, no, Mrs.Spokesman, it isn't, actually. When armed, murdering savages take to the high seas, attacking, robbing and killing innocent civilians and seamen, the main thing is to shoot the buggers. That's what a navy is for.
 
Mind you, when was the last time our navy actually shot anyone? The last bit of action I can remember is when a group of Naval personnel were captured by the Iranians, and they cried.
 

 

 
A London man wanted to treat his girlfriend on her birthday by taking her to Europe's longest champagne bar at St.Pancras Station. However, his request to put a candle on top of her birthday cake was turned down. "If permission had been granted, a fire extinguisher would have had to be on stand-by in case the candle burnt out of control", a spokesman said.
 

erm what fire extinguisher?

 
St.Pancras Station used to be the London terminus of first the Midland Railway and later the London Midland and Scottish Railway, both heavy users of steam locomotives. You know steam engines? each with a bloody great furnace in it?
 

 

 
15-year-old Camilla Hempleman-Adams has just travelled to the North Pole. On skis.
 
She did it with her father and 11 other people, and nobody so far has mentioned Elf'n'Safety, or the tremendous cost of a rescue operation if one becomes necessary, or putting her and other people's lives at risk etc., etc. Which is something to be thankful for, I suppose.
 
She's been enduring temperatures of 40 below, with wind-chill taking it down to 60 below. And her return is being hampered because there's too much ice, or something. Mind you, before I wax too lyrical let me remind myself why she did it. To "draw attention to global warming", she says.
 
Silly girl. Determination, enterprise, sense of adventure, physical fitness, drop-dead gorgeous, and not a coherent thought in her head.
 

 

 
Thirteen Asian youths have been convicted of battering a 15-year-old white boy, kicking him and fracturing his skull with a hammer, leaving him with brain damage. It happened in front of a crowd of 250 schoolchildren on the tennis courts at Ridgeway Comprehensive School, near Swindon. It appears that some or all of the attackers were not pupils at the school.
 
The GOS was a teacher for many years, and he can state fairly confidently that at any of the schools he taught in, if a crowd of 250 youngsters had gathered anywhere in the school grounds, teachers would have known about it and investigated immediately. It's also unlikely that a squad of 13 young men would have been able to walk round the site without attracting attention from staff.
 
So where were the headmaster and his staff at the time? Has anyone in authority called into question their custodianship of the school site, and their care for the pupils? The Swindon Advertiser newspaper certainly does - see here.
 

 

 
British journalism plunged to a new low last week when at least two national papers - the Sun and the Express - published with banner headlines an emotive story about the McCanns leaving their children to cry in their bedroom. This was carefully timed to coincide with the couple's participation in the foundation of a new European organisation to help families in similar plight to their own.
 
Kicking people when they're down is one of the least-attractive traits of British character, and of course some newspapers have got it in for the McCanns since they were forced to apologise to the couple for alleging that they had killed their own child. The GOS is world-weary and cynical, experience having taught him that if a thing can go wrong, it will, and that one should always expect the worst of human nature. But even he can't help being outraged by this latest vicious, vindictive bit of self-righteous finger-pointing at a couple whose only crime is to be middle-class, educated and self-possessed.
 
Compared to the McCanns, the press are giving the weird (and quite possibly criminal) family of little Shannon Matthews an easy ride. But then, they aren't posh, are they?
 

 

 
Finally, an ever-so-slightly positive piece of news. Reported in the Brisbane Times, of all places, that school children in Britain could soon be signing up for controversial lessons in military drills and weapons training.
 
Prime Minister Gordon Brown is reportedly backing the plan, which aims to improve links between the public and armed forces. The plan has been drawn up after a review of the military's role in British society found that encouraging high school pupils to join the country's cadet corps could help improve discipline among teenagers, and improve attitudes towards the army, navy and air force.
 
The Labour MP who carried out the review for the government, Quentin Davies, was alarmed by how many pupils had no idea of military life. He wants high school pupils to receive basic military training to help foster a greater affiliation with the defence forces. "The prime minister is very, very keen on the opportunities represented by cadet forces and we will be making a number of recommendations to increase the use of this superb national asset," Davies said.
 
However, the plan has alarmed anti-gun campaigners who say teaching teenagers to shoot would only exacerbate gun crime in Britain.
 

 
The GOS says: Mind you, anti-gun campaigners, like single-issue campaigners in general, aren't noted for their deep and balanced insights. Are they not aware that Britain's public schools have been doing just this for decades past, in the shape of the schools' Cadets Corps? And just how many ex-public schoolboys or girls have turned into gun-toting maniacs? None, I should think.
 

 
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