Tag Archives: News

Ten Years Since the Twin Tower Terror

11th September 2001, 1.46pm (GMT) – just after lunch. I can remember exactly what I was doing.

Dale was at work, but I had the day off. I was sitting at the computer in the livingroom with the television on in the background for company when I turned and saw on the screen what I thought was a particularly chilling disaster movie. Moments later I burst into tears when I realised a “Breaking News” report had interrupted scheduled viewing and this was really happening.

I spent the rest of the day with tears streaming down my face at the horror of it all.

At 2.03pm (GMT) I sobbed out loud as I watched an airplane hit the second tower.

At 2.37pm (GMT) I was shocked to hear another aircraft had crashed into the Pentagon. The Pentagon! Wasn’t that supposed to be the centre of the department of defence for an entire nation? Shouldn’t it be immune to such an attack? My mind was well and truly boggled.

At 2.59pm (GMT) I fell silent with shock as the first tower started to fall. When the second tower began to tumble at 3.28pm (GMT) I realised I hadn’t made a sound in between.

In the meantime, at 3.03pm (GMT) the fourth passenger flight crash landed, missing its target, which was apparently supposed to be The Whitehouse or the Capitol.

It was a tragic day and one that will never be forgotten. It has become my generation’s “JFK”. Everyone knows where they were and what they were doing, unless they were too young to remember anything at all.

The resulting “war on terror” hasn’t ended yet. We’re all still paying the price for the actions of a few extremists and our world will never be the same again.

My admiration for those who risked their lives trying to save others is boundless, and my sorrow for those families who lost loved ones equals that.

Ten years on, I still feel the same.

Where were you?


What’s your sign? Actually, let’s just check…

According to a report I read on Yahoo news today, we might all have new star signs now, due to the movement of Earth and the reintroduction of a thirteenth sign.

See HERE for full article.

Apparently, the new Western astrology line-up runs like this:

Capricorn: Jan. 20-Feb. 16
Aquarius: Feb. 16-March 11
Pisces: March 11-April 18
Aries: April 18-May 13
Taurus: May 13-June 21
Gemini: June 21-July 20
Cancer: July 20-Aug. 10
Leo: Aug. 10-Sept. 16
Virgo: Sept. 16-Oct. 30
Libra: Oct. 30-Nov. 23
Scorpio: Nov. 23-29
Ophiuchus: Nov. 29-Dec. 17 – The new sign!
Sagittarius: Dec. 17-Jan. 20

So, according to this, Xander and I are no longer indecisive Librans (which, before Julius Caesar, we wouldn’t have been in the first place), but are instead, tidy Virgos (we’ll just see how tidy I get after this – LOL!). And my orderly Virgo hubby, Dale, is now a showy Leo (try telling that to the man who likes a quiet life!).

So, take a look and tell me – what’s your sign?

Soapbox Tuesdays – Smoking

Last week, there was an article on Yahoo News with the headline Going for a smoke? Don’t forget to clock out, and I have to admit, it raised a big smile from me!

I’m really glad that Breckland Council has taken the step to do away with “free” cigarette breaks and hope that all places of work will follow suit because it’s something that has gone on for far too long. Let’s look at the numbers, shall we?

Let’s be generous and say our example smoker works full-time and takes four cigarette breaks during his working day (excluding lunch and designated breaks). Let’s say he takes 5 minutes to smoke his cigarette, but also add 5 minutes for him to get to the designated smoking spot and then back to his desk.

That’s 4 breaks x 10 minutes = 40 minutes.

He has a 5-day working week, so that’s 5 days x 40 minutes = 200 minutes (which is 3 hours 20 minutes) every week.

Lets say he has 8 weeks holiday, so he’s working 44 weeks per year. That’s 44 weeks x 200 minutes = 8800 minutes per year = 146 hours 40 minutes.

Divide that by his working days (8 hours per day) and you have 18 1/3rd days spent smoking whilst at work! And all that time, his non-smoking colleagues are still working…

But it’s not just the smoking breaks that bugs me. SInce the ban came in on smoking in public buildings, it’s been a lot nicer for non-smokers who can now go to the pub without coming hom stinking of cigarette smoke, but I hate having to walk through billowing clouds of smoke as people stand outside buildings to have their cigarette breaks – often holding them at a level that is just right for hitting a small child in the face as they toddle down the street or are in their pushchairs. I also hate being stuck behind several smokers walking down the street – I can barely breathe for choking and if they’re walking two or three abreast, it’s impossible to get past them on the pavement. If the road is busy, there’s no way round them at all. Both my child and I are stuck breathing their second-hand smoke till they respond to my “excuse me, please”.

So here’s what I’d love to see – no smoking on the streets at all. Smoke in the comfort of your own homes, in your car, and in designated smoking spots, but not right on the street where the rest of us have to walk through it. I really hope that’s the way things are headed!

I’d be interested in hearing your point of view, whether you agree or disagree. Please leave a comment below and, if you post on your own blog, please leave a link to your Soapbox Tuesdays post!

Soapbox Tuesdays – Alcohol vs. Class A Drugs

Yesterday, I came across an article on Yahoo News with the headline Alcohol ‘more dangerous than heroin’ and  I just have to comment on  it for my first Soapbox Tuesday.

You see, I actually agree that alcohol is more dangerous than Class A drugs.

Yes, I know that you can (and most likely will) become addicted to heroin after taking it just once, whereas most people do not become alcoholics, so the issue here is not necessarily one of the likelihood of becoming addicted (although I’m sure nobody will disagree with the statement that one may become addicted to either), but in terms of long-term effects, I really do believe that alcohol is the more dangerous drug.

From the article:

His [Professor David Nutt] team analysed how addictive a drug is and how it harms the human body as well as other factors like environmental and socio-economic costs, such as health care, social services, and prison.

They found heroin, crack cocaine and methamphetamine, or crystal meth, to be the most lethal to individuals.

When considering their wider social effects, alcohol, heroin and crack cocaine were the most dangerous. But overall, alcohol outranked all other substances, followed by heroin and crack cocaine. Marijuana, ecstasy and LSD scored far lower.

Marking substances from zero to 100 based on their criteria, alcohol scored 72 overall, compared to 55 for heroin and 54 for crack.

Now, I will hasten to point out that I do occasionally drink alcohol, although these days, not very often and not very much, but I’ve had possibly more than my fair share of drinks in my lifetime, and I’m not disputing anyone’s right to have a drink, in a pub or club or in the comfort of their own home, but please bear with me…

Above, in brief, are some of the short- and long-term effects of heroin on the body (pinched from Wikipedia). I’ll also add to that the well-known fact that you can die from an overdose the very first time you use it…

… the same can be said of alcohol!

Yup, you can overdose on alcohol to the extent that you get alcohol poisoning and die as a result. I’m also willing to bet that if you injected alcohol into your veins, you’ll be dead pretty quickly too.

But that isn’t the only danger where alcohol is concerned. How many people do you know would shoot up and then get behind the wheel of a car? Now think again, how many people you know who will have a drink or two and then drive home from the pub. Fair enough, they might be below limit, but the drug is still in their system and reducing their effectiveness while in control of that vehicle. Go a step further – I’m sure many of us know someone who has driven a car while over the limit, whether by a little or a lot. Not all of those people will be involved in an accident, but many will. Those who do risk killing themselves – and others.

And then there are all those incidences of people who, with a few drinks in them, become very handy with their fists. You know the ones – they lose their temper more easily and it flares up to the point where they’re swinging punches. Or picking up blunt objects and hitting someone with them. Or a broken bottle. Or a knife.

One hears countless news stories of those who have brutally beaten and/or killed while under the influence of alcohol. Funnily enough, I don’t think I can recall many such stories of heroin-users doing that whilst under the influence of their drug of choice.

I’d be interested in hearing your point of view, whether you agree or disagree. Please leave a comment below and, if you post on your own blog, please leave a link to your Soapbox Tuesdays post!

Crime and Punishment

I spotted a headline on Yahoo news this morning that read “Prisoners Are Set To Work 40-Hour Week

My Dad is a prison officer, so stories about prisons and the prison system interest me, but I was shocked to hear that,

a) prisoners don’t already work while they are incarcerated, and
b) they earn, on average, £9.60 per week by attending classes, workshops and other sessions

Forgive me, but I was always under the impression that prison is supposed to be a punishment for breaking the law. They most certainly shouldn’t get Sky and computer access (which I know many of them do!) or be allowed to lounge around at their leisure or using the gym facilities.

A few years ago there was a big hoo-haa about in-mates at some prisons having to “slop out” because they had to go to the loo in buckets during the night as there weren’t toilets in the cells. I have no problem with that! Why should the cells al be en-suite? My home doesn’t even have an en-suite bathroom – I have to share with my husband and son. Surely it’s not too much to expect prisoners to have to do the same?

Prison should automatically mean the with-holding of all luxuries – that means TV, gym facilities, computers and the like. It should not be a holiday camp.

Prisoners should definitely be expected to do something that will benefit others as well as support the prison system that feeds and houses them throughout their incarceration. They should also have to serve their full sentence with no time off for “good behaviour”, after all, it’s their bad behaviour that led to them being there in the first place, but with time added on for misbehaviour.

I say bring back the chain gangs for lower-level prisoners (i.e. non-violent etc) and the pot holes in our roads would soon be taken care of!

Put the rest of them to work making goods that can be sold or providing a service that can be offered from inside the prison. Yes, give them some small amount of “pay” from their efforts, but only a very tiny proportion of the income they generate should be given to the prisoners themselves – after all, they are there to be punished for their wrongdoings – and it should only be given to them on their release to put towards getting themselves settled back on the outside when their sentence has been served.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for rehabilitation programmes, but I truly do believe that in addition to that, prisoners should be expected to contribute in some meaningful way at the same time – no free rides!

Have you ever heard anything so pointless?

I don’t often read the news because it’s usually a combination of celebrity gossip and depressing stuff, but this afternoon an article on Yahoo News caught my eye. The headline read “Pay Pregnant Smokers £10 A Week To Quit“.  The article suggests that “pregnant women who give up smoking should be given a £10-a-week “reward”, according to a political think tank.”

You would think that not harming their unborn child with their bad habit would be reward enough.

If ever there was a good time and reason to stop smoking, it’s because you’re pregnant and want what’s best for your child. I know not everyone can manage it, but surely all pregnant smokers should at least want to try, and not just because of a cash “reward”.

How about a reward for all those pregnant ladies who already don’t smoke?

Let’s take it further.

There are already schemes in some parts of the country that reward parents for making the environmentally ethical choice when it comes to nappies by reimbursing part of the cost of cloth nappies, which is great, but how about rewarding Mums who breastfeed? At the moment it’s all back to front with vouchers to go towards formula when surely it makes financial, medical and common sense to encourage breastfeeding over formula feeding?

I know there are some women who cannot or choose not to breastfeed their babies and that is entirely up to them – I do not refute their right to choose – but from a government point of view, are they really doing enough to promote breastfeeding?

During “breastfeeding week” an advert is broadcast in Scotland about breastfeeding, but you never see it the rest of the year. It’s a shame that breastfeeding needs a national awareness week when it’s something that should really be the norm, after all human beings are mammals – mammals have mammary glands with which to feed their young. That is the true primary function of the female breast. Sexual pleasure is a mere secondary consideration and it’s only the western so-called civilisations that have sexualized the female breast to the point where it is seen as obscene to show them in public. Not that I’m advocating just “whipping them out” when you’re walking down the street, but feeding a baby or toddler is completely different and is completely non-sexual – there is no comparison. A nursing mother’s intention is not exhibitionism, it is the nourishment, comfort and wellbeing of her child that is foremost in her mind and you can bet she’s trying to flash as little of her post-pregnancy flesh as she can manage!

Anyway, to go back to the point I was originally trying to make – there are far better ways for the government to spend money when it comes to pregnancy and motherhood.

They should be channeling it into getting accurate information and proper support to all mothers and making sure that all health practitioners are on the same page, so that the quality of care and information isn’t wildly different depending on which person you happen to see.

It should be channelled into setting up milk banks for premature babies (I would gladly have donated milk form my over-productive boobies when I was nursing Xan, but the closest milk bank to Aberdeen is in Glasgow and they do not collect this far north).

It should be channelled into educating mothers from all walks of life on just how capable they are and what their bodies are capable of doing (really, many would be amazed to discover it’s a very low percentage of women who are genetically predisposed to not producing enough breast milk to nourish their babies, but poor support and inaccurate information which undermines the efforts of a nursing mum result in declining milk production!).

And finally, it should be put towards educating the public to the fact that when it comes to feeding your baby, breast really is best, so anyone who sees a nursing mum should be thinking “Good on you!” rather than harassing her and making her feel uncomfortable.

£10 a week to reward smoking mums for quitting? Come off it! What will happen is you’ll get chancers saying they smoke (or even starting to smoke!) in order to get an extra tenner off the government.

Is that really what we want or need?



And on tonight’s news…

BONG! Celebrity A has confessed to cheating on Celebrity B with Celebrity C
BONG! Celebrity D comes out of the closet and admits, “I’m Gay!”
BONG! Celebrity E is slammed for being too skinny
BONG! Celebrity F is caught wearing fur after anti-fur campaigning
BONG! Celebrity G goes into rehab again for drink/drug abuse and sex addiction
BONG! The Mentalist is on at 9pm

Yes, unbelievably, these are all “top stories” I’ve heard on the news in the very recent past, and I have a bit of a beef with it. Let’s take the stories one at a time, shall we?

Celebrity A has confessed to cheating on Celebrity B with Celebrity C
People cheat on their partners all the time. How many people can honestly hold up their hand and say “I have never, ever cheated on any of my partners”? And of those who can, how many can say, “For definite, none of my partners have never cheated on me”? Really? Are you being completely honest with yourself? It’s not news just because the people involved are famous – it’s just a bunch of people screwing each other and getting/causing hurt and it’s nobody’s business but theirs.

Celebrity D comes out of the closet and admits, “I’m Gay!”
And in what way does it affect us? Do we still love their music/movies/whatever it is they do? Then what business is it of ours what they choose to do in the bedroom and with whom they choose to do it?

Celebrity E is slammed for being too skinny
I’m willing to bet that Celebrity E was, just a few short months ago, branded “a bit chunky” and has had an extreme over-reaction to the comments because they live and work in a world where image is everything. It’s hands up time again – how many of us can honestly say they are 100% happy with their body? How many of us battle with our weight, whether we need to shed or gain some? Does it really make a difference to us whether or not Celebrity E is under or overweight if it does not affect their work? If they need help with a weight problem, they shouldn’t have to deal with it in a glare of publicity. By all means, if that celebrity chooses to champion a cause and become a spokesperson to raise awareness of said problem, good for them. If not, please leave them alone!

Celebrity F is caught wearing fur after anti-fur campaigning
You know what? People are hypocrites! We’ve been saying one thing and doing another as long as we’ve had language at our disposal. Human beings are fallible. Human beings do stupid things that contradict what they said only a short time before. I might not agree with the fur trade, but while I wear leather shoes, I don’t feel I’m in a strong position to throw stones at the fur-wearer’s glass house – someone else could just as easily be taking aim at mine!

Celebrity G goes into rehab again for drink/drug abuse and sex addiction
See my comments for Celebrity E. People get drunk/high and become addicted to substances/activities all the time. Let them get on with trying to get better, whether they’re famous or the person down the street from you. They deserve help and support as much as the next person. And it’s hardly anything new for a Celebrity to live to excess – many people who are not celebrities go out and get raucously drunk and take drugs every weekend then go home and have sex with someone they shouldn’t.

The Mentalist is on at 9pm
If I want to know what’s on the telly, I’ll check the TV listings. I keep close tabs on when my favourite programmes are on so I can record them and watch them at my leisure when I know I have the time and energy to enjoy them properly.

So, how many of the above headlines were actually news? The answer is NONE OF THEM! Five were celebrity gossip and the other was a heads-up on a show. When did the news turn into a gossip magazine? Was it perhaps around the same time that newscasters started sitting on their desks instead of behind them?

I have resolved not to watch any news programme again until they sort this out. What little actual news there is (war, ecological disasters, criminal cases brought to court, etc) is slotted between such dross that we miss most of what could actually be important information, or actual news.

Is anyone else driven nuts by this? Is it time we all started a “News” boycott till the networks wise up and start reporting news again?