BMEWS
 
Sarah Palin knows how old the Chinese gymnasts are.

calendar   Monday - May 05, 2008

The first woman to break the sound barrier. Obit of one BRAVE wartime Brit. And there were many!

This is not a morning I wanna be at a computer.  It is a rather gloomy (to some) and dreary (to some) sort of rainy English morning that I revel in.
It’s also the sort of morning that makes me want to return to a warm bed with a good book.  Of which I have a few.  But I can’t.

Aside from a few duties I have here, when I opened the morning paper looking for news and something of Moonbat interest, I came to the obit page.
No paper anywhere does this the way the Telegraph does, and I was quite taken with the story of this extrodinary woman.

While it’s true that there were countless American ladies doing the same thing, they generally (I do not believe) always had to do this in the same conditions Brits did and as well didn’t often run the wartime risk of attack.  Which isn’t to belittle their bravery or deny em their due.

So .....  Here’s my latest heartthrob.  And Heaven (should there be one) bless her.

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Diana Barnato Walker
Last Updated: 1:00AM BST 05/05/2008
‘Atagirl’ who delivered hundreds of planes during the war and was the first woman to break the sound barrier.

Diana Barnato Walker, who died on April 28 aged 90 , occupied an almost legendary position in the world of aviation: as well as being one of a handful of “Atagirls”, women who served during the war as ATA (Air Transport Auxiliary) pilots delivering newly-built and battle-ready aircraft to airfields all over southern England, in 1963 she became the first woman in the world to break the sound barrier.

The diminutive socialite granddaughter of a South African diamond millionaire, before the war Diana Barnato was well known in London for her high spirits and for late nights spent at the Embassy or 400 Club in London. She was also known for the Bentley which she was given for her 21st birthday - a gift from her doting father, the motor-racing champion Woolf “Babe” Barnato.

In 1938, looking for new excitement, she decided to try her hand at flying and gained her licence after only six hours’ training. Three years later, she abandoned her affluent lifestyle to rough it in the ATA. By the age of 22 she had delivered 240 Spitfires and many other aircraft and narrowly survived several brushes with death.

It was said that the Atagirls tended to come in two models - cropped hair and sensible shoes, or “powder puff”. That Diana Barnato Walker was one of the latter variety was clear from her autobiography, Spreading My Wings (1994), in which she described an occasion when, delivering a Spitfire, she decided to try some aerobatics but got stuck upside down: “While I was wondering what to do next, from out of my top overall pocket fell my beautifully engraved silver powder compact. It wheeled round and round the bubble canopy like a drunken sailor on a wall of death, then sent all the face powder over everything.”

When she eventually arrived at her destination a “very tall and handsome” RAF flight lieutenant hopped on to the wing to meet her: “One glance was enough. His mouth dropped open. ‘I was told,’ he gasped, ‘that a very very pretty girl was bringing us a new aircraft. All I can see is some ghastly clown!’ ”

On another occasion, “skimming happily along in a Spitfire”, she suddenly found herself in thick cloud, “but I couldn’t bale out! My skirt would have ridden up with the parachute straps and anyone who happened to be below would have seen my knickers!” Instead, to the astonishment of those on the ground, she managed to nurse her aircraft down, breaking through the cloud at tree-top height and banking sharply to avoid a patch of woodland, to make a perfect landing in heavy rain on the tiny grass airstrip of what turned out to be the Navigation and Blind Flying Establishment at RAF Windrush.

The moment she got out of the cockpit on to the wing of the aircraft after this escapade, she felt sure she was going to faint. An RAF man was approaching and, not wanting him to think that anything was amiss, she knelt down on the wing and scrabbled in her cockpit pretending to look for her maps. At which point he said: “I say, Miss, you must be good on instruments.”

In fact, though, Diana Barnato had brought the aircraft down with no instruments. The ATA expected its pilots to fly in all weathers without navigational aids. As a result of this, and the fact that they flew unarmed and without radios, service in the ATA was one of the most dangerous activities available to either sex in the whole war. Out of the 108 female pilots recruited during the war, 16 were to perish in the air - including Amy Johnson, the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia, who died ferrying an Oxford aircraft in 1941.

On several occasions Diana Barnato came within seconds of following her into oblivion. She attributed her survival to her “guardian angel” and a man who had accosted her as she was about to take off on her first solo flight at Brooklands, whose hands and face were horribly burned. “In those days girls like me didn’t see horrors,” she recalled, “so it was a nasty fright. He looked at me and said, ‘Don’t fly, Miss Barnato. Look what it’s done to me.’ After that I was a very careful pilot.”

Diana Barnato was born on January 15 1918 into a hugely gifted and enterprising Jewish family. Her grandfather, Barney Barnato, began as a trader and juggler in the Mile End Road, saved £50 and hitched his way to Johannesburg, where he became co-founder of the De Beers mining group.

Her father, Woolf, inherited his father’s millions aged two, after Barney Barnato mysteriously fell or jumped over the side of a ship taking him to England in 1897. Woolf Barnato went on to win the Le Mans 24-hour race in three consecutive years from 1928 to 1930, was also a “plus” handicap golfer, a first-class shot, a county-level tennis player, a top horseman and a champion swimmer and skier. Among other accomplishments he was said to be able to drink two bottles of champagne with no visible effect.

During the 1920s and 1930s his house near Lingfield, Surrey (described as being “more like the Savoy than a home”), became the venue for wild all-night parties. At one of these, Brooklands-style racing pits were constructed along the quarter-mile gravel drive. Guests in powerful cars, with beautiful girls aboard, tore into the “pits” for champagne, served by waiters dressed as racers, with linen helmets and goggles, before speeding up to the house.

Diana and her sister Virginia were the daughters of Barnato’s American-born first wife. The marriage foundered when Diana was four, after her father embarked on an affair with an actress. Both parents remarried but they remained on good terms.

The two girls were brought up by their mother and an army of nannies and governesses in a large house on Primrose Hill, but often went to stay with their father, who indulged them by allowing them to stay up late for dinner. Once Diana was placed next to Dudley “Benjy” Benjafield, the 1927 winner of Le Mans with SCH “Sammy” Davis. Noticing that her neighbour was nodding off into his soup, Diana politely tapped his bald head with her spoon. Later he presented her with a fine cashmere scarf for “saving” him from drowning.

After leaving Queen’s College, Harley Street, in 1936 Diana came out as a debutante and did the Season. But she quickly tired of being chaperoned and decided that the only way to escape the benign oversight of mother, nannies and governesses was to learn to fly.

This ambition took her to Brooklands where, in 1938, she spent her pocket money on a few hours’ flying instruction in a Tiger Moth, going solo after six hours. On the day of the test she wore her stepmother’s leopard skin coat because she had no other outfit. At the outbreak of hostilities in September 1939, she volunteered as a Red Cross nurse but soon determined to apply for a job as a ferry pilot and was accepted into the ATA training programme.

The Atagirls were objects of fascination for the combat pilots and romance flourished, despite a punishing work schedule. In 1942 Diana Barnato fell in love with a dashing Battle of Britain fighter ace, Squadron Leader Humphrey Gilbert.

Three weeks after meeting, they were engaged. Three days after that, circling over his base at Debden in a Tiger Moth, she was surprised that there was no sign of his blue-nosed Spitfire. After a series of frantic telephone calls, she was told that he had been killed the previous day.

In 1944 she married Derek Walker, another decorated pilot. They took an unauthorised honeymoon trip to Brussels, each piloting their own Spitfire, as a consequence of which Walker was docked three months’ pay.

Four months after the end of the war he too was killed, flying to a job interview in a Mustang. Unlike most of her fellow Atagirls, who found it impossible to forge a career in commercial aviation after the war, Diana Barnato Walker obtained a commercial licence and was appointed Corps Pilot for the Women’s Junior Air Corps.

One evening in 1963 in the mess at RAF Middleton St George, the Wing Commander Flying, John Severgne, idly suggested that Diana might like to fly one of the RAF’s new supersonic Lightnings. She jumped at the chance and on August 26 1963, following clearance from the Ministry of Defence, she took off and reached a speed of Mach 1.65 (1,262 mph), making her the first woman to break the sound barrier.

Diana Barnato Walker continued flying for a few more years with the WJAC. She also became MFH of the Old Surrey and Burstow Hounds, commodore of the ATA Association and took up sheep farming in Surrey.

In 1994, following the publication of her memoirs, she was ceremonially presented with a £5 note in settlement of a wager with Wing-Commander Percy “Laddy” Lucas, the Second World War fighter ace who had bet her that she would never write her autobiography.

Diana Barnato Walker was appointed MBE in 1965.

For 30-odd years she kept up a relationship with the American-born racing driver, Whitney Straight. They had a son, though Diana never asked Straight to leave his wife.

“I was perfectly content,” she explained. “I had my own identity.” Whitney Straight died in 1979.

http://tinyurl.com/3zw34k


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Posted by Drew458   United Kingdom  on 05/05/2008 at 02:54 AM   
Filed Under: • Heroes •  
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calendar   Sunday - May 04, 2008

I guess the recruiting office was closed?

Pipe Bomb Damages Federal Courthouse in San Diego

SAN DIEGO — Authorities say a suspected pipe bomb explosion has damaged a door and blown out a window at the federal courthouse in downtown San Diego.  FBI spokeswoman April Langwell says the blast occurred early Sunday at the Edward J. Schwartz Federal Courthouse. She says the damage occurred at the building’s front entrance and lobby area.  No injuries were reported. And no one has been arrested in connection with the blast.

SAN DIEGO, May 4 (UPI)—Police were investigating an apparent pipe bomb explosion Sunday in downtown San Diego that damaged the city’s federal courthouse.  The blast happened about 1:40 a.m. Sunday, leaving a damaged door and a blown-out window. No one was injured. Streets in the area were closed as police searched the crime scene.  San Diego Police Sgt. Bob Dare told KGTV-10 the city’s arson strike team was leading the investigation. The TV station reported metal fragments were found across the street from the courthouse.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 05/04/2008 at 02:04 PM   
Filed Under: • Terrorists •  
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calendar   Saturday - May 03, 2008

More Wordless Blogging (with picture links)

Medical R&D - Amazing New Source Of Stem Cells!!!






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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 05/03/2008 at 03:05 PM   
Filed Under: • Amazing Science and DiscoveriesMedical •  
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Sometimes a Picture

... is worth 1000 words. Sometimes it’s also a link to 1000 words.

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From Cold Fury from QandO from Willisms to BMEWS


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 05/03/2008 at 02:52 PM   
Filed Under: • Miscellaneous •  
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The worst showing for Labour Party in 40 years. Should Americans Care?

I don’t know the answer to that.  What I do know is that Boris Johnson has ousted the man known as Red Ken from the mayors office in London, and that’s good.
I very much doubt Boris will toady to any special minority group.  But I must say I wish he hadn’t been so kind to Ken in his speech today. The usual gratuitous
clap-trap wouldda been okay and nobody would have noticed.
Anyway ... unless you’re Red Ken, it is very hard not to like the shambling Boris Johnson.

This is of course a blow to Labour and the guy waiting in the conserv. wings to be the next PM is David Cameron and I guess we’ll have to wait and look toward another election to see what happens.  Sometimes I think Mr. Cameron is a Democrat in the American school.  That’s a bit over the top I know, it’s just that he and many cons here talk like libs.
But hey ... this is Boris Day and I hope he does well.  Heck, surely anyone should do well after a communist mayor who makes nice with Hugo Chavez and muslim extremists.

http://tinyurl.com/4arez7 For the video.

Boris Johnson vows to fight London crime as mayor

By Megan Levy, Andrew Porter and Robert Winnett
Last Updated: 6:09PM BST 03/05/2008
Boris Johnson has vowed to crack down on crime in London following his landmark victory in the mayoral contest.

Speaking after signing the Mayor of London declaration of acceptance of office, Mr Johnson described youth violence as “the number one issue that we face in this city”.

“I do think it’s the job of the mayor to lead the fightback against it and that is what I aim to do,” he said, identifying crime on London’s buses as a particular scourge.

The formal signing ceremony at City Hall came just hours after a 15-year-old boy was found stabbed to death in a stairwell in south London - the latest victim of a wave of knife-crime among young people in the capital.

http://tinyurl.com/45olwq

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Boris Johnson profile: Shambolic success story
By Gordon Rayner and Andrew Pierce

Last Updated: 11:56PM BST 02/05/2008
The Tories were so unconvinced of Boris Johnson’s ability to win the London mayoral election that they only approached him after being turned down by their first five choices, who ranged from Lord Coe to Greg Dyke.
It was seen as a desperate move at the time, but in what must surely rank as one of the most remarkable political rehabilitations in history, the self-confessed “bumbling buffoon” has suddenly become one of the most powerful men in Britain, with an £11 billion budget under his control.

His shambolic appearance, colourful love life and TV comedy career were relentlessly derided by his opponents, but they have in the end turned out to be his great strengths, as they have given him an undoubted popularity with the general public.

Mr Johnson’s astonishing reversal of fortune is no accident, however. Behind the scenes he had the formidable talents of the Australian election strategist Lynton Crosby, whose “doughnut strategy” of ruthlessly targeting Tory-leaning voters on the edge of the capital proved to be a masterstroke.

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Mr Johnson, 43, portrayed at the start of the campaign by Labour Party strategists as a bumbling Old Etonian toff, displayed tremendous stamina. By contrast Mr Livingstone, after eight years in office and almost 20 years older than his rival, often looked tired and out of sorts.

Nor could Mr Livingstone compete with the self-effacing wit of Mr Johnson, which enabled him to disarm even the most probing questioners.

Whereas Mr Livingstone has always refused to discuss his own unconventional love life, Mr Johnson, who was sacked as shadow arts minister by Michael Howard after lying about a four-year affair with the journalist Petronella Wyatt, used his own infidelity to play to the galleries.

When he was asked during one hustings debate whether he had ever had sex with a man, he brought the house down by replying: “Not yet.”

It could all have been so different had Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson stuck it out as a management consultant when he joined a London firm as a trainee in 1987.

But he admitted: “I could not look at an overhead projection of a growth-profit matrix and stay conscious.” Instead, he absconded from his training course and began a career in journalism, which took him from the Wolverhampton Express and Star to the editorship of the Spectator, via the Times and the Daily Telegraph.

He was elected MP for Henley on Thames in 2001, and was brought back to the front benches as shadow higher education minister by David Cameron, a slightly younger contemporary of his at Eton and Oxford, where both were members of the elitist Bullingdon Club dining society, notorious for smashing up restaurants.

Mr Johnson, who has four children with his wife Marina, has shown a propensity for insulting gaffes matched only by the Duke of Edinburgh. Having described Liverpool as a city “wallowing in victim status” after the murder of British hostage Ken Bigley in Iraq, he dismissed Portsmouth as a city “full of drugs and obesity” and characterised the people of Papua New Guinea as “cannibals and chief-killers”.

Yet his regular appearances on Question Time and as a panellist and guest host of Have I Got News For You have enabled him to showcase the comic instincts which so endeared him to the public, and showed that in the 21st century, the power of celebrity should never be underestimated.

http://tinyurl.com/5yhpp7

Just so ya know, this fellow is smart! Very,Very smart.  They don’t mention it here but his sister is a very successful writer also.  He sometimes takes issue with USA on foreign policy re. conduct of war and to be honest about it, I can’t now recall if he’s pro or anti Iraq war.  Now ain’t that a hoot?  I should remember that.  Color me embarrassed.


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Posted by Drew458   United Kingdom  on 05/03/2008 at 12:49 PM   
Filed Under: • Politics •  
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Dhimmi University, India

Ranchi, Jharkhand, India

Alleged insult to the prophet sparks off violence in Ranchi

The University of Ranchi Thursday hurriedly cancelled its post-graduation history paper after thousands of Muslims took to the streets protesting against a reference to Prophet Mohammed they said was derogatory. “A five-member committee has been constituted (to probe) the question paper. The examination has been cancelled,” Vice Chancellor A.H. Khan announced, shortly after his meeting with Chief Minister Madhu Koda.

The question in the history paper referred to Prophet Mohammed’s life. The examination took place Wednesday.

On Thursday, Muslim organisations organised a march and ransacked the university office to protest against the offending question. The police used force to control the mob.

The university then held an emergency meeting of its top officials.

Chief Minister Koda said: “We have asked the vice chancellor to probe the matter and take suitable action against the person who prepared the question. We appeal to people to maintain calm.”

Violence sparked off in Ranchi following agitation by the students of Muslim community to protest against the alleged insult to the prophet in a question asked in the exam on Thursday.

Muslim students of Ranchi University alleged that one of questions in the History paper was an insult to Prophet Mohammad as it had put him in bad light.

The students appearing for the exam took out a protest and attacked the property in the University.

The police resorted to baton charge to control the situation.

RoPMA. Even asking a question is forbidden. What a bunch of mindless violent zombies. I wonder what the question was anyway? What kind of question would you put on the exam that would be sure to start a riot? Mwahahahaaaa!

Meanwhile, protesters in Ranchi remain in jail, and the food riots may be about to begin.

Over [one] hundred BJP activists were arrested here this morning for protesting against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visit to Jharkhand. Fifty BJP workers were arrested outside the Birsa Munda Airport during a black-flag demonstration. Over fifty BJP activists and some displaced villagers seeking rehabilitation from the Centre, were arrested in Bokaro ahead of Dr. Singh scheduled visit to the Bokaro Steel Plant.

The BJP activists were also protesting against rising prices. Garna Singh, a Ranchi based BJP leader told ANI that DR. Singh had no right to occupy the Prime Ministers chair if he could not control the inflation.
“The entire country is fed up due to rising inflation under UPA regime. The price of mustard oil has reached 100 rupees per litre, flour price 120 rupees per kilogram and sugar 24 rupees per kilogram. Despite of both the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister being economists, the prices are not under control. I believe that the people of the country should unite against spiraling inflation and uproot the Manmohan Singh government,” added Sanjay Seth, another BJP leader.

Yikes. Right now, the Indian Rupee is worth just under two and a half cents. A standard American 5lb bag of flour would cost $6.75 at those prices. That’s nearly 3 times what we pay. The sugar price works out to $1.35 for a 5lb bag, but let’s not forget that American sugar is the most overpriced in the world, thanks to dirty politics. We aren’t allowed mustard oil here because of it’s level of erucic acid. But mustard oil has the lowest level of saturated fat of all the edible oils. Still, 100 rupees per liter works out to $9.34 a gallon. Not cheap.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 05/03/2008 at 11:20 AM   
Filed Under: • EducationRoPMA •  
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Coyote Blogging

Nanny Rips Baby Girl From Jaws of Coyote in California Sandbox

CHINO HILLS, Calif. — A nanny pulled a 2-year-old girl from the jaws of a coyote when the animal attacked the toddler and tried to carry her away in its mouth, officials said.

imageThe girl was playing Friday in a sandbox at Alterra Park in Chino Hills in San Bernardino County. Around 10:30 a.m., the caretaker heard screaming and saw a coyote trying to carry the child off in its mouth, officials said.

The babysitter grabbed the child and pulled her from the coyote’s grasp, the sheriff’s department said in a statement.  The coyote then ran off into nearby brush.

The child suffered wounds to her buttocks and was taken to Chino Valley Medical Center and was later released, director of nursing Anne Marie Robertson said. She was later transported to Loma Linda University Medical Center to receive the rabies vaccine.

San Bernardino County Animal Control and the State Department of Fish and Game were searching for the animal, Wiltshire said.

Miller said there was another attack in the area in October when a coyote bit a 3-year-old girl playing in a cul-de-sac. The girl needed treatment for puncture wounds to the head and thigh, Miller said.

“When Animals Attack!” “A dingo ate my baby!”. No, I’m not trying to go down the sensationalist path. But I’m not buying into the “displaced from their natural habitat by encroaching suburbia” argument either. Animals adapt, given time. Even predators. This example doesn’t surprise me at all; it’s only a matter of time until a child is killed and eaten. Controlling the predators is one reason we have hunting. Looks like this part of California could do with some more of it. Sooner or later the folks in charge will have to decide that people are more important ... but right now even bullets are illegal in some parts of California, a move Ahnold signed into law 15 months ago to save the condors.

Chino Hills is a very well-to-do little area in the eastern part of the greater Los Angeles area. Partway up a mountain, it’s an oasis of “country” (with only 915 people per square mile!) surrounded by mega-suburbia. And it’s not like this incident is anything really new. The city webpage has a whole FAQ about coyotes:

Chino Hills officials urge residents to learn the steps they should take to live safely near open space areas and wildlife. Residents need to take steps to protect their children and small
pets at all times, even in their own back yards, their front yards, and at local parks. Children and small pets should be supervised at all times and should not be left outside alone. Pets should be fed inside if possible. Outdoor food and water dishes should be removed when pets finish their meals. Residents should never leave water or food out for wildlife.

Chino Hills was ranked as the 25th safest city in America in 2005 ... I wonder if that will change now?


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 05/03/2008 at 09:55 AM   
Filed Under: • Animals •  
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ban over fishing licence:  This country is really losing it. Total MoonBat!

This is so incredibly unreasonable and dumb.  Or am I missing something I should have seen?
If this were an odd one off story, it would be bad enuff.  However, it isn’t.  This kind of bureaucratic madness has become a way of life.
It’s even gotten so that children have been taken from mothers with no evidence of harm or wrong doing, but simply on the theory based on some sort of survey or numbers, that the mom “MIGHT NOT be a suitable mother.”

How’s this for a headline:  ticket to an 82-year-old sufferer of Parkinson’s disease, who was asleep in a car, because her disabled parking badge was upside down.

Catch that story in extended text.  Un-bloody-believable!

Headmaster faces ban over fishing licence
By Stephen Adams

Last Updated: 9:20PM BST 02/05/2008
As the respectable headmaster of a successful primary school, to be caught fishing with an out-of-date licence was admittedly a little embarrassing for Bob Yeomans.
But it was nothing compared with the consequences his oversight would have a few months down the line.

The 60-year-old head of St John’s Church of England Primary in Walsall, West Midlands, risks being banned from teaching after he was identified as having a criminal record by a government check designed to identify potential child abusers.
He faces a nervous wait while a local authority panel decides whether the concerns raised by the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) warrant him losing his job.

(don’t touch that dial ... this gets better. Worse.)

Mr Yeomans, who has an otherwise impeccable record in 38 years as a teacher, was prosecuted after he went fishing at his favourite spot on the River Dove in Derbyshire last summer.

Asked by a water bailiff to produce his rod licence, he discovered to his horror that he had forgotten to renew it.

Fishing in a freshwater course without an Environment Agency rod licence is a criminal offence under the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975.

Mr Yeomans immediately pleaded guilty, was fined £50 and £70 costs by magistrates, and promptly forgot about the matter.

But officialdom had not finished with the popular head, whose 355-pupil school was rated “good with some outstanding features” in its latest Ofsted report last year.

Nearly a year after his illicit fishing trip he was confronted by a rather embarrassed chairman of governors who had been notified that his name had cropped up in an enhanced CRB check.

Although principally used to identify potential paedophiles, the checks pick up every contact a person has with the police. Mr Yeomans, who has been head of the school for 26 years, recalled: “The chair of governors was notified that there could be an issue with a CRB check in the school and rang to tell me. I said, ‘Is it a member of staff?’ and he said, ‘No, it’s you.’

“I was shocked. He had to visit me and, in effect, he was being asked if I was fit to work with children for forgetting to renew my rod licence.”

The chairman of governors was then required to submit a form to a local authority panel which decides if a member of staff flagged up by a CRB check can continue teaching. Mr Yeomans is still waiting on a decision but has not been suspended.

He told the Times Education Supplement: “It’s a bit of a joke in the school now. But if you think of the amount of time that was wasted filling in forms and on the phone, you’d have thought someone would have had some common sense at an earlier stage.It was just child protection gone mad. It was clear the offence was irrelevant.”

A spokesman for the Home Office, which is responsible for the CRB, defended the system.

“It is better and safer for any contact the person has had with the police to be mentioned. Otherwise, where do we know to draw the line?” he asked.

Mr Yeomans’s ordeal came to light as the National Association of Head Teachers is warning that the Government’s plan to keep almost all young people in education or training up to 18 could be hit by onerous and expensive CRB checks.

Employers could be put off accepting teenagers for work experience placements because they would have to pay between £31 and £36 for supervisors to undergo a CRB check, it is claimed.

http://tinyurl.com/6pro7n

See More Below The Fold

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Posted by Drew458   United Kingdom  on 05/03/2008 at 09:18 AM   
Filed Under: • CrimeNanny State •  
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RED KEN: BUH BYE !!

This post will cheer our UK readers no end.

Boris Johnson poised to become London Mayor as Tories seal local election success

Boris Johnson is preparing to be unveiled as the new mayor of London later today following Labour’s collapse across Britain in the local elections.

Senior Conservative sources said they would be “gobsmacked” if Mr Johnson did not win the mayoral contest and even Downing Street aides appear to have conceded that Ken Livingstone has lost. Confidence of a Tory win was boosted after one bookmaker announced it was paying out on a Boris Johnson victory hours before the official result is expected later this evening.

Paddy Power said the “mauling” Labour had received elsewhere in England and Wales suggested the Conservative candidate was on his way to City Hall.

Winning the London mayoral contest is expected to cap an historic electoral win for the Conservatives with David Cameron’s party on course for more than 44 per cent of the national vote. Labour is now expected to finish with as little as 24 per cent, humiliatingly pushed into third place by the Liberal Democrats on 25 per cent.

Ken Livingstone is set to face his stiffest challenge yet in the Mayor of London elections 2008, with Tory MP Boris Johnson and former police chief Brian Paddick standing against him.

Housing, transport, gun crime and Olympic funding are likely to dominate the agenda, but personality politics could decide who takes charge of City Hall in May.

For more on the elections, go read here and here.

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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 05/03/2008 at 12:17 AM   
Filed Under: • Politics •  
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calendar   Friday - May 02, 2008

Civil War cannonball kills Virginia relic collector

gee, who’d have thought these things were still active after so many years.  Bizarre.

By STEVE SZKOTAK, Associated Press Writer
2 hours, 7 minutes ago

CHESTER, Va. - Like many boys in the South, Sam White got hooked on the Civil War early, digging up rusting bullets and military buttons in the battle-scarred earth of his hometown.

As an adult, he crisscrossed the Virginia countryside in search of wartime relics — weapons, battle flags, even artillery shells buried in the red clay. He sometimes put on diving gear to feel for treasures hidden in the black muck of river bottoms.

But in February, White’s hobby cost him his life: A cannonball he was restoring exploded, killing him in his driveway.

More than 140 years after Lee surrendered to Grant, the cannonball was still powerful enough to send a chunk of shrapnel through the front porch of a house a quarter-mile from White’s home in this leafy Richmond suburb.

White’s death shook the close-knit fraternity of relic collectors and raised concerns about the dangers of other Civil War munitions that lay buried beneath old battlefields. Explosives experts said the fatal blast defied extraordinary odds.

“You can’t drop these things on the ground and make them go off,” said retired Col. John F. Biemeck, formerly of the Army Ordnance Corps.

White, 53, was one of thousands of hobbyists who comb former battlegrounds for artifacts using metal detectors, pickaxes, shovels and trowels.

“There just aren’t many areas in the South in which battlefields aren’t located. They’re literally under your feet,” said Harry Ridgeway, a former relic hunter who has amassed a vast collection. “It’s just a huge thrill to pull even a mundane relic out of the ground.”

After growing up in Petersburg, White went to college, served on his local police force, then worked for 25 years as a deliveryman for UPS. He retired in 1998 and devoted most of his time to relic hunting.

He was an avid reader, a Civil War raconteur and an amateur historian who watched History Channel programs over and over, to the mild annoyance of his wife.

“I used to laugh at him and say, ‘Why do you watch this? You know how it turned out. It’s not going to be any different,’” Brenda White said.

She didn’t share her husband’s devotion, but she was understanding of his interest.

“True relic hunters who have this passion, they don’t live that way vicariously, like if you were a sports fanatic,” she said. “Finding a treasure is their touchdown, even if it’s two, three bullets.”

Union and Confederate troops lobbed an estimated 1.5 million artillery shells and cannonballs at each other from 1861 to 1865. As many as one in five were duds.

Some of the weapons remain buried in the ground or river bottoms. In late March, a 44-pound, 8-inch mortar shell was uncovered at Petersburg National Battlefield, the site of an epic 292-day battle. The shell was taken to the city landfill and detonated.

Black powder provided the destructive force for cannonballs and artillery shells. The combination of sulfur, potassium nitrate and finely ground charcoal requires a high temperature — 572 degrees Fahrenheit — and friction to ignite.

White estimated he had worked on about 1,600 shells for collectors and museums. On the day he died, he had 18 cannonballs lined up in his driveway to restore.

White’s efforts seldom raised safety concerns. His wife and son Travis sometimes stood in the driveway as he worked.

“Sam knew his stuff, no doubt about it,” said Jimmy Blankenship, historian-curator at the Petersburg battleground. “He did know Civil War ordnance.”

An investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms will not be complete until the end of May, but police who responded to the blast and examined shrapnel concluded that it came from a Civil War explosive.

Experts suspect White was killed while trying to disarm a 9-inch, 75-pound naval cannonball, a particularly potent explosive with a more complex fuse and many times the destructive power of those used by infantry artillery.

Biemeck and Peter George, co-author of a book on Civil War ordnance, believe White was using either a drill or a grinder attached to a drill to remove grit from the cannonball, causing a shower of sparks.

Because of the fuse design, it may have appeared as though the weapon’s powder had already been removed, leading even a veteran like White to conclude mistakenly that the ball was inert.

The weapon also had to be waterproof because it was designed to skip over the water at 600 mph to strike at the waterline of an enemy ship. The protection against moisture meant the ball could have remained potent longer than an infantry shell.

Brenda White is convinced her husband was working on a flawed cannonball, and no amount of caution could have prevented his death.

“He had already disarmed the shell,” she said. “From what I was told, there was absolutely nothing he had done wrong, that there was a manufacturing defect that no one would have known was there.”

After White’s death, about two dozen homes were evacuated for two days while explosives experts collected pieces from his collection and detonated them.

Today, there is little evidence of the Feb. 18 blast. The garage where White did most of his work is still crammed with his discoveries, many painstakingly restored and mounted. Rusted horseshoes are piled high in the crook of a small tree.

White’s digging partner, Fred Lange, hasn’t had the heart to return to his relic hunting.

“I truly miss him,” Lange said. “Not a day that goes by that I don’t think of him.”

http://tinyurl.com/3rhreo


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Posted by Drew458   United Kingdom  on 05/02/2008 at 05:38 PM   
Filed Under: • Miscellaneous •  
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Not Too Funny

image


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Posted by Drew458   United Kingdom  on 05/02/2008 at 04:00 PM   
Filed Under: • Miscellaneous •  
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Former man and wife remarry as two women:

BMEWS regulars may recall my posting of the two sisters story yesterday.  Keep that in mind when ya read this.

By Stephen Adams
Last Updated: 2:12PM BST 02/05/2008

Two women have remarried, more than 30 years after they walked down the aisle together as man and wife.
Emma Martin, who has had a sex change, and Linda Packer tied the knot in a civil ceremony to preserve the tax and pension rights they enjoyed as a married couple.

They got their marriage annulled after Linda’s husband Martin decided to have a sex-change operation. He had felt unhappy with his gender since he was four.

( a four year old can feel gender unhappy? )

The change in Martin’s legal gender status when he became Emma meant they could not remain married under law.

That left the pair, who described themselves as “soulmates”, facing large inheritance tax bills should one of them die.

It also caused problems with life insurance and pensions rights.

Consequently they decided to remarry, despite not being in a sexual relationship.

The couple from Little Downham, near Ely in Cambridgeshire, first married in 1977 and never had children.

Martin Packer told his wife in 1998 that he wanted to change his sex, and he subsequently underwent treatments including electrolysis to remove body hair and hormone replacement therapy, before going under the knife.

Now calling herself Emma Martin, the 60-year-old IT consultant explained: “We are, and always have been, soulmates and best friends ever since 1977 when we got married.

“But, to get my gender recognition certificate, we had to get our marriage annulled.

“When that happened we would have been liable for inheritance tax but it also messed up life insurance and pension rights.

“The simplest thing would have been if we could have had a transfer from a marriage to a civil partnership but that wasn’t possible and it was such a farce to get all the paperwork sorted out.

“From the outside it looks like we are in a relationship and Linda doesn’t really like that because we are not,” she told the Daily Mail.

Under the Gender Recognition Act 2004, marriages in which one spouse has a sex change are not permitted to continue.

As a result Miss Martin faced a choice - either remain legally a man and stay married to Linda, or become a woman, have the union annulled and remarry her.

( BINGO !!!  Can sisters disown each other and then get married?)

The financial security the couple now enjoy under their civil partnership contrasts with the position of elderly sisters Joyce and Sybil Burden, aged 90 and 82, who have lived together all their lives.

Under current legislation the surviving sister will face a £50,000 inheritance tax bill when the other dies, forcing her to sell their Marlborough home.

Earlier this week they lost an appeal at the European Court of Human Rights ruling to be granted the same tax and inheritance rights as married couples and civil partners.

http://tinyurl.com/44p9zk


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Posted by Drew458   United Kingdom  on 05/02/2008 at 11:57 AM   
Filed Under: • MiscellaneousOutrageous •  
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Don’t Mess With My Homey Akhe

This one gets my “Bite Me” award of the day:

Ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Was Natural Transsexual

Akhenaten wasn’t the most manly pharaoh, even though he fathered at least a half-dozen children. In fact, his form was quite feminine. And he was a bit of an egghead.

So concludes a Yale University physician who analyzed images of Akhenaten for an annual conference Friday at the University of Maryland School of Medicine on the deaths of historic figures.

imageThe female form was due to a genetic mutation that caused the pharaoh’s body to convert more male hormones to female hormones than needed, Dr. Irwin Braverman believes. And Akhenaten’s head was misshapen because of a separate condition in which skull bones fuse at an early age.
...
The pharaoh had “an androgynous appearance. He had a female physique with wide hips and breasts, but he was male and he was fertile and he had six daughters,” Braverman said. “But nevertheless, he looked like he had a female physique.”
...
The Yale doctor said determining whether he is right can easily be done if Egyptologists can confirm which mummy is Akhenaten’s and if Egyptian government officials agree to DNA analysis.

I’m about fed up with this. Just because old Akhenaten (Amenhotep IV) was later thought of as “the abomination” in the dark land, Kemet, in this very Egypt, is no reason to go impugning him all these thousands of years later. Besides, this good “doctor” is basing all his conclusions on artwork. He has no mummy to analyze. I guess he never heard of “style”? Anyone who has spent the smallest amount of time reading the history of ancient Egypt has learned that the Amarna Period stands out strongly for this very reason. The whole country was turned upside down. This is where mono-theism was invented remember? Building styles changed. Laws changed. A whole boatload of dieties got tossed. The very roles of men and women in their culture were changed. And the art changed most of all. Art went from the ancient hidebound traditional style to one highly realistic (recall the bust of Nefertiti) to the surreal. And given the dualistic nature of Egyptian religion, and that the Pharoah was a god to the people (and under Ahkenaten probably ALL gods), is it any surprise that the pharoah was also all people to the God? Thus he would have to be portrayed with both male and female characteristics. That’s art man. And when your art goes surreal, anything can happen. Sometimes what happens is a wonder:

image

but sometimes it isn’t.

Sounds to me like this doctor was running out of grant money, so he had to make a sensation. Big Press equals Good Press equals More Money. I say he’s full of it. Save your wild assed theories doc until you can come up with some proof. In the meantime stay away from the most enlightened ruler in all the ancient worlds.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 05/02/2008 at 11:51 AM   
Filed Under: • Miscellaneous •  
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London newspaper reports drop in Obama support

Can it be true? 

Drew is right .... this election crap could be over in weeks with communication being what it is.  In the meantime tho ....

Barack Obama turns to wife to win back voters

(but the hard copy headline ran as follows; “Obama plays up modest roots as support drops.” So why change it here?)

By Alex Spillius in Indianapolis
Last Updated: 3:49PM BST 02/05/2008
Barack Obama has turned to his wife, Michelle, in an effort to woo working class voters after being cast as an elitist in the race for the White House.

Appearing together before voters in Indianapolis, Indiana, the Harvard-educated, black senator emphasised that both he and his wife grew up in less privileged circumstances than his rivals for the presidency.

“Michelle and I grew up in a pretty modest situation. I was raised by a single mum and my grandparents, Michelle’s dad was a shift worker for the city in Chicago, her mother was a secretary. Neither of her parents went to college,” he said in a 45-minute conversation with two dozen voters.

Mr Obama went on to mention the couple’s modest starts in life three more times, stressing that “our parents saw struggle” and that Mrs Obama’s father had suffered from multiple sclerosis.

If you’re actually interested in more >>> http://tinyurl.com/3psor5


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Posted by Drew458   United Kingdom  on 05/02/2008 at 11:42 AM   
Filed Under: • Democrats-Liberals-Moonbat Leftists •  
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Not that very many people ever read this far down, but this blog was the creation of Allan Kelly and his friend Vilmar. Vilmar moved on to his own blog some time ago, and Allan ran this place alone until his sudden and unexpected death partway through 2006. We all miss him. A lot. Even though he is gone this site will always still be more than a little bit his. We who are left to carry on the BMEWS tradition owe him a great debt of gratitude, and we hope to be able to pay that back by following his last advice to us all:
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Oh, and here's some kind of visitor flag counter thingy. Hey, all the cool blogs have one, so I should too. The Visitors Online thingy up at the top doesn't count anything, but it looks neat. It had better, since I paid actual money for it.
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