Dec 312015
 

howwesupportWith thanks to Esther Green, Tricker PR

A new project to support childhood rape and abuse survivors has got off the ground in Aberdeen – with a helping hand from Aberdeen Asset Management.
The firm’s Charitable Foundation has given a donation that has enabled the city’s Rape and Abuse Support (RAS) to set up a new programme providing assistance and relief to young people and adults who have suffered abuse.

Trained volunteers offer direct and tailored support through a 12-step programme, providing a listening ear in a safe and comfortable environment where issues and coping mechanisms can be discussed.

RAS offers support and information to anyone over 13 years old who has been raped or sexually abused at any time in their life. It works in the main with the survivors of rape and abuse who may have issues around self harm, alcoholism, self esteem and post-traumatic stress disorder. It also provides information and support to families, friends and partners to enable them to support the survivor in the long term.

The charity works with partners in the community to address rape and sexual violence, has a prevention programme and receives referrals from a wide range of organisations. In January 2014, RAS expanded its service to support men and boys.

Lorraine Dobson, the charity’s support services co-ordinator said:

“We are very grateful for this donation from Aberdeen Asset Management that has allowed us to roll out this new support project for young girls and women in the North East. This project enables survivors to discuss issues relating to abuse, and the impact it has had on their lives and to explore issues including developing coping mechanises to address this in everyday life.

“Childhood survivors can share their stories with trained volunteers who can offer direct and unique support to them. This will be an ongoing project as we aim to help as many people as we can.”

Dominic Kite of Aberdeen Asset Management’s Charitable Foundation said:

“Rape and Abuse Support Aberdeen carries out vital work in the city and surrounding area and this new support group will build and develop the service it is able to offer.”

The Aberdeen Asset Charitable Foundation was established in 2012 to formalise and develop the Group’s charitable giving globally. The Foundation seeks partnerships with smaller charities around the world, where funds can be seen to have a meaningful and measurable impact and the firm encourages its employees to use their time and skills to support its charitable projects. The donation to RAS which has enabled the setting up of the new support project totals £4,000.

For more information visit http://www.aberdeen-asset.co.uk/aam.nsf/foundation/home

Dec 312014
 

Voice’s Old Susannah takes a look over the past week’s events in the ‘Deen and beyond. By Suzanne Kelly.

DictionaryTally ho, cheerio etc. ‘Tis the season of peace on earth, goodwill towards men and so on.

Well, it probably is the season of goodwill somewhere.

The North Koreans are apoplectic, the Pope is not happy, and most importantly, Aberdeen Inspired does not want anyone to question its operations, finances or plans.

Olive branches seem to be in short supply as does transparency. Alas!

Despite a well-thought out plan to hack Sony, North Korea’s dictator has failed to stop release of satirical film ‘The Interview‘. In the film fun-loving dictator Kim Jong-un was meant to have been assassinated.

As if. It’s not as if he were in any way unpopular; and he is kind to his dogs after all, feeding them frequently.

Of course he feeds his dogs people including the odd uncle or two, but at least Kim’s kind to animals.

There is a great tradition of lovely military parades in North Korea, and even if there’s nothing to eat, there is great emphasis on jobs creation, with a nuclear weapon programme we can all be proud of. Hacks into Sony’s systems revealed such bombshells as not all actors and actresses are well loved by studio execs, and not everyone likes everyone.

George Clooney stuck his nose in as he so often does this time to defend Sony, satire and free speech. Clooney is well known for standing up for Tibet, which as far as I can tell is just some rebellious part of China. He really should stick to acting. After all, we can’t have our celebrities getting involved in causes, even someone like Clooney who grew up in a family where journalism was valued and activism encouraged.

He now has a duty as a role model to be as good-looking and as bland as possible. I’m mostly surprised the North Koreans bothered to get involved; it’s not as if there is any power in a satirical movie, song or even column. Except the other week when the American right wing got upset by John Fogarty, Bruce Springsteen and David Grohl performing ‘Fortunate Son.’

The Pope made a speech with thinly veiled criticism of those who seek power, scheme, climb and plot. Maybe we should invite him here to Aberdeen so he can experience a society without toadying, crawling, and scheming; where merit trumps money, and virtue triumphs over value for money.

As to Aberdeen Inspired, I am certain now that this transparent organization will answer the questions I put to it (first in August) any day now.

I asked about its finances, how one director seemingly awarded a hefty pay increase without any checks to their spouse, and why measuring ‘footfall’ by recording our every move and our mobile phone signals is more important than data protection and our right to freedom. They of course have more important things to do I’ll grant, like deciding on the next bunting colour scheme.

Alas! For some reason not every retailer remains enchanted by the BiD programme. Even stranger, some of these retailers would like to opt out now that they’ve seen the reality as compared to the promised outcomes.

I’ll never forget this great success and neither should you

Thankfully, the scheme was arranged in such a way that one you sign up to BiD, you apparently can’t decide to leave. Kind of like the Hotel California, or like a salmon swimming into one of the gargantuan funnel nets near Montrose.

I’m as sure that Santa will arrive down the chimney with a case of BrewDog as I am that I’ll get answers from Inspired.

Aberdeen’s Christmas lights are lovely; I particularly enjoyed the Union Street lights. Giant deer are silhouetted against a red background. This commemoration of the Tullos Hill Deer Slaughter in our holiday festivities reminds us all of the many sacrifices Aileen ‘HoMalone’, Chris Piper, Ranger Talboys and Peter Leonard made to bring us our Tullos Hill Forest. As such it is most welcome.

Remember pretty soon that dense forest of towering trees on Tullos will be offsetting our C02 emissions, and in a hundred years or so will offset the energy required to plant the trees in the first place. I’ll never forget this great success and neither should you. There is still time to sign a petition asking the city to fully come clean on the costs – and to save any remaining deer that may be left.

Our experts who were so certain there were too many deer (and killed 34 or 35) are now less certain of the facts, and have no clue how many deer are left in the city.

Show your support for these pocket-lining, gun-happy, self-serving political opportunists – sorry – pillars of the community by asking them to explain: sign up here. (Any problems signing up, as many people have had – send me an email and I’ll help). There is a deadline; your signature will help if you live in our fair city.

It may be the season of good will, but alas! Someone’s stolen meat (again) this year in Aberdeenshire: turkey, beef, ham and so on. Had it been venison, we could have looked to HoMalone and co for leads.

Police are said to be looking for a wealthy suspect or suspects. After all, it is a universally acknowledged truth that poor people don’t know how to cook – or so Baroness Jenkins said. She’s right of course, but this position has unfairly got her into hot water with people saying her logic is half baked. Her reasoning is that poor people go to food banks because they don’t know how to cook.

Granted, the press gave her quite a roasting (not in the football sense of the word), and she found herself in a bit of a stew. If you’re like Baroness Jenkins you’ll have a firm hand on how to prepare a meal. For the rest of us, here is a seasonal recipe you might find useful.

1. Decide what you want to eat – pheasant, turkey, steak, etc.
2. Ring bell to summon staff.
3. Give instructions to your cook.
4. Have butler select appropriate wines
5. Have ghillie shoot and pluck pheasants, hopefully taking out any lingering birds of prey that may be haranguing other birds on the estate. If no phesants can be easily found, take one of the breeding pheasants you’ll have cooped up in a squalid shed and kill it instead. Have butler set table and ring bell when dinner is ready.

I hope that will help all the lazy miscreants who have been using those food banks. Merry Christmas Baroness Jenkins. If you’re out there, please do get in touch and I’ll take you to one of Aberdeen’s food banks and the Cyreneans so you can have a word in person with the culinary-challenged poor. I am sure they’d love a chance to chat with you and all.

But with all the commercialism, controversy, poor people and so on, we’re in danger of losing the real meaning of the holiday season.

Thankfully, NHS Grampian is on hand to remind us all why we celebrate. Having solved all of their problems in the boardroom, in the slightly dirty wards, their small economic woees and so on, they have given us a Christmas gift: they have put the Sex back into Sexmass. And with that, it’s time for some definitions.

The 12 Days of Sex-mas: (Modern Scottish NHS Noun) Video made to combine the obvious synergy of a Christian religious festival and safe sex.

Hark! I bring unto you great tidings of joy, etc. etc. NHS Grampian has decided that Christmas is the best vehicle for promoting safe sex. Why didn’t we think of this before? Joy to the World, a new sex ed video has come (as it were).

The P&J reported on this really cool, hip, seasonal video.

“”Inspired by the “necknominations” that dominated the internet earlier this year, NHS Grampian has taken to social media to raise awareness of sexual health.

“In a video rendering a rewrite of the traditional festive anthem, Twelve Days of Christmas, staff from sexual health clinics in Aberdeen have tried promote safe sex in a modern way. Penny Gillies, health improvement practitioner, said:

“We wanted to pass on the message in a fun way without being preachy.

“At this time of year it’s important to remember your sexual health and if you think you may be at risk you should seek advice.

“It’s not scary and all our staff are really friendly.” “

Old Susannah doesn’t actually see the link clearly between ‘necknominations’ and this tasteful, high-class video, but there you go. The video is nearly as cool as ‘necknominations’ and no doubt the kids will be down with this, man. You can tell right away from the quote from Gillies that this won’t at all be a patronising dumbed-down video at all.

Wondering whether or not there would be similar sex videos made for Jewish, Muslim and/or other faiths, NHS Grampian was asked to give further information. Questions about cost, whose decision it was to make this brilliant film, whether or not the NHS management thought that hijacking the holiday and replacing ‘Christ’ with ‘sex’ was a sensitive thing to do, etc. were submitted. Alas!

As Aberdeen Voice is only a blog, and not a classy, established newspaper, the NHS decided that it was smarter not to answer right away, but to make us wait 30+ days. Mind you, some of the wider press (not to mention some religious types) became interested, and eventually an NHS spokeswoman wrote back to me to say:

“The video has been incredibly well received and has generated a lot of postive feedback from both the public and the media alike.  It has been viewed well in excess of 5000 times so far. No complaints have been made. The video cost nothing to produce.”

That no one put their head above the parapet to complain may be related to the fact people don’t want the NHS angry at them. It is a marvel though that the NHS, where a Band-Aid can cost in excess of ten quid to supply and apply, can make a video with no cost. No materials, no staff time, no props and no processing were required. Now that’s what I call a Christmas – sorry – Sexmas – miracle.

Christmas sales: (English compound noun) – marketing based around the winter holiday season to increase profits.

Ever notice how the sales start earlier and earlier? Me neither. But let’s not forget that the NHS – the same people who brought us the 12 days of Sexmas – have been selling our patient data. Anonamised of course – so the data purchasers can’t tell who you are.

It’s just your postcode, age, medical history and funny cough that the pharmaceutical companies – and others – can buy.

And in the same way that Inspired promise that no one can ever match up your mobile phone number, image, time spent in a store and your credit card purchases from that time period to identify you, the NHS promises that no one will ever cross-reference your illness, age and post code to identify you. Yet another Christmas miracle.

But what we should remember is the generosity of NHS Grampian at this time of year: they decided not only to agree to selling our data – they were in full Christmas spirit when they literally gave our personal medical histories away.

By leaving confidential files in supermarkets, they’ve really made it easy to pick up a quick Christmas present. It’s good to know that despite a few minor concerns – patient welfare suffering, locum doctor bills going through the roof and so on, there is still time to leave presents around for people to find.

Before leaving the happy subject of NHS Grampian, let’s spend a moment considering Malcolm Loudon, the whistle blower who has left his post.

For some reason, Mr Loudon thought that the many problems within our local NHS were severe. I guess clean wards, morale, errors and administration problems are the kind of minor details nit-pickers like Loudon think need attention. Now if he’d only help make the SeXXXmas video or something, he’d have been a happier man.

I hope that whistle-blowers like Loudon eventually get everything they deserve. And that goes double for those who persecute people like him. Let’s forget all this nonsense about patient confidentiality, dirty instruments, malpractice and so on. After all, we can watch a funny video instead! Result!

Oil Summit: (Modern Aberdonian Noun) – A plan by Aberdeen City Council to save the world’s oil industry.

More Christmas miracles! Aberdeen City Council will hold an oil summit! This will be summit else!

With Aberdeen city council lending its expertise to the oil price/employment crisis, a permanent solution is immanent. Expect crowd barriers to be erected around oil companies for starters. We can take the brilliant idea used on George Street’s closed down shops where we put up giant posters in the windows to make it look from far away as if it’s business as usual.

If we hang giant posters around any shut oil rigs or companies like we do elsewhere to make it look as if things are still running, that’s half the battle I’m sure.

Hopefully we’ll deploy a flotilla of fluroescent tabard wearing security guards to each oil company for health and safety. Perhaps we should outsource running of the oil industry to Inspired? After all, it’s amazing what a bit of bunting can do. Then again, the salary-rising policies apparently used by a certain Bid/Inspired bigwig to give her husband a pay rise might just work for our offshore energy industry as well.

And there we leave it for now. A happy 2015 to all; may your days be merry, bright, connected, vibrant, dynamic, smart and successful. And mind the crowd barriers.

On a personal note

This has been an interesting year; there have been disappointments such has having to battle and wait ages for information requests to come through.

The police don’t have to tell me anything more about the raid on George Copeland’s flat for instance – on a technicality I should have got right. The good news is that the police complaints commission have questions about how an empty flat was surrounded, eventually searched, and a man with health issues treated like a terrorist. The police will soon have to answer (I hope) questions on some other issues – more as and when.

I was honoured to have been of some small help to Anthony Baxter and Richard Phinney; thanks gentlemen for giving me a film credit. Here’s to them, the Menie residents, Tripping Up Trump and its supporters for standing up with dignity. Alex Salmond continues to refuse to visit the estate and see what his support of Trump has actually done.

Don’t worry though, other people in positions of power are very keen to come. For me though the best two stories I worked on are ones that won’t be published because after a little investigation, there were happy outcomes. Things like that make my day. I wish everyone a great New Year, and all I can say is Bring It On.

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Oct 032014
 

In Part 1 of this series, excessive, expensive security measures and their implications for civil rights were examined. The second part of  the series looked at the problems of racism in the UK’s police forces as experienced by suspects, victims of crime (and victims of police actions), and even police officers.

This third article in the series, deals with the outrageous exploits of the so-called ‘Special Demonstration  Squad’ and how it sanctioned its undercover operatives to sleep with and impregnate innocent women. What has happened to democracy, basic human rights and an accountable, law-abiding police force?  Suzanne Kelly reports, concluding that the police are out of the control of the top brass, and undercover police have ruined lives when using  deceit to trick women into sex and into bearing children.

Police line pic2Fidelity, Bravery, and Integrity (?)

Police Scotland has as their motto ‘Always Vigilant’. The Metropolitan Police claim their motto is ‘Fidelity, Bravery and Integrity. None of these words seem to apply to the majority of the police these days. None of these words remotely apply to the activities of the Special Demonstration Squad.

Imagine you are a woman, interested in the environment, and involved in a protest group.  Over the course of 7 long years you have met a like-minded man in your group.

You sleep with him, believing you have found someone with similar interests. You have his child. You have shared your thoughts and your body with this man you care for.

He is actually a policeman sent to spy on you, for seven long years.

You are not a criminal, but all of your rights, your privacy and your dignity have been taken away. And all the while, he has a wife and family.  What is the response of the Metropolitan Police? That the two of you had a mutually agreed relationship.

You find that the police, meant to  protect you and your rights have used your body as a tool and for gratification; your rights are gone, and they say you wanted it. This is not fidelity, bravery or integrity by any possible definition.

The right to protest has been escorted from the building

The Guardian’s Rob Evans reported in August of this year:

“Boyling had sexual relationships with at least three women while posing as an environmental activist, under the false name of Jim Sutton, between 1995 and 2000. He later married one of them and had two children with her before they divorced in 2008.

“Both were members of Scotland Yard’s controversial undercover unit, the Special Demonstration Squad, that infiltrated hundreds of political groups between 1968 and 2008. Last month, the Met was criticised after it was revealed that the unit had collected information on 18 grieving families who were campaigning against police.

“In a legal filing at the high court, the Met denied that Lambert and Boyling were authorised by their supervisors to form the relationships with the women or that “intimate and sexual relationships were started as a deliberate tactic” to gather intelligence about campaigners.

“The Met said that the pair “violated explicit guidance” from their managers that undercover officers should not have long-term, or “emotionally committed” relationships during their deployments.

“The Met said that the two men started the relationships “because of mutual attraction and genuine personal feelings”.

“Harvey said she was “very upset” by the Met’s stance, adding that her relationship with Lambert was “a total violation of me and my life”.

“She said: “How can a relationship be genuine when it is based on a massive web of lies? He pretended to be a man with noble ideals and political commitments, when in reality he was a police officer spying on our friendship network.

“He pretended he was committed to the future when he always knew he would go back to his real job and wife and kids. That doesn’t show genuine feelings; it is abuse and I would never have consented to such a relationship had I known.” 

Public outrage continues to grow, and undoubtedly will not abate – further details are expected to emerge as the legal proceedings commence.  The judiciary have insisted that the identity of these two particular policemen and their photos should be released; a photo of Boyling can be found in Evan’s article.

The police top brass seem to believe they can plead ignorance:  they say they had no idea what their deep undercover police were doing.

This is as implausible as it is damning – it is as if those in charge of The Met believe they can disavow the actions of their own operatives.  However, this is real life and not  ‘Mission Impossible’ wherein the operatives are told that if they are captured or killed, those in power will disavow knowledge of their activities.

The police will eventually have to explain in a court what kind of logic they used which trumped basic human rights, law and the integrity they claim to uphold. For now, they are doing what they do when cornered:  they have gone on a public relations offensive.

The best defence is a good PR offensive

The Daily Mail have interviewed an undercover officer recently; he was keen to paint himself as a selfless, life-risking hero, not someone subverting democracy to illegally gather intelligence and evidence, which when all is said and done is the base line of any undercover work.

This rather florid article paints ‘John’ the undercover operative as some form of saint; its description of him is hardly hard news:

“His own eyes are clever and often amused. But they also have an opaque, poker-player quality which you might associate with an assassin who sees the moment of death as business rather than pleasure.”

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article

Remarkably this ‘John’ has suddenly been authorised by the Met to spill the beans to the world about how tough it is being an undercover police operative dealing with paedophiles, underworld figures and drug dealers. John steers well clear of admitting that women such as Harvey, an environmental activist, are the sorts of people being spied on, seduced and tricked.

John advises:

“‘At the same time you are treading that very thin line, showing enthusiasm for what they are doing but not inciting it. To show that — dare I say it — we are catching them fairly.”

“And catch them they do. Over the past 12 months, undercover operations in the Met have resulted in 1,400 charges against individuals for the full range of serious criminality. Many will go to jail.” IBID

This Mail piece asks no hard questions; it swallows the tales ‘John’ tells the Mail reporters unquestioningly – yet ‘John’s main skill in this life is to deceive. There is not any analysis of ‘John’s potential motivations for leaking these details to the press (keeping his job, making the force look better – as if that were currently possible, pleasing his superiors who while claiming ignorance of Harvey’s situation have sanctioned this interview).

Also lacking is any in-depth question as to why the Met, heading to court to explain itself over its Special Demonstration Squad, would find this piece a good piece of PR.

What’s the Problem? A Government Minister insists police should sleep with women they investigate

You might think that any person interested in upholding democracy, freedom and the most basic of human rights would be appalled at what has happened (and might still be happening). You would be wrong.

As reported in the Telegraph as concerns another sexually active undercover officer, Mark Kennedy, Nick Herbert justifies this behaviour:-

“Nick Herbert told MPs that if there was an outright ban on officers carrying out secret missions from starting relationships with those they had under surveillance, it would create a simple way for their loyalties to be tested.

“He said he did not think there needed to be set rules governing sexual relationships involving police, but that instead officers infiltrating groups and gangs needed to be managed closely.

“The police minister said in a Westminster Hall debate on Wednesday: “I am not persuaded that it would be appropriate to issue specific statutory guidance under Ripa [the law that governs undercover operations] about sexual relationships.”

If the police minister thinks the policy of impregnating duped women is fine, he has given the nod to the department to carry on. It will be interesting to see what his constituents think of his stance at the next elections.

Not for Women Only – the cases of Barry George and Colin Stagg.

Police work should be based on physical evidence, motive, and verifiable facts. But if that fails, you can always send in a woman police constable to have sex with your suspect. The ‘honey trap’ method of crime detection has put men in prison after they were led to brag in response to leading questions while being sexually and mentally manipulated by women ‘law enforcement’ personnel.

In the case of Colin Stagg, the presiding judge who quashed his unsound conviction called the use of honey traps ‘reprehensible’. Further information on this and other such cases can be found here http://www.telegraph.co.uk/Jill-Dando-Miscarriages-of-justice

Never Again – well, so we can hope.

Perhaps 1400 people are being charged for offensives in ‘the full range of serious criminality’ – the reporters have no interest in finding out how many people were spied on without any crime being brought to light. How many innocent people had their rights removed by a squad which we are meant to believe acted unilaterally? How many other factions within the Met are acting unilaterally that we have no idea about?

If efficient, legal policing cannot prove a crime is / will take place, then is covert evidence-gathering really legal or ethical? If the activities of Boying and crew against environmental activists are upheld as being acceptable policing, then are any of us safe to protest? We need to talk about the police, but we need to ensure that nothing like this happens again.

The court cases will be crucial in shaping the UK’s future human rights policy.  Whatever the outcome, there are women who have been treated like chattel by the Met, and this can’t be undone. Imagine bringing up the child of the man who has a wife and child elsewhere, who tricked you into bed.

There is a group supporting these women; it is Police Spies Out Of Lives; and it provides details on many such cases http://policespiesoutoflives.org.uk/  and donations are welcome.

But at least these women are alive. The next article in this series will look at the increasing use of guns and lethal force by the police.

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Jun 282013
 

Lets talk about …..Dogging. Dave Watt writes.

Dogging is a predominantly British activity that involves outdoor exhibitionism in car-parks, wooded areas and the like.
The term dogging originated in the early Seventies to describe men who spied on couples having sex outdoors. These men would ‘dog’ the couples’ every move in an effort to watch them.

When uninhibited couples discovered that open-air sex has its own special thrill they began meeting in car-parks, and the doggers found a new and rich supply of voyeuristic fun.

Moreover, the doggers soon realised that couples were actively encouraging them to watch, even performing for them, and sometimes allowing them to join in.

Is Dogging legal?

Currently in the UK dogging is mentioned in the sexual offences act under Section 66 – Exposure and Section 67 – Voyeurism.

Section 66 of the law specifically states that if doggers intend to cause alarm or distress to members of the public then they are breaking the law and face consequences. In other words, it is not illegal to have sex outdoors but you can get in trouble if an innocent passerby spots you and is offended.

So, if you’ve got a spotty bum let’s get Mr Clearasil to work and give those cheeks a good airing.

Dogging Requirements – A car. No matter how well developed your calf muscles, turning up on a bike is a real no-no.

To attract the attention of fellow doggers: flash either headlights or interior car lights.

Participation etiquette :

Interior car light on – invitation for any nearby doggers to watch.

Car windows open – invitation for any nearby doggers to touch, grope or feel.

Car door open – invitation for any nearby doggers to participate in sex act.

Bent naked over bonnet of your car  – basically an open invite to all comers although a certain amount of decorum in the shape of an orderly queue should be maintained. Play nice, people.

Why dog at all?

Although obviously the protagonists main motivation is sex many doggers cite such other benefits as getting out in the fresh air and meeting lots of new people.

Dogging in Aberdeen

The Counteswells Car-Park opposite the EquestrianSchool has a thriving evening turnover with Friday and Saturday nights apparently best for the serious dogger. Daytime action tends to be most common at Parkhill Picnic Area at the Bridge of Don although there are other areas around the city – down beside the river near Baker Hughes in Stoneywood and the road at the end of Leggart Terrace towards Banchory Devenick being two other favoured locations.

Top Dogs in the UK

A survey recently showed that the top areas for dogging in the UK are Essex (where their desire to embrace Nigel Farage is surpassed only by their desire to embrace each other naked in secluded car parks)  Kent and London with our own Strathclyde and Lothian, sadly, in the bottom ten. Hang your heads in shame, as they say, Strathclyde and Lothian.

A Window of Opportunity

However, with the failure of Southern Scotland in the dogging stakes is this not a golden opportunity for the Granite City to seize the moment by becoming Scotland’s Dog City? After the disappointment of Aberdeen not getting the UK’s City of Culture by apparently not sticking two million tons of concrete on top of a city park let us not be dismayed.

Let us instead look upward and onward and above all, innovatively.  Since Union Terrace Gardens aren’t going to be home to a conglomeration of chain stores that will bring in more tourists every year than the Grand Canyon how can we best utilise it  in its present format?

Simples. Let’s turn UTG into Britain’s first custom made Dogging Centre.

Commercially, this could be a goldmine for the city

Obviously a certain amount of work will need to be done, planting bowers and creating dogging bays around the perimeter of the Gardens and of course, some sort of one way system will have to be introduced for traffic control.

Other innovations could include the discreet lighting of trees lit from below as per the Tivoli gardens in Copenhagen which would add much to the nocturnal dogging scene and, for those inclement winter months, some outdoor heaters for the fair weather dogger.

Commercially, this could be a goldmine for the city with an entry dogging fee and fast food licences to be sold to prospective outlets. Obviously, after an evening of trouser antics out in the fresh air Mr & Ms Dogger (or Mr & Mr Dogger for that matter) are going to be dying for a fag and a good feed.

Perhaps Ann Summers might want to open a stall for those ‘last minute things’ that one of the protagonists has forgotten to pack. Attendants could also roam the Gardens selling KY Jelly, Viagra  and ‘interesting’ condoms.

For those doggers who wish to ‘show what they’ve got’ there could be the establishment of an entry fee spectators gallery overlooking the main action spots and for those doggers who want a record of the event we could initiate the sale of discreetly packaged DVDs.

Another nice earner could the sale of souvenir t-shirts. with such ‘witty’  messages as ‘My Mum and Dad spent four hours dogging in Union Terrace Gardens and all they brought me back was this lousy t-shirt and some penicillin.’

Enterprising garages could tender for  a combined MOT and Service While You Dog offer. The commercial possibilties are endless. This is not the time for shilly-shallying –  we must seize the moment to put Aberdeen on the Dogging Map.

Over to you, Comrade Barney.

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Feb 282013
 

Voice’s Old Susannah takes a look over the past week’s events in the ‘Deen and beyond. By Suzanne Kelly.

Could spring be around the corner? The weather is improving, a ‘the green shoots of the economic recovery’ (as the Tories used to say) are nearly as vibrant and dynamic as the blue-green dyed grass on Trump International’s  4th hole.  Old Susannah has been taking advantage of the warm weather, and had a few lovely coastal walks recently.

On the 16th I walked around the Menie coastline with a friend from Aberdeen Voice.  The Trump international people have accidentally locked a few gates shut, almost as if to discourage walkers.
No doubt once this is brought to their attention, they’ll remedy the situation.

I guess this will have to wait until the Maloney-Baloney honeymoon is over.  Which it will be soon enough. 

Elsewhere further down the coast I had a pleasant jog/run around the Torry lighthouse and Nigg Bay.  With the good weather lots of people were enjoying themselves on the coast and at Torrymelinos.  How wonderful it will be when the industrial harbour extends itself into these SSSI areas filled with protected wildlife.

We here in the Radon City can be proud of one of our environmental records which no other Scottish city seems to be able to match these many years; more of our city streets show up in the lists of top ten most polluted Scottish streets than any other city can manage.  Result!

According to the latest from  Friends of the Earth, Wellington Road, Union Street and Market Street are highly placed for various forms of air pollution.  Well done.  http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk/news030213 .

As we know, that sort of environmental nonsense doesn’t count for much around here, especially if there are jobs to be created and money to theoretically be made (for a few anyway).  We could have done even better if we’d have got rid of those old trees in Union Terrace Gardens and put up some concrete (sorry – granite).

Even further still down the coast, Old Susannah had another walk with a friend on Lunan Bay.  It was ‘underused’.  I’m sure it could be put to more practical use and made more crowded; perhaps a golf course and a few  hundred homes would do the trick.

The area is rather spoilt at one end of the bay, as an old, boring red structure looms over the scene.  It must have some health and safety issues, and probably should be torn down for a shopping mall.  Apparently it is called the Red Castle, and in some boring old past time some guy named William the Conqueror built it (bad job, William, it’s falling down).

Then other guys named  Robert the Bruce and William Wallace used it, too.

I’m sure people visiting Scotland aren’t interested in this kind of thing, and would rather shop and eat – let’s hope Visit Scotland and Scottish Enterprise can spend some of our tax money on a nice development study for Lunan, like they did for the Menie Estate.

Overall, things are just a bit confusing this past week in the Granite City, the McCote d’Azure (formerly known as Balmedie, now famous for its turquoise dyed grass), and the wider world.  It’s hard to know where to begin with all the exciting developments.  But I’ll make a start.  Here are some definitions relevant to this week’s current events.

Inappropriate Behaviour: (mod Eng phrase)  conduct which is beyond what is accepted in societal norms; often sexual, unbalanced and/or aggressive in nature.

They say you should never discuss religion and politics. At the moment, that philosophy would leave almost nothing to talk or write about.

We’ve had the shocking spectacle of people of the same sex  in love wanting to get married.  Thankfully, our most senior religious figures have been there to condemn this outrageous concept, leading by example.  None other than the UK’s Cardinal Keith O’Brien was one such outspoken guardian of our morals.  Well, until recently.

O’Brien was at first slightly tolerant of homosexuality; then he came out (as it were) against same-sex marriages.  Now his behaviour is being called ‘inappropriate.’ O’Brien apparently had a more liberal outlook in his early days climbing the greasy pole of church hierarchy.

However, his views on same sex marriage included quotes such as:-

“The empirical evidence is clear, same-sex relationships are demonstrably harmful to the medical [yes, he  really said that], emotional and spiritual wellbeing of those involved, no compassionate society should ever enact legislation to facilitate or promote such relationships, we have failed those who struggle with same-sex attraction and wider society by our actions;

and apparently,

“Down with this sort of thing;

and,

“Careful now.”

O’Brien is now resigning because of alleged  ‘inappropriate behaviour’ towards other priests.  If Old Susannah understands correctly, this  means he can’t vote for the next pope, who is resigning immediately (from a scandal-riddled institution), possibly because of some kind of scandal about to break.

I’m not one to knock the churchgoing or bash the bishops, but I’m starting to get a sneaking suspicion that there may be some flaws in the very fibre of the church.  Whether or not he went around saying ‘Drink!  Feck!  Arse!  Girls!  Boys!’ is yet to be confirmed or denied.  But it looks as if someone is up for a de-frocking (in an appropriate way of course – I think the ‘inappropriate’ in the church will be told to ‘frock off.’).

Inappropriate behaviour in the religious spotlight at the moment also seems to include financial inconsistencies, which if a group of men take vows of poverty while living in palaces surrounded by art treasures and wealth could just be a problem.  I’m sure any missing money was just resting in someone’s account.

Inappropriate behaviour, sex scandals, child abuse, ignored abuse, lying, financial inconsistencies… these are not just the domain of the religious; the LibDems seem to like a bit of it, too.  I wonder if a nice cup of tea would help.  G’wan.

Inquiry: (modern compound English noun) 1.  to examine a situation and learn lessons to avoid a repetition; 2.  to issue a big, baffling report at the end of a few months’ of expensive taxpayer-funded testimony which clears the government of wrongdoing.

Nearly as clearly as the above situation, we have the case of Lord Rennard, and what the LibDems knew, didn’t know or suspected.  Nick Clegg gave one of his straightforward interviews to save the day and let everyone know where the LibDems stood.

From his statement we can determine that yes, Clegg knew of abuse rumours, but no he didn’t really know anything, but yes, the police are investigating, but no Clegg  did not look into it when it arose, but yes, it was ‘all a long time ago’, but no Clegg and the LibDems ‘cannot provide a running commentary on every shred of speculation’.

And they say the guy is wishy-washy and prone to u-turns.

He told Sky News:

“I understand there are many people who appear to want to act as self-appointed detectives trying to piece together events that happened many years ago, but the only way that we are going to get to the bottom of the truth, the only way we are going to ensure that the women whose allegations were broadcast on television last week are properly listened to, the only way were are going to establish exactly what happened and who knew what and when, is by allowing the two investigations that I established immediately after the Channel 4 broadcast to do their job and, indeed, to allow the police, whom we have now approached, to do their job as well.

“And in the meantime I cannot and my party cannot provide a running commentary on every shred of speculation about events which happened many years ago.”

Clegg does in his words ‘want to get to the bottom’ of the truth.  What he’ll do when he finally hits rock bottom is another matter.  Better late than never, though.

Still, with two government inquiries announced, we’ll have the truth in no time, just like we did after government inquiries into the sexed-up dodgy dossier that got us into the Iraq war, the mysterious death of Dr Kelly, the petrol pricing inquiry, and so on.

But as Nick Clegg helpfully pointed out a few times to the press, the scandal and abuse was ‘all a long time ago,’ (so it can’t really matter).

You have to wonder why the victims of sexual abuse just don’t pop down to a friendly police station and report abuse.  What could be less traumatic and simpler than finding a sympathetic, understanding government institution to get swift, fair justice?

Operation Sapphire: (modern English compound noun) a Police initiative in south London to address sexual crime.

Result!  A South London police initiative to help victims of sexual crime!  No doubt they would treat victims with great dignity, understanding and offer support.

Or, as came out in the news this week, they could just tell victims that the police wouldn’t be interested in getting any justice, and they should just forget it.

I guess they think this is a great way not only to keep the reported crime statistics low, but also to save taxpayer money on costly trials and even costlier jail sentences (not that many rapists get convicted anyway).  That’s what they seemed to think anyway, as they helpfully, sympathetically told rape victims not to press charges.  Brilliant.

“The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said Southwark Sapphire unit in south London “encouraged” victims to withdraw allegations to boost detection rates.

“The Metropolitan Police said substantial changes had been made.”
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-21586786

It looks as if at least one accused rapist who was let off the hook went on to kill a couple of children per the above report.  Well, stuff happens.  It’s not as if there is any reason to think a violent sexual predator would pose a long-term threat, is there?

Let’s face it, being a police officer can be stressful.  I hope these victims of violent crime can think about the effect their stories might have on the police before they go around upsetting them by making allegations.

Back in 2009, the UK had the worst rape conviction rate in Europe. It seems some people in power might want to keep it that way.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/

I hope these little definitions will help to give everyone the faith in our institutions that they deserve.  As the ConDems will be the first to tell you, ‘we’re all in this together.’  Indeed we are.

Next week:  a look at some great letters I’ve received from government branches, hopefully an update on the SNH’s plans to shoot 700 deer in Scotland out of season, and more definitions.

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Feb 082013
 

With thanks to Kenneth Watt.

Barry Black, Aberdeen City Youth Council chair, has welcomed the passage of the Same Sex Marriage Bill through its second Parliamentary reading, allowing same sex couples in England and Wales to marry.

Mr Black wants to see the Scottish version of the Bill passed as soon as possible.

He said,

“I have written to all NE Scotland MSPs urging them to vote for the introduction of same sex marriage when the bill comes before the Scottish Parliament.

“The youth council and Aberdeen’s six MSYPs have been avid campaigners for the Scottish Youth Parliament’s Love Equally campaign. Today is a proud moment for us and a point to reflect on how society is moving forward.

“I am delighted by the vote in Parliament. It is a very positive step forward and it’s great to see the vast majority of MPs support equality for Same Sex Couples. If two consenting adults wish to marry, who is anyone to say no’”

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Nov 302012
 

With thanks to Kathryn Russell.

To mark the United Nations’ International Elimination of Violence Against Women Day, Aberdeen Women’s Alliance (AWA) took to the streets to collect donations for Rape and Abuse Support (RAS).
They also took the opportunity to discuss with city shoppers the recent funding issues experienced by the charity and the importance of the service it provides.

RAS provides support and advocacy to female survivors of sexual violence, whether recent or historical, as well as challenging public attitudes towards rape through outreach work.

AWA chose to fundraise for RAS following news earlier this year that the charity’s Scottish Government funding had been cut by 50%.

Director for the charity and member of AWA, Kathryn Russell stated:

“Despite the weather, we had a great turn out from members of the AWA and were delighted by the generosity of Aberdeen’s Christmas shoppers.

“Sexual violence is a crime which can have a devastating impact, and it is crucial survivors have access to appropriate support and help following a rape or sexual assault. That’s why it’s essential that we retain the important service provided by RAS in the North-east.”

Following fears that the rape crisis centre would have to close after Christmas, RAS successfully raised enough funds to ensure its immediate future. Donations are still required, however, and those wishing to donate can do so at:  http://www.justgiving.com/rapeandabusesupportaberdeen

Nov 092012
 

With thanks to Gordon Maloney.

Students from the University of Aberdeen have organised a night-time march through the city for this weekend to tackle what they say is a “victim-blaming” culture around sexual violence.

The march follows the vicious sexual assault of a young woman near the main campus of the University.

The students say that the advice being given to young women, to stay safe by not walking alone, shifts the blame away from the perpetrators of sexual violence onto the victims, blaming women for walking alone rather than men for attacking them.

Lisa Frach, the Women’s Officer at Aberdeen University Students’ Association, issued the following statement:

“Many of you will have heard about the sexual assault that took place in Bedford Avenue last Saturday morning. The Grampian Police department, which is investigating in the Bedford Avenue case, has advised women not to walk alone, even in the daytime. This and similar advice have been given to women basically forever.

“However, this way of arguing forces not only the focus on the victim, but also the blame. Feminists and student groups in the 70’s started opposing this way of thinking and organised very successful “Reclaim the Night” marches throughout the world to shift the focus on the perpetrator.

“A facebook page called Aberdeen University Confessions, that was recently shut down due to questionable content, brought to light that the view women would bring sexual assault upon themselves, is still held among some students of our university. Your Students’ Association would like to remind everyone that while incidents such as the one in Bedford Avenue are rare, we would like to reaffirm that sex without consent is rape. This is equally true in the pub with your friends as it is late at night when you’re walking home.

“As reaction to the sexual assault, the advice given by the police and the persistent way of victim blaming we are organising a “Reclaim the Night” – march on November 10th. Starting at 6pm in Hillhead, we are heading to Bedford Avenue following the route the young woman took on Saturday morning.

“For women to liberate themselves from victim blaming and to emphasize the fact that women don’t need to be protected by men the march is going to be for self-defining women (including trans*-women and genderqueer persons) only.

“While we support the general safety advice we would like to encourage that if you wish to talk to someone about suspicious behaviour, harassment or violence, contact the police about criminal offences. If you don’t feel comfortable with the police you can consult the Student Advice Centre (SAC) in Butchart or RAS (Rape and Abuse Support) on 01224 620 772.

“The SAC service and RAS are both confidential services that are here to listen and offer advice if you need it, as well as give support in reporting incidents formally through the police service. Even if you have no plans to formally report an incident, it can help to discuss it with someone who is sympathetic and trained to give you non-judgemental support.

“Please, look out for each other and support one another.”

Oct 182012
 

“On 11th June 2012, the government announced significant changes to the family migration rules in the UK. The key changes, which will largely come into force from 9 July 2012, include a new income requirement of £18,600 for people wishing to sponsor a partner to come to the UK, an extended period, of from two to five years, before spouses and partners can apply for settlement in the UK, and a review of the application of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights to immigration cases.”  – Migrants Rights Network 2012

Dear Citizen.

As you may be aware, the UK government has recently changed its policy on family immigration. The changes, in my opinion, are regressive, sexist, classist and racist and must be challenged.

The reforms will disproportionally affect those on lower incomes.

According to the Migration Observatory, this policy will prevent 47% of the UK’s working population from sponsoring a foreign partner to settle in Britain(Migration Observatory, 2012).

That figure increases if the sponsor happens to live in an area outside SE England where incomes are lower, for example, Scotland(48%) or Wales(51%). The changes will also disproportionally affect women, who are still paid less than men, ethnic minorities, who often earn lower wages and younger couples, who tend to be paid less.

The European Convention on Human Rights Article 8 grants the ‘Right to Family Life’ to all citizens but this legislation would appear to undermine that Right and remove access to it for a large number of citizens. Migrants’ groups, such as the Migrants Rights Network, have also expressed ‘real concern’ at governmental plans to provide strict guidelines to UK Border Agency caseworkers.

There are also concerns about advice given to courts on how rights to private and family life should be weighed up against the wider public interest in immigration cases. In a Family Migration briefing from earlier this year, the Migrants’ Rights Network stated,

“There are real concerns about the implications of Parliament setting specific guidelines on this matter, particularly where they are directly aimed at reducing the numbers of successful Article 8 cases in the courts. We are concerned that this change could result in rule-making which undermines the right to family life in favour of political, rather than public, interest.”

On a more emotive level, it concerns and saddens me that Conservative ideology and its intrinsic prejudice, when translated into immigration policy, can ruthlessly tear apart relationships and families. It is of extra-special concern to me that these policies which target the poorest in our society would go virtually unchallenged by other political parties in the UK Parliament.

I write to you today not only to bring this issue to your attention, but also to ask for help and advice on this matter as I am directly affected by this most regressive of policies. I earn well below the £18,600 threshold to be a sponsor and I feel that my only option to remain with my long term, non-EU, partner is to leave the UK and attempt to settle in a country with a more progressive approach to immigration.

Thank you,

Sad Lover, Aberdeen

 Photo by Jeff Latimer/Flickr (Creative Commons)
http://a.scpr.org/i/2ca7d7f93992575afdcddf61d9e66681/42947-six.jpg

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