Strictly come dancing swhirls back to the screens

Away from the politics for a change to a much lighter subject, in fact can you get lighter than light entertainment?

The BBC are once again running with Strictly Come Dancing, which achieved a peak viewing of 13 million people.

Dance has always been a feature of BBC broadcasting.

The schedule for September 1, 1936, 'Here's looking at you' features Carol Chilton & Maceo Thomas - Creole dancers & singers - amongst others. The earliest broadcasting recording known to exist from a 1933 programme 'Looking in' includes 'the Paramount Astoria Girls' a dance troupe.

Strictly come dancing, has in the minds of the Judges been a competition to find the most proficient dancers, many viewers take a contrary view and see the programme as entertainment, voting for the celebrity they like best and not necessarily for the best dancer.

The competition returns to the BBC in September, with new line-up of dancers, some new judges and a new format.

The competition for viewers continues to heat up and the BBC have appointed Headstream for the PR this year.

For the lowdown on this years programme here is the BBC link

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Kennedy dies memories go fuzzy

Kennedy, who has just died, is now being lauded by many politicians.

This video remembers Mary Jo Kopechne, who died 40 years aged 28, when Kennedy left her to die after he drove his car over the bridge at Chappaquiddick

Back in March of this year Gordon Brown announced that Kennedy had been conferred an honourary knighthood, which caused considerable derision.

Kennedy was the man who said Protestants who didn't want a United Ireland, should leave for the mainland and equated the presence of British Troops akin to American troops in the Vietnam.

Kennedy died would been more than enough news coverage for this man.

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NORAID, Scotland and the USA

A broad range of people in the USA are jumping on an anti-Scottish bandwagon as they disagree with the position taken by the Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, over his decision to release Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds.

While I can understand the decision is divisive, many people supporting fully the decision, others oppose vehemently, what I find particularly galling is the stream of bile which is emanating from Political figures in the USA.

Lieberman, an independent senator called for an investigation into the release, adding the release was a "real setback for the anti-terrorist cause".

Democratic Senator Cardin, said: "The terrorist shows no compassion and to give him a compassionate release was wrong. 'I think it's very serious and I think there should be consequences.'

Mueller, head of the FBI said the decision had made a mockery of justice and given comfort to terrorists around the world.

These may be views which hold a certain amount of resonance to many people. But I would just like to take a step away from the rhetoric and look at recent American terrorist support.

NORIAD- In May 1981, the U.S. Department of Justice won a court case forcing Noraid to register the Provisional Irish Republican Army as its "foreign principal", under the Foreign Agents Registration Act 1938.

Noraid hugely successful fund raisers in the USA, provided many believe, substantial funding for the IRA to purchase arms. Noraid openly expressed support for the IRA but said it gave money for humanitarian aid,denying donations were used for the purchase of arms.

The Irish Freedom Committee still posts on the front page of its website:

The Irish Freedom Committee® (IFC) is an American-based human rights activist organization. We oppose the 1998 Stormont Treaty with Britain-- disingenuously titled the "Good Friday Agreement" or "Peace Process"-- as it is a British-imposed document which has nothing to do with peace, but is designed only to shore up Partition and to strengthen British rule in Ireland.

John McDonagh while chairman of the IFC was able to distinguish between IRA bombs and the World trade centre attacks saying: 'There's no comparison. I don't think it's in the psyche of the Irish to become suicide bombers. The IRA gives warnings before its bombings. What happened here brings it to a whole new level.'

The Irish Freedom Committee is committed to the pursuit of TRUTH with JUSTICE in a Free, United, Sovereign All-Ireland Republic.

US-Ireland Alliance, which has a facebook group with over 1 000 members entitled:

Supporters of the IRA (Irish Republican Army)

The Mission of the IRA is to free Ireland from British rule and give Ireland back to the Irish. The IRA is devoted to freedom and justice for the Irish people. We must fight back against centuries of rape and pillage. IRA Forever!!!

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” -John F Kennedy

I suggest before the head of the FBI starts calling Scotland a country which supports terrorism, he may well be better advised to look at some of his own countries organisations.
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EU election monitors - Afghanistan a fair vote

Well if the EU, with absolutely no vested interest in the election outcome, claim it was a fair vote, it must have been.

Apart from the small issue of their problem with voting in the South of the Country, but hey that doesn't matter, it is all about the count. Oh the indelible ink problem? Never heard of it. Thanks to the EU commission for the endorsement, but some of us actually have a brain.

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Politicians in a social network

The concept of British politicians understanding social networking, is perhaps one of the greatest jokes this year.

We have MPs who don't understand the contempt with which they are held, voting as Speaker a man who held a Directorship of a Caymans Island registered Company and flipped his houses, while at the same time they pretend to push hard for a change in off shore tax-havens whilst lambasting house flippers.

Perhaps they really are too thick to understand how to fill in their expenses claims.

The Labour Party has chosen a woman by the name of Kerry McCarthy, as their 'New media expert', it would appear from that choice, she is the Labour Party 'expert', I could find people expressing more coherence drunkenly swaying at a late night party.

Already dubbed by many of her fellow MPs as the twitter Tsar, which to be fair to her she doesn't like. 'But we are getting back in touch', her colleagues proclaim. Tsar - some basic knowledge of history would indicate how far out of touch and offensive this term can be.

But still they push forward, with the Labour Party anointing Kerry as the Guru on 'new media', although she seems to think that social networking consists of twitter, facebook, linkedin and a nod to Youtube, hardly new media.

Twitter, according to McCarthy is the place to be, Facebook is just a place to communicate with friends and linkedin is the place for professional contacts. The opines of an out of touch politico.

Apparently, according to the 'new media' expert you and I will head off and find these politicians on their blogs and social networking sites, while all they have to do is sit and wait for our visit.

They want to teach us how to use the internet responsibly, they don't even appear to understand what it is?

If McCarthy really expects people outside the Westminster tent to engage with Politicians and in particular the Labour Party she needs to learn about Social Networking. To dismiss Facebook as a no go area demonstrates how ridiculous and out of touch politicians really are with the real world.

I doubt many politicians will understand the satire, or references to social networking on the following video.

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ASBOS and social dileniation

The thrust on ASBOs, since they first emerged always seemed to be they were a law focussed on people in Social Housing, leaving louts in private homes largely untouched.

As the regulations on ASBOs have been developed and the focus of the legislation has become more illuminated, I am drawn more towards this conclusion.

Much emphasis is made on ASBOs about how those with the orders can find themselves thrown out of their rented accommodation, in some attempt to show the orders have some teeth.

I decided, that my perception needed a little more investigation, so contacted the Home Office to obtain some statistics, particularly in relation to the % of ASBOs cited against people living in Social Housing and as to how many ASBOs were instigated by Social Landlords, as other than the Police and Local Authority they are the only people able to instigate an ASBO.

While I was delighted with the speed of response by the Home Office statistics office, only a matter of a few days, the content was depressing.

'...Information is not collected centrally about the characteristics or circumstances of persons issued with an ASBO. ...'

In other words, the Government is continuing to pursue a line that ASBOs are effective because people can loose their homes, on an assumption, without any supporting evidence that ASBOs are directed at those living in Social Housing.

This is classic class warfare being conducted strangely by a party which claims to have equality at its heart.

We have a disgraceful situation in which a law enables Social Housing tenants to be evicted from their property, but homeowners can not be sanctioned in the same way.

This really is an us and them piece of legislation.

Why is it, that if I live near to someone who is of 'anti-social' (I will leave the term hanging in its connotation)and they live in Social Housing I can contact three sets of people to have action taken and if they continue to cause a problem they may be evicted, not on breach of tenancy agreement grounds, but on breach of ASBO grounds. However if that same person lives in private accommodation. I only have two ways to take action and that person can't be evicted on the grounds of breaching the ASBO.

I am not talking about changing the status of ASBOs to include legislation to enable state confiscation of homes for ASBO breaches, I would be one of the first to condemn such a move.

I am however disgusted to be living in a country in which the less well off face a set of laws, set by the state, not a question of access to representation, that doesn't apply to those who are better off.

As the Home Office Stats office doesn't have any available information on the social backgrounds of those with ASBOs, why does the Governnment and the Home Office in particular continue to focus sanctions against those who live in Social housing, while avoiding any meaningful sanctions against those in private accomodation?

I could imagine the 'disgusted of Tunbridge Wells' had ASBOs been introduced with the ability to evict home owners but not Social Housing tenants.

We already live in a fragmented Society with rafts of people being left to sink, legislation such as those which framework ASBOs are unforgiveble.
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Stiletto heels and the work place

The TUC have decided to raise an issue which is creating something of a divide in the views of both men and women, with the divisions not coming across on gender lines. The TUC have put forwards a proposal that stiletto heels should be banned from the workplace, on the grounds of health and safety.

As an advocate of retaining freedom, I believe the TUC is sticking its nose in to an area in which they have no real business to concern themselves. I have visions of our ever protective Labour Government deciding this would be a good bandwagon to jump on, requiring all high heels are sold with a stamp on the soles, or more likely across the heel and uppers, stating these may cause a health risk.

In practical terms, High heels are not appropriate in all work places, but that goes for Ties for men. Is the natural development of this type of legislation that we should all turn up to work in Maoists suits?

Certainly there are many people who feel that a female dressed in high heels does not project a professional image, but that is for the individual and employer to deal with.

The aspect of work attire, is an ever present conundrum for individuals and employers to negotiate. The timing of the proposal sits neatly with the Liberal Democratic party proposal on photoshopping advertising, with the claim that photoshopped adverts put pressure on women to conform to an idealistic 'standard'.

A similar argument of pressure in attire can be fashioned for high heels. While many people have commented that heels provide them with a sense of empowerment and confidence, many are arguing it looks sexy, which appears to be, for many roles, perhaps a reason that they are inappropriate and are irrelevant to work place standards. The idea that a High Court Judge is wondering if they look 'sexy' while in court, would raise alarm bells for many.

Tory MP Nadine Dorries said the extra height can help women in the workplace. She added: 'I'm 5ft 3in need every inch of my Christian Louboutin heels to look my male colleagues in the eye. If high heels were banned in Westminster, no one would be able to find me. (source Daily Mail)

This type of comment, doesn't, I think, help in any way. I fail to see any need to mention the shoe manufacturer, as it brings the level down to, I wear more expensive clothes than you, once again bringing the issue of dress code down to a battle of wallet and idolatry.

Wearing of high heels in the work place should not be an area in which the TUC get involved. The spurious argument some are making is that for them to be making any comment is sexist, is fatuous.

Those who have concerns with 'image projection' should reign back their horns a little. The issue is being raised on Health and Safety grounds and this is an area in which legislation is rife and becoming ever more encroaching. Those who like the idea of freedom to wear what ever they and their employer deem acceptable, need to listen to the grounds the TUC are taking a stance. Don't let the health and safety creep take away all our civil liberties.

The issue of clothing in the workplace is and should remain, in the majority of cases an issue between employer and employee, not a concern for the Health and Safety police.

Image source China culture center
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Censoring airbrushed photographs in advertising

The Liberal Democrats are calling for advertising aimed at people under the age of 16 to be completely prohibited from airbrushing adverts, or for a disclosure notice to be placed next to the adverts aimed at older age groups.

This is yet another example of MPs desire to meddle being without the slightest thought. Jo Swinson claims that "Liberal Democrats believe in the freedom of companies to advertise but we also believe in the freedom of young people to develop their self-esteem and to be as comfortable as possible with their bodies, without constantly feeling the need to measure up to a very narrow range of digitally manipulated shapes and sizes."

The top picture is of Jo on the liberal democrats campaign for Gender Balance

The one, below, is not quite so posed, any reason the lower photograph isn't that being used, it appears to be the same clothes, so may have even been taken on the same day?

The idea that digitally enhanced photographs can somehow be controlled by legislation, speaks volumes for the simplistic notion MPs have of what really matters.

Are the Liberal Democrats suggesting that make-up shouldn't be worn by subjects in photographs, what about lighting effects, backgrounds, the pose itself? When will MPs stop trying to interfere with the minutiae of everyone else's life and get on with proposing policies for aspects which matter.

The suggestion that the use of airbrushed images in advertising is somehow corrupting misses the point. They need to look at what they are trying to achieve and work to a solution from there. The easy headline of banning airbrushed photographs will do nothing, if they are trying to stop people feeling the need to look one way or another. The product being advertised is the core issue, not the image surrounding it. Though that is not in any way to suggest they need to stick their noses into product advertising, it is intended to demonstrate the backward thinking of Politicians.

An advertising agency would work round such a ridiculous legislation, with consummate ease and the Lib/Dem objective, ridiculous as it is, would have been missed by a mile.

Thanks Jo, but no thanks, enough meddling. Time to change the image on the gender balance website, as it appears to contravene a few of these policy document guidelines.
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