Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Clegg calls for EU action against Israel over Gaza

Glad to see that our leader, Nick Clegg, is urging the EU to suspend a proposed co-operation deal with Israel.

It would be a start and a major signal that a significant body of international opinion opposes Israel's continued and disproportionate action in Gaza.

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Middle East Peace Protests in Scotland this weekend

For all who are interested in the cause of Middle East peace, there are demonstrations in Edinburgh and Glasgow this weekend.

We hope to be going to the Edinburgh one, depending on how Bob is, to show our opposition to the thoroughly disproportionate and indiscriminate Israeli action.

Sending the bombers in is not going to bring about any sort of lasting peace and will only breed greater resentment and carry on this hatred for anothe generation. It has to stop somewhere, and the international community has a responsibility to take action.

Saturday 3 Jan, Gaza Protest, (Glasgow)

12noon outside Lloyds TSB, St Vincent Street Glasgow and then assemble for demo at Blythswood Square, 2pm Supported by Scottish PSC and Stop the War Scotland

Saturday 3 Jan, Gaza Protest, (Edinburgh)

12 noon, Foot of the Mound, Princes Street, Edinburgh Supported by Scottish PSC and Stop the War Scotland

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Monday, December 29, 2008

Congratulations, Andrew Reeves.....

....on being noticed by Iain Dale, the Tory one, finally, despite your wonderful blog having been around for quite some time.

You don't blog often enough, but I love reading it when you do.

Edit just to say that I've just looked on Iain Dale's directory, and he has you twice:-)

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If it were anyone else but Israel...............

....carryng out airstrikes, killing innocent civilians, there would be talk of military intervention, UN resolutions, sanctions, possible invasion and war, lines in the sand and "this will not stand."

Why do they always get away with it?

I'm not sticking up for Hamas, by the way - their record at pursuing peace isn't great. Chosen by the Palestinian people out of frustration after decades of oppression and being ignored by the international community, they are not a bunch of cuddly teddy bears by any stretch of the imagination.

Someone, somewhere, has to make this stop. President-Elect Obama, Secretary of State Designate Clinton, I think this means you.

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Facebook gets in a lather about breastfeeding

Hat tip to Morgan for re-alerting us to the issue of Facebook deleting photographs of nursing mothers posted to members' individual photo albums on the social networking site.

I fail to see how a breast, mostly obscured by the back of the baby's head, could be offensive to anybody. And if some people do have an issue with it then they don't have to look at them.

It's time for Facebook to grow up and be more discerning about what it considers to be obscene.

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A new generation falls for Brucie's charms

BBC2 showed the 1973 Generation Game Christmas Special the other night, which I duly recorded because I adored the show when I was a little girl. I also would never have seen this one as we were on one of the two family holidays we went on during my childhood, in Estoril. In those dark, prehistoric days, there was no infernal wickedness of Sky Plus, or even VHS, and colour tvs were the must-have item.

I was totally unprepared for how Anna reacted when we watched it back together. I had billed it as "come and see what Mummy watched when she was a little girl" fully expecting her to slope off back to her Puppies in my Pocket or Powder Puff the Hamster with a shrug after five minutes or so.

She loved it. And I mean really loved it to the extent that she is still talking about it two days later and has forbidden me to delete it from the infernal wickedness of Sky Plus.

While I was cringing at Brucie's bright red trousers and bright blue jacket, not to mention the patronising way he interracted with all the females on the show, she was laughing her socks off at Frankie Howerd, giggling at the contestants' well meaning but not very good efforts at the mince pie and Christmas cracker making games, and asking what all the topical jokes meant. She now knows that somebody called Mr Gormley wouldn't let the minerrs go to work back then. She loved the seven cuddly toys on the conveyor belt and could not believe that the star prize, a Trinitron Colour Television, which was presumably top of the range way back then, was in fact a tv. She said it looked like a microwave and could not be persuaded otherwise.

All in all, it was an enjoyable trip down Memory Lane for me - I just wish they had more of these that I could show her.

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Santa now in Italy

Is it just me or is Santa on a bit of a go slow this year? I am sure that he's been in Italy round about 8.30 or 9.00 in previous years but he's only just stopped off in Rome.

We are ready for him now and Anna is just waiting her instruction to go to bed from the trackers.

We have left a bottle of water and some home made mince pies and cheese for Santa and some special food for the reindeer, made by crushing weetabix with little glittery stars. I wonder what Nigella would make of that.

She has also warned little Powder Puff, her hamster, that she may be disturbed tonight when Santa comes to call.

It looks like my poor husband is coming down with a horrid lurgy, which is all a bit too much deja vu from last year.

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Santa on top of the world

NORAD have now posted the video of Santa flying over Mount Everest.

The report says that the reindeer eat healthy vegetables all year to give them the strength to fly through the cold.

So, there you are, if you, too want to fly over the highest peaks, you know what you have to do. I suspect it would have to be more than 5 a day, though.

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Tracking Santa Live Blog 2


We've had a short interlude for a visit from family and are now back to our occasional posting about Santa's journey. Please don't think I'm going to sit here shackled to the laptop when there is stuffing and mince pies to make.

We got the promised video from the Great Wall of China and Anna offered the information, which I'd never heard, that Rudolph is Dasher's second cousin. You learn something new every day.

Santa is now apparently in Kazakhstan, edging ever closer to here.

The NORAD site ties in to Google Earth so that you can actually go and watch Santa fly live through the skies. Oh the wonder:-)

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Live Blog - Tracking Santa

Who says the US military has no good purpose?

Every year they track Santa's progress round the world on Christmas Eve and it has become something of a tradition in our house to follow him on his travels.

My daughter is not a child who likes to be early in her bed at night - but as soon as the warning comes that children in Europe should go to bed, she's off there like a shot.

I thought it might be fun to do a bit of a live blog - although we've started late. He's done Australia and New Zealand and is currently in South Korea.

Update 14:53 Santa now in Pyongyang. Hope the brutal North Korean regime don't shoot him down. Maybe the US is trialling cloaking technology or something to make him invisible:-)

15:10 He seems to have survived the totalitarian regime in NK - now at the Great Wall of China. We usually get a video from there......

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Come on, Miss, where is your Christmas spirit?

A primary school teacher in Edinburgh has caused controversy by agreeing that Santa Claus does not exist.

When you discuss these matters, I feel it's always important to respect both believing and questioning children. All will come to their own conclusions in good time and surely it's best to let that process happen naturally.

For me, the truth of these matters is simple. Santa Claus comes to those children who believe in him. If any child stops believing in him, then of course their parents have to step in so that they don't find an empty stocking on Christmas mornning. I have said to my daughter that if she ever doubts, then she should give me the heads up so that I know that I have to buy her presents.

What worries me, though, is that this teacher, who probably has a perfectly good service record, might now be victimised, perhaps forced into the retirement the Evening News says she is close to. If it were for this reason alone, that would be silly.

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Pope likens homosexuality to destruction of rain forests

Ok, I never was going to agree with anything the Pope had to say about homosexuality, but his latest rant has made me splutter with indignation over my morning Earl Grey.

I am not a fan of any organised religion to be honest, but I have studied many of them in my time. To me, the New Testament is all about tolerance, diversity and compassion replacing corrupt legalism.

It's hardly surprising that church attendance is dwindling these days when they get their priorities so, so wrong.

Sure, the destruction of the rainforests is a huge problem facing humanity. Every day habitats and ecosystems are ripped apart for short term commercial gain. We should all be angry about this.

Sexuality is private, individual and as much a part of us as our hair or eye colour. No church or state should interfere.

It really is that simple, as far as I am concerned.

Idina Menzel sums it up perfectly with her song Gorgeous, performed live in London earlier this year. As she says if you love somebody, you shouldn't have to answer to nobody. It makes a good antidote to prejudice and I love the music as much as the lyrics.

Edit - just to add another simplistic but typically funny view from Costigan and a deeper analysis from Liz.

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Vicki Harris - a sad loss

I don't think I've ever known a festive season when so many people I know and care about have been grieving the loss of a loved one, among them the family and friends of Lib Dem legend Neil Trafford and the 3 children in my daughter's school having to face life without their mum, who died of cancer recently.

On top of that, I was very sad to hear last week of the death of Vicki Harris, former Lib Dem candidate in Aberdeen South. I had worked closely with her since moving back to Scotland in 2000 and particularly in the run up to the 2005 election where she so nearly unseated Anne Begg. She worked hard, campaigning ceaselessly for local people. I admired the fact that she let nothing faze her, and just got on with the job, bringing new people in to extend the delivery network and take on roles within her campaign.

My heart goes out to her husband, Mark, whom she married just one week before she passed away. He was her agent during the 2005 election and was such a calm, patient and wise support to her.

My mother-in-law passed away at Christmas 21 years ago. To lose someone close at any time of year is awful, but it seems so much worse now, when the emphasis is on being wtih loved ones.

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Monday, December 22, 2008

T-Mobile send confidential details to wrong person

It's been a weekend for catching up on the paperwork - I had to clear some space on the kitchen table somehow.....

Anyway, I opened my mobile phone bill yesterday to find a letter from them saying they were switching me to online billing. All well and good, until I got to the bottom of the sheaf of paper they'd sent me and found another letter, addressed to somebody else, giving the same information. This letter contained this person's name, address, mobile phone number and log-in details for their account on T-Mobile's website. Had I been of criminal mind, I could probably have done quite a bit of mischief with that information.

What I did do was ring the person up and let them know what had happened and we will both be making separate complaints to the Information Commissioner.

Maybe he will be able to make T-Mobile take this seriously. The person in their call centre who I spoke to yesterday really didn't seem to care that much.

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For once, a welcome Lib Dem appeal letter

Well, I have to say thank you to Tavish Scott for inviting me to set up a standing order to make monthly donations to the Euro campaign recently. It's a good cause, certainly - George Lyon, a farmer from Argyll and Bute and former deputy finance minister, is a credible and dynamic choice to send to Brussels. The current Scottish Lib Dem MEP, Elspeth Atwooll is retiring in June and will be very much missed in the Scottish party. She has been unfailingly generous with her time and support of local campaigns and a star in encouraging women candidates. I will really miss her.

Anyway, I digress. Normally appeal letters go straight in the recycling as I feel that the party has more than enough of my time and energy. Yesterday, though, Christmas spirit and guilt combined provided a powerful motivator to set up a standing order.

I didn't quite understand what I was supposed to do with the form - did I send it to party HQ or the bank, for example - so I decide to set up the standing order online.

As I looked at my account details, I realised that some scumbag had swiped over £150 from my account at an ATM on the other side of the world on Friday. If I hadn't logged on yesterday, I might not have noticed until after the New Year, by which time I might have had no money left.

Both the bank and the police were very sympathetic and helpful. In some ways we are lucky because we weren't reliant on that £150 to live on right now. However, it's still a darned inconvenience. Our cards have been stopped so if we want cash we have to go into the branch with ID, like you had to do in the olden days, until our new ones arrive, which will probably be in the New Year.

The other thing was that my husband was in Tesco doing some shopping as I was talking to the bank yesterday. As usual I tried to get through on his mobile but it was switched off. Not quite sure what the point of him having it is. Anyway, I ended up having to ring the store and get him tannoyed so I could tell him to use another card, cos he'd have panicked if his debit card had been rejected.....

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Slowly emerging from hibernation...

It's now some 6 weeks since that Saturday afternoon when I came over all funny while watching tv, signalling the start of a vicious virus from which I still haven't fully recovered.

I was off work for a whole two weeks and since my return have managed to do not much more than get to the office, do my hours and come home and collapse in a heap.

I feel like I have a wee bit more energy now to devote to this blogging lark and hope to be back up to speed in the New Year.

My Christmas preparations are woefully behind so if you are expecting a Christmas card from me, you are likely to be very disappointed. I suspect I'll manage to make a reasonable attempt at dinner and buy my husband a few presents (Santa still takes care of Anna) and not much more.

At the moment, my niece and nephew are staying with us for a couple of days. Emma is 11 and Ru 10 weeks older than Anna. Ru and Anna are pretty much inseparable and Emma and I are going to hit the shops together later. A trip for us all to Build a Bear looms - sounds expensive for me, but should be fun.

So, merry Christmas to all my friends and family out there, and all the best for 2009from me to you.

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