Monday, February 28, 2011

Dear Twitter,

Why the fuck aren't you working on my computer at the moment? It's been like this since Saturday. Everything worked brilliantly until then, and come the weekend - my page NEVER loads up. What the hell is going on?

The Grim Reaper is a being who has no life whatsoever and therefore gets enjoyment out of using the micro-blogging service that you provide. I'm not pretending for a second that it's the worst thing to happen in the history of the world ever, but you really should be running a more efficient website than this, especially for such a big brand name.

At least show me the Twitter fail whale when I log on if there's a problem - don't just tell my browsers to say the page is done loading when it clearly fucking isn't. Sort it out, or The Grim Reaper will be heading over with his scythe.

Kind regards,
The Grim Reaper

Quick question on car insurance

There is a legal battle going on at the moment into whether it's discriminatory to give women lower car insurance premiums than men. It all centres on a ruling last September by Juliane Kokott, an advocate-general at the European Court of  Justice. She ruled that sex discrimination  in underwriting insurance was incompatible with EU law.

The European Court of Justice themselves are due to make their minds up tomorrow on the matter. They don't have to do what Kokott tells them, but they generally agree with her in around four-fifths of cases.

Males between the age of 17 and 25 pay thousands of pounds more for their insurance than women of the same age, for example. Does your Reaper consider that an example of discrimination? As it happens, I don't. I think it simply reflects the fact that men of this age are far, far more likely to be involved in an accident than women. The car insurance industry may well be one great rip-off, but they are perfectly entitled to charge for cover according to the risk they are taking on.

Hence why I think the legal battle is barmy. European judges are due to make a decision on this tomorrow, and it's one the whole industry is keeping an eye on. However, I do have one or two questions to ask. In the event of a "victory" and that it is indeed declared discriminatory to charge men more than women for car insurance, why is all the talk in the media about the cost for women's insurance increasing? Doesn't that sound like an admission that women are being under-charged?

Or is it the case that men have been getting throughly ripped off for years, even more than the women? And if that is the case, will us men be able to apply for a rebate to compensate for all this time we've been overcharged for our car insurance?

Just asking, like.

[An]Other [Person]'s Grim Reading

There is just one person to recommend in this instance. He is the person who helped get your Reaper's blog noticed in its very early days, and also a man who provided a fair amount of encouragement behind the scenes at the time.

The much-missed GrumpyOldTwat is back - but just for one week. Old Rightie is taking a one-week holiday from his blog, and in an astonishing coup, has managed to get Gotty to come out of retirement and cover for him. A bit like a substitute teacher covering for the teacher who is sick, but a lot more entertaining.

Make the most of it. I will be. I shall be recommending pretty much every post that he does in the next seven days or so. The target of his first choice is Bob Crow - a gift who just keeps on giving to us mischievous bloggers. Head over there and get ready to laugh. And if you've never heard of GrumpyOldTwat before, be warned - he doesn't hold back.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Croeso i'r oes digidol i Cymru...

Mae'n edrych fel fod yr sgâm 419, yr un mae pawb arall yn yr byd wedi gorfod rhoi fyny efo ers blynyddoedd nawr, wedi cyrraedd yr Cymro. Mae o yn darllen fel hyn...



"Annwyl yng Nghrist,

Gall ein Harglwydd da bendithia chi, eich gwobrwyo am eich allan fynd a’ch yn dod i mewn trwy Iesu Grist ein Harglwydd. Amen.
Fy enw i yw Mrs ██████████; Origin of Kuwait, i am briod â diweddar Mr ██████████. oedd yn gweithio gyda Kuwait llysgenhadaeth yma yn Ivory Coast am naw mlynedd cyn iddo farw yn y flwyddyn 2008.
Rydym yn briod am un mlynedd ar ddeg heb blentyn. Bu farw ar ôl salwch byr sy’n para am bedwar diwrnod yn unig. Cyn ei farwolaeth yr oeddem yn y ddau geni drachefn Cristnogol. Ers ei farwolaeth fi penderfynu peidio ag ailbriodi neu gael plentyn y tu allan i’m cartref priodasol y mae’r Beibl ei erbyn. Pan gafodd fy ngwr yn hwyr yn fyw iddo adael y swm o Dau filiwn bum can mil o ddoleri US ($ 2. 5 miliwn) mewn cyfrif ymddiriedolaeth yn gyffredinol gyda banc yma yn Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire gorllewin Affrica, Yn ddiweddar, yn dilyn fy iechyd gwael fy meddyg dweud wrthyf bod fi na fyddai para am yr wyth mis nesaf o ganlyniad i'm broblem ganser.
Dywedodd wrthyf fod yn y 2 fis nesaf mae mynd i fod yn lledaeniad y canser hwn i fy esgyrn, ac nid wyf yn byw eto, yr un sy’n amharu ar y rhan fwyaf i mi yn fy salwch strôc. Wedi hysbys fy fi benderfynu amod i roi gronfa hon i eglwys Gristnogol, Unigol, a Sefydliad neu y gallai i yn gwybod ei angen ac a fydd yn defnyddio’r arian hwn y ffordd i am fynd i gyfarwyddo yma yn ôl dymuniad fy ngwr yn hwyr cyn ei marwolaeth.
Ar hyn o bryd, yr arian hwn yn dal i fod gyda’r banc. Yr wyf am y gronfa hon gael ei defnyddio mewn gweithgareddau gwaith rhyddhad yn hoffi, cymorth i deuluoedd pastors, cartrefi plant amddifad, llai breintiedig yn yr ysgolion cymdeithas ac Cristnogol, pobl dlawd yn eich yng nghanol a chadw i fyny o’r Eglwysi ac ar gyfer lluosogi gair Duw ac i ymdrechu bod y ty i Dduw yn cael ei gynnal.
Cymerais y penderfyniad hwn gan nad oes gennyf unrhyw blentyn a fydd yn etifeddu yr arian hwn ac mae fy ngwr pherthnasau nid ydynt yn Gristnogion a fi ddim eisiau fy ngwr ymdrechion i gael ei ddefnyddio gan unbelievers. Nid wyf am sefyllfa lle y bydd yr arian hwn yn cael ei ddefnyddio mewn ffordd annuwiol. Dyma pam dwi yn cymryd y penderfyniad hwn.
Gwnaeth y Beibl i ni ddeall bod “Gwyn ei fyd y llaw sy’n rhoddi”. Nid wyf yn ofni marwolaeth felly i yn gwybod ble i am fynd. Rwy’n gwybod bod fi wyf yn mynd i fod yn y fynwes yr Arglwydd. Exodus 14 vs 14 yn dweud bod “bydd y arglwydd frwydr yn fy achos a fi fydd yn cynnal fy heddwch” Nid fi dim angen unrhyw gyfathrebu dros y ffôn yn y cyswllt hwn oherwydd fy iechyd. Gyda Duw pob peth sydd bosibl.
Cyn gynted ag y fi fydd yn derbyn eich ateb i rhoi i chi y cyswllt y banc i chi gysylltu â nhw’n uniongyrchol ar gyfer trosglwyddo ymlaen. Byddaf hefyd yn cyhoeddi llythyr i chi awdurdod a fydd yn profi chi fel y buddiolwr presennol o fy arian. Yr wyf am i chi a’ch teulu i bob amser yn weddïo dros mi oherwydd yr arglwydd yw fy Mugail. Mae fy hapusrwydd yw bod fi yn byw bywyd Cristnogol yn deilwng. Pwy bynnag sy’n awyddus i wasanaethu yn rhaid i’r Arglwydd wasanaethu ef yn ysbryd a gwirionedd.
Os gwelwch yn dda bob amser fod yn weddigar bawb drwy eich bywyd, bydd oedi yn eich ateb yn rhoi i mi ddod o hyd ystafell mewn eglwys arall at y diben hwn yr un. Os gwelwch yn dda i mi y byddwch yn gweithredu yn unol â hynny gan fy mod yn Datgan yma. Bydd unrhyw oedi yn eich ateb yn rhoi i mi ddod o hyd ystafell yn berson arall at y diben hwn yr un. Os gwelwch yn dda fy sicrhau y byddwch yn gweithredu yn unol â hynny fel fi nodir yma. Yn gobeithio derbyn eich ateb.
Aros bendithio yn yr Arglwydd.
Yr eiddoch yn Nghrist.
██████████"


Ychydig dros flwyddyn ar ôl i fi adael yr wlad, mae'n edrych fel fod Cymru wedi mynd mewn i'r oes newydd. Gwell yn hwyr nag ddim o gwbl.

Dwi'n meddwl bod bydd rhan fwyaf ohonoch chi yn mynd ffwrdd i Google Translate ar ôl darllen yr erthygl yma. Hefyd, dwi yn reit siwr byddech chi gyd yn deall yr brawddeg ddiwethaf yna...

Larry: sleeping, but still the most useful being in Government

That's all your Reaper can say to this disgraceful hatchet job on the nation's favourite cat.

My view? When you consider that this is a government which has Nick Clegg in it - the man who "forgot" he was in charge of the country this week - Larry still comes out extremely favourably. This is one member of the Government whose wages I am more than happy to contribute to.

Keep sleeping for as long as you like, Larry. I don't begrudge you a second of it.

Ashley Cole - weapons-grade bellend



"Ashley Cole has been rapped by his bosses at Chelsea after he shot a work placement student with an air rifle. The England international is believed to have accidentally shot 21-year-old Tom Cowan from just 5ft away as he 'larked about' with a high-powered .22 rifle at the club's training ground.

A club statement read: 'We have fully investigated the incident and we are taking appropriate action. We will not be commenting further as it is an internal matter.'. The News of the World said he wounded the intern who was given medical treatment on the spot, but two days later the wound was still weeping and had to be treated again."

Who the hell would bring a rifle gun into work with them? If anyone else did that, your Reaper can't imagine that they would just get a quiet talking to by the boss. I don't know whether to be flabbergasted by the sheer audacity of bringing a gun into work, or whether I should just call him a stupid cunt and be done with it.
Thinking about it for about... ooh, three seconds, I'll just take the second option.

Who's the boss? They want us to know all about it

Without going into too many details, your Reaper is not having an especially good time of things at the moment. Work is drying up and bills need to be paid one way or another, so I'm busy hunting for more to do with my time. That has been something of a pre-occupation in the last week or so especially, so my mind isn't quite on the blog as much as I'd like it to be. As much as I love writing here, the blog doesn't pay my bills - though one day hopefully, it will contribute - so making sure I enough money to get by in an increasingly expensive world has to be my priority for the time being. Apologies, therefore, if blogging service stutters over the next few weeks.

Anyway, onto today's first post. I'm going to return to two of my favourite subjects. The police farce and the Government, and making fun of both of these groups. As we all know, the Government is rather starved of cash at the moment. We know this because they perpetually remind us that they're rather starved of cash at the moment.

Whilst your Reaper is in favour of some of the cuts in public spending that are coming up, I am worried about a number of them, including changes to disability benefits, to name but one. However, whilst the Government's enthusiasm for axe-wielding is quite apparent, it's also becoming clear that they want to ensure the money keeps rolling in.

Hence I notice a recent development here in Northern Ireland. I do not know if this is being widely replicated across the rest of the UK, but if it isn't yet, it soon will be. I also notice it whenever I go across the border into the Republic. The police farce are essentially nothing more than a branch of Government, and one that willingly does its bidding. History shows us that whenever the police or other authorities lose confidence in a government, then that government is doomed. Whilst spending in the police is also due to fall, they're being given something else to get on with to take their minds off that fact.
   
Recently, I have heard that they are going around and stopping a lot more cars than normal. Over the icy period in December and January, there wasn't a copper to be seen around this area, but they all seem to be crawling out from under the woodwork now. It must be the warmer weather that's responsible, one must think. Not quite. They're out checking motorists for absolutely everything under the sun. They're checking whether you have been paying your car tax. They're checking whether you have a valid MOT certificate, despite the MOT being fundamentally meaningless. They're checking whether you've got your insurance up to date. They're checking whether your tyres are above the legal limit. They're checking everything, it appears.

In itself, there doesn't seem to be anything wrong with them doing that. Which makes it quite hard to criticise them - although the claim they should be focusing on real crimes will inevitably, and probably rightly, be made in the process. Your Reaper simply isn't being fooled by this. Any of those violations above are being checked, and anyone who's guilty of even a minor offence can be given fines. Handy for a Treasury that keeps telling us it hasn't got any money, isn't it?

The police farce in the Republic of Ireland (or Garda, as they're known down there) are also keen to remind us who the boss is, whilst giving themselves the obligatory ego boost in the process. When I went over the border recently to buy some diesel - a lot of us in the border counties do it, as you can save several pounds each time you fill up - I noticed that numerous cars were being stopped. I also noticed their cars being checked in quite some detail. They simply waved me through - possibly on the grounds I was driving a car registered in Northern Ireland, but I don't know for certain.

I didn't know what they were actually doing at the time. It was only when I was down in the local shop some days later - and brought up the subject in conversation - that I discovered the truth. It turns out that Garda were accompanying people who are called "dippers".

What do they do? Well, they stick something into your fuel tank which checks whether you are using fuel obtained legally, or whether you are illegally using red diesel. Only agricultural vehicles and riverboats are normally permitted to use that. If you are caught using red fuel illegally in the UK, your vehicle can be seized and drivers can be fined over £2000 and even sent to prison. Though the fine varies depending on how much you have.

Didn't know that? Well, a lot of people could soon be finding that out the unpleasant way. As the price of fuel rockets, it's becoming increasingly clear that the Irish Government wants to make sure it makes as much money out of that development as possible. I have absolutely no reason to believe that our government in the UK will see things any differently.

Make no mistake. The state is your enemy, and the police have, it appears, been told to remind us of that fact in no uncertain terms.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

This post contains elephant pornography

Pictured: A man out walking his car yesterday

This one was spotted at Digital Spy and is reproduced here without comment. Mainly because your Reaper was left somewhat speechless by it.


"An elephant in a South African game reserve had sex with a car after mistaking it for another elephant, it has been revealed. John Somer and Carina Lowers were driving a Volkswagen Passat through the Pilanesberg Game Reserve when Amarula - a five-ton bull elephant - approached the car and began mating with it, before flipping the vehicle over.
Somer told The Sun: 'I never thought I would be killed by an elephant. When I turned the corner there was another vehicle in the road in front of us. The driver started reversing and stopped next to us. I'm Irish and he was speaking Afrikaans, but I could make out the word 'elephant'... It really did seem to regard the car as a female elephant and was making advances on 'her'. When the bull started flipping the car over my life literally started flashing before my eyes. The car landed on its roof and we were lying inside it. Carina was very scared and wanted to crawl out but first I wanted to see where the elephant was. When we saw it was walking away we crawled out through the window.'
The elephant then turned its attention to a nearby car, but driver Riaan van Wyk managed to get rid of him after a 15-minute chase."

There now follows a picture of a female elephant.


Easy mistake to make, I suppose.

Having a baby seriously endangers your health

UPDATE: Want to read the report in question for yourself? Here you go.
----------------

The Sunday Telegraph have a frankly bizarre story featuring in tomorrow's edition, and your Reaper can't let this one go without a comment or two. According to draft guidance from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, "Women should be advised that abortion is generally safer than continuing a pregnancy to term.".

Yep, this is serious medical guidance, but not for much longer. On being contacted by the Torygraph, the Royal College - presumably worried that Mail Online will eventually see this - said some of the guidance was going to be re-written. I just question why it was written in the first place.

I would ask for a pearl of wisdom at this point from, say, Josephine Quintavalle of the Pro-Life Alliance, but I'd only be setting myself up for disappointment. Still, let's have a listen to what she's got to say on this guidance:




Mrs Quintaville, how can I put this kindly? Ah yes - shut up and stop playing politics. I seriously doubt that women who are considering having an abortion give a flying fuck about having a "liberal agenda" imposed on them - methinks they probably have other issues on their mind, such as the trivial matter of how on earth they would be able to look after the child when born. To attempt to claim that this guidance is somehow being written from a political perspective is ridicilous and an insult to those who contributed.

In any case, the people who contributed don't need to be insulted any further, as they've already done a good enough job of insulting themselves. Who the hell thought it was a good idea to state, as medical advice, that having an abortion was safer than having a baby? It's just stupid advice. There's not much more to it than that.

I despair of the medical profession if this wibble is the best they can come up with. I honestly do.

"I don't believe that most women considering abortions are worried it will kill them or are worrying about dying in childbirth; this is a blatant attempt to force an absurdly liberal agenda on women when they are at their most vulnerable."

Spending cuts? We don't have to take it, says Polly

Polly Toynbee is someone who isn't pleased with the Coalition's spending cuts. Unlike most people at The Guardian, she's honest enough to admit that most of the cuts don't come into force until April. She tells us in her column that "April will indeed be cruel, but we don't have to take it".
Indeed not, Polly. We don't have to take it. And by we, I actually mean you. You don't have to take it. You COULD make a permanent move to your villa in Tuscany. Now might just be the time to make the move. From what we know, your salary is around £140,000 per year, for which you get paid to write two columns per week. Convert that into Euros, the currency of choice for Italians, and you'd be on just over €164,000 per year. You'd be taxed at a rate of 43%. Assuming that I have got your salary right, it means you would be paying a little more tax than you are now.

Given your promotion of the regressive (you might say progressive) Swedish system where anyone earning over £32,000 could be paying as much as 60% of their income in tax, I suspect you probably wouldn't mind paying a little more in tax. Living in Tuscany permanently will also mean that you can continue writing articles about those evil corporations who supposedly aren't paying their keep to the state whilst conveniently failing to declare that your own employers have been avoiding paying their taxes as well.

You can continue to be an utter hypocrite and to write rubbish week after week that even Guardian readers laugh at. Make no mistake - you certainly don't need to take it. With such exciting prospects, what are you waiting for? If you head over to Lastminute.com, you can currently get a ticket from London Heathrow to Florence for just over £100 per person. Better still, you can be out of this country as early as Monday. No longer will you have to suffer the indignity of living in the United Kingdom under this government.

Of course, it'll mean that you're no better than Richard Littlejohn - he who lives in Florida for most of the year - but you stopped aiming to be better than anyone else a long time ago.

One fine for the rich, no fine for the poor?

Your Reaper notices that F.C. Internazionale Milano player Samuel Eto'o has been pictured in Milan, Spain's capital city, practically begging a traffic warden not to give him a fine.

No, I must admit I've never heard of the man before either. But he's gone through an experience that many of us will be familiar with. If we haven't had to deal with one of these ghastly wardens, we know someone who has had to speak to them. Personally, I have been fined just once and that was for going over the alloted time of one hour I was allowed to park where I was.

Now, I have to concede that there is something just slightly pathetic about a man who earns £185,000 per week (that's just over £9.6million per year) pleading not to be given a fine of around €60. Also, he would clearly suffer no hardship whatsoever if he had to pay this fine.

That said, I don't like the way this article has been written. It implies that just because this man is rich beyond the wildest dreams of most of us, that he should somehow just pay up and not complain.

The accusation that's almost being made is that he's somewhat stingy. I don't like it. This appears to be nothing more than the politics of envy at play here. Regardless of whatever anyone earns, they have every right to contest a fine if they believe it's unfair. Mr Eto'o, I can't quite tell from the report whether or not you were given the fine. If you were, I hope you contest it and that you win. Nine out of ten fines in the UK are quashed, it was revealed this week, and this is probably more common than the authorities would like to admit.

On a more personal note, this has rather pissed me off. On the day which I got that fine, I had gotten back into the car to drive off into town. The car was at the side of the road. I couldn't help but notice a black BMW pulled into a space nearby. Fair enough. When I went past again around two hours later on the way back home, the BMW was still there. Over an hour over the time limit, and he hadn't been given a fine. Your Reaper can only come to one of two conclusions. Either the traffic warden was having a liquid lunch, or it was the traffic warden's own car.

Either way, I still think the warden was a bitch.

Making wonga from blogging

Iain: "Pick a card, any card. Or book. I sell books too. Jack of all trades, me..."

The original master of political blogging that was Iain Dale put a post up on his diary back in November 2008 exploring whether there was any money to be made from... well, political blogging. In the United States, a number of bloggers are quite widely known in the mainstream media. Examples include The Drudge Report, The Huffington Post and the Daily Kos. Many of these bloggers make money from their online work and are able to do it full-time.

Whereas in the UK, this hasn't happened, and nobody is too sure how to solve that problem. Indeed, there is something of a widespread view in the UK blogosphere that it's somehow wrong to make money from your blogging activities.

Frankly, your Reaper has never understood this attitude. I find it extremely peculiar, to put it mildly. A number of people enjoy blogging, so I see absolutely nothing wrong with making a little bit of money in the process. For the record, I didn't start The Grim Reaper Writes with the intention of making money. I started it in order to share my views with anyone who wants to read it and I also enjoy writing immensely. That said, if a decent opportunity came along to make some money out of my activities, I'd be a bloody fool not to consider it. We live in tough times, and if using the blog to make money or as a vessel to make money is one way of doing it, so be it.

My only concern would be making sure that my independence was protected. I would not ever want that to be compromised.

Anyway, the question of how to make money from blogging remains unsolved, but Iain Dale's Total Politics is having a go at it. What are they doing? They are hosting seminars on the subject. One of which is called "How To Deal With Bloggers". For the princely sum of £225, you can attend the seminar which is due to take place on March 29th between 9.30am and 5.00pm in Westminster. Speakers include the prodigy that is Iain Dale, Sunny Hundal and also Harry Cole, the man who seems to pretty much write the Guido Fawkes blog by himself now. What Mr Fawkes himself does all day now is a mystery...

The seminar is based on the assumption that many people simply don't know how to deal with bloggers. Your Reaper is normally suspicious of assumptions such as this, but I think this one is fairly accurate. Whilst a number of companies are getting better at these things - I have been contacted a few times by companies after writing about them on the blog in often favourable terms - there are some who simply don't get it, and just assume we are another arm of the mainstream press. For anyone interested in the online world of blogging, it sounds an interesting enough concept and your Reaper isn't ashamed to admit he would be slightly tempted.

That said... £225 for less than eight hours? Isn't that a tad on the expensive side? Perhaps your Reaper is speaking from a position of ignorance here - are seminars normally at these kinds of prices?

About THOSE libel cases brought by Firtash and Al Amoudi

Libel tourism is something that's been around for some time now here in the UK. It's the practice in which plaintiffs choose to put in libel cases in countries which are more likely to give them the result that they want. The UK is quite popular in this respect, because our laws do not provide as many defences for those accused of making derogratory statements or claims.

In the USA, for example, in order to prove a libel has taken place, one has to prove something was untrue AND establish that the statement was made on malicious grounds. No such defence exists in the UK. Sometimes, there's also the possibility of obtaining more money in libel damages from our courts.

It's gotten so bad in recent years that certain US states, including Arnie Schwarzenegger's California, once actually had to pass laws that stated unequivocally that the judgements of English courts in libel cases do not apply in their jurisdictions. US president Barack Obama has since passed The Speech Act which prevents all foreign libel judgments which aren't in line with the United States constitution from being enforceable. The Government is aware of this problem, but is dragging its heels over the issue. Nick Clegg says he will bring forward legislation to deal with this, but it won't be effective until May next year.

In the meantime, we're going to be stuck with cases being brought by wealthy individuals with no real link to the UK. The latest example is the case of a billionaire Ukrainian businessman called Dimitry Firtash. He's a businessman born in 1965 who started out his career in the food industry in the 1990s. After that, he went into gas trading and founded a company called RosUkrEnergo. A national Ukrainian newspaper called the Kyiv Post published an unfavourable story about Firtash and his company. The article, according to Firtash, implied that there was corrupt activity going on within RosUkrEergo. Your Reaper would link to the original story from Kyiv Post about this, but I can't do so. The reason being? When you attempt to go to it from the UK, this message comes up:


Apparently, the Kyiv Post is protesting against our libel laws by blocking all UK traffic from accessing their website. It's an understandable move, but ultimately silly. It almost implies that everyone in the UK supports these restrictive, backward laws, something which I find somewhat offensive. Then again, they've got to protect themselves from these libel lawyers somehow, but legal eagles clearly aren't aware that people can access the internet via a proxy IP address easily enough nowadays.

Anyway, Firtash decided that the best place to come would be London, the libel capital of the world. But he needed grounds on which he could start legal proceedings in this country. What was his excuse in the end? Apparently, 21 people in the UK accessed the article from the website. That, he thought, would be sufficient proof that he could sue in the UK. Wrong. The High Court Master John Leslie dismissed the case, simply staing that the link to the English jurisdiction was "tenuous in the extreme".

Common sense has obviously prevailed in this case. It remains to be seen what will happen in the case of Mohammed Al Amoudi, another billionaire businessman who is currently suing Elias Kifle of the US-based Ethiopian Review for libel. From what I can work out, the charges in that case eminate from a story that appeared in several UK outlets last year about a young girl who claimed to be Al Amoudi's daughter. He denies that. At the moment, what the link is between the two has not been revealed.

What is worth revealing, however, is this letter that Elias Kifle received from DLA Piper, the legal firm of choice for Al Amoudi in this case:


"Dear Mr. Kifle,



This firm represents Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi and his family.
We are writing to you regarding the content of your article entitled 'Ethiopian billionaire's daughter faces in Saudi,' appearing on-line in the January 27, 2010 edition of the Ethiopian Review. Your article states that the 'identity of the alleged Saudi Princess given secret asylum in the United Kingdom early last year has been revealed' as Sarah Mohammed Al Amoudi, daughter of Sheikh Mohammed Al Amoudi. The alleged Saudi Princess referenced in your article is not the daughter of Sheikh Al Amoudi. The information in your article making the link between the alleged Saudi Princess and the Al Amoudi family is false, highly inflammatory, and is a defamatory statement.
We insist that you immediately cease and desist from making this false and defamatory statement. We also demand that you issue an immediate retraction of the article by issuing a formal statement disclaiming the link between the alleged Saudi Princess and the Al Amoudi family, by removing the reference to Sheikh Al Amoudi and his family from this on-line article, and by issuing an apology to Sheikh Al Amoudi and his family.
If you are represented by counsel, have your counsel contact us immediately to discuss this very serious matter. If you are not represented, you may contact us directly to confirm arrangements for the retraction and apology.
Very truly yours, Mary E. Gately"

Kifle's reply? Well...



Gotta love it.
"Ms. Gately,
Here is my formal statement:
Screw yourself. Same goes for all DLA Piper “lawyers”. Stop bluffing and face me in court.
Yours truly, Elias"

What's all this guff about cuts?

Gideon: "Plan B? There was no plan in the first place..."

Here's something that your Reaper missed yesterday. I had picked up the news that the Office for National Statistics had revealed that the economy shrank by 0.6% in the last three months of 2010. Whilst not explicitly commenting on it, I made a passing reference to this in my post about the rising price of fuel. (which is up AGAIN this morning, I notice. For fuck's sake...)

What I hadn't noticed was that one area of the economy is performing better than expected. According to the ONS, every sector of the economy was on the slide between October and December 2010, except for one - the public sector. That grew by 0.7%. Which, when you think about it, rather gives away the lie to the claim that public spending is being cut, doesn't it?

I was under the impression that the public sector was suffering from huge cuts in spending. That's if you believe the Sunny Hundals and the Guardianistas of this country. Yet despite these so-called cuts, the public sector was still growing. Aside from demolishing the claim that public spending cuts risk pushing us into a recession, this also gives away the Coalition's own lies about the public sector no longer growing. By the looks of it, they must still be spending and still be hiring.

Although I can't help but laugh at this piece of Guardian hypocrisy:


"Analysts described the figures as worse than expected. Many said a reliance on public sector growth showed the economy was even more precariously balanced on the edge of recession and a strong recovery would be delayed until next year."

Strange how you lot didn't complain about this country's over-reliance on the public sector when times were good, isn't it? And even stranger that you only mention this as a stick to beat the Government with. Opportunism clearly knocks at The Grauniad.

No, your Reaper STILL isn't happy with this

Your Reaper has always been of the view that every single government has at least one policy which, despite it being deeply unpopular for whatever reason, it simply won't drop. The previous Labour government had a few different ones, but the first that comes to mind for me is ID cards.

Discounting any protestations to the contrary that were occasionally made by the less savvy members of the Cabinet at the time, the Government knew deep down that ID cards were an unpopular white elephant that nobody wanted. Yet they insisted on continuing down this route, and one which steadily contributed to shredding Labour's reputation as a party that would respect their credibility on issues of liberty.

In this Government's case, the Big Society movement may have been subject to considerable derision, but there is one plan they have which follows a similar plan. It's widely seen as a waste of money. At best, it just makes the Coalition look like they're obsessed with trivial issues that they have no control over.

Your Reaper is talking about this ridiculous idea that the Government has of trying to measure the happiness of the nation. I have previously mentioned this one in a post titled "The day of individual happiness has passed". The title was a reference to a quote from Adolf Hitler in 1940. Nice bit of Godwin's Law there on The Grim Reaper Writes.


Elsewhere in the piece, I said:

"Let's face it, this is one of those things that wouldn't pass the 'other way round' test. Had this been proposed whilst Gordon Brown was in charge, we would all have had a field day. The first thing that would have mocked all day long would have been the mere sight of Gordon, with his miserable, long, drawn-out face announcing this pile of wibble. The irony would have provided the likes of Guido Fawkes with enough material to last a week on his blog alone. The dictatorial undertones regarding the idea would immediately have been pointed out in the media, and the blogosphere would be raging furiously against it. Nobody would have seriously defended the idea. Even Labour supporting people would have been embarrassed to put their name to such an utterly stupid and risible concept.



Yet the Tories announce this and nobody seems to bat an eyelid. There are jokes doing the rounds about it, sure, but nobody has realised just how bad an idea this really is. Yes, we live in a world which is obsessed with money and life is about far more than just making money. Indeed, anyone who thinks that money is the only thing that matters in life is is either a sad, desperately lonely cunt, or Mr Burns out of The Simpsons. However, anyone who honestly believes that the best placed group to sort this state of affairs out is the Government really needs to be sectioned, and quickly."


I also said:

"The likes of China would be laughing their heads off if they read this nonsense concept of a 'happiness index'. Whilst they get on with making a lot of money, we're more concerned with measuring the psychological and environmental wellbeing of people who are perfectly capable of measuring their own. How ridiculous."

Naturally, I stand by everything I said at the time. Sadly, the Government shows no sign of listening to any criticism of this. It emerges that 200,000 people are going to be sent a survey asking them about how happy they are. It's going to cost £2million to us taxpayers, at a time when the Government supposedly doesn't have any money to waste.

We will be asked such questions as "How happy did you feel yesterday?" in this survey. Aside from being a question which the Government has no fucking business asking us about, it also fails what your Reaper calls the MOT test. Like the annual examination that vehicles over 4 years old have to undergo, it only applies for a very short amount of time. Just because someone was "happy" yesterday doesn't mean they'll be happy in three months time, for example.

Then again, it's only our money they're wasting on this utter arsegravy, isn't it?

Cunts.

Andrew Klavan talking about multiculturalism

This is probably the best explanation of multiculturalism your Reaper has ever seen.



A tip of the Reaper's scythe goes to Groompy Tom.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Harvey's taking bitty a little too far

The most shared story on the Beeb's website this afternoon? This.


"A restaurant in London's Covent Garden is serving a new range of ice cream, made with breast milk. The dessert, called Baby Gaga, is churned with donations from London mother Victoria Hiley, and served with a rusk and an optional shot of Calpol or Bonjela.

Mrs Hiley, 35, said if adults realised how tasty breast milk was more new mothers would be encouraged to breastfeed. Each serving of Baby Gaga at Icecreamists costs £14."

Somehow, your Reaper cannot imagine that even the creators of Little Britain would have anticipated this coming onto the market. I don't think there's much more I can add to this one.

Any comments, just leave them below. The more puns involving breasts, the better. "One from the chest freezer" was a good one from the Mail...

Back To Teh Old Skool (3 from 1998)

It's been a while since there was one of these posts, so here's another three tunes for a Friday.

Bamboo - Bamboogie
The Lisa Marie Vocal Experience
Released on VC Recordings in 1998.

Bamboo was an alias of Andrew "Doc" Livingstone in the late 1990s, under which he released three records. Previous to that, he was part of Hed Boys, who had a hit with "Boys And Girls" on Deconstruction Records in 1995. I first heard "Bamboogie" on an advert for The Best Club Anthems Ever! Volume 2, an album which is still surprisingly good to this day. Recently, I came across a version of this on YouTube which I somehow managed to miss at the time - the Lisa Marie Vocal Experience. As ever, what an experience! They manage to keep in the sample, (which is taken from KC and the Sunshine Band, in case you didn't know) but make the track their own. Brilliance.


Sil - Windows '98
The Sharp Boys Smash And Grab Remix
Released on Hooj Choons in 1998.

In case you're under the impression that this is a fairly recent track, you're mistaken. You could be half-forgiven for thinking it, though - it's out again at the moment with new mixes from Sonny Wharton and Olav Basoski over on Beatport. Not so - it first came out in 1991, then again in 1994, 1998, 2000 and 2009, remixed by the likes of Chocolate Puma, Victor Imbres, and Terry Lee Brown along the way. It was originally written by Olav Basoski and put together with the help of DJ Zki, who later became one half of Chocolate Puma. This one was remixed by The Sharp Boys, the old Trade favourites who are still working together to this day. Personally, I prefer George Mitchell & Steven Doherty's older stuff, such as this one. Sharp Boys seemed to have a very chunky but accessible sound in the late 1990s which always worked for me.


Todd Terry Feat. Martha Wash & Jocelyn Brown - Ready For A New Day
Rhythm Masters Thumpin' Mix
Released on Manifesto Records in 1998.

Rhythm Masters are probably best known for remixing "Keep On Jumpin" in 1996, but they did reworks of "Something's Goin' On" and also this one for Todd The God. The samples are put through the grinder and used in a slightly schizophrenic way on this one, but your Reaper is a fan.

Is the UK facing more fuel protests?

With all the events currently going on around the Middle East, it's definitely having one effect that most of us in the UK are sure to have noticed by now. Fuel prices have been on the up again in recent weeks, and whilst your Reaper was driving into town yesterday, I noticed one place is now selling petrol for £1.31 per litre and diesel for £1.37 per litre.

When I started driving back in 2007, the price of fuel was around £1.10 per litre. It seemed expensive enough at the time, but I clearly didn't know what a good thing I'd got until it was gone, did I?

The unrest in Libya is now threatening to push the price up yet again. Your Reaper admits he's no expert when it comes to the world of finance, but one thing I do know is that people involved in the markets hate nothing more than instability, and that is simply exacerbating the problem. As a result, the price of crude oil yesterday rose to $119 a barrel - that's just under £74 at the current conversion rate of 62p to every $1. Fears are around that the unrest could spread to Saudi Arabia and Algeria. The people in the Middle East have seen what they have succeeded in doing in Egypt, and they fancy a taste of the revolution for themselves.

It's also being reported that the Government is concerned about this, and that a meeting of Cobra - "civil contingencies committee which leads responses to national crises" - has taken place. Clearly, the Government is worried. They should be. If fuel prices continue to rise in the way that they are, it could cripple the economy. And judging by the news that economic growth (or the lack of it) was even worse than originally expected, that just adds to the concern.

People are not going to be able to afford to go to work. Businesses are not going to be able to afford to keep their vehicles filled up. Food prices are going to escalate because of the higher costs of delivering the food to the supermarkets. Those lorries don't keep themselves filled with petrol, after all.

I'm somewhat disappointed in myself for having to admit this, but I don't know whether fuel is genuinely expensive at the moment, or whether the price has been kept down to an artifically low level until now. Regardless, I suspect that we could soon be seeing fuel protests on a bigger scale than we have previously seen in this country. Generally speaking, when there is talk of fuel protests in the UK, it's precisely that - talk. Nothing ever comes of it.

On the one occasion when something HAS come of it - back in September 2000 - it ended in spectacular failure. The Government knew that they could defeat this one, knowing that it had a lack of public support. I still remember seeing Tony Blair and then Chancellor Gordon Brown on the TV talking about this, usually taking two different lines:

(1) They referred to the protesters as troublemakers who were trying to hold the country to ransom. An example of this line being used was this quote from Tony Blair:

"Were we to yield to that pressure it would run counter to every democratic principle this country believes in, and what is more, if the government was to decide its policy on taxes in response to such behaviour, the credibility of economic policy vital to any country would be severely damaged and I will simply not allow that to happen."

(2) Even back in 2000, Gordon Brown was using the strategy of blaming global factors for matters he could easily do something about. He argued that the rise in fuel prices (then at 80p per litre for petrol, 81p per litre for diesel) was being caused by increases in the world's oil markets prices and was nothing to do with the Government's fuel duty increase. Old habits die hard for our Gordon...

The lack of public support in 2000 was mainly caused by the fact that times were good. House prices continued to rise, jobs were still being created, there was plenty of work out there to be had, and generally, people had it quite good. The rises in petrol prices were nothing to worry about at the time.

Fast forward to 2011 and what a difference we have. House prices have fallen in recent years and show little sign of recovery, jobs are thin on the ground and job security is a thing of the past for many, and people live in some fear that they're going to lose their jobs or not have enough money to get by. In the cirucmstances, I think that fuel protests could gain some quite significant support.

Though whether the Coalition government would do a Gordon and simply blame fuel prices on global factors if it happens remains to be seen.

Do women really hate themselves?

<< Now THERE's a woman who truly needs to worry about her weight...

Your Reaper can't help but notice a blog post that went up on Angry Mob's place yesterday, asking quite simply - why do women buy the Daily Mail? As an example, it cites a feature from the Femail section which says "Why fat women like me only have ourselves to blame".

Angry Mob, like most Leftie bloggers has a policy of refusing to post links to Mail Online articles on their websites, a measure which The Grim Reaper considers ultimately pointless. You can read the article in question here.

It's far better that bad journalism is read and then exposed as bad journalism. Whilst I've always thought the Right-wing blogosphere don't pay anywhere near enough attention to internal media matters, I don't think simply saying "look at how dreadful this piece is, it's dreadful because I'm telling you. You don't need to read it, you can trust me that it's dreadful" works. If anything, it's counter-productive.

Mind you, you're not missing much. The piece in question is badly-written and full of assumptions that just because one woman has resolved her own issues with her weight, those same lessons should apply to all other women. Which is nonsense in itself. Everyone is different, although essentially, most people who are overweight simply need to eat less food and do more exercise. Notice that I said people there - men also get issues with their weight, although crap and tubby male writers don't get asked by the Daily Mail to write pieces that ask "Why fat men like me only have ourselves to blame". Mostly because men will react in one way to that piece - they'll simply dismiss the author as a twat.

Don't get me wrong. I'm glad that this Ursula Hirschkorn character is happier now with her own weight. There's nothing more irritating to a man than a woman who endlessly goes on about being fat, when she usually isn't. However, just because you have lost weight does not make you an authority on the subject. It's almost like me saying that because I brushed my teeth this morning, I am now on authority on dentistry. Which I ain't. So stop pretending that you are, Ursula - you're not fooling anyone.

As for why the Mail is so popular amongst women - it remains the national newspaper with the highest female readership to this day - it's because they feature a lot of articles that are more likely to appeal to women. It's that simple. It's an extremely well-produced publication that is made by people who know their own audience, and know what they will read. That's why these kinds of articles are always being published in the paper. They get a reaction from their own audience, they get people talking. This blog post wouldn't exist if it wasn't for that article, for instance. It has made me write, and I'm probably not a part of the Mail's target audience. That just shows how effective it is.

The reality as I see it - as unpopular as it could make me by saying it - is that a lot of women don't really like themselves very much. There may be all kinds of reasons why they feel like that, and it's extremely depressing to know it, but it's true. That said, I don't think the Mail contributes to this self-loathing any more than other media outlets. The key to this one, quite simply, is to think for yourself. Just because someone says something is so does not make it so. Nothing that you read should be treated as a gospel truth. Don't do what everyone else tells you or conform to standards set by someone else. Enjoy your life and stop worrying about something you probably don't need to worry about anyway.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Dear Muammar Al-Gaddafi,

Hello there, it's The Grim Reaper here. Don't worry - it's not time for you to be called up yet to suffer in ways even worse than you make your own population suffer each and every day you are in charge. Well, not yet anyway.

I'd like to be able to give you a more specific figure on when your number will be called, but it's an ever-changing situation and besides, no decisions have been made by Heaven & Hell Corporation on the subject. I do wish they'd get on with it. I love meeting figues who will be discussed in the history books, even if they will be discussed as unfavourably as you will in future years.

Anyway, I'm rambling. You may have noticed, if you are a reader of The Grim Reaper Writes, that I wrote a number of letters earlier this month advising the man who used to head Egypt before the uprising, Hosni Mubarak. When I wasn't putting it to him that he looked rather like Don Ochetti from the classic Miami Twice episode of Only Fools and Horses and that he should make more of that talent, I was telling him he should hurry up and sod off.

The people didn't want him in charge anymore, you see. And I'm afraid to say that the Libyans no longer want you in charge.

There's no point trying to deny this to yourself any longer. It's not doing you any good. Going on the telly and making pronouncements about the protesters being fuelled by Osama Bin Laden and milk coffee that's been spiked with "hallucinatory pills" just makes you look a twat, quite frankly. I suspect you know that, to be honest.

Okay, so you don't have Mubarak's advantage of looking like a character from a classic TV show, but like most dictators, I suspect that you have a large stash of money that is probably based in London. You might as well do what the rest of them do - retire in luxury. You've been working as the "Guide of the First of September Great Revolution of the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya", to give your full job title, since 1969. You've had a good innings.

But now, it's time for you to clear off. The population is going to get rid of you one way or another. Don't repeat Mubarak's mistakes by repeatedly going on TV to make daft announcements before resigning in embarrassment afterwards. Just go now, and make the most of your millions. If you're worried you could be arrested for crimes against humanity, just have a word with your friend Tony Blair. He used to worry about stuff like that, but there's more chance now of finding a hen with teeth than there is of him being put in court.

If it's any consolation, you can be fully assured that the next ruler of Libya will be hated even more than you within weeks. Just ask the Egyptian military.

Kind regards,
The Grim Reaper

Cheryl Cole is now fat. Apparently.

Apparently, Cheryl Cole is fatter than she used to be. No, your Reaper can't say he actually realised this either. Whatever would we do without highly trained journalists to inform us about these vital matters, eh? Here is a picture taken yesterday at Heathrow Airport which proves that she's starting to get a bit tubby. Or not, depending on your point of view.

Are you even fatter than this? Then life's truly not worth living, is it?

Bloody hell. Whether her weight has gone up or not - and frankly, your Reaper doesn't want to know either way - she doesn't look a size 20 to me in this picture. Somehow, I suspect she doesn't need to worry about starting a Weight Watchers diet just yet.

I can only assume that the Mail's dictator-in-chief Paul Dacre was feeling particularly insecure in himself last night. He's probably not as thin as he was when he was 27, so it must be jealousy.

Not content with running a pointless piece yesterday about a little girl going to get herself a hot drink from Starbucks, Mail Online has truly surpassed itself for the most pointless story of the day with a piece that's even more pointless than the pointless piece yesterday about a little girl going to get herself a hot drink from Starbucks, and it's not even 9am yet. What an achievement.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Thinking about the Irish elections

Your Reaper hasn't commented a great deal on the forthcoming election in the Republic of Ireland. I have been keeping an eye on the coverage, though. It should be exciting enough for any political anorak, theoretically. The country has gone right down the shitter, and the current Taoiseach is the man partly responsible for the mess the country is in.

Brian Cowen is, as I've previously commented, the Irish version of Gordon Brown. It's vital at this time that the Irish have politicians who have definitive and clear answers on how they're going to get their nation back on its feet. I may well be up in Northern Ireland, but I feel great sadness when I see the state of decline across the border.

At a time when the Irish people genuinely need decisive leadership from their politicians, what are they getting? Partisan politics which is designed simply to discredit opponents by the bucketload, and very little in the way of discussion of how they're going to get the Emerald Isle going once again. It's, quite honestly, an absolutely pathetic spectacle. Cowen looks set to be defeated, but can anyone honestly say with confidence that, when they wake up on Saturday morning to a new government, that Irish prospects will suddenly be on the up again? Depressingly, I fear not.
One or two things have definitely not gone unnoticed, though. The first is that out of all the political parties fighting in the Irish elections, the only one whose policies make even the slightest bit of sense is Sinn Féin, of all people. Gerry Adams and his party were the only ones to oppose the Finance Bill, which was being rammed through Parliament in its dying days. We were told there wouldn't be any election unless it was done, and the rest of the Irish political establishment closed ranks on the subject. Only Sinn Féin stood up and said no, much to their credit.

In a stance which many would consider brave, and your Reaper considered extremely refreshing, Gerry Adams actually said today that it might be better for Ireland if the EU/IMF deal, the one that was cobbled together by Cowen hurriedly in his final days and will force Ireland into an even greater decline, was scrapped altogether. It truly tells you a thing or two about how dire Irish politics has got when the only politician who can even be considered a voice of reason is Gerry Adams.

The other surprise is that the issue of the Euro has not been more widely discussed. It's one of the main reasons why Ireland is in the trouble it's in - the Euro caused an artifical property boom that the Irish weren't able to do anything to cool, what with them no longer having any control over their own currency. It's difficult enough setting an interest rate within one country, never mind within 17 countries. Jeremy Warner, in a blog post over at the Telegraph which only went online around an hour ago, puts this well:


"In or out of the euro, there is little alternative to austerity for Ireland. Any suggestion of default, which is what withdrawal from monetary union would amount to, and Ireland would find itself frozen out of the capital markets altogether. Eventually there will have to be a debt restructuring that addresses underlying solvency issues, but it may well cost Ireland less to do this under the umbrella of the euro than outside it.

It is nonetheless odd that the election hasn't generated a wider debate, beyond the penalty terms of the bail-out, about Ireland's place in the euro. Perhaps that debate must await the single currency's next crisis, which is likely to come soon enough with mounting German pressure for monetary tightening. It scarcely needs saying that Ireland is about as ready for higher real interest rates right now as it was for negative ones when it first signed up for the single currency back at the turn of the century."

In conclusion? Ireland is in the middle of a nightmare of enormous proportions, and it's one that isn't going to be ending for some time yet. Sorry to depress you.

Why doesn't this one surprise me?

On reading this story...

"A reckless boy racer filmed himself speeding at 167mph with the stereo blaring - and posted the footage on YouTube. At the breakneck speed he will cover a mile in the Audi S3 in just 21 seconds - and would have almost no chance of stopping for a hazard. The dangerous driver is doing more than three times the 50mph speed limit in grainy footage published online.

It is thought the video was filmed on the A127 dual carriageway near Basildon, Essex, which has a 50mph speed limit in places. The speedometer on the 30 second clip reaches 164mph - although the driver boasts that the car reached 167mph in the video's title."

...your Reaper couldn't quite understand what all the fuss was about. I thought all Audi drivers were pricks. Infact, I take back what I've previously said about BMW drivers. They're alright compared to the average Audi driver. Four times out of five when I get some twat tailgating me these days, it's some twat driving an Audi. I'd almost go as far to say it must be something to do with German cars, but you don't get many Volkswagen drivers trying to drive up your arse, do you?

That said, the chance of this driver actually being prosecuted for this is, realistically, quite low. Would that footage actually be admissible evidence in court if he or she were up for a motoring offence? I would suggest not. Just because a car speedometer is saying 164mph does not mean the car is actually doing 164mph. So unless there was other evidence that an offence had taken place, I can't see this idiot ever being held to account for what was, quite frankly, a piece of sheer stupidity.

We can only hope that this idiot learns to drive more sensibly before someone gets injured or killed.

How to deal with a problem like forced marriage

Your Reaper may occasionally have his criticisms of Newsbeat - a specific feature they did about the Educational Maintenance Allowance comes to mind - but generally speaking, they do a pretty good job of delivering the news to a younger audience. Say what you like about Radio 1, but you would never get news bulletins that are even remotely similar in quality appearing on a commercial radio station.

If only the BBC did more stuff like this, and spent less money on the likes of Don't Tell The Bride - it's not a bad programme, but it's definitely not something a publicly funded broadcaster like the Beeb should be doing - the licence fee might just be defensible.

Whilst in the car today on an errand, I came across an article on the 5.45pm bulletin about forced marriages. They featured the case of a 15-year old girl who had been tricked by her own father into going to Pakistan. A marriage had been arranged - she was going to marry a man who was twice her age. It had been decided and there was absolutely nothing she could do to stop it. She managed to escape just days before the wedding. You can listen to her speaking over on this page.

Now, let me state categorically what my views are on this matter, a delicate a topic as it seems to be. I have no problem with the concept of arranged marriages. Indeed, I think there's something almost endearing about the idea of getting your parents to help you find a partner. If nothing else, it shows a huge amount of trust in the parents themselves - perhaps it's something that us Westeners could learn from? Your Reaper probably wouldn't choose to do it himself, but if two people are going into an arranged marriage who know exactly what they're doing and are happy with it, I would have no problem with it. If it works for them, who am I to say that they are wrong?

Forced marriages, on the other hand, are a completely different matter. By their very definition, at least one person is being... well, forced into the marriage against their own will. That is the sole reason why I oppose forced marriages. I don't have much time for this idea that it's part of some cultures, and if it is, that's something which needs to be dealt with head on.

Unfortunately, this is where Newsbeat (and admittedly, numerous other media outlets) let the side down. Inevitably, the question always turns to what the Government can do to help people who find themselves forced into these sometimes horrendous situations. Well, as unpopular as it is to say so, there's very little that government can do to help individuals in forced marriages to get out of them. It's also highly questionable how effective laws already in place in England, Wales and Northern Ireland that court injunctions banning families from taking people abroad for marriage. The fact that nobody has ever been convicted of this offence not only says that this law is a farce, it's also an admission that this is an area where legislation simply cannot work alone.

The reality is that this is a social and cultural problem. If there are individuals out there who believe that forced marriage is acceptable - and the research from Newsbeat suggests there are a sizeable number who do - then those individuals are the ones who need to be targeted. Questions must be asked to find out why they believe what they believe. Questions can then be asked challenging those ideas, and they ideally need to be asked from within the affected communities. Only by openly debating forced marriages can they be defeated. By simply refusing to talk about it and pretending it's not really a problem, it just fuels it and makes it worse.