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Month: March 2012

Athletes of London 2012 for the love of you know what – don’t shake hands!

Yes folks The British Olympic Association’s Chief Medical Officer Ian McCurdie is concerned that athletes might be nice to each other and be true sportsmen and women only to receive deadly infections from each other and ruin our chances of sweeping the medal table.

I know it sounds like I’m joking but actually I’m not. That is what he had to say (albeit with a pinch of paraphrasing). The headline on the BBC Sport website is London 2012: Team GB ‘should avoid handshakes’ at Olympics and the story goes on to quote this guy saying that shaking hands with fellow athletes increases the risk of transmitting infections and therefore shouldn’t be done.

The greatest threat to performance is illness and possibly injury. We are talking about minimising risk of illness. It is all about hand hygiene.’ says Mr McCurdle.

He goes on to say the following later in the piece:

‘Being at an Olympic Games means you are normally inside a bubble and so there is effectively quite a limited number of people that you interact with when you are away in another country.

‘In London we do not believe that is going to be the case. The variety of people the athletes and support staff are going to interact with is going to be huge.

‘At an Olympic Games or any major event the performance impact of becoming ill or even feeling a little bit ill can be significant.

‘Essentially we are talking about minimising risk of illness and optimising resistance. Minimising exposure and getting bugs into the system and being more robust to manage those should that happen. Hand hygiene is it.’

I say that is nuts. Crazy as Patsy Kline would say. Yes his point is valid that infections are often spread through hands but does he want the athletes to wear disposable gloves when opening and closing doors to ensure that they don’t get infections that have been left on door handles?

Give me a break. If this is the kind of world we live in then the world has indeed gone mad. Infection prevention over being a good sportsman or sportswoman, that is what Ian McCurdle thinks but he’s just so far off the mark that he can’t even see the mark.

The Olympics are about celebrating what is good and right with the world of sport and not shaking someone’s hand because you might get an infection from it is certainly not what is good and right about the world of sport.

Sometimes I just cant believe people either a) think these things or b) saying say them out loud.

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‘Kids for Cash’ judge gets 28 years inside. Justice.

I was going through the blog a few days ago and came across the following story that I had written entitled Cash for Kids Judges finally convicted and I wondered what his sentence was so I googled it and boy did they come down hard on him.

Last year 61 year-old Mark Ciavarella Jnr. was sentenced to 28 years for his role in the ‘kids for cash’ scandal where he sent young offenders often convicted of very minor crimes to private young offenders prisons because he was getting kick-backs from the prison to do so. He ruined the lives of many of the defendants that were brought before him just so he could earn a few quid through backhanders.

Despite being found guilty the former judge wasn’t repentent and decided to turn on the media for fanning the flames that led to his conviction by the jury, “Those three words (kids for cash) made me the personification of evil,” he told the court, according to the Associated Press. “They made me toxic and caused a public uproar the likes of which this community has never seen.”. So instead of apologising he was incensed that the media had dubbed it the ‘kids for cash’ scandal. Despite you know the fact that he was taking cash in return for sending kids to a juvenile detention facility when it wasn’t deserved. I actually think it might have been a fair headline and catchphrase by the media you know…

As someone who is known to get on the media’s back I will say they acted pretty responsibly in this case. They reported on the charges and the case but they didn’t overstep their mark. He was convicted in court by a jury in a fair trial and got his just desserts. His sentencing has led to over 4,000 criminal records being expunged and every case he sat on where a guilty verdict was reached has been deleted from record.

For six years this monster was able to roam free and undetected. He was able to abuse his power for financial gain and on the way ruin 1000s of lives. It is one of those cases that has really gotten by back up and I can see I was just as incensed last year when the guilty verdicts came out but before sentencing.

Take this example I read today on The Christian Science Monitor:

One of those cases involved 16-year-old A.A., who was arrested for gesturing with her middle finger at a police officer who had been called during a custody dispute involving her parents and her sister.

According to a 2010 report of the Interbranch Pennsylvania Commission on Juvenile Justice, A.A. was an honor roll student, a Girl Scout, and YMCA member, who attended bible school. She had no prior arrest record and had never even been in detention in school.

She was sent to Ciavarella’s court, and was told she wouldn’t need a lawyer since it was a minor issue.

After examining the paperwork, Ciavarella informed A.A. that she had no respect for authority. She later told the investigating commission that Ciavarella never gave her an opportunity to speak at the hearing. She was led out of the courtroom in shackles and held in juvenile detention for six months.

After her release, A.A. returned to school and, again, qualified for the honor roll. She is currently in college and plans to pursue a law degree. She told the investigating commission that she wants to defend the legal rights of children.

So let me get this straight. Officers turned up at her home whilst there was a custody battle involving her little sister and the judge decided that warranted six months in juvw? This was just one case of the 4,000+ that we know of.

I very rarely go as far as to call someone evil but this person is pretty darn close. To go out and intentionally try to ruin lives just to earn a few quid. I won’t say I hope he rots but I sure hope his time inside is long and arduous.

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Now Rubens Barrichello has left F1 who do I root for?

The Formula One season starts in a fortnight – well just under a fortnight and I have a big problem. No the problem won’t be whether I watch on the BBC or Sky Sports (I’ll be watching on Sky Sports as Martin Brundle and Ted Kravitz are huge deciding factors for me) but my problem is who will I be rooting for this season?

I have followed the sport for what the best part on 20+ years now and I have followed and rooted for just two drivers. Ayrton Senna and Rubens Barrichello. Now though neither of them are competing following Williams decision to dumb Barrichello for Bruno Senna a couple of months ago. I am still smarting from this and now I need to work out what I’ll do next.

First things first I’ll suddenly have more than a passing interest in IndyCar following Rubens’ move to the series. I think the races are live on Sky Sports and are generally on Sunday evenings so I’ll probably catch more than the odd race now to see just how well Rubinho is doing. However F1 is more my thing so do I pick another driver or just enjoy the race?

I can’t support Lewis as I just think he is too aggressive and never seems humble. He thinks he is always in the right when he often isn’t and has had it relatively easy in the sport having been with McLaren since the age of 11. Both Senna and Barrichello had to fight for everything they got and I respect that and Lewis doesn’t have that string to his bow. So he is out and Jenson Button despite clearly being a great guy I always have ITV’s coverage of when they had F1 in my mind and that Jenson Button/Lewis Hamilton love-in that they had going. I just can’t shake it.

Logically Bruno Senna would be my choice being the next Brazilian in line but he was chosen over my boy Rubens and I can’t do that. So now I’m looking down the list of drivers and finding it difficult to find a driver that I both like and truly respect. I quite like the mellowed out version of Michael Schumacher and wouldn’t mind him and Mercedes doing well just to shake things up but can I openly root for him? I don’t think so. The obvious answer is Mark Webber. Great guy and has worked his way up but would he just be a stop-gap chjoice as his career is surely coming to an end?

As much as it pains me I think I’m just going to have to enjoy the racing and see where the mood takes me. I don’t think I can openly root for anyone. No-one really takes my eye as it were. I think I’m just going to root for a close hard fought season amd for one of the young drivers in GP2 and/or GP3 to come through and show me some personality who I can get behind in the future. Both those series will be live on Sky Sports F1 HD for the record.

So Rubens has gone and I don’t feel that there is anyone adequate to replace him in my F1 loving heart. I have a horrible feeling this might happen with Portsmouth Football Club sooner rather than later too. Oh well. Here’s to a great year of racing and maybe a Rubens return in 2013? Well I can but hope…

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AVB sacked – the end of an error

It has been a fair while since I was last paid to put my thoughts on football into prose but heck its my blog so my rules. The sacking of Andres Villas-Boas today by Chelsea was coming but it still doesn’t mean that it was the right thing to do.

For the third manager in a row the players basically got the manager the sack. The nucleus of the side was built by Jose Mourinho in his three year tenure as manager of the club. The squad has never really evolved yet alone gone under any sense of surgery in the past five years and this has been the problem.

A great team in 2007 will not equate to a great team in 2012. Players have come in but have they been bought by the manager or bought for the manager? The signing of Andrei Shevchenko was the beginning of the end of the Mourinho tenure in the top job at Stamford Bridge and the owner Roman Abramovich still hasn’t learnt from that mistake.

AVB might not have been the right person for the job but I see very little different between the AVB of today and the AVB who was appointed in the summer. He wasn’t allowed to bring in his own players to play his style and instead had players bought for him. That doesn’t work. We’ve seen it before and we’ll see it again. Managers need at least a say and in reality need the final say who comes in pr out of a club. Having another person make these decisions will only lead to issues.

The protégé of Jose Mourinhi might well still become a truly great manager but he was walking into a situation where he was set up to fail last summer. He can walk away with his head held high and a ginormous pay-off safe in the knowledge that he will get other top jobs.

They say that the England job is a poisoned chalice but maybe the Chelsea one is even worse. Who would take the Chelsea job now? Not many as no big name coach or manager will walk into a situation where their is an ageing squad with a large power base knowing that they don;t have final say over the future of the club?

If Abramovich was willing to let his manager have carte blanche over his playing staff then he might be able to tempt the Special One back but that is a huge if. If he won’t relinquish that type of power then he will only get a second-tier manager no matter what he pays. Top managers will get a good salary anywhere but walking into a situation where they are set up to fail, that isn’t for most.

Chelsea either had to give AVB total power or not hire him. They were the only ways in which they could be successful. Sadly for them they erred big time and now a season without Champions League football is a distinct possibility and if that happens will Roman get bored with his toy?

If he does then the future of Chelsea Football Club could be very bleak indeed.

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So a Labour candidate says I am a Tory and Tweedledum. I do love negative politics….

Kevin versus three Tories; the contest in Westborough exclaims the latest headlines on Julian Ware-Lane’s blog. The blog is largely considered to be one of the very best in Southend – certainly when you are talking about local politics. So it disappoints me when you see such a biased and misleading (at best) headline. Some would even go as far to say that it is a flat out lie.

I have no comment to make on any of my opponents. I don’t know any of them. Therefore I feel like it is unwise and uncalled for to make any comment on them or their politics. However Julian has decided that despite having never met me he feels in a position where he can make a comment on me and my politics. I suspect this is solely because I am a Liberal Democrat and because at a national level the Lib Dems are in a coalition with the Conservatives that must equate to the two parties and everyone in both parties being exactly the same.

Yeah Peter Bone and Nadine Dorries have the same political ideologies as Mike Hancock and Sir Bob Russell. Give me a break. Had the Lib Dems gone into a coalition with Labour would all Lib Dems suddenly be Labour now? Just because of a decision based on numbers of MPs the Lib Dems have shifted to the right whereas had the numbers been slightly different they would have all shifted to the left.

Seriously how pathetic and lazy is that thought process? I mean honestly. Are we so blinkered that we believe there can only be two viewpoints, the right and the left and those who are in the centre must secretly be one or the other? Do Labour and the Conservatives deep down detest the Liberals for being a genuine alternative and disrupting the political ping-pong that means one of those two parties will always have power and when the public gets annoyed with one they go straight back to the other and vice versa.

He says about me, ‘Neil Monnery, who has recently announced his candidature, is the Liberal Democrat’s choice. Neil is Tweedledum to the Conservatives Tweedledee, to paraphrase Graham Longley from the last General Election’.

I don’t know the quote to which he refers but to intimate that I look and act like the Conservative candidate is probably inaccurate unless the Conservative candidate is a closet liberal. If that is the case then I probably do act like him. I doubt I look like him. Since I wrote that sentence I have googled the Conservative candidate and I don’t look like him. Therefore Julian’s assertion is well wide of the mark.

The sad thing is this is generally accepted in politics. Write something inaccurate and people will bitch and moan and then write something inaccurate back. I wrote that I was going to run solely a positive campaign. I will concentrate on what I believe and what I believe I can bring to the people of Westborough and in turn the people of Southend as a whole. That is something I will do. I won’t attempt to scare people into voting for me.

I won’t be composing statements such as, ‘This leaves Kevin Robinson as the only sensible alternative (to the three ‘Conservative’ candidates)’. I won’t be doing this because that is old school politics and a form of politics that I detest. I stand on my own two feet as I firmly believe the other candidates will and should do.

There are at least four candidates in the ward. The defending independent and the three major parties have all selected a candidate and plan to run in the ward. I hope that the electorate in Westborough choose to listen to what everyone has to say and vote for the person they want. Whether that person is me or not. I won’t tell someone who has deep rooted right-wing values that I’m the person for them because I’m not. I won’t tell someone who has deep rooted left-wing values that I’m the right person for them because quite simply I’m not.

I am the classic liberal in every sense. I believe in equality for all. I don’t just represent one supposed ‘class’ of society. I think when all is said and done we are all equal and deserve the same basics in life. What we decide to do with that is up to us – we are all individual but we all deserve that same basics, to have good health care, a good level of education, to feel safe, to live in a clean environment etc…

That is my philosophy pure and simple.

To write that the Labour candidate is the only sensible alternative (to the Conservatives) is a lie. It is a political lie but it is a lie. There is a Conservative candidate, there is a Labour candidate, there is a Lib Dem candidate and there in an independent candidate. All four of these people are different and no doubt have different views on life, the world and more importantly in terms of this election local politics and what is best for Westborough and Southend as a whole.

So all I’d say is not believe spin from anyone when they come to talking about people they do not know on any level. This is the old way of politics and is the way that has led the public to disliking politicians and politics as a whole. Write about you and your party and your colleagues. Don’t talk about things and people that you do not know. That is flat out dumb.

If Julian believes that misleading his readership is the right thing to do then so be it. If he thinks that bending the truth to a vast degree is the best way to support his fellow Labour candidate in the ward then so be it. I believe in telling the truth and talking about things that I know. I know where I stand in the political spectrum. I know my thoughts on politics at both a local or national level. I don’t know what the other candidates think therefore I don’t write or talk about it.

When it comes down to it I hope people back me if they believe in me and my politics. I hope they vote for whoever they vote for because they believe in that person and not because they were scared into it or that they are the best of a bad bunch. In May they’ll be at least four different people standing on four individual platforms in Westborough and all I sincerely hope is that the winner is the person that the majority of people truly believe is the best person to represent them, whether that is Dr Marimuthu Velmurugan, Kevin Robinson, Neil Austin or myself (or anyone else who stands). I just hope people vote for who they want based on what they can do – not because of what other people say the other candidates say or do.

Politics doesn’t have to be full of murky waters and mistruths and misleading statements. It can be open and honest. I do believe this and even if I lose in May I will continue to push for more openness and honesty within politics. Without moving to positive politics, the trust in politics and politicians by the general public will only continue to go down.

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