Brinkmanship & Boredom – PATRICK BRIGHAM LIVE

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The Immortal words of Norman Throades – known fondly as the ‘Bard of Berkshire’ – will forever ring in the ears of present day, and often bewildered Brexiteers. As we patriotically watch the BBC Parliament Channel, at Prime Ministers Question Time, and in order to absorb the reassuring words of dear Theresa. But, how close to reality is it really?

So much like the ‘Theater of The Absurd,’ and in particular ‘Waiting for Godot,’ by Irish playwright Samuel Beckett, one wonders if anything will finally turn up, or are the representatives of our noble nation in fact a bunch of ham actors, and out of work film extras.

Sticking religiously to the script, the familier mantra about ‘getting a good deal,’ still echo’s around the Houses of Parliament, to a crescendo of patriotic and Tory avowal.  Almost as though Parliament is trapped in Dr Who’s Tardis, one wonders if the House of Commons is presently floating around in some distant galaxy, or trapped in a deceptive political time warp?

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But does the question which Norman Throades quite rightly asks – in his scintillating 19th Century poem – simply relate to political perspectives? Or, to put it in layman’s terms, do our worthy UK political representative actually know what is going on in the real world? Because, having recently watched this program for a whole afternoon, for me at least, the British Parliament can only be described as an entertaining, inward looking mutual admiration society.

Mainly comprising elegant and amusing accusations – followed of course by often inaccurate, but confident rebuttals – the real question is, is the present cabinet running out of dialogue, or are we all running out of patience?

There was a time when the general public was quite rightly regarded as gullible, ignorant if not foolish, and that – for want of any outside propaganda seeping through – what was reported in the British newspapers or announced on TV by pompous cabinet ministers, was both truthful and reassuring. But not so today.

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Ever since the referendum, that bloody man Trump, Farage and ‘The Fat Boy of Peckham,’ Boris Johnson, have littered the media with their contempt for the truth. These days we are becoming familier with expressions like alternative facts, fake news, and out of date – or hidden true government statistics – all of which is calculated to disguise the truth.

I often imagine that, somewhere in the middle of the English Channel, there is a giant invisible filter, its sole purpose being to distort, and to turn almost any legitimate EU reportage on its head. Or, an enormous cracked mirror, which only shows the British voter, a warped, and back to front reflection of the truth, where ministers even accuse their opponents of being traitors, if they stand against them in any way. This is hardly democratic, is it?

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In a normal society, lies are tolerated, but never truly accepted.  And so, I can’t help believing that the present British cabinet, either wants you to believe it’s questionable Brexit propaganda, or may actually believe in it themselves. These days there now seem to be two truths: carefully reported Brussels truth, or heavily filtered and often corrupted Brexit truth. So, perhaps it is high time for a change, and rather like anything which is split, the present UK government obviously needs to be replaced.

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Who Owns Your Body? – PATRICK BRIGHAM LIVE

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Ealing council is considering legal action against anti-abortion protesters accused of “harassing” women attending a clinic.

There are many people who think that abortion is wrong. They come from all backgrounds, either quoting the scriptures – from whichever religion, church, cult, ethnic group they belong – or the many different statistics, which are currently  available from government sources.

Everyone has a right to their opinion, to be motivated by whichever group they belong, and to protest in public if need be. This is called democracy, but when they cross the line, and actually prevent young women from receiving a safe and professional medical abortion – in an attempt to turn back the clock – then one must ask oneself if they are inspired by ignorance, prejudice, or simply contempt.

There’s a group of people in this world, who see themselves as establishment figures, which they are not and never will be. They claim the right to direct the ethics and mores of society, as if they are viewing us all from a great height. To them, the hoipolloi, grockels, numpty’s, misfits, or never will be’s of society, are a lesser order. Self proclaimed, they consider themselves to be a part of some kind of Messianic class, which somehow keeps them on their morel high ground.

It isn’t that they are bad people, or that they don’t mean well – they may be people who have brought up children, and who experience revulsion at the thought of an abortion taking place in their own family – but they also seem to be blind to the realities of modern day living, and the many pressures brought by todays society, on a young single mother.

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Many of the arguments used by these zealots were around in the 60s, when post war Britain was still trying to emerge from an unimaginable black hole. As America was pouring its largess into a blighted Europe, via the Marshall Plan, the UK had to go it alone, with no handouts, a mountain of debt, and a bleak future.

But then what should come along? Suddenly we were all confronted with the beautiful people, stylish clothes, sex, drugs, rock & roll, and  a feeling of release. As the song goes by Josh Dunson, there was definitely ‘Freedom in The Air,’ and believe me, we all knew what to do with it!

Incidentally, while this was all happening, a somewhat dusty and  austere British Government remained blithely unaware of the implications all this euphoria would bring about. Rather like a line of pedantic plodding ducks, they simply went about their coal exports, food rationing, and bored us silly, with rather glib and simplistic  speeches. Usually in a rather funny accent – reminiscent of Harry Enfield  – informing us about our rosy future, what they forgot to mention was venereal disease, and unwanted pregnancies. This was because, in the past, it had always been traditionally left to the private sector!

If you consider that the 60s was about the mixing of previously well defined social classes, those young women who saw the UK as a new, classless, multi-cultured, benign country – full of adventure, and the spice of life – were very often left holding the baby. Many, who had experienced an enjoyable respite in a lay-by off the A4, often faced angry parents who had not foreseen this blight occurring, in their otherwise drab but bearable live’s. Not that many of them were always aware of their daughter’s dilemma, but they would most certainly have been aware of the catastrophe which often followed.

In those days there were many court cases, in which some ex nurse or ‘Knitting Needle Nell,’ was prosecuted for performing an illegal abortion. This was usually because their victim had ended up in the local emergency hospital, had blabbed to the duty doctor, and an arrest had subsequently been made. In mitigation the accused would always say that they were helping some poor unfortunate out, whose life would otherwise have been burdened with an unwanted child. But what we will never know, is how many young women they had managed to kill, prior to their arrest.

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Dr Marie Stopes was a pioneer in the field of birth control, but one of the centers named after her in west London has become a target for protesters

Considering the stigma which an unwanted pregnancy might have caused, in the 60s, there were far more pressing matters for a young and vulnerable woman to face. Finding accommodation, adoption, getting support from the social security system, and finally – if they decided to keep their offspring – dealing with personal relationships, and eventual marriage. Men are the same the world over, when it comes to accepting someone else’s child, and so it was often the case that children were secreted away, and introduced at the last moment.

I am sure that if one was to interview some of the protesters, we would discover good people. But although todays society is no longer quite so bigoted as it was in the 60s, and obsessed with children born out of wedlock, abortion is very often the best option.

*** The result of rape is another matter, and I think it should be treated quite separately, because of the criminal aspects concerned. ***

Finally, children can be simply inconvenient – not due to some trivial whim – but due to the terrible pressures experienced by those looking for public housing, or controlled rents, and the money to pay for it. Single mothers need help, and not always available from family members, child care remains an issue if they have to go to work, or how to navigate the now floored Universal Credit System, must seem quite baffling.

They look very angry, those ladies outside the Marie Stopes clinic, although from the photographs, I cannot see any priests, from any religious group, or men for that matter.  So, my inclination is to know more about these ladies themselves, and not the unborn children they claim to represent.

 

Ryanair & The Shambles – PATRICK BRIGHAM LIVE

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Not at the Moment Mr. Ryan

Ryanair has changed the face of air travel in Europe – for better or for worse. What they do is deliver to their passengers exactly “what it says on the box”. They have brought air travel to those who could not previously afford it – many in Bulgaria would testify to that –  and they have brought prosperity to regions across Europe by connecting the previously ‘’un-connected’’ with the rest of the outside world.

Where they have always fallen short is in their arrogance and attitude of “don’t give a toss”’ towards business ethics within the industry, they function in, as well as in the service attitude towards their clients. In the past year or so, the penny has sunk in with their shareholders now realize that you can’t antagonize the fare paying public forever, and get away with it. The strides they have made in this past year to change the public perception of them, should not go unnoticed. Yet almost embedded in their corporate culture is that attitude of “we don’t give a toss what the law says and we will do what we want”.

Of course the law is the law, and Ryanair will argue that they have always followed the law, or is it that they have followed the laws as they have interpreted them? It was almost a game of cat and mouse with the EU lawmakers, chasing the tails of Ryanair to ensure the laws of selling, operating within aviation were followed, and that they were clearly understood. This invariably meant a fudge whereby Ryanair would get a slap and a warning for misdeeds, and the world carried on regardless.

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The recent farce surrounding Ryanair and the inadvertent oversight that their pilots might need to take their holidays before the year end – when the new service contracts kick in- emphasizes the fact that scant attention was ever paid to its own administration; the function of business administration perhaps viewed as an unnecessary cost and one that can be stripped out of the equation. Ryanair by its own measure considers itself to be lean and mean. Yet any international organization who makes such an elementary blooper, as forgetting to schedule key employee holidays, i.e., the pilot’s holidays, would probably find their whole board of directors removed from their posts and their share rating plunge. Amateurism would be an appropriate word to be used on this occasion.

This though is only the start of the current nightmare journey for Ryanair. The word retribution might be an appropriate choice if we place ourselves in the shoes of both the EU and the UK Civil Aviation Authority.  At the heart of the issue now, is not the absurdity of cocking up the pilot’s holidays and being forced to cancel thousands of flights that affect 400,000 travelers – this in itself is a farce – but the real crux is the attitude Ryanair had towards their amateurism.

EU laws dictate what an airline is and is not responsible for, and what compensation and actions they should take in the event of any cancelled flights.  Ryanair historically have never encouraged (sic) people to claim against them, and prospective claimants would describe the barriers artificially placed in their way. Indeed, obtaining such information from Ryanair in the first instance was the first challenge. The airlines communication with affected passengers, at best, was awful if indeed there was any communication at all.

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To communicate means more staff and more staff means expenses. In the current saga, the lack of adequate organization within the airline meant that passengers had no information, and no idea which flights would be cancelled, requiring passengers to constantly ‘try check’ websites for more information.  Even our own staff were affected, and despite seeing that the flight had in fact been cancelled, it took an eternity for this to be actually communicated directly to the person affected.

The UK Civil Aviation Authority saw their chance and launched into Ryanair with an enforcement action for “persistently misleading passengers with inaccurate information regarding their rights”. Under EU law 261, airline passengers’ rights are detailed with regards to what compensation they are entitled to for flights that are cancelled, the time frame this has to be paid by the airline, the methods and time frames by which the airline has to communicate these details to affected passengers, and finally, the rights a traveler has to be re-routed by the airline cancelling a flight.

At the heart of the matter was the aforementioned difficulties passengers were having, not only claims against Ryanair, but also in the communication being fed to them – which means it wasn’t!   More importantly, the CAA also reminded the airline it was obliged to re-route passengers with other airlines. This will have raised the blood pressure of the Ryanair’s executives who never before have been forced to do this; re-booking to them meant re-booking on their own flights the next time a seat was available, and that could be weeks away. The enforcement went further, forcing the airline to pay all necessary expenses of affected passengers such as hotels, meals and transfers to other airports. In the past the airline just laughed at this.

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Why suddenly did Ryanair yield to pressure? The answer is probably remarkably simple. They may have been fines multiple times, the amount for their ineptness, estimated to be around 25m GBP, indeed they could have been shut down. From a PR standpoint, it will be interesting if Ryanair can turn this around in their favor. Maybe a long promotion of free flights or flights for 1 Euro will bring their credibility back? Maybe they never had any credibility anyway and people use them because they are cheap?

What this episode has done without question, has brought Ryanair into the same game as other rival airlines, in the way they are now expected to service clients, their approach to any affected passenger, and one would hope that from now on, they will follow the established rules and regulations, in the same manner as their peers do. The battle is in establishing a precedent and that precedent has now been set, because Ryanair created the perfect storm for their own undoing.

By Mark Thomas Managing Director HRG Bulgaria

Tory Sniffles & Unkind Words – PATRICK BRIGHAM LIVE

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The British Conservative Party Conference is over, and the cabinet is in disarray, but is it really necessary for the ‘so called,’ mature press to be so unkind and disrespectful to the British Prime Minister? Has the press suddenly turned into News of The World scum, and is that what we should expect from them in future? What’s wrong with debate, discussion, and political analysis?

Or, is the question we should ask ourselves, what is wrong with today’s consumers of premium newspapers and the media? That they should take pleasure in political leaders being characterized in such humiliating terms – including Jeremy Corbin and members of the Labor Party the week before – shows just how distorted UK society is becoming, and how absurd British politics has developed since the referendum.

Theresa May is not only being challenged in Brussels, but is also being targeted by the clowns who inhabit her front bench, and in particular one Boris Johnson. He sat grinning at her obvious embarrassment – when she was presented with a P45 by a professional prankster –  and enjoyed with glee, every minute of her obvious discomfort.  Making a speech, whilst suffering from a bad cold, needs some level of admiration, and not the contempt which was shown by her own supporters. Who are those government officials, and why should we take any of them seriously, is also a good question?

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There is no way that the Brexit negotiations can be successfully concluded after this recent Tory debacle, in fact, it might seem to be the best solution if they withdrew altogether. I am an ardent ‘remainer,’ but in the event of a break up of the Tory cabinet, which is clearly in process, is the solution really going to be the appointment of a new Prime Minister? The difference between these cabinet weasels is tiny, and the thought of having another bobbing, blabbering and prevaricating blond haired narcissus on the international stage, is just asking for trouble.

Johnson, given his way, would return the UK back in time to the 70s, which was when our membership of the EEC or Common Market first began. I don’t know about you, but I am quite happy driving a Morris Minor, although many amongst you might not be so keen, and that would approximately be where ‘Business UK’ would stand in a post Brexit scenario. To give up a guaranteed market for the uncertainties or disasters which it would bring, does seem a little irresponsible.

Jeremy Corbin has been tailoring his Labour Party promises – not necessarily Labours Manifesto – to inhibit any form of extremism, and to take away many of the uncertainties. Leaving the final negotiated agreement to the Westminster parliament is probably not going to happen, and if there is another general election, the whole Brexit programme will probably be dumped. So the question we must ask ourselves is, will the Tory Party hang onto power in order to continue the trauma of further EU negotiations, or will they step aside, and allow things to peter out of their own accord?

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It is very clear that, should there be a further referendum, the Brits would opt for remaining in the EU, but why? Well, for a start, we are all getting fed up with the mendacity, half truths, and desperate statements being made by David Davis and even Theresa May herself. They have insulted our intelligence once too often, and gone are the days when events could be clouded by the media, or the old propaganda machine. Further proof that the Conservative Party, and their advisors, are becoming fossilized and horribly out of date, this leaves middle England with the baffling problem of who to vote for next!

In a world which sees Facebook and Twitter as its main source of news, recent speeches and proclamations would seem far more in place, in ancient Rome. The time has passed when great elegant speeches could be made in the House of Commons, or elsewhere, which would change world events, and influence the voter; especially younger voters. They represent the future – not Tory or Labor dinosaurs – and youngsters who are generally fortunate enough to be blighted with the scourge of intelligence, won’t stand for it.

And, if you add the fact that they have access to shed loads of information and statistics on the internet, they neither need to believe nor care about, what a bunch of assorted ‘Political Thespians’ have to say, in the first place. What we oldies have to get clear in our minds is that when Brexiteers talk of the future, they probably won’t be around to see what a mess they have created, nor will they be available for any interviews! Hooray!

What Does Freedom Mean? – PATRICK BRIGHAM LIVE

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It is the 1st Sunday in October 2017, people are out on the streets, Spanish riot police are present in large numbers, ransacking polling stations in Barcelona, removing ballot box’s and arresting protesters. It is the 21st Century, and Spain, as an important part of the European Union, is refusing to let the Catalans express their constitutional right to vote. The referendum and vote for independence, which the central Spanish government says is against Spanish law – not perhaps EU law – seems to be causing havoc in a country, which historically is no stranger to such dissent. By this evening’s count, some 850 people have been injured during the Spanish police intervention.

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During the Spanish Civil War in 1936, the republican side was largely from the Catalan area, which was then very left wing, and even communist in part. It has always shown a marked independence, if not a somewhat dim view of central government control, and has always chosen to govern itself.

The question in most people’s minds is, if the present unrest is a re-enactment of past dissent, the Franco regime, and the resulting Spanish national identity? A onetime battleground of Fascism versus Socialism, are we now seeing resentments from the past enveloping the European Union itself, in the light of Brexit, and the alleged requirement of the British people, to withdraw from EU membership?

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People are always talking about freedom, especially at the moment in the UK, often showing ignorance of the EU Charter of Human Rights, which denotes the following, and so one  wonders what all the fuss is about.

The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU brings together, in a single document, the fundamental rights protected in the EU. The Charter contains rights and freedoms under six titles: Dignity, Freedoms, Equality, Solidarity, Citizens’ Rights, and Justice. The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union entails the right:-

  1. To non-discrimination on the basis of nationality when the Treaty applies
  2. To move and reside freely within the EU
  3. To vote for and stand as a candidate in the European Parliament and municipal elections
  4. To be protected by the diplomatic and consular authorities any other EU country
  5. To petitionthe European Parliament and complainto the European Ombudsman
  6. To contact and receive a responsefrom any EU institution in one of the EU’s official languages

Well, it couldn’t be clearer than that, but once more national governments are ignoring the EU rules, rights and laws, and choosing to go their own way. Since Junkers admitted ambition is to federate the states of Europe, and to make it into one homogeneous lump, would that not cure many of the ‘Flat Earthers,’ from banging the drum of independence, and trying to dominate each others territory.

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Catalonia already has its own president and parliament, as do all the present EU territories, and the Island of Ireland in particular. While David Davis vacillates over a soft Irish border, can he and his cohorts not see the easy solution staring them in the face? Scotland would not be far behind, should EU federation occur – another word for devolution – and would willingly join the queue. All the federal politicians could be left to pontificate at their leisure, filling the air with their largely uninformed and irrelevant blabber, which  would also allow the EU to move into its second most publicized position, regarding income levels.

Whereas the socially disadvantaged are often forced to go cap in hand to the local authorities – or visit food banks in order to eat – the unworkable universal credit could be dumped, together with intrusive and humiliating means tests, and replaced by one workable scheme – not just in the suburbs of metropolitan London and Paris – but throughout the whole of Europe.

 

The Lost City of Petra – PATRICK BRIGHAM LIVE

IMG_9225-1The Treasury at Night

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Stephanie Craig is a well known travel writer

CLICK!!! Written & Researched by Stephanie Craig for her Blog – HISTORYFANGIRL 

The story of the Lost City of Petra begins with the story of the Nabataeans, nomadic traders who eventually settled in Edomite territory around 2 B.C. The Nabataeans had traveled everywhere and picked up architectural ideas from the Persians, Greeks, and Romans, and adapted these ideas into something that was uniquely their own. We don’t have a lot of information about the Nabataeans because no self-written history has been found.

Petra is not the only Nabataean site – You may want to see Mada’in Saleh

Mada’in Saleh, also known as Hegra, in Saudi Arabia, it is not as famous as Petra, but is still a significant Nabataean site. Mada’in Saleh has a wealth of beautiful tombs carved into the sandstone mountains of the region.

Petra was much the same under Roman rule as it was in the reign of the Nabataeans

When the Romans took over the Nabataeans, life actually stayed much the same for the residents of Petra. In this episode, Jane Taylor explains the relationship between the Romans and the people of Petra, and how Petra flourished through the 6th Century. She then describes the gradual decline of Petra, mostly due to trade considerations. The Lost City of Petra has a fascinating history.

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How was Petra lost and rediscovered?

During the early Crusader period, Petra was clearly regarded as an important center. But after the Crusaders, there is a gap in our knowledge, with no references to Petra from the 14th Century until Swiss explorer John Lewis Burckhardt rediscovered it in 1812.

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What is it like to travel to Petra today?

You have probably heard of the famous sandstone carved structure – The Treasury – but The Treasury is simply the foretaste of Petra itself. What was it like to visit Petra, from the mind-blowing scale of the site, the stupendous view from the monastery, to how to negotiate the price of a camel ride? On my visit, I found the aggressive haggling with vendors to be quite a culture shock. Prepare yourself for an amazing trip by reading Jane’s Taylors book, describing her favorite places and why Petra is her favorite place in the world.

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Resources & People Mentioned

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