Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Election Commissioners Jailed

Thailands election commissioners have been found guilty of allowing unqualified candidates to stand in last Aprils elections and have been sentenced to four years in prison. They will appeal against their sentences. However, I guess that this will resolve the impasse caused by the refusal of most of the Election Commissioners to stand down and is another step towards (hopefully) successful elections in October

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

So now we can fly flags legally!!

I must admit I missed this one as I wasn't aware that it was illegal to fly a flag in the first place. All this probably fits in with the politically correct barking mad world in which we currently live. See also my post during the world cup on this sort of nonsense.

I was probably too closely involved in watching the world cup to notice that someone was being threatened with prosecution for displaying the national flag.

Anyway hats off to Yvette Cooper for displaying some common sense - a trait which is all too frequently missing from many government departments.

Sadly we won't be allowed to display our flags until April 2007 - I may just reinstate the flag on this blog as presumably that won't require planning permission.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

15th October it is

At last a date has been set for the rerun of Thailands elections. I hope that the pending court cases can be resolved as quickly as possible to give a clear run in to the new elections. Then lets hope that all the parties participate in the elections and that everyone accepts the results

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Thai Rak Thai and opposition face fraud trial

Thai Rak Thai and the Democrats will face court in the fraud trila relating to Aprils elections. However, according to this piece from the BBC it is thought unlikely that Thailands main parties will be dissolved. These issues clearly need to be resolved a.s.a.p so that there is some certainty in the run up to the new elections in October

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

This is a monster!

Now I know that I like big bikes. My Harley Davidson Fatboy has a 1450 cc engine. I always fancied a go on a Triumph Rocket which has a 2294 cc engine.

But this beastie from Boss Hoss is just unbelieveable!!

It has an 8200 cc engine!! Oh and you can get them in the UK now from here. Now where did I put that spare £42,000?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Do we want to encourage Volunteers and Volunteering?

My attention was drawn to the issue of just what those on benefits can or cannot do vis-a-vis volunteering by John Hemmings post. He is concerned about the issue of expenses for those on benefits who are volunteering and specifically the statement that those on benefits "won't be able to claim for buying lunch" because "the amount of Income Support or Job Seekers allowance you get is already meant to cover the cost of your basic needs including lunch".

I start off from a very simplistic view of the world in that I believe that volunteering is a good thing. One charity I have been involved with in the past could not deliver anywhere near the level of services it does without the help of all the wonderful volunteers who give up their time. For many volunteers the act of volunteering also has a beneficial impact on their own development at the same time as assisting the charity. I know of volunteers who have developed so far that they have gone on to full time paid employment in the same charity.

So it now appears that if you give a volunteer expenses to cover the cost of their lunch that money will be deducted from their benefits. This is mad given that they may incur additional costs through purchasing lunch where they are volunteering rather than making themselves something at home. Of course charities can presumably get round this by providing food and drink for their volunteers instead of paying expenses but that of course assumes that they have already got the volunteer through the door. Alternatively of course they may have decided not to wade through the 49 page document from the DWP and may have given up on the idea of volunteering completely!!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Thailand is the most risky place for holidaymakers

I found this statistic from Norwich Union somewhat at odds with my own personal experiences in Thailand. Maybe I have just been luck and admittedly I am only one person whereas their report was based on some 60,000 claims. I have always found Thailand to be a safe and happy place. Apparently British holiday makers are most likely to suffer "food poisoning, theft, traffic accidents or the loss of belongings" when visiting Thailand. The traffic accidents I can believe although I have seen countries where the problem is worse. As for the rest - well I have seen no great evidence of theft being a problem and the food is wonderful. It certainly won't stop me going again. In fact the flights are already booked!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

People with learning disabilities abused by NHS

According to the report by the Healthcare Commission and Commission for Social Care Inspection there was "widespread institutional abuse of 200 people with learning disabilities living at a treatment centre in Falmouth and in 46 houses around Cornwall". Some of the abuse described in this report is horrific but sadly in my personal experience (I was until recently a director of West Berkshire Mencap) these are not isolated incidents.

The NHS in other parts of the country has very real problems in dealing with people with learning disabilities. These problems may not be on the same scale as the proactive abuse described in the report but the impact of not doing something can be almost as devastating.

In Reading a cancer patient with a learning disability was left in severe pain for days on end because the staff at the hospital could not work out how to deal with her or communicate with her.

In Dartford a patient was repeatedly denied the physiotherapy which she needed because she had autism. The same patient ended up staying in hospital for the best part of three months whilst Social Services and the Health Authority argued over who was to provide funding for aspects of her treatment. By the time she was discharged she could no longer walk and indeed still cannot walk - all because she did not get the treatment she needed when she needed it. This cannot be a cost effective way of dealing with someone. Never mind the basic considerations of treating someone with respect and dignity and the long term implications for this persons quality of life!

My impression is that it is all too difficult for some medical practitioners. Don't get me wrong there are clearly some very good doctors and nurses out there as well but in a lot of areas there is significant work to be done if the NHS is deliver an equitable service to all its patients. Education and training will have a role to play as will the nominated advocates who are supposed to be in place at each Hospital. However, what is needed more than anything else is a sea change in attitudes so that those with Learning Disabilities are treated with the respect and dignity that any other member of the community would expect.

Congratulations are due to the local Mencap for getting a proper investigation into the problems in Cornwall.

The rest of the NHS across the country will need to have long hard look at itself and start treating people with learning disabilities with some respect especially as according to the BBC article "Checks will now be carried out on all services in England."

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Thailand and Football!

This was too good an opportunity to miss. A chance to blog about two of my favourite things...Thailand and Football. It seems that the problem of absenteeism has spread even to the Buddhist monks in Thailand even though they are not taking part in the world cup. According to this piece from the BBC the monks "have to be awake at 5am every morning to collect alms from the local community. Because of the six-hour time difference between Germany and Thailand, many matches do not start until the early hours of the morning, and since the World Cup began there have been reports of monks sleeping in, leaving local Buddhists waiting in vain with their morning offerings."

Monday, July 03, 2006

Normal service may now be resumed - slowly

After an appropriate period of mourning the St Georges Flag has now been removed from my blog and normal service may now slowly resume. I will probably still watch the semis and the final though. Then a few days off before pre season begins in earnest.