Sadrists Threaten to End Truce, Anbar Sunnis Threaten to Re-join Insurgency
Many Sadrists think that it's time to end the truce
From the Associated Press:
Read more »
Well, I say old, but not THAT old. Everything's relative isn't it? I mean .. in Methuzala's league .. I'm definitely NOT!
27th January -- 1945:
Auschwitz death camp liberated
The =**=**= Army has liberated the Nazis' biggest concentration camp at Auschwitz in south-western Poland.
According to reports, hundreds of thousands of Polish people, as well as Jews from a number of other European countries, have been held prisoner there in appalling conditions and many have been killed in the gas chambers.
Few details have emerged of the capture of Auschwitz, which has gained a reputation as the most notorious of the Nazi death camps.
Some reports say the German guards were given orders several days ago to destroy the crematoria and gas chambers. Tens of thousands of prisoners - those who were able to walk - have been moved out of the prison and forced to march to other camps in Germany.
Little did we know that we had arrived at a place, the name of which would become as well known and remembered as any battle in the war.
All faiths commemorate Holocaust
The Archbishop of Canterbury joined the Chief Rabbi to mark Holocaust Memorial Day with a ceremony in Liverpool.
"It is not enough for journalist to see themselves as mere messengers without understanding the hidden agendas of the message and myths that surround it."
Having reported four presidential election campaigns, from the Kennedys to Nixon, Carter to Reagan, with their Zeppelins of platitudes, robotic followers and rictal wives, I can sympathise. But what difference would the vote make?
Of the presidential candidates I have interviewed, only George C Wallace, governor of Alabama, spoke the truth. "There’s not a dime’s worth of difference between the Democrats and Republicans," he said. And he was shot.
Travelling with Robert Kennedy in 1968 was eye-opening for me. To audiences of the poor, Kennedy would present himself as a saviour. The words "change" and "hope" were used relentlessly and cynically. For audiences of fearful whites, he would use racist codes, such as "law and order". With those opposed to the invasion of Vietnam, he would attack "putting American boys in the line of fire", but never say when he would withdraw them.
That year (after Kennedy was assassinated), Richard Nixon used a version of the same, malleable speech to win the presidency. Thereafter, it was used successfully by Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and the two Bushes.
Nothing has changed. Barack Obama is a glossy Uncle Tom who would bomb Pakistan. Hillary Clinton, another bomber, is anti-feminist. John McCain’s one distinction is that he has personally bombed a country.
They all believe the US is not subject to the rules of human behaviour, because it is "a city upon a hill", regardless that most of humanity sees it as a monumental bully which, since 1945, has overthrown 50 governments, many of them democracies, and bombed 30 nations, destroying millions of lives.
... The court heard how Hogan snapped as he and Natasha rowed while she was packing her bags - intending to return home to Bristol with the children early. However Tracey added: "The Hogans should never have had a row in front of the children. She knew John had depression. She should have just picked up the kids and walked out."Read the rest of this heartrending report.
Tracey said she was glad that Hogan, who along with Mia miraculously survived the 50ft fall from the hotel balcony, would be getting proper medical treatment rather than a prison sentence. She added: "I do not condone what he did for one moment. He will have to live with the fact he killed his son for the rest of his life.
"John acted in an extreme way - he snapped. It's so hard for anyone to imagine how they would react to such devastating news. He has punished himself more than any court could."
" ... 'It's not my fault her husband went mad and jumped off a balcony.' It was shocking, he just totally pushed it away. He had got what he wanted - Natasha."
Tracey said she was shocked when nurse Natasha announced her new relationship with paramedic Richard just weeks after the terrible events of August 2006.
And she said she was even more amazed when she learned they were to marry only days before the start of Hogan's trial.
Tracey said: "How could they get married just a week before Natasha had to give evidence and hear about how her son was killed and face John again?
Hain quits jobs 'to clear name'Ah, well.
Peter Hain has quit the cabinet saying he wanted to "clear his name" after his Labour deputy leadership campaign donations were referred to the police.
Police in protest rally over pay
Police officers gather to demonstrate over pay
An estimated 22,000 [plus] police officers are marching in central London in a protest over pay.
UN powers agree on new Iran draftHowever ...... in case you don't read, hear, see, know, or understand enough about Iran - apart from what you're regularly fed by Faux/Fox propaganda/pantomime productions and certain other news organisations of it's vested interests' ilk ......
Khamenei snubs Iranian president
Iran's supreme leader has overruled its president by ordering him to implement a law to supply gas to remote villages.
Iran is having its coldest weather in years and parliament had ratified a law to release extra funds to supply gas to rural areas undergoing shortages.
But Mahmoud Ahmadinejad refused to implement it, prompting the speaker to appeal to the supreme leader.
A BBC correspondent says Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's action is a rare public humiliation for President Ahmadinejad.
The supreme leader agreed that the law should be implemented and his letter ordering that it should, was read out in the parliament.
Critics of the president have become more vocal as the threat of war with the US or Israel over Iran's nuclear activities appears to have receded.
The political battle is heating up with parliamentary elections in two months, our correspondent says.
... I was in a cab and we were stuck in a long traffic jam. Next to me was a school minibus full of children. They were staring out of the window. So was I.
I engaged them. I made clown faces to them, stuck my tongue out and grimaced...
They giggled, and stuck their tongues out at me, contorting their faces, and pulling their ears in mockery...
We kept at this play for a while. The taxi driver thought I was nuts. The kids loved it and so did I. It was pure joy. We laughed across the window, and then waved goodbye as the traffic finally eased up.
I saw no violence in their eyes, no malice, no craving to inflict hurt.
Today, children were playing in the streets of Gaza, scores were rushed to hospital with blood pouring out of their little limbs, heads, eyes and nose...Israel bombed Gaza again.
40 dead, 100 injured and out of the 100, 45 were children. 45 children not older than 10, soaked in blood. Their own.
(These figures were quoted several times on Al Jazeera Arabic TV. [...] not the 1 dead and 35 injured. [As later published here via the online Al Jazeera "English" media version].
I don't understand why this sudden discrepancy. Is someone trying to hide the real figures?)
They interviewed a little one, about 6, with a bandaged head and the poor little thing was stuttering, with his face swollen up, and his eyes moist with tears...
He said "I was playing with my friends, and the bombs fell on us...they wanted to kill me."(they = Israelis, who else?!)
Yes you are right little one, they wanted to kill you.
They and the Americans are flip sides of the same coin. They grow, thrive and prosper on violence.
US fears Europe-based terrorismRead the rest of today's relevant report on this rat, right here.
One of the biggest threats to US security may now come from within Europe, US Homeland Security head Michael Chertoff has told the BBC.
He said militant attacks and plots in Europe over recent years had made the US aware of the "real risk that Europe will become a platform for terrorists".
Mr Chertoff said it was likely security checks on travellers from Europe would be increased.
15th January, 1973: Nixon orders ceasefire in Vietnam
President Nixon has ordered a halt to American bombing in North Vietnam following peace talks in Paris.
The decision comes after Dr Henry Kissinger, the president's assistant for National Security Affairs, returned to Washington yesterday from France with a draft peace proposal.
Read the rest of this heartbreaking report right here.
Report: 121 veterans linked to killings
NEW YORK - At least 121 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans have committed a killing or been charged in one in the United States after returning from combat, The New York Times reported Sunday.
The newspaper said it also logged 349 homicides involving all active-duty military personnel and new veterans in the six years since military action began in Afghanistan, and later Iraq. That represents an 89-percent increase over the previous six-year period, the newspaper said.
About three-quarters of those homicides involved Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, the newspaper said. The report did not illuminate the exact relationship between those cases and the 121 killings also mentioned in the report.
US launches massive Iraq air raidAnother bloody BushCo lame-brained, brain-wave, eh?
US bombers and fighter jets have dropped 40,000lb (18,144kg) of bombs on suspected al-Qaeda targets on the edge of Baghdad in a 10-minute air strike.
Oh, by the way, lest we forget.
Bush said yesterday, in Israel, that the US should have bombed Auschwitz, too.
Well, erm, yeah, George, er, maybe. We can see where you're coming from. That would have been one solution to Hitler's Final Solution, eh?
That way, there'd be a lot less surviving Holocaust survivor stories to cause any of us so many sleepless nights, eh?
Wow. What a wonderful cure for so many guilt complexes, eh?
After all, revisionist history's something your shower of shits have a lot of special expertise and experience in. Isn't it, mister?
*(Cross posted at Appletree)
Tony Blair to earn £500,000 a year from PART-TIME advisory job at top Wall Street bankRead the rest of this report on the (so called, socialist) rogue.
By Jane Merrick - 10th January 2008
Tony Blair came under heavy fire today for accepting a lucrative job with a Wall Street bank.
Mr Blair, who quit as prime minister in July, is to become a part-time adviser to JP Morgan on a salary rumoured to be at least £500,000 a year. It puts him on course to become the richest former premier in recent history.
He also revealed he expected to take a "small handful" of similar jobs with other companies in the near future.
But his bonanza contrasts with the experience of thousands of British soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many faced poverty and hardship on their return because their injury compensation payouts took up to three years.
We mean ... who the hell would'a thunk it?
That is, ourselves ever agreeing with anything that ever came out of the mouth of George W.Bush. Of course, it's always possible that good ole Dumbya's finally done gone and damned well, come right out and agreed with what we've been yelling (loud and clear), for yonks.
As a matter of fact, come to think of it, it could even have been for lots longer.
Bush supports Turkey bid to join EUYep, you read that right.
WASHINGTON - President Bush gave Turkey's bid to join the European Union a glowing endorsement on Tuesday and called the Islamic nation a "constructive bridge" between the West and the Muslim world, offering a much-needed boost to U.S.-Turkish relations.
"I think Turkey sets a fantastic example for nations around the world to see where it's possible to have a democracy coexist with a great religion like Islam and that's important," he said.
Bush spoke to reporters following a meeting with Turkish President Abdullah Gul. The two appeared together on the South Lawn, where Bush said he supported Turkey's efforts to fight the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK rebels, in northern Iraq.
Bush called the PKK an enemy to Turkey, Iraq and "to people who want to live in peace."
And about time too, eh?
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli legislators voted on Monday to form an inquiry commission with executive powers to probe years of failure by the Jewish state to provide adequate financial help for needy survivors of the Nazi Holocaust.
Israel's establishment in 1948 with international backing came after the arrival of hundreds of thousands of refugees and Holocaust survivors from Europe after World War Two.
Many of the survivors, now elderly and infirm, have complained for years of not receiving adequate funding to allow them to live out their remaining years in dignity.
"Holocaust survivors are tired of promises and they have been treated failingly for years," said Zvulun Orlev, who heads Israel's parliamentary state audit committee
Disabled poverty 'hits millions'So the British government "insists" it's developing a long term strategy, eh?
Disabled people are twice as likely to live in poverty than others
As many as three million people with disabilities in the UK could be trapped in poverty, a report suggests.
The study, by campaigning group Leonard Cheshire Disability, says disabled people are more likely to live in hardship now than a decade ago.
The group says the poverty trap is largely due to higher living costs - up to 25% more than for the able-bodied.
The government insists it is developing a long-term strategy to help disabled people lead independent lives.
"Disability poverty is one of the most significant and most challenging problems facing the UK today," said Guy Parckar of Leonard Cheshire Disability.
The report, entitled Disability Poverty in the UK, finds disabled people are twice as likely to live in hardship than others.
JERUSALEM - Israel's military court system for Palestinian suspects in the West Bank produces almost automatic convictions, an Israeli human rights group charged Sunday.Read the rest of this news report.
The group, Yesh Din, עברית عربية ...
... said in a new report that in 2006 more than 99.7 percent of those accused were convicted, 95 percent in plea bargains.
Yesh Din said its inquiry, which included attending more than 800 hearings and conducting extensive interviews with lawyers and court staff, concluded that suspects were often unable to present a full defense with effective counsel.
The Yesh Din report said, however, that military court proceedings can be startlingly brief, citing a study of 38 hearings where prosecutors sought to extend suspects' detention in custody until the end of case, which generally means remand for a year or more.
Of those 38 hearings, Yesh Din says, seven lasted between two and four minutes, 19 lasted between one and two minutes and 12 were over in less than a minute.
Hearings were held in Hebrew and simultaneous translation into Arabic was mainly carried out by conscript soldiers rather than professional interpreters, with the result that suspects, and their attorneys, often did not understand the charges.
"Most are detained in Israel and their attorneys are not able to meet them," said Michael Sfard, Yesh Din's legal counsel. In addition, minors were often tried as adults and detained at length before being charged.
January 04, 2008 -- Final Post
"I am leaving this message for you because it appears I must leave sooner than I intended. I would have preferred to say this in person, but since I cannot, let me say it here."
G'Kar, Babylon 5
"Only the dead have seen the end of war."
This is an entry I would have preferred not to have published, but there are limits to what we can control in life, and apparently I have passed one of those limits. And so, like G'Kar, I must say here what I would much prefer to say in person. I want to thank hilzoy for putting it up for me. It's not easy asking anyone to do something for you in the event of your death, and it is a testament to her quality that she didn't hesitate to accept the charge. As with many bloggers, I have a disgustingly large ego, and so I just couldn't bear the thought of not being able to have the last word if the need arose. Perhaps I take that further than most, I don't know. I hope so. It's frightening to think there are many people as neurotic as I am in the world. In any case, since I won't get another chance to say what I think, I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity. Such as it is.
"When some people die, it's time to be sad. But when other people die, like really evil people, or the Irish, it's time to celebrate."
Jimmy Bender, "Greg the Bunny"
"And maybe now it's your turn
To die kicking some ass."
Freedom Isn't Free, Team America
What I don't want this to be is a chance for me, or anyone else, to be maudlin. I'm dead. That sucks, at least for me and my family and friends. But all the tears in the world aren't going to bring me back, so I would prefer that people remember the good things about me rather than mourning my loss. (If it turns out a specific number of tears will, in fact, bring me back to life, then by all means, break out the onions.) I had a pretty good life, as I noted above. Sure, all things being equal I would have preferred to have more time, but I have no business complaining with all the good fortune I've enjoyed in my life. So if you're up for that, put on a little 80s music (preferably vintage 1980-1984), grab a Coke and have a drink with me. If you have it, throw 'Freedom Isn't Free' from the Team America soundtrack in; if you can't laugh at that song, I think you need to lighten up a little. I'm dead, but if you're reading this, you're not, so take a moment to enjoy that happy fact.
"Our thoughts form the universe. They always matter."
Citizen G'Kar, Babylon 5
Believe it or not, one of the things I will miss most is not being able to blog any longer. The ability to put my thoughts on (virtual) paper and put them where people can read and respond to them has been marvelous, even if most people who have read my writings haven't agreed with them. If there is any hope for the long term success of democracy, it will be if people agree to listen to and try to understand their political opponents rather than simply seeking to crush them. While the blogosphere has its share of partisans, there are some awfully smart people making excellent arguments out there as well, and I know I have learned quite a bit since I began blogging. I flatter myself I may have made a good argument or two as well; if I didn't, please don't tell me. It has been a great five-plus years. I got to meet a lot of people who are way smarter than me, including such luminaries as Virginia Postrel and her husband Stephen (speaking strictly from a 'improving the species' perspective, it's tragic those two don't have kids, because they're both scary smart.), the estimable hilzoy and Sebastian of Obsidian Wings, Jeff Goldstein and Stephen Green, the men who consistently frustrated me with their mix of wit and wisdom I could never match, and I've no doubt left out a number of people to whom I apologize. Bottom line: if I got the chance to meet you through blogging, I enjoyed it. I'm only sorry I couldn't meet more of you. In particular I'd like to thank Jim Henley, who while we've never met has been a true comrade, whose words have taught me and whose support has been of great personal value to me. I would very much have enjoyed meeting Jim.
Blogging put me in touch with an inordinate number of smart people, an exhilarating if humbling experience. When I was young, I was smart, but the older I got, the more I realized just how dumb I was in comparison to truly smart people. But, to my credit, I think, I was at least smart enough to pay attention to the people with real brains and even occasionally learn something from them. It has been joy and a pleasure having the opportunity to do this.
"It's not fair."
"No. It's not. Death never is."
Captain John Sheridan and Dr. Stephen Franklin, Babylon 5
"They didn't even dig him a decent grave."
"Well, it's not how you're buried. It's how you're remembered."
Cimarron and Wil Andersen, The Cowboys
I suppose I should speak to the circumstances of my death. It would be nice to believe that I died leading men in battle, preferably saving their lives at the cost of my own. More likely I was caught by a marksman or an IED. But if there is an afterlife, I'm telling anyone who asks that I went down surrounded by hundreds of insurgents defending a village composed solely of innocent women and children. It'll be our little secret, ok?
I do ask (not that I'm in a position to enforce this) that no one try to use my death to further their political purposes. I went to Iraq and did what I did for my reasons, not yours. My life isn't a chit to be used to bludgeon people to silence on either side. If you think the U.S. should stay in Iraq, don't drag me into it by claiming that somehow my death demands us staying in Iraq. If you think the U.S. ought to get out tomorrow, don't cite my name as an example of someone's life who was wasted by our mission in Iraq. I have my own opinions about what we should do about Iraq, but since I'm not around to expound on them I'd prefer others not try and use me as some kind of moral capital to support a position I probably didn't support. Further, this is tough enough on my family without their having to see my picture being used in some rally or my name being cited for some political purpose. You can fight political battles without hurting my family, and I'd prefer that you did so.
On a similar note, while you're free to think whatever you like about my life and death, if you think I wasted my life, I'll tell you you're wrong. We're all going to die of something. I died doing a job I loved. When your time comes, I hope you are as fortunate as I was.
"What an idiot! What a loser!"
Chaz Reingold, Wedding Crashers
"Oh and I don't want to die for you, but if dying's asked of me;
I'll bear that cross with honor, 'cause freedom don't come free."
American Soldier, Toby Keith
Those who know me through my writings on the Internet over the past five-plus years probably have wondered at times about my chosen profession. While I am not a Libertarian, I certainly hold strongly individualistic beliefs. Yet I have spent my life in a profession that is not generally known for rugged individualism. Worse, I volunteered to return to active duty knowing that the choice would almost certainly lead me to Iraq. The simple explanation might be that I was simply stupid, and certainly I make no bones about having done some dumb things in my life, but I don't think this can be chalked up to stupidity. Maybe I was inconsistent in my beliefs; there are few people who adhere religiously to the doctrines of their chosen philosophy, whatever that may be. But I don't think that was the case in this instance either.
As passionate as I am about personal freedom, I don't buy the claims of anarchists that humanity would be just fine without any government at all. There are too many people in the world who believe that they know best how people should live their lives, and many of them are more than willing to use force to impose those beliefs on others. A world without government simply wouldn't last very long; as soon as it was established, strongmen would immediately spring up to establish their fiefdoms. So there is a need for government to protect the people's rights. And one of the fundamental tools to do that is an army that can prevent outside agencies from imposing their rules on a society. A lot of people will protest that argument by noting that the people we are fighting in Iraq are unlikely to threaten the rights of the average American. That's certainly true; while our enemies would certainly like to wreak great levels of havoc on our society, the fact is they're not likely to succeed. But that doesn't mean there isn't still a need for an army (setting aside debates regarding whether ours is the right size at the moment). Americans are fortunate that we don't have to worry too much about people coming to try and overthrow us, but part of the reason we don't have to worry about that is because we have an army that is stopping anyone who would try.
Soldiers cannot have the option of opting out of missions because they don't agree with them: that violates the social contract. The duly-elected American government decided to go to war in Iraq. (Even if you maintain President Bush was not properly elected, Congress voted for war as well.) As a soldier, I have a duty to obey the orders of the President of the United States as long as they are Constitutional. I can no more opt out of missions I disagree with than I can ignore laws I think are improper. I do not consider it a violation of my individual rights to have gone to Iraq on orders because I raised my right hand and volunteered to join the army. Whether or not this mission was a good one, my participation in it was an affirmation of something I consider quite necessary to society. So if nothing else, I gave my life for a pretty important principle; I can (if you'll pardon the pun) live with that.
"It's all so brief, isn't it? A typical human lifespan is almost a hundred years. But it's barely a second compared to what's out there. It wouldn't be so bad if life didn't take so long to figure out. Seems you just start to get it right, and then...it's over."
Dr. Stephen Franklin, Babylon 5
I wish I could say I'd at least started to get it right. Although, in my defense, I think I batted a solid .250 or so. Not a superstar, but at least able to play in the big leagues. I'm afraid I can't really offer any deep secrets or wisdom. I lived my life better than some, worse than others, and I like to think that the world was a little better off for my having been here. Not very much, but then, few of us are destined to make more than a tiny dent in history's Green Monster. I would be lying if I didn't admit I would have liked to have done more, but it's a bit too late for that now, eh? The bottom line, for me, is that I think I can look back at my life and at least see a few areas where I may have made a tiny difference, and massive ego aside, that's probably not too bad.
"The flame also reminds us that life is precious. As each flame is unique; when it goes out, it's gone forever. There will never be another quite like it."
Ambassador Delenn, Babylon 5
I write this in part, admittedly, because I would like to think that there's at least a little something out there to remember me by. Granted, this site will eventually vanish, being ephemeral in a very real sense of the word, but at least for a time it can serve as a tiny record of my contributions to the world. But on a larger scale, for those who knew me well enough to be saddened by my death, especially for those who haven't known anyone else lost to this war, perhaps my death can serve as a small reminder of the costs of war. Regardless of the merits of this war, or of any war, I think that many of us in America have forgotten that war means death and suffering in wholesale lots. A decision that for most of us in America was academic, whether or not to go to war in Iraq, had very real consequences for hundreds of thousands of people. Yet I was as guilty as anyone of minimizing those very real consequences in lieu of a cold discussion of theoretical merits of war and peace. Now I'm facing some very real consequences of that decision; who says life doesn't have a sense of humor?
But for those who knew me and feel this pain, I think it's a good thing to realize that this pain has been felt by thousands and thousands (probably millions, actually) of other people all over the world. That is part of the cost of war, any war, no matter how justified. If everyone who feels this pain keeps that in mind the next time we have to decide whether or not war is a good idea, perhaps it will help us to make a more informed decision. Because it is pretty clear that the average American would not have supported the Iraq War had they known the costs going in. I am far too cynical to believe that any future debate over war will be any less vitriolic or emotional, but perhaps a few more people will realize just what those costs can be the next time.
This may be a contradiction of my above call to keep politics out of my death, but I hope not. Sometimes going to war is the right idea. I think we've drawn that line too far in the direction of war rather than peace, but I'm a soldier and I know that sometimes you have to fight if you're to hold onto what you hold dear. But in making that decision, I believe we understate the costs of war; when we make the decision to fight, we make the decision to kill, and that means lives and families destroyed. Mine now falls into that category; the next time the question of war or peace comes up, if you knew me at least you can understand a bit more just what it is you're deciding to do, and whether or not those costs are worth it.
"This is true love. You think this happens every day?"
Westley, The Princess Bride
"Good night, my love, the brightest star in my sky."
John Sheridan, Babylon 5
This is the hardest part. While I certainly have no desire to die, at this point I no longer have any worries. That is not true of the woman who made my life something to enjoy rather than something merely to survive. She put up with all of my faults, and they are myriad, she endured separations again and again...I cannot imagine being more fortunate in love than I have been with Amanda. Now she has to go on without me, and while a cynic might observe she's better off, I know that this is a terrible burden I have placed on her, and I would give almost anything if she would not have to bear it. It seems that is not an option. I cannot imagine anything more painful than that, and if there is an afterlife, this is a pain I'll bear forever.
I wasn't the greatest husband. I could have done so much more, a realization that, as it so often does, comes too late to matter. But I cherished every day I was married to Amanda. When everything else in my life seemed dark, she was always there to light the darkness. It is difficult to imagine my life being worth living without her having been in it. I hope and pray that she goes on without me and enjoys her life as much as she deserves. I can think of no one more deserving of happiness than her.
"I will see you again, in the place where no shadows fall."
Ambassador Delenn, Babylon 5
I don't know if there is an afterlife; I tend to doubt it, to be perfectly honest. But if there is any way possible, Amanda, then I will live up to Delenn's words, somehow, some way. I love you.
Posted at January 4, 2008 11:18 AM
Yesterday, on a day that America's Iowa caucus-circus unknowingly & unintentionally entertained (as only America can entertain), serious political pundits everywhere outside that country, we elected to venture out in search of some serious culture.
We braved the (blooming biting), bitter winter weather and went to our own beloved fair-seaport-city's famous 'Empire' theatre - where we watched once again a brother Liverpudlian's masterful musical drama - 'Blood Brothers' - a immensely inspirational creation of a tried, tested & true fellow scouser extraordinaire, Willy Russell.
Over several recent years we've now watched, listened to, laughed and wept our way through this brilliantly moving piece of musical theatre - three times in all.
Starring yesterday was ex 'New Seeker' Lyn Paul (shown above), whose wholly admirable & enjoyable performance came a fairly close second to our own particular favourite - by far - filler of the forlorn Mrs Johnstone's stage shoes -- ex Nolan Sisters' Bernie Nolan.
The other Mrs Johnstone we once watched was (probably the better known), Barbara Dickson.
Yesterday's supporting cast, musical director and orchestra were as good as any we've ever experienced.
Sadly, the latterly revised stage script was most certainly not.
For yesterday the 'F' word wasn't thrown in once or even twice, for (perhaps?) dramatic effect -- but for far too many times.
It's not that we're prudes - in fact we couldn't be further away from same. Moreover, if this 'fouling up' of all earlier productions had actually helped make this super show better than it originally was, we'd no doubt have actually welcomed it.
But it didn't.
The fact is that quite to the contrary, it definitely detracted - since it was unarguably, and entirely gratuitous. And as such was nothing short a shame.
We can't help but wonder if Willy Russell is aware of these alterations - and if he is we'd love to learn what he, as the writer, thinks. Likewise, local lad made good (as an extremely impressive, multi-millionaire impresario), Bill Kenwright.
All that being said, this is still a magnificently, marvelous piece of musical drama.
In conclusion, if the opportunity to see it ever presents itself, do not miss it - because, believe us - you'll be all the better for seeing it.
We guarantee it.
But unless and/or until this revised, class act is cleaned up (script-wise), please don't take any children.
We (as it transpired, rather regrettably), took our 12 year old granddaughter. She was dumbfounded. We were embarrassed. As were several other families we overheard expressing some similarly strong views as the Empire emptied after the show.
"Did yer ever 'ear the story of the Johnstone twins?
Both, born and died on the self same day."
Ban on junk food ads introduced
A ban on adverts for junk food during television programmes aimed at children under 16 has come into force.
Regulator Ofcom has outlawed adverts for foods high in fat, salt and sugar in an effort to tackle rising childhood obesity levels.
But broadcasters say the quality of children's programmes will be hit by the loss of an estimated £39m in advertising revenue.
The move is the latest stage in a phased crackdown on advertising during programmes aimed at or appealing to children.
In April 2007, junk food ads were banned during programmes made to appeal to seven to nine-year-olds.
And by December this year, dedicated children's channels will have to phase them out altogether.
Children's Secretary Ed Balls has said that UK children see some 10,000 television adverts a year and recognise 400 brands by the age of 10.
Increasingly, some of our children are slowly being force fed to death -- entirely as a result of a no holds barred, never ending battle (waged by all the usual suspects), to grab as big a slice as possible, of the already obviously obscene, junk food market mega-profits.
The bottom line, as appallingly unpalatable as it may first appear, is that these conscienceless crooks are now literally 'farming' us and our children, exactly as the animals we eat are farmed.
We are all now being 'farmed' - as perpetually profit producing, cattle-like, obsessive compulsive consumers. No more and no less.
What's next? Soylent Green?Meanwhile, millions of our fellow human beings, both young and old, are needlessly suffering and starving (worldwide), on a damned daily basis.