David J. Farley of Plympton, Plymouth, United Kingdom

David J. Farley of Plympton, Plymouth, United Kingdom

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Festive Greetings

It is Christmas Eve and I would like to express my warmest Seasonal Greetings to all Bloggers wheresoever you are on the Globe. Special good wishes to Dirk_ Star who regularly visits this blog. Apologies for the lack of postings of late. I won't bore you with the reasons but I hope to do better in 2007. As we celebrate Christmas Day tomorrow I shall pray fervently to the Almighty for peace to return to the troubled regions of the world. I shall pray especially for the peoples of Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel and Palestine, and the Darfur region of the Sudan. In particular, I shall remember all the military personnel of the coalition forces serving as peacekeepers in various countries. Being separated from their loved ones at this time of year is difficult and they deserve our gratitude and good wishes. It is my earnest wish that 2007 may inspire our world leaders to strive to bring an early and just settlement to these dreadful conflicts. In addition, I will be praying for the plight of recently bereaved families, the homeless, lonely and many sick people in our communities. May they find care, comfort, kindness and warmth from those close to them and from the noble charities who work so hard to alleviate the pain and suffering in our midst. May God grant us all a peaceful Christmas and help us to mend our broken world in the New Year.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The threat of terrorism

I am heartened by HM The Queen's address at the recent State opening of Parliament. The first and foremost subject for Parliament to focus on right now is the defence of this nation from the threat of terrorism. The stark warning last week from Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, head of MI5, that her Agents are struggling to contain a rapidly-growing terrorist threat simply fills me with total horror. With 30 top-priority plots currently under investigation and intelligence reports that militants are actively trying to recruit teenagers as suicide bombers demands urgent attention from our Government. Her staff are said to be monitoring as many as 200 groupings or networks comprising of more than 1,600 individuals "who are actively engaged in plotting or facilitating , terrorists acts both here and overseas" Dame Eliza also said, "We need to be alert to attempts to radicalise and indoctrinate our youth and to seek to counter it." A warning such as that from such an eminent person really needs to be taken seriously and I concur with her sentiments. We must all sit up and take note. It will be very difficult for her Agents to infiltrate such groups simply by virtue of the age profile of those youngsters being targeted by the militants. We must not wait for another 9/11 or 7/7 before taking every conceivable initiative available to the security services to help protect us. I shall be flying to USA on vacation shortly and already I am feeling apprehensive. Isn't this exactly what the terrorists want us to feel like, living in constant fear of attack?.

I would like to ask the Prime Minister to consider establishing a fund to offer substantial cash rewards to anyone providing information leading to the arrest and subsequent conviction of anyone known or suspected of conspiring to commit acts of terrorism. Something along the lines of what Crimestoppers do after an appalling crime. This initiative would be aimed at rewards for information before the catastrophe takes place. Prevention being the key factor. In any conspiracy there will always be a weak link who will be tempted by greed and the get rich quick mentality. Principles often go out of the window when such opportunities present themselves. Also, perhaps the case for compulsory ID cards should be given more serious consideration, as indeed should the extension of the period of detention before charge in suspected terrorist plots. With follow-up investigations overseas and de-encryption of computers taking weeks of labour intensive work it is plain that 28 days is insufficient time for the security services to complete their various tasks. Surely, with safeguards such as authorisation of extensions by a Judge or JP built in, it would not compromise our civil liberties that much.

The same applies to the gathering of incriminating evidence by phone taps with the same precautions. Every conceivable initiative must be used to protect our citizens. Our enemies, within or without, will not give our civil rights a second thought in pursuit of their objectives! With our borders and coastlines being wide open to infiltration and with an ever extending EU we cannot afford to be complacent any longer. Not to mention the radicalisation of our homegrown militants.

Just a thought.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Winter blues!

As winter takes a hold and all the autumn leaves have fallen it is time to reflect on the year as it draws to a close. There have been many happy moments, some sad days and inevitably many memorable occasions. For me however, I cannot help reflecting on all the loss of life and suffering in those parts of the world stricken by conflicts and wars. Also the humanitarian suffering caused by natural disasters such as drought, earthquakes, famine, flooding, etc. As a New Year approaches I pray for peace where there is dysfunction and reconciliation where there is discord or mistrust. For the sake of today's children and tomorrow's generation it is beholden on all of us to strive to leave the world a better place than we found it. It is incumbent on all world leaders and politicians, of whatever persuasion, to work towards this goal especially as regards the ecological impact of global warming and climate change upon our precious planet.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Cruelty in the name of fun or sport?

I was shocked and appalled to see video footage shown on BBC Spotlight television news last evening of a bullfight in a village north of Madrid which involved a bull with sharp horns being actively encouraged by young men, performing as matadors, to charge a blind folded donkey which was protected on the sides by no more than a foam mattress. It had no protection whatsoever at the front or rear. Perhaps I have no right to comment on the traditions of another country but I could not live with my conscience if I did not speak up about this barbaric act of senseless cruelty to a defenceless animal in the name of fun or sport. Many years ago as a young person I attended a Spanish bullfight and the sights I saw at that event turned my stomach to such an extent that I have been an opponent of the sport ever since. It must have been a terrifying experience for that poor donkey who had no idea what was going on around him as he was charged from all angles by a furious bull for an inordinate amount of time. I ask myself how can people who consider themselves to be human beings inflict such harm upon an innocent animal in the name of fun or sport? I struggle to find an answer but I am immensely encouraged by Dawn Vincent who runs The Donkey Sanctuary in Sidmouth, East Devon, UK, who plans to pursue legal action through the European courts to prosecute the perpetrators of this evil act. I have sent a donation to assist her in this course of action and would invite you to do the same. I have no vested interest in this matter other than my utter disgust at anyone getting pleasure from inflicting such barbaric suffering on a poor blindfolded donkey let alone the tormented bull. Do post your comments; together we can make a difference!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

SOMETHING TO BELIEVE IN - Why England's churches need our help

I have just read a brilliant article in the autumn edition of Countryside Voice, the magazine for members of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, written by Simon Thurley, the CEO of English Heritage. He explains what needs to be done to give our country's churches a future. Simon writes that churches are very much a recognised part of the English countryside, and the intricacy and individual character of each one is celebrated by congregations and visitors alike. But as repair bills mount and communities fade, we must fight to stop them disappearing from the skyline. I can relate to his sentiments as my local church will be 700 years old in 2011 and it is a never ending battle to preserve its fabric and structure for future generations. We are currently endeavouring to raise £10,000 to repair a leaking roof. According to Simon there are 14,500 listed places of worship throughout England, the majority of which are parish churches. Each one has a story to tell of past times and a history of our heritage which is both precious and priceless. Desperate needs require desperate measures. Sheepy Magna in Leicestershire, for example, was threatened with a massive church repair bill and the closure of its village shop and post office. By turning the church vestry into a post office they were able to save two important village services while restoring the church to its traditional position at the centre of the community. Now that is novel! Research by English Heritage, which involved a number of places of worship across the country, has identified that £925 million needs to be spent on essential repairs to listed churches over the next five years - 60% more than is spent now. Declining congregations do not have the ability to cope in raising this sort of money despite their best efforts. Grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund help some but by no means enough. Simon Thurley says churches touch so many lives, be it through christenings, marriages, funerals, services or even secular events. With so much social history and heritage at stake, now is the time to rebuild the crumbling walls and dilapidated spires and ensure that this vital feature of England's countryside does not disappear from the skyline. Even non-believers are known to value the history and heritage of these ancient buildings and feel a sense of community ownership which they would not wish to see disappear by neglect. "Inspired!" is an English Heritage-led campaign designed to draw attention to the many issues threatening the survival of England's historic places of worship. It seeks, amongst other things, to obtain more Government funding to address the immediate needs and to start the debate on the future of church buildings. I have posted this item on my blog journal to encourage that debate. For more information about the campaign please visit www.english-heritage.org.uk

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Guy Fawkes Night or Living in a Warzone !

It has been the custom in this country for centuries to celebrate the defeat of Guy Fawkes' attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament in a gunpowder plot by holding a festival each year on November 5th when bonfires are lit and fireworks of all shapes and sizes are ignited. For the most part it is a joyful occasion when families gather around the bonfire and enjoy a mug of hot soup and a beefburger or hot dog. They spend a small fortune on very colourful and magnificent displays of rockets and other forms of fireworks. Long may it continue. However, there is another aspect to which I am not so enamoured and that relates to the use of loud bangers well into the night. In recent years they appear to have become more and more powerful with explosions more reminiscent of living in a warzone. Over the past few days I have witnessed terrified animals and household pets trembling with fear. I even heard of an instance of a banger being thrown through the letter box of an old age pensioner. It must also have been very scary for infant children and especially for the elderly living alone. Yesterday, I attended Evensong at my local church and the service was disrupted throughout by loud explosions. In my youth if Guy Fawkes Night fell on a Sunday we kept it up on the previous night. In these secular days no such deference is shown. Last year loud fireworks were even let off on Christmas Day and I fully expect the same this year. I am wondering if it is not time for our legislators to consider imposing controls on the use of fireworks especially in respect of the strenth of bangers. Also, the imposition of a time limit beyond which it would be illegal to let off fireworks, eg. 10pm.
It is now common place for fireworks to be used on special occasions at many other times of the year and I have no problem with that either. It is only the very loud explosions caused by the bangers that cause me some consternation. I would be interested in the views of others on this subject. Am I a lone voice living in the past or do you have empathy with my point of view?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Old Plod of Plympton says -

As a new and novice, or should it be nervous, blogger I am testing the water as they say. I am interested in current affairs, economics and politics. Being recently retired I hope to devote more time to my Blog and to read the comments of others from many parts of the globe.