Monday, June 22, 2009

US gay lobby doesn`t get the 'Bruno' joke

Sacha Baron Cohen, alias Ali G and Borat has recently made a new film starring Bruno, an over the top gay man from Austria who travels through the United States. Bruno is a stereotypical gay man, dressed in tight mesh T-shirts and leather, much to the dislike of the gay rights organizations in the United States. Especially the scene in which Bruno brings an adopted baby to a television chat-show and calls it a “man-magnet” is thought to be very offensive. The intention of the film is to show homophobia and arouse a debate about it, but the prospect is that it will only increase homophobia and offend gay people. To prevent this from happening it has been suggested to warn the audience in some way to remind them of the real message of the film. The production company of the film, Universal Pictures, has stated that they do expect the audience to understand the true intentions of the film, which are only very positive. However, the gay community is not the only group offended by the film; the film also includes phrases about Austria that have caused problems. For example Bruno`s wish to “be the most famous Austrian since Hitler.”


To have a clear idea of the film I have watched the trailer. In my opinion the idea of the film is only to entertain, not to start a serious debate. Therefore I do not expect it to have a positive influence on homophobia in the United States and I agree with the organizations that they should prevent it from causing more homophobia. Currently there is a debate going on about same sex marriages in the US and this might have a negative influence on that as well. Apart from this film, Sacha Baron Cohen has insulted other minority groups such as Jewish people in his previous projects. I think that he should try to take other people`s feelings and opinions into account more when he makes a film. It is very easy to say that the intentions are good and that he wants people to look at their own stereotypes, but his films do not have this effect. They only make people laugh at others, nothing more than that.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Farmer jailed for ‘grotesque’ horse cruelty

James Gray, a horse trader from Amersham, has been convicted for severe animal abuse at his farm. When the RSPCA visited the Spindles Farm in January last year, they were disgusted by what they found; 32 dead bodies of horses and the horses that were alive were in terrible condition. They were standing in small stables up to their ankles in their own waste due to insufficient cleaning. On later occasions the RSPCA discovered other carcasses. The horses that survived were removed from the farm, 115 in total. The judge has sentenced James Gray to 24 weeks in jail and 400.000 pound to compensate the costs they made to rescue the horses. Apart from that, the members of Gray`s family were convicted for certain charges too. The wife and two daughters were sentenced to pay respectively 750 and 500 pounds and they all have to do 150 hours of community service. James`s son, who helped his father with the horse trading, cannot keep any horses for 10 years and will be under supervision for 18 months.

Reaction to Farmer jailed for ‘grotesque’ horse cruelty

This story really got to me. I love horses and to read that someone would treat them in such a manner is disgusting en horrifying. Horses are incredibly friendly animals, much more so than dogs or cats actually. They are 10 to 20 times bigger than us, and still they do things for us and let us ride their backs. They can easily kill us if they want to, but that is not in their nature, instead they are frightened of us and when they trust us they will only be more kind. Knowing this makes it even more upsetting that this man treats his horses in such a way; hurting them, letting them starve to death, making them stand in too small and dirty stables. Therefore I think that 24 weeks in jail is not nearly enough, 24 years would be better.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Blubby Marvel (Hollie`s Tears)

It was a very exciting night for little Hollie Steel when she was in the semi finals of Britain`s Got Talent. The 10 year old girl had made it through the first rounds and planned to amaze the audience by singing Edelweiss. Sadly, after one minute she forgot the words to the song and began to cry. The pressure became too much for her. When she was told that there was not enough time to try again, she was devastated. Luckily, thanks to Simon Cowell, she was allowed to have another go after the commercial break. She definitely nailed that second performance, moving the judges to tears. It even led her to the finals, opposite Susan Boyle! Simon called her “officially the bravest girl in the world.” What Hollie did not know is that one of the viewers was in fact her grandfather, whom she has never met! When Hollie`s grandmother was pregnant with Nina (Hollie`s mother) she and her grandfather separated and he never knew that she had had his baby. He has now stated that he would love to meet Hollie, but that he should first contact his daughter Nina.


This incident proves that children should not be in television shows such as Britain`s Got Talent. I think the reason for Hollie`s black-out was that she could not handle the pressure of it anymore. There are so many people that expect something of her and that have an opinion about her now, that is just not healthy for a little girl like her. Also, it is not just Hollie that was too young; Shaheen (12), Lagi (13) and Aidan (12) should have all been rejected from the show. This is a programme for adults and they should not allow children to compete in it. Not only because it could harm them, also because it is unfair to compare children with adults. They are very cute and they are still developing their skills and their voice. You cannot give an objective view on the amount of talent then. Therefore there should be a minimum age of 16 to enter Britain`s Got Talent.

England left to absorb shocking defeat at Cricket match

The Dutch victory over England in the ICC World 20Twenty opener came as a shock to all of the United Kingdom. Nobody had expected this to happen. The cricket match took off with a bad start in any case, due to very bad weather. When it finally started, 20 minutes later than planned, the English team already missed two important players. Kevin Pietersen was injured and Graeme Swann did not make the selection for unknown reasons. Aside from this, the team might have suffered the handicap of having a low opponent. Half way through the inning the Ashes thought their score of 163-6 would be enough, but the Dutch turned out to be tougher than they thought. By then it was too late, they could not catch up anymore. It was not England`s worst performance, but it was: “The worst day for English Cricket!”


First of all, I do not have any expertise in Cricket. Actually, I have only just found out that it does not have anything to do with hitting a small ball through holes, like the ‘cricket’ I use to play as a kid. I therefore find it hard to figure out what the scores mean in this match.

Off course this victory is excellent for The Netherlands. It shows that we are good at other sports than ice-skating and horseback-riding. I do not believe that the English team suffered from the low level of the Dutch team, they suffered from overestimating themselves and, more importantly, underestimating The Netherlands! I think British people have a tendency to do that, they seem to have the general idea that they are superior to the rest of the world. On the other hand, cricket is a typical British sport, so it makes sense that they expect to be good at it. Still, this is a real case of “what goes around, comes around.” I bet they will not easily underestimate us again!

Monday, June 8, 2009

The bride thought he said ‘I do’, but the groom didn`t

When Mr Leigh asked his girlfriend Ms Hudson to marry him in 2003 he could not have imagined what it would lead to. The slightly ‘odd’ couple, her being very religious and him being an atheist Jew, lived in Africa at the time. They had met in The UK and decided to have two wedding ceremonies; one religious marriage in Africa and, later on, a civil marriage in The UK. That was the plan in any case, but shortly after the ceremony in Africa the couple separated. Leaving the question;“Are they married?” A High Court Judge has now ruled that they were not, and therefore the wealthy Mr Leigh is not obliged to pay Ms Hudson any money, aside from child support for their four year old daughter. He came to this conclusion because there were three important phrases missing; lawful wife, lawful husband and lawfully married. The judge said that all three parties, the priest, the ‘bride’ and the ‘groom’, must have known that this was not a lawful marriage.


What a manipulative woman, that Ms Hudson! I definitely agree with the judge`s ruling in this case. Ms Hudson would have been very gullible to believe that this marriage was legal. Even though she did say:“I give you this ring as a sign of our marriage” she should have noticed that there was no mention of lawful bride, lawful groom and lawfully married. I do not believe that she is that ignorant, therefore I think she knew perfectly well that this was no legal wedding ceremony. She probably just wanted to get as much money as possible out of this relationship, which lasted for 12 years. I do understand that it would feel unfair to live with someone for such a long time and be left empty handed. He is very rich and successful and she has probably gotten used to that lifestyle in the period of time that they were together. But that`s life.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Two deaths, one broken vertebra – but still Gilliam makes it to Cannes

The last film Heath Ledger has ever made “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassius” has been shown at the film festival in Cannes. This film has had its fair share of bad luck. First the lead actor of the film Heath Ledger suddenly died. This tragedy initially made director Terry Gilliam decide to stop the production all together. If others wouldn`t have persuaded him into finishing the film in memory of Heath, the film would have never been made. To play Heath`s role, Gilliam casted Johnny Depp, Colin Farrel and Jude Law. Before they started filming the next tragedy occurred; producer Bill Vince suddenly died as well. Then Terry Gilliam himself was hit by a car and broke a vertebra, so his daughter had to take over. Despite all this bad luck the film was finished, but now it has not got a distributor yet. At the end of the festival many deals are made and hopefully this will happen for the film that will be known as “the last film ever to star Heath Ledger”.

Reaction: Two deaths, one broken vertebra – but still Gilliam makes it to Cannes

First of all I will explain why this is slightly British News: Terry Gilliam wrote for the Monty Python series. That is pretty much the only link I`m afraid.

I think it is a good decision to continue making the film. It would be such a shame if the last footage of Heath Ledger would have never been shown to the public. Besides that I think this is a very good film, because Terry Gilliam`s earlier work is very good too. His ideas are very original and his films are very imaginative en beautifully made. That kind of film is very suitable for a film in memory of Heath, because he played in many independent productions; for example “the Brothers Grimm” which was also directed by Terry Gilliam. Heath's death is a huge loss for the film industry, but luckily he has left a great heritage of beautiful films.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Jamie Pugh is a star!

Although he does not believe to have a great voice and thinks that he cannot be a star, the audience knows that Jamie Pugh has a real chance of winning Britain`s Got Talent. With the song "Bring Him Home" he touched many people and made everyone look forward to his next performance. Jamie, however, is extremely nervous about that. “I`m a wreck – I`m not a star”, he says, “I have to appear on a TV show and I`m dreading it”. Luckily Jamie has the full support of his girlfriend Donna, who convinced him to audition. After Jamie`s wife died ten years ago, he had to raise their son by himself. Four years ago he found true love again in his Donna, who helps him to face his fears and prepare for the next performance. The big question is off course; will he beat Susan Boyle? If he is able to get the words out on the show at all, he just might!

Reaction to: “Jamie Pugh is a star!”

I have never watched Britain`s Got Talent, because I do not like to see people that make a fool out of themselves. However, I do like to watch clips of the really good performances, such as Jamie`s audition. His insecurity is very imaginable, because he has never sung in front of a large audience before. It must be very frightening to get all that attention and that people have such high expectations of you. Moreover, the fear of success is very human. People often think that we are afraid of failure, but success can be terrifying too, because it gives us a certain responsibility. I really hope that Jamie will conquer his stage fright and keeps on singing. It does not matter if he sings as a hobby or becomes a professional singer, as long as he enjoys it!

Warning on ‘aging’ foster carers

The foster care in Wales has a problem in the near future, if they do not get enough new carers in time. The average age of foster carers has increased from 46 to 53 for women and from 47 to 54 for men. This means that many of them will retire soon and there will be a shortage. There is already a shortage of 700 carers, so it is urgent that this gap is filled with younger people that can help children for many years to come. The Fostering Network, a charity for foster care, says that foster care should be promoted in a way that appeals to younger people. Moreover, the carers should be rewarded properly. Currently only 50 percent of the councils in Wales pays the carers what they are entitled to.

Reaction to “Warning on ‘aging’ foster carers”

Foster care is a very important institute in society. Children that cannot live with their parents often develop severe problems, especially if they have to live with many different families in their childhood. Long term foster carers can make the difference between a child dropping out of school or even joining criminal organisations, and children getting a proper education and finding their place in society. My neighbours have a foster child and it is not easy, but they find it very rewarding. I think they should be rewarded financially too, so that they can work fewer hours and have time to give the children the attention they need.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Man abused by his fiancée

After his fiancée Michelle Williamson was sent to jail for 7 years, Ian McNichol told the Sun about the 12 months he was abused by her. Ian and Michelle met in a taxi and moved in together within a year, but then Michelle started to abuse Ian. She poured boiling water in his lap, burned him with cigarettes, hit him with different objects and burnt his skin with an iron. Ian said that he was too victimised to think clearly. He was afraid to tell people about the domestic violence because he thought that people would not believe him. After full year of abuse the police received an anonymous phone call from a neighbour about it. Michelle was arrested and has been sentenced to prison for 7 years, leaving Ian, physically, emotionally and financially devastated, behind.


Many people think that in domestic violence, women are always the victim. This article proves that men can be the victim of abuse too. Michelle compensated her physical disadvantage with her mental strength and the use of an iron, boiling water, cigarettes and other objects. In a side column to this article Mark Brooks, chairman of The Mankind Institute, says that 1 out of 5 men is abused by a partner or family member at least once in his life. I think abuse towards men is a taboo, as Ian said, he was afraid that people would not believe him. The media should pay more attention to these stories to help men that are in this situation be more open about it.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Baby foods less nutritious than junk food

According to Children`s Food Campaign co-ordinator Christine Haigh, baby foods are often promoted as healthy when, in fact, some of them are less nutritious than junk food. The CFC performed a research of 107 baby foods and the result was that 50 percent of them was high in sugar, salt and saturated fat. Also, some of them were labelled incorrectly. This is especially dangerous for products that contain trans fats, these fats can cause coronary heart disease. The products that were assessed were bought in regular supermarkets and produced by popular brands. One of the companies with a high percentage (25%) of “bad” baby foods is Heinz. In reaction to the criticism towards their ‘Farley`s Rusks’ their spokes person said;“Farley`s Rusks have been enjoyed by generations of babies, and some adults too, for 120 years. Enriched with vitamins and minerals, the unique Farley`s Rusk recipe has remained virtually unchanged”


I think it is very good that the CFC surveyed the different baby foods. As a customer, you usually do not have the knowledge to know exactly what to give your child and people often trust popular brands. The results of this research can give people a more objective idea of the quality of baby foods and this can help them decide what to give their children. The reaction of Heinz to the criticism towards ‘Farley`s Rusks’ is not a good argument. The fact that people enjoy eating it, does not prove that it has a high quality. They should use the outcome of the survey to improve their baby foods, instead of trying to save face with irrelevant information.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Reaction to "six year old son stayed with his murdered father`s corpse all night"

It is traumatic for a child to lose a parent in any case and especially when a parent is murdered. However, this is unimaginable. The little boy must have been in absolute shock after this happened and then he spent the rest of the night all alone with his father’s corpse. I hope this boy will receive good help and that he will recover from this. I also hope that the murderers will be found and that they will be sentenced to prison. The 4 men that were seen near the house might have something to do with it, because they have not contacted the police yet.

Six year old son stayed with his murdered father`s corpse all night

On February 11th a 36 year old man was murdered in his home. After David Currier was stabbed to death in front of his son`s eyes, his son stayed with his body all night. The 6 year old boy was found by his father`s corpse in the kitchen of their home the next morning. The hypothesis of the police is that David was trying to stop burglars who broke in and that they killed him. Four men were seen near the house and the police is trying to track them down. To find the killers, a 10.000 pound reward has been offered by the West Mercia Police.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The struck-off teacher tells her side of the story

In December 2008 the General Teaching Council for Scotland ruled that Susan Bernard cannot work as a teacher anymore in the United Kingdom. The reason for this is that she is incompetent as a teacher, according to the GTCS. She was accused of treating pupils in a wrong way, being a bad colleague and bringing the children in danger. Susan reacts to this by saying that she was bullied by her fellow teachers, because she is a middle aged woman and not Scottish. According to Susan this was the cause of what went wrong in the classroom. She also denies bringing the children in danger, damaging their education and other allegations in that order that were made against her.


After reading this article I started to sympathize with Susan Bernard. I believe that she was bullied and that some of the allegations against her were untrue or exaggerated. At every school and in every group of people there is an underdog and sometimes that gets out of hand. Maybe in Susan`s case she had a part in it as well, because she has had this problem at different schools. The reason for this could be that she is just not cut out to be a teacher. I hope that she finds another job soon and that she can move on with her life.