Friday, 31 August 2012

It's Friday, it's......a Republican Convention Special

It has been since I worked for a company whose global HQ was in Tampa, it is even longer since I actually spent part of a Florida holiday in Tampa, including a visit on my birthday to Busch Gardens. But this week after tropical storm Isaac put a delay to proceedings on Monday it has been the home for the Republican convention.

Seeing as I have seen a number of very good YouTube ripostes to some of the GOP's recent stupid statements I though today would be the day to share these with you.

First up the Renegade Raging Grannies take on Todd Akin and legitimate rape.

One of the big issues during the Republican Primaries was marriage equality, not doubt it will be again on ballots in many states so here is a take on that.

Finally here is a song about the next guy to fail to become President, Mitt Romney, and his failure to disclose more than 2 years tax returns. Wrong Direction with Disclosure


Thursday, 30 August 2012

Royal Mail Golden Stamps 11 #London2012

Yes I am just going to keep the numbers progressing, the Paralympics are still part of London 2012 and the Royal Mail are issuing 2 stamp mini-sheets for each of the Gold Medalists in GB Paralympics team over the next 11 days we didn't have to wait very long for the Gold rush to resume.

First up was Sarah Storey in the women's C5 individual pursuit at the velodrome. If you missed her in qualifying in the morning she captured her opponent not once but twice on the way to a new world record which would have put her in good standing with the top women cyclists with both hands. She captured again in the final. So she will be the 30th stamp issued by the Royal Mail for the Games but the first for the Paralympics, and will have a gold post box in Manchester. It is her third Paralympic gold in cycling (after 2 in Beijing) to add to her five in swimming (Barcelona and Atlanta) before an ear infection caused her to get out of the pool and unto her bike for fitness only to find she was competitive there too.

Next up it was in the pool where after a number of silvers Jonathan Fox took the first gold in the pool in the men's S7 100m backstroke. It was an upgrade from his silver in Beijing and although not as fast as his world record time in qualification it was enough to fend off the opposition. There will be a gold post box for him in Plymouth tomorrow as well as this stamp.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Alliance sit on a fence somewhere off Donegall Street

The Alliance Party Councillor John Blair merely calling for calm on "all sides" in relation to parades and then the disturbance outside St. Patrick's Church on Donegall Street. He goes on to say:

"Following the controversy over the twelfth of July parade past the same area, we must now get agreement from all sides as to what happens in the future. We need engagement and negotiation; nobody wants to see a repeat of this violence again.
"There is a lot of tension over this issue, so I would urge everybody to take a mature approach to sort out future parades here; there is no need for any sort of inflammatory statement from any side."

Now lets get it clear what happened. In the run up to this.

The Young Conway Volunteers seen on Saturday
On July 12 one band The Young Conway Volunteers deliberately played the "Famine Song" outside St. Patrick's. Now there is no mistaking that this was  what they intended and not a Beach Boys tribute.

As a result the Parades Commission ruled that the band should not form part of the parade on Saturday. However, there were one of almost all the bands who played as the parade passed by St. Patrick's on Saturday.

There was a letter in the Newsletter on Saturday from all the Belfast DUP representatives in Westminster or Stormont and 4 of the 5 UUP representatives as well as Councillors calling for the Parades Commission to be scraped. Alex Kane wrote in today's Newsletter how the Unionists themselves have prolonged  the existence of the Parades Commission basically because they failed to reach agreement on what should be done about the hot potato of parades on their own.

I saw a tweet that Belfast's Grand Master actually tore up the determination of the Parade's Commission before the parade set off on Saturday. If so the bands were then responding to something that was done by the man who had responsibility for the parade making it a premeditated breach of those instructions. Does this make the Grand Master guilty of causing a breach of the peace? Does this leave him with the ultimate responsibility for heightening the tensions on Saturday that led to 7 PSNI officers being injured? Under the Public Processions (Northern Ireland) Act 1998 it is a crime to incite other people to disobey a ruling of the Parades Commission*.So will the Grand Master face arrest?

I notice that Alex Kane feels the need to include Pride in his list of 'provocation' from the parade and followers. Yet Pride always leave static stewards who are experienced at the flashpoints, who have been known to tell people they will be thrown off the parade for provoking the protestors. Yet in the TV footage from Saturday members of the RBI with steward sleeves on are seen geeing up the bands to play on, leaving it to the PSNI with a megaphone to try and ask the bands to stop playing.

Shockingly the area's MP condemns the acts of those who had assembled to ask for respect for St. Patrick's, and not those who breached a public order ruling for a single drum beat to be played as they passed by. That is until you realise that the MP is Nigel Dodds a member of the Loyal Orders.

Now I know I wasn't actually on Donegall Street, I was actually playing bowls at the other end of the Shankhill Road at Woodvale Park**, so I do not know exactly what went on that led to the disturbance as the last band passed. But the TV footage does show that bands played as they went past, marchers hurled insults and abuse at Catholics who largely stood by the road asking for respect outside St. Patrick's. This was a breach of the Parades Commission determination. This was a start of the tension that John Blair calls for calm on all sides, yet nowhere is there any condemnation for that obvious breach of the determination. It was obvious after the twelfth that there would be more observers there than on that day. The playing of The Sash and other songs outside St. Patrick's and the disrespect caught on camera was merely fueling the tension.

So where is the Alliance Party's outright condemnation for such an obvious breach of a legally binding determination? It is not inflammatory to call a spade a spade and get to specifics. Why haven't the Alliance condemned the bands for failing to adhere to the Parades Commissions determination? Why haven't they condemned everyone who was involved in the violence? It is all very well to be known as the party of sitting on the fence, but sometimes you need to come off the fence to make the tough calls that make the view from the fence better and safer all around.

Update It may come three days after the incident but Naomi Long the Alliance Party's sole MP has finally made a statement that points out that the determination of the Parades Commission is law saying:

"There is a requirement for people on all sides to avoid inflaming the situation, to take responsibility for those that are brought onto the streets, to avoid violence, and to fully abide by the determinations of the Parades Commission, even when there may be disagreement or anger at them."

* Thanks to a contact for digging up this fact for me.
** And getting there and back was a trek first due to numerous feeder parades and on the way back due to the police sealing off any chance of joining the West Link at Clifton Street, just above Donegall Street.

Blogged Elsewhere: Sovereign Grand Master and the separation of civil and religious

As part of his address to the assembled 1,000 members of the Royal Black Institution at Plumbridge, West Tyrone, the Sovereign Grand Master Millar Farr seems to get into a confusion about civil law and religious law. He said:
"In God’s law there is no provision for same-sex marriage. Holy scripture is quite clear on the subject – marriage is between male and female only.

"While man-made laws can be changed, God’s law is unchangeable. How politicians can imagine they have the right to create legislation which is contrary to holy scripture is beyond belief."
Of course this is not the first time that Millar Farr has used his speaking opportunities in this way.

Now let us look at this in detail....

you can read the rest on LGBT+ Liberal Democrats Northern Ireland.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

One small step....into the apres vie

I was quite a serious bump when on 20 July 1969 at 20:17:39 UTC Neil Armstrong commanded the Landing Module for Apollo 11 on the surface of the moon. With the famous words "The Eagle has landed".

There was an announcement that he and Buzz Aldrin would not be stepping outside the capsule for a number of hours so my father felt he could go to sleep. It was part of the official flight plan.  But Armstrong requested that the extra vehicular activity commence earlier so it would be in the evening Houston Time so at 2:56 UTC July 21, 1969 while my father was sleeping a footprint was made at the bottom of that ladder and the words.

"One small step for [a] man. One giant leap for mankind."

Entered into the whole world's consciences.

Tonight we learn that the first man to step unto the face of another body in our solar system has passed away just weeks after his 82nd birthday.

As a child of that time when space exploration was new and exciting I loved to learn all things about space. I of course later sat and watched the first space shuttle take off and landing. When I went to Florida I just had to include on my itinary a trip to the Kennedy Space Centre. As those who know me know I'm still a fan of science fiction as well as space fact and love nothing more than in the night sky to see the stars above and dream of where we might go next.

He truly too one small step for man, there is probably still a more gigantic leap for mankind that we have yet to take, but Armstrong along with that band of Gemini and Apollo Astronauts proved they had the right stuff to make us believe we could reach for the stars.

So long Neil, you will always be the first man on the moon.

Neil Armstrong 5 August 1930 - 25 August 2012

DUP fail on equality part 2731

Liam Clarke of the Belfast Telegraph yesterday did a follow up editorial on the Magherafelt Council unionists stance and words used during the gay marriage debate. It was of course time for another unionist politician to use a phrase that shows how out of touch they are not just with reality and their electorate but modern day law.

Councillor Paul McLean the chair of the DUP group on the council when asked to clarify his party's use of biblical tracts and language in the debate said:

"We are now under the laws of today.

"I believe it should be against the law and dealt with by proper process. I believe it is wrong. I was relating a very clear biblical teaching."

The DUP had said earlier in the week that they were allowing biblical verse to be used by its members to back up their position on equal marriage. This however goes further.

The Councillor appears to want homosexuality to be treated with the proper process as laid down in biblical teaching. I'm just wondering if he will carry out the same proper process as laid down in very clear biblical teaching when he is next invited to the house of his leader and his adulterous wife? Or does his clear biblical teaching and proper process not go there?

If he is really advocating stoning to death of homosexuals surely he is going to bring back stoning of adulterers and adulteresses too, both in the same chapter only 3 verses apart.

Clarke is seeking clarity as to want is meant from the party leader, Peter Robinson, himself. In light of the above that could be an interesting response.

Now of course the DUP have signed up to the Belfast Agreement which enshrines equality for LGBT member of the Northern Irish community, therefore any step to go back to 1982 before the Dudgeon case was heard before the European Court would be contrary to that. So a return to the dark ages would have to see the DUP give up power at Stormont as they would be not in full agreement with the agreement that gives them ministerial positions.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Who is ultimate victim of rape?

There has been a lot of talk about rape in the past week. Whether it be about Julian Assange or Todd Akin, but we've had another case right here in Northern Ireland.

When I was working for the Yes! campaign in Northern Ireland I had to walk past The Family Planning Association on the way to get my lunch. Quite often there were pickets outside. Because unlike anywhere else in the UK abortion is still illegal in Northern Ireland.

It does not of course prevent Northern Irish women seeking abortions, indeed over 1000 traveled to seek one last year alone, they merely have the additional trauma have having to travel to England, Scotland or Wales. But today their anguish wasn't helped by the next Health Minster the DUP MLA Jim Wells.

Speaking on the Nolan Show he said that the ultimate victim of rape is the unborn child. Adding:

"Should he or she be punished for what has happened by having their life terminated? No.

"In Northern Ireland, there are hundreds of married couples who would love to adopt children - a child, a baby - and who could give support in that situation."

Now there isn't just one victim of any rape. Indeed in the last year in Northern Ireland there were 525 cases reported. This figure is actually higher than the number reported in the Republic of Ireland which has three times the population!

So what about the mental well being of all those 525 victims?

Not all of those 525 will want to face a nine month reminder of the horrid crime carried out against their person. Suffering through morning sickness, the back pain, the increase in girth (not to mention having to buy maternity clothes). That is to say nothing of the additional mental anguish both during and after pregnancy of having gone through being forced to carry the child full term.

Who is the ultimate victim of Northern Ireland not allowing abortion, even in such conditions?

Of course to get across to England, Scotland or Wales, these women are using savings theirs or their families, digging into pension funds or going to loan sharks to afford the additional expense of getting a ferry or flight and accommodation to cover them meeting with the two doctors, both strangers to the woman, to get the approval to abort.

Now of course earlier this week i pointed out that the DUP used biblical verses to attack gay marriage. Someone even tried to tell me that while the civil and ceremonial laws were outlawed the moral ones were to be upheld. Therefore I'm not quite sure why Jim Wells wasn't quoting the following biblical verses to defend his position, the DUP after all have cleared their members to do so.

If a man is caught in the act of raping a young woman who is not engaged, he must pay fifty pieces of silver to her father.  Then he must marry the young woman because he violated her, and he will never be allowed to divorce her. 

Deut 22: 28-29 New Living Translation

  If within the city a man comes upon a maiden who is betrothed, and has relations with her, you shall bring them both out of the gate of the city and there stone them to death: the girl because she did not cry out for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbors wife.

Deut 22: 23-24 NLT 

So why stop at merely letting the women who has suffered at the hands of the rapist go full term and give the child up for adoption, surely the DUP should be marrying her off as this is a tradition form of biblical marriage? One goes on to wonder how any DUP politician would deal with a daughter who found herself pregnant as the victim of rape?

But of course they realise how ridiculous it is to call for that. So instead they merely add to the trauma of removing something that is causing the victim, and let us not forget the woman is a victim of a crime, undo anguish. Any other crime once the police come and take pictures of the evidence the results can be cleared away and people get on with their life, but for rape the DUP are prepared to let women live with the results, that have crashed into their lives unwarranted, for nine months.

Earlier today I did post this from the Huffington Post about how the pro-lifers are so much only looking at the rarer commodity for human reproduction. Of course going again the biblical precedent Onanism as masturbation is also called was because Onon in Genesis 38 while having sex with his dead brother's wife pulled out during sex and prevented her giving her dead husband the heir that was required from his younger brother's seed. God himself put him to death.

What if the Tour was Armstrong winless?

"There comes a point in every man's life when he has to say, 'Enough is enough.' For me, that time is now." 

These words of Lance Armstrong today have far reaching ramifications for cycling and the Tour de France. World Anti-Doping Agency chief John Fahey, said:

"[Armstrong] had the right to rip up those charges but elected not to.

"Therefore the only interpretation in these circumstances is that there was substance in those charges.

"My understanding is that when the evidence is based upon a career that included seven Tour de France wins, then all of that becomes obliterated." 

Ullrich leaving before the start of 2006 Tour
So with those seven titles obliterated it makes Jan Ulrich GER not a one time winner but a four time winner, his second behind Marco Pantani is also looked by some as a doubtful outcome considering Pantani's later record (named in Operación Puerto posthumously) and untimely death. He could be credited with the wins in 2000, 2001 and 2003. He was also 4th in 2004 but he too was stripped of his 2005 third place earlier this year as a result of the Operación Puerto doping case. He was about to take part in the 2006 Tour and was suspended just prior to starting that Tour as a result of the Puerto list of names.

Alex Zülle SUI was second to Armstrong in his first 'win' in 1999, but the year before Zülle was caught up in the Festina affair the year before and admitted to taking EPO. In November 1998 his haematocrit was found to be 52.3% the limit is 50%. Under rules today he would have been suspended at the time he came second to Armstrong.

The 2002 win should go to Joseba Beloki SPA who the following year coming off his bike ahead of Armstrong who then famously went cross country to rejoin the race. However, in 2006 he was also implicated in Operación Puerto but cleared by Spanish authorities, the same Spanish authorities who recently cleared Contador to race only for the UCI to end up giving him a suspension. He's also come 3rd in 2000 and 2001 behind Armstrong and Ullrich.

2004 the runner up was Andreas Klöden GER who has faced accusations of an illegal blood transfusion in 2006 as well as being part of the Astana Team in 2007 that was withdrawn after the team leader Alexander Vinokourov had a positive test proven.

Finally it leads to 2005 where Ivan Basso ITA came in behind Armstrong, Basso was another one caught up in the Peurto scandal and in 2007 was handed a two year ban which included his suspension from his own team and lasted therefore until October 2008. He was also 3rd in 2004.

Further down the general classifications:

  • Fernando Escartin SPA (Kelme)  3rd 1999 - was part of a team that in 2004 former team member Jesús Manzano accused of systematic doping during his time with the team from 2000-2004 just after Escartin's highest placing in Le Tour
  • Laurant Dufaux SUI (Saeco) 4th 1999 - was part of the Festina Team that was kicked off the 1998 Tour and he admitted to doping at that time.
  • Ángel Casero SPA (Vitalicio Seguros) 5th 1999 - was one of the already retired riders names in Operación Puerto.
  • Christophe Moreau FRA (Festina) 4th 2000 - was one of the initial three members of the 1998 Festina team to admit to using EPO and served a 6 month suspension.
  • Roberto Heras SPA (Kelme-Costa Blanca) 5th 2000 - would have won a 4th record Vuelta a España in 2005 if he wasn't banned for EPO usage. He was also part of the same Kelme set up as above for Escartin, before spending three years in US Postal with Armstrong.
  • Andrei Kivilev KAZ (Cofidis) 4th 2001 - came behind Armstrong, Ullrich and Beloki. His legacy is not one of drugs but two years later on stage 2 of Paris-Nice he crashed while not wearing a helmet and died of his injuries as a result the wearing of helmets became compulsory.
  • Igor González SPA (ONCE) 5th 2001 and 2002 - however in 2003 he was not allowed to take part in Le Tour because he was deemed to have gained advantage from the asthma drug salbutamol and was banned from taking part in races on French soil. During that 'ban' period which only applied in France he actually won the Vuelta a España.
  • Raimondas Rumšas LIT (Lampre) 3rd 2002 - but on the last day of that race drugs had been found in a car driven by his wife, who claimed they including EPO, anabolic steroids, testosterone and growth hormone were for her mother-in-law. The following year after just completing the Giro d'Italia in 6th place he tested positive for EPO and was banned for one year. He was arrested, charged and given a suspended sentance with importing illegal drugs along with his wife in 2005 in relation to the 2002 case.
  •  Santiago Botero COL (Kelme) 4th 2002 - was later suspended by his then Phonak Team in 2004 when he was named in connection with Operación Puerto. He was subsequently cleared by the Colombian Cycling Federation.
  • Alexandre Vinokourov KAZ (Astana) 3rd 2003 5th 2005 - whilst he was never implicated in Operación Puerto five of his team mates were and his team Astana-Würth withdrew from the 2006 Tour as they had not enough riders to start. However, in 2007 Vinokourov was not in the GC contenders after a crash in the final 25km of stage 5. He had a bad day in the mountains before a remarkable recovery in the time trail the day after, then winning in the mountains two days later. The next day it was announced that he  tested positive for a suspected blood transfusion on the day of the time trial and was stripped of both those stages.
  • Tyler Hamilton USA (Team CSC) 4th 2003 - in 2004 after winning the Olympic time trial his A sample was reported as positive, but his B sample was unable to be tested so he originally kept his medal, but as a stage winner later in that year's Vuelta a España he again tested positive and was handled a 2 year ban. He was named in Operación Puerto, an then in 2009 as part of his comeback tested positive again and was handed an eight year ban. He is also one of Armstrong's ex-team mates, from his first three 'wins', to have testified against him saying he use EPO before and during those three Tour. Earlier this month the IOC stripped him of his 2004 Olympic title.
  • Haimar Zubeldia SPA (Euskaltel) 5th 2003 - has never been under any suspicion of doping offenses and came 6th in this year's Tour.
  • José Azevedo POR (US Postal Service) 5th 2004 - although part of Armstrong's US Postal team from 2004 -2006 Azevedo has never been implicated in any doping scandal.
  • Francisco Mancebo SPA (Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne) 4th 2005 - was another of those implicated in Operación Puerto an not allowed to compete in the 2006 Tour and announced his retirement immediately after that. Although he then at the end of the year changed his mind about retirement.
So even if the seven titles are taken from Armstrong there are suspicions over all the beneficiaries and in some cased the entire podium. Looking at names that have never been linked to doping allegation in those 7 tours the cleanest possible line up of 'winners' are:

  • 1999 Daniele Nardello ITA Mapei +17'02" who had the 7th best accrued time
  • 2000 Daniele Nardello ITA Mapei +18'25" 10th
  • 2001 Andrei Kivilev KAZ Cofidis +9'53" 4th (see above)
  • 2002 José Azevedo POR ONCE +15'44" 6th (see above)
  • 2003 Haimar Zubeldia SPA Euskaltel +6'51" 5th (see above)
  • 2004 José Azevedo POR US Postal +14'30" 5th
  • 2005 Haimar Zubeldia SPA Euskaltel +23'43" 15th
So just how far into the past an how far down the pecking order are people going to take this retrospective removal of Palmarès.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Get Cash for Rights

Here is a wonderful parody on the USA denying equality equal rights to LGBT couples based on the Cash for Gold adverts.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

How to precis a ranty blog for the letters page

How do you manage to cut down my ranty blog post from Saturday into something short enough for a Newspaper to print in its letter page?

Well here is how:

I READ in the News Letter (August 18) that Mike Nesbitt has written to UUP members asking them not to dance to the republican tune on marriage equality.

I would like to assure Mr Nesbitt that, while I want to see marriage equality in all parts of the union, I certainly am not a republican.

He also says that marriage equality has no realistic prospect of coming about in Northern Ireland.
It wasn’t that long ago we were saying that about the IRA laying down arms, or Sinn Fein and the DUP being able to share OFMdFM together, yet these things came to pass.

He carries on to say that all members of his party should be careful with their language not to offend.
His email is just the tip of the iceberg as far as offending the LGBT community in Northern Ireland is concerned.

Our so-called ‘unionist’ politicians are happy to leave LGBT people behind as second-class British subjects on issues of adoption, the blood ban and now, it seems, marriage equality.
If Sinn Fein, the Green Party, Alliance or SDLP can bring about change for an LGBT community that is neither nationalist or unionist, Protestant or Catholic, then that is the sort of tune I want to waltz off to - into a shared future.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Is homophobia Northern Ireland's new sectarianism?

Canon Charles Kenny
Canon Charles Kenny is quoted in today's Belfast Telegraph as saying homophobia is the new sectarianism in Northern Ireland. But is this really the case?

We do have UUP leader Mike Nesbitt telling party members over the weekend urging them not to dance to the republican tune over the issue of marriage equality. A DUP health minister seemingly incapable of looking purely at the same science as the rest of UK when it comes to MSM* (men who have had sex with men) even if over 12 months ago giving blood.

The politicisation of the LGBT agenda by Nesbitt at the weekend is a sad movement towards a new sectarianism. As I pointed out on Saturday the campaign for equal marriage in Northern Ireland is not solely on one side of the old Catholic/Protestant divide, nor is it split between LGBT and heterosexual communities there are many straight people in loving relationships or singlehood who also support the right of same-sex couples to marry not merely be civil partners.

Looking at the way questions are put in Stormont on LGBT issues there is divide in how they are put. From the nationalists, Alliance or Greens they are looking at ways to extend equality for the sector, while the Unionist side (admittedly largely Jim McAllister) seem largely negative in nature. So there is a difference in the way the two sides (as defined by the Belfast Agreement) in Stormont do seem to be approaching LGBT issues.

It is a sad state of affairs that a community that is neither nationalist nor unionist, protestant nor catholic should largely find advocates on the nationalist side of the chamber or through those that identify as other. There are few in the UUP, such as Basil McCrea and John McCallister, who have openly engaged with the LGBT sector for many years. However, the UUP are a party that all too often shows that a number of their members are not prepared to stand up for equality when it is an equality issue based on factors that should not be an influence on a representative for all.

What I find most bizarre on a number of LGBT issues is the fact that unionists look at what the rest of the island of Ireland is doing while the nationalists are arguing for Northern Ireland to follow the lead of the rest of the UK. If anything the LGBT issue has resulted in reverse sectarianism leading to those of us who are not republican or nationalist working closely with those from parties that are to seek to become equal with our LGBT family in England, Scotland and Wales.

The LGBT community in Northern Ireland is not being offered the same rights as the LGBT community in England, Scotland and Wales. Our pride marches may as well be put on a par with the civil rights marches in the 60s when Catholics in Northern Ireland were protesting that they were not on a par with Catholics elsewhere in the UK. In that sense it may well be that the denial of LGBT equality with the rest of the UK is some sort of new sectarianism.

In the fourteen years since the devolution of power to the three Celtic nations of the UK there has been a movement of greater LGBT legislation, the only part of this to have come into force in Northern Ireland was Civil Partnerships and that only while the Assembly was in suspension and Northern Ireland was returned to direct rule. In a sense the LGBT community of Northern Ireland may have been adversely affected by devolution coming when it did. Although even under Westminster we lagged 14 years behind on decriminalisation of homosexual acts (although the 1968 Act was during the time of the last Northern Ireland Parliament which ended in 1972).

Canon Kenny may have a point that the LGBT community may be becoming the new target either directly or indirectly as the new them and us situation from the Unionist politicians, although many of the LGBT community would self identify as unionist in outlook. Does this account for homophobia as being the new sectarianism?

Sadly there appears to be less ability in Northern Ireland to take action against hate speech against the LGBT community. The Iris Robinson case being a prime example where after 12 months the PSNI considered she had no case to answer. The reason being that all too often such language is lifted straight from the bible even if in 400 year old language, which appears to be reason enough to avoid being called hate speech even when it is used in a provocative way. Yet any attempt to reply by even one individual to a group waving such placards is often blasted by our elected representatives or seen as a way to try and shut us up altogether.

Maybe there is more to Canon Kenny's statement, after all he isn't the first to point to institutionalised homophobia here in Northern Ireland. If we are facing a fight against a new sectarianism we are going to have to show that we are right there in the midst of those who consider us repugnant, perverse, an abomination or whatever term they want to attach to us.

* The distinction is important as actively gay men are still banned for live from giving blood, even if they only are in a life long monogamous relationship and/or only practice safer sex.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Team LGB how did they do at #London2012?

In my post Olympic round up I forgot to look at my blog post of the Lesbian Gay and Bisexuals in Team LGB and how they did. Not least because reports before the Games seemed to miss out some of this team which grew over the 16 days of competition.

If they had been a separate nation they would have been part of four gold medals, won one silver and been part of two bronze putting them in 20th place on the medal table ahead of North Korea and kust behind the Czech Republic.

The golds went to Carl Hester GB part of the Dressage Team, Seimone Augustus USA part of the women's basketball team, Megan Raphinoe USA part of the women's football team and Marilyn Agliotti, Carlien Dirkse van den Heuvel, Kim Lammers & Maartje Paumen Netherlands all part of the women's hockey team.

Silver was taken by Judith Arndt Germany in the women's road rave time trail. While the bronzes went to Edward Gal Netherlands behind Hester's GB team in the Dressage and  Lisa Raymond who with Mike Bryan teamed up for the mixed doubles in tennis.

For the rest of the team.

Raymond with playing partner Liezel Huber lost out in her other bronze medal match in the women's doubles.

Ina-Yoko Teutenberg, Germany, finished just outside the medals in the women's road race cycling coming 4th.

Hester also managed 5th in the individual dressage with Gal 9th.

Imke Duplitxer, Germany, helped her team to 5th place in the women's team épée but individually was knocked out in the round of 32.

Jessica Harrison, France, came 9th in the women's triathlon,her partner Carole Péon 29th for the same nation.

Matthew Mitcham, Australia, was the only member of Team LGB defending an individual title but two poor dives at the end of the semi-final saw him finish 13th and just our of the final places.

Mayssa Pessoa, Brazil, was one of a number of Team LGB who helped their teams top their groups in the pool stages. For her it was in the women's handball but they lost out to eventual champions Norway 21-19 in the Quarter Finals.

Alexandra Lacrabère, France, was part of the women's handball team that topped their group, but lost out in a 23-22 quarter final match against Montenegro the eventual silver medalists.

Rikke Skov, Denmark, was yet another handball player. She topped scored for her team in the first match, but failed to progress from the same group as Lacrabère and France above.

Lisa Dahlqvist, Sweded, scored in her teams opening game in the women's  football pool to help them top their group, sadly they lost to France 2-1 in the Quarter Final match in Glasgow. Fellow member of team LGB member Hedwig Lindahl played in goal through all four matches an

Karen Hultzer, South Africa, shot to rank 46th in the women's archery, but failed to then progress past the first knock out round.

Nicola Cook, Australia lost all three of her pool matches in the women's beach volleyball and failed to progress.

Update 2 Dec 2013: Of course since the Games British diver Tom Daley started a relationship with a man the following spring, but still fancies girls. So that is another bronze medal in the 10m platform single that was won.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Dear @mikenesbittni, it is my tune too and I'm not republican

I'm rather shocked by the statement from Mike Nesbitt the leader of the UUP sent to party members after the regret by Cllr Crawford using the word disease to talk about gay people (as I wrote about yesterday).

First up he says:
"[Equal Marriage] continues to give local political parties problems, even though there is no realistic prospect of it being introduced in Northern Ireland"

Wow! Most of the people of Northern Ireland remember when there seemed no realistic prospect of the IRA ending their armed struggle and giving up their arms. Many remember when there was no realistic change of council chambers or a devolved assembly working with Sinn Féin being allowed to be part of either. Even more recently many thought there was no realistic possibility of a DUP/Sinn Féin partnership in OFMdFM. Yet all of these things came to pass.

So lets not say that anything is not a realistic prospect. We are after all meant to be taking about a shared future and some in Northern Ireland want part of that future to allow couples of the same-sex to have the same marriage rights as mixed-sex couples.

He then goes on:

"Despite this, Sinn Fein are using this sensitive issue for self-interest and promotion. Please do not dance to a republican tune."

No when Equal Marriage Northern Ireland held its first meeting there were indeed Sinn Féin members in the room, but there were also members from parties an an apology from a member of Mr Nesbitt's own party. In fact there were republicans and unionists, protestants and catholics in that room. Something that I mae a point of in the comments that I made. This is truly a cross community issue, crossing the old divides that Northern Ireland is infamous for.

The tune Mr Nesbitt is therefore most certainly not a republican one.

He went on to say:

"I affirm that all members are free to offer their personal view on the concept, but there is no opportunity to vote, except those engineered by Sinn Fein."

Well here in lies the reason why there may be no realistic prospect of equal marriage becoming law in Northern Ireland. Despite as I said those affected by there not being equal marriage being from both the 'communities' historical of Northern Irish divide we have a situation where a simple majority in Stormont, whose gift marriage is under, may not be enough.

We have a mechanism call a petition of concern. If 30 MLAs (and there are 38 in the DUP alone) raise a petition of concern on anything before the Assembly it would require a 60% majority and 40% of both the unionist and nationlists present.

So while the UUP see marriage equality a solely a republican engineered, self-promotion exercise they are unlikely to help any vote get to the floor of the Assembly. The motion by Green MLA Steven Agnew on this issue already was timed out in the last session. So is Mr Nesbitt saying Mr Agnew is dancing to a republican tune. I've met Mr. Agnew's wife and child so I can assume he isn't wanting equal marriage out of self-interest. I've spoken to him about this issue (he is after all one of my MLAs) and I know that he is doing it for the greater good of the community at large.

As for the fact that votes are being brought by Sinn Féin, they are currently the largest party with representation on most councils who have made up their party's stance and the ability to table such motions. I hope that should the Alliance Party come to their own positive conclusion on this issue that they will bring motions in other councils where Sinn Féin maybe aren't represented (like my own). I hope that both do so with support from each other and any Green party Councillor that may be available.

Mr Nesbitt concludes saying he supports equality for all saying:

"For me, that means demonstrating compassion, being mindful of the sensitivities surrounding the issue and to being careful not to use language which might offend."

Currently we have three of the other nations that make up the Unite Kingdom some way along the path to introducing equal marriage it seems. Therefore I'm rather confused at how equality for all can leave the LGBT community of Northern Ireland not equal with fellow British Subjects or even just residents.

Back to the first point about marriage equality not being a realistic prospect in Northern Ireland. I've spent the majority of my adult live living elsewhere in the UK. Most of my adult relationships have been with people from elsewhere in the UK and taken place elsewhere in the UK. I'm not ruling out the chance of that happening again in the future (it all depends where I do end up finding work).

Therefore should I at some point get married in England, Wales or Scotland to someone of the same-sex and we return to Northern Ireland either on holiday or to live, would we be considered married or civil partnered, seeing as we would have never been the latter.

Of should a Transgendered person after they are allowed to remain married come to live and work in Northern Ireland, will they be forced to divorce their partner as currently happens in the UK and then go through a civil partnership only in this part of the UK.

There most certainly are questions of equality that need to be addressed on this. I for one appreciate the fact that Sinn Féin get it, that the Greens get it, that some of those I know in the Alliance get it, and indeed some people I trust in the UUP and SDLP get it as well.

 Does any of the other parties getting this issue make me any more likely to vote for them (well we use STV, and I vote down the ballot, so I may have to say rank more highly)?

Probably not.

But I already rank those individuals or parties who seem to only have a 2 dimensional view of the Northern Ireland communities, and only see issues as being between 2 sections of community rather lowly. It appears that Mike Nesbitt is not prepared to take a party stance on more than certain dimensions of a shared future and is willing to leave other aspects to conscious, even when it fails many, and makes them feel like second class citizens in their own country.

The language of 'no realistic prospect of equal marriage being introduced in Northern Ireland' of it being a 'Republican tune' of equal marriage votes being 'engineered' by one of the parties who gets it, and knows it is for all sections of our divide. This sort of language for a leader of one of Northern Ireland's parties offends me.

It offends me because it shows that he has given up.

It offends me because he is leaving LGBT equality issues to the nationalists and republicans and not standing up for unionist LGBT people.

It offends me that there is just a withdrawal of a word too late and no apology for any offense that has already been caused.

It offends me because it shows he lacks vision and kow tows too much to those that lack sensitivity in the areas of LGBT issues.

It offends me because I have a UUP MLA and no Sinn Féin MLAs an very little chance of the latter. Yet four out of my six MLAs (3 being DUP) seem to lack the ability to answer my questions on LGBT issues as if I do not exist within their electorate.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Is UUP Councillor against disabled people marrying?

Yet another UUP member has called homosexuality a disease, but unlike Lord Maginnis this one is an elected representative*, Magherafelt councillor Jackie Crawford. Two other DUP members also spoke in the chamber calling homosexuality an abomination.

Cllr Crawford's comments came before, during and since a Council Meeting on Tuesday which discussed Sinn Féin's proposal supporting Same Sex Marriage. Speaking in today's Irish times he said:

"I'm not against gays, it's a pity for them.

"It’s a pity they have that disease and they can't help it. It's the same as you being born with a disability. They can't help what they are.

"I know gay people and they are nice people and not bad people but they should not be getting married."


There is rather a lot there. In saying it is like being born with a disability at least the member bizarrely recognises that being gay is not a choice, though it is not a disease. However taking his comments about people like that not getting married does that mean he is against people born blind, deaf or with a physical disability getting married to?

Looking at the context of what he says surely that is implied.

However, the UUP Councillor may notice in the Paralympics coming up there is no category for Gay sportspeople, although there are some gay people such as equestrian Lee Pearson in the GB team. There was also his opposite number Carl Hester also gay in the same event in the Olympics. You see being gay isn't a disability. No medical board will recognise it as such, so if Cllr Crawford, who is not a medical professional, were to have done his research he would have found that out.

It's a pity for him that is clearly ignorant on such matters.

It is a pity on the LGBT people in Magherafelt that one of their councillors considers them disabled.

The DUP use one of the 67 biblical uses of abomination (KJV), yet I don't see them attack Magherafelt's pork producers as the eating of swine is an abomination (Is 66:17), of those gormet Ostrich burgers (Lev 11:16) that come with continental markets, or of course prawns, or muscles or whelks (Lev 11:10-11). Do they stop their wives dressing in trousers, or their daughters looking like young men (Deu 22:5). Or how about all the lies that they themselves have told (Pro 12:22), or the discord they spread maybe by insisting on walking a certain route on the 12th (Pro 6:19), and I could go on.

Mike Nesbitt is going to speak to his councillor, I doubt that Peter Robinson will be doing the same to his. Indeed while the UUP leave it up to individual members as a matter of conscious the DUP say they are opposed to equal marriage and are allowing their members to quote whatever scripture they want even to argue against civil law. But while unionists continue to use archaic medical definitions or biblical language out of full context to protest against the groundswell of support for marriage equality they are failing to be representatives but merely reactionary zealots who are not fit for purpose as public representatives of a non-homogenised community.

* Apologies as this link is now no longer available, I hope the NewsLetter are merely updating the story, it was a software upgrade that has moved the link to here.

Update I notice that David Vance takes a hardly surprising alternative view on this issue, but he does raise four points that he says need sorting out.

First off, is gay marriage the pressing issue for this Council? Really? I would have though lack of jobs, a run down town centre and high rates would have registered before "gay marriage". The utter banality of local Government.

 First off I recently had an argument on Facebook with the Alliance's MP about the pressing nature of this debate. The words used as to why they had not taken a position on marriage equality before it was discussed in Belfast City Council in June was that it was a pressing issue. Yet with Scotland having said they will introduce legislation and England and Wales also about to announce their plans, there are issues about freedom of movement of same sex married UK couples that will be arising, so Northern Ireland do need to discuss these sooner rather than after legislation comes in elsewhere in the Union.

Second, homosexuality is patently NOT a disease. The Councillor concerned chose his words badly but then again he is a Councillor so perhaps that explains it!

Wow! Apart from Vance saying that homosexuality is not a disease there is a lot wrong here. If the words used were a one off they were chosen badly. Thing is he was asked by the Irish News to explain himself and dug deeper. Being merely a Councillor is no excuse, he is still a public representative speaking in a public domain. Such uninformed misunderstanding of some of those he actually represents and apparently has met is totally unacceptable. If he really is merely a Councillor who knows nothing about this issue (which is a fair point for Councillors on any number of issues) he is more than capable of staying quiet, or saying I need more time to research this. The thing is he did not do that and spoke his mind, not matter how uninformed or outdated what is in his mind happens to be.

Third, what about the DUP Councillors who reckon gayness "an abomination"? No media focus on them.  Oh my, our Pravda media playing up to Peter and Marty, again?

DUP elected representatives calling homosexuality an abomination is hardly news. It is something I have heard from that party since my teens. It is something that the First Minister's own wife was heavily slated for saying in a Radio Ulster interview a few years ago. However, what I do agree upon is that even though it is nothing new it is still something that we should not let slip under the radar, as indeed I haven't above.

Lastly, I notice this was a Sinn Fein motion. Once again we witness THEIR total detachment from reality and their self serving selection of topics to pursue even as the country goes down the drain!

Actually  David I think it is your total detachment from reality that is the issue here. You have missed the point that Equal Marriage NI is up and running. That they have recognised that within the devolved powers Stormont stands alone as not introducing any home grown LGBT equality legislation and therefore is working with whoever is prepared to take things forward. Steven Agnew of the Green Party has tried, and so far failed, to get this discussed at Stormont and now Sinn Féin are getting this unto the agenda in various council chambers. As the LGBT community is neither nationalist nor unionist that means we can work on a shared future with whoever is prepared to stand up with us.

Update 2: Sam McBride, political correspondent for the Newsletter has tweeted two updates at 2:37pm. 

UUP has just released a statement from Cllr Jackie Crawford saying that he regrets using the word "disease" when referring to homosexuality

Mike Nesbitt says he is happy that Cllr Crawford has "retracted the term ‘disease’" but he "affirms" his right to oppose gay marriage

But 90 minutes after he tweeted this the UUP Website has yet to publish this statement on their own website or on Twitter so it looks like they are hoping to bury the story.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

No to Revoking Ecuadorian Diplomatic status

I'm shocked that our Foreign Office has even considered revoking the diplomatic status of any embassy on British soil. To do so simply to be able to arrest someone who is claiming asylum within that embassy is sickening.

Somebody at the Foreign Office was obviously hoping to get into the new series of Yes Minister when it comes to the screens. They clearly have not thought of the ramifications of such an action.

How can a nation that claims to be an example of democracy and diplomacy even contemplate such an action? All embassies around the world are considered sovereign territories of the nation that they represent. If this action is taken by the Foreign Office it ranks alongside the Iranian regime invading the US embassy compound in Tehran from 1979-80 as an act of aggression against the ambassador, who happens to be a guest of the Court of St. James and therefore the Queen.

But the ramifications are greater. If the UK are capable of doing this what protection is there in any despotic, or dictatorial nation in doing exactly what they want to any embassy they want to and that includes UK ones. Our own diplomats would not be safe anywhere in the world.

There is no way that this course of action to get hold of Julian Assange can be allowed to go ahead. It should never have been a threat made to embassy personnel. If the Government revokes the Diplomatic and Consular  Premises Act 1987 without outcry from the Liberal Democrat ministers from Nick Clegg down I will be left with no option but to leave the party. This is something that cannot happen on the watch of a party that stands for liberal and democratic principles.

Update 00:19 The Metropolitan Police have entered the Ecuadorian embassy therefore diplomatic status must have been revoked. I am therefore composing a very strongly worded email that will go to the party leadership in the morning.

From Steve Bell in The Guardian

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Team Northern Ireland - how did they do

As I blog a few weeks ago Northern Ireland had a number of athletes spread across two Olympic teams but how did they do?


Peter and Richard Chambers (Rowing) - Great Britain as part of the light-weight men's four they rowed into silver.


Alan Campbell (Rowing) - Great Britain in the single sculls he added to the total for Coleraine 

Michael Conlon (Boxing) - Ireland

Paddy Barnes (Boxing) - Ireland


Sycerika McMahon (Swimming) - Ireland failed to advance for either of her heats but came 22nd in the 200m individual medley and 26th in the 100m breaststroke.

Melanie Nocher (Swimming) - Ireland also failed to advance but was ranked 33rd in the 100m backstroke and 34th in the 200m backstroke.

Na Liu (Table Tennis) - Great Britain as part of the women's team lost out to North Korea 3-0 in the first round.

Aileen Morrison (Triathlon) - Ireland ended up coming in 43rd of the 52 finishers.

Lisa Kearney (Judo) - Ireland lost in the round to sixteen to an Ipon from the Chinese judoka who progressed no further in the 48kg class.

James Espey (Sailing) - Ireland failed to make the medal race having only come 36th in the fleet races in the Laser.

Matt McGovern and Ryan Seaton (Sailing) - Ireland came 14th in the 49er Class failing to qualify for the medal race by 14 points.

Hannah Craig (Canoeing) - Ireland came 9th in the K1 Canoeing slalom event

Martyn Irvine (Cycling) - Ireland came 13th in the Omnium

Wendy Houvenaghel (Cycling) - Great Britain never took part though was there as part of the women's individual pursuit team who actually took gold.

Ian Lewers (Hockey) - Great Britain scored in the bronze medal match but it was Team GB's only goal in a 3-1 defeat to Australia


Royal Mail Golden Stamps 10 #London2012

As we wait for the Games to close the Royal Mail have one final stamp to add to the 28 they have already released in the last couple of weeks.

There was one final gold to lift the total to 29. In the boxing ring a medal would soon be bound up the Metropolitan line, the oldest line of the Olympic city's underground network, to Watford. In the newest of the men's Olympic boxing disciplines Anthony Joshua beat the defending champion (who now over three Games have all three colours of medal) to take the the Super Heavy Weight Gold.

The range of stamps has been proving popular especially in the areas where the winners come from with many local post offices selling out within hours of them going on sale in certain locations.

Well done Team GB #London2012

29 golds 17 silver and 19 bronze.

Only the USA and China won more gold and the Russian Federation more medals. It has been majestic to watch you all and an inspiration even for this old runner. All of our competitors even those that didn't medal have shown true inspiration, but here are (most of) the lucky few who found themselves in the top three of their sport in the world.

So in alphabetical order irrelevant of medal well done to...

Nicola Adams - gold women's flyweight boxing
Rebecca Adlington - bronze women's 400m freestyle and bronze women's 800m freestyle
Ben Ainslie - gold Finn class
Lizzie Armistead - silver women's road race
Tim Baillie - gold men's C-2 slalom
Ashleigh Ball - bronze women's hockey
Laura Bartlett - bronze women's hockey
Chris Bartley - silver men's lightweight coxless four
Laura Bechtolsheimer - gold team dressage and bronze individual dressage
Stuart Bithell - silver men's 470 Class
Alistair Brownlee - gold men's tirathlon
Johnny Brownlee - bronze men's triathlon
Scott Brash - gold team jumping
Karina Bryant - bronze women's +78kg judo
Steve Burke - gold men's team pursuit
Alan Campbell - bronze men's single sculls
Luke Campbell - gold men's bantamweight boxing
Peter Chambers - silver men's lightweight coxless four
Richard Chambers  - silver men's lightweight coxless four 
Peter Charles - gold team jumping
Saskia Clarke - silver women's 470 Class
Ed Clancy - gold men's team pursuit and bronze men's omnium
Tina Cook - silver team eventing
Katherine Copeland - gold women's lightweight double sculls
Christa Cullen - bronze women's hockey
Tom Daley - bronze men's 10m platform
Alex Danson - bronze women's hockey
Nick Dempsey - silver men's sailboard
Charlotte Dujardin - gold individual dressage and gold team dressage
Richard Egington - bronze men's eight
Jessica Ennis - gold women's heptathlon
Fred Evans - silver men's welterweight boxing
Mo Farah - gold men's 5000m and gold men's 10,000m
David Florence - silver men's C-2 slalom
James Foad - bronze men's eight
William Fox-Pitt - silver team eventing
Chris Froome - bronze men's time trial
Gemma Gibbons - silver women's 78kg judo
Helen Glover - gold women's coxless pair
Robbie Grabarz - bronze men's high jump
Katherine Grainger - gold women's double sculls
Alex Gregory - gold men's coxless four
Liam Heath - bronze men's  K-2 200m
Carl Hester - gold team dressage
Phelan Hill - bronze men's eight
Philip Hindes - gold men's team sprint
Sophie Hosking - gold women's lightweight double sculls
Richard Hounslow- silver men's C-2 slalom
Chris Hoy - gold men's team sprint and gold men's keirin
Mark Hunter - silver men's lightweight double sculls
Tom James - gold men's coxless four
Michael Jamieson - silver men's 200m breaststroke
Jade Jones - gold women's 57kg taekwondo
Anthony Joshua - gold men's super heavyweight boxing
Peter Kennaugh - gold men's team pursuit
Jason Kenny - gold men's team sprint and gold men's sprint
Dani King - gold women's team pursuit
Mary King - silver team eventing
Matthew Langridge - bronze men's eight
Constantine Louloudis - bronze men's eigh

Ed McKeever - men's k-1 200m
Hannah Macleod - bronze women's hockey
Emily Maguire - bronze women's hockey
Ben Maher - gold team jumping
Hannah Mills - silver women's 470 Class
Lutalo Muhammad - bronze men's 80kg taekwondo
Andy Murray - gold men's singles and silver mixed doubles
Samantha Murray - silver women's modern pentathlon
George Nash - bronze men's coxless pair
Anthony Ogogo - bronze men's middleweight boxing
Christine Ohuruogu - silver women's 400m
Sam Oldham - bronze men's artistic team all-around
Anne Panter - bronze women's hockey
Alex Partridge - bronze men's eight
Luke Patience - silver men's 470 Class
Victoria Pendleton - gold women's keirin and silver women's sprint
Iain Percy - silver Star Class
Zara Phillips - silver team eventing
Zac Purchase - silver men's lightweight double sculls
Dan Pruvis - bronze men's artistic team all-around
Tom Ransley - bronze men's eight
Pete Reed - gold men's coxless four
Helen Richardson - bronze women's hockey
Laura Robson - silver mixed doubles
Chloe Rogers - bronze women's hockey
Joanne Rowsell - gold women's team pursuit
Greg Rutherford - gold men's long jump
Will Satch - bronze men's coxless pair
Mohamed Sbihi - bronze men's eight
Jon Schofield - bronze men's  K-2 200m
Greg Searle - bronze men's eight
Andrew Simpson - silver Star Class
Nick Skelton - gold team jumping
Louis Smith - silver men's pommel and bronze men's artistic team all-around
Heather Stanning - gold women's coxless pair
Beth Storey - bronze women's hockey
Etienne Stott -  gold men's C-2 slalom
Kristian Thomas - bronze men's artistic team all-around
Geraint Thomas - gold men's team pursuit
Sarah Thomas - bronze women's hockey
Andrew Triggs-Hodge - gold men's coxless four
Laura Trott - gold women's team pursuit and gold women's omnium
Beth Tweddle - bronze women's  uneven bars
Georgie Twigg - bronze women's hockey
Laura Unsworth - bronze women's hockey
Kate Walsh - bronze women's hockey
Sally Walton - bronze women's hockey
Anna Watkins - gold women's double sculls
Nicola White - bronze women's hockey
Max Whitlock - bronze men's artistic team all-around and bronze men's pommel
Bradley Wiggins - gold men's time trial
Rob Williams  - silver men's lightweight coxless four
Nicola Wilson - - silver team eventing
Peter Wilson - gold men's double trap

Our Greatest Team!

Well they certainly lived up to that promise. Looking forward to Rio 2016 but let us not forget the Paralympics coming to TV, radio or venues near you soon. 

Gold for my Uni #London2012

My university town was close to some of the Olympic action, the torch sailed past it on opening day and the cyclists rode through it both in the road race and the time trails.

But our summer Alumni magazine looked at all sorts of aspects in which our Alumni were involved in the Games from designing the livery for the nine British Airways Olympic jets, to broadcasting (including a previous Olympic medal Alumnus Gail Emms in the badminton plus 155 students gaining experience in their fields), to being part of the Olympic ad hoc Court of Arbitration for Sport. But one aspect was like me one of Kingston Universities sporting alumni and he had a real chance for gold as he was world champion in his event in 2010.

He event was new a shorter canoe sprint over just 200m of the course at Eton Dorney just up stream from our University town. Yesterday morning he did strike gold making it at the time 26 for Team GB.

For the former Polytechnic it was to be a second Olympic medal following Emms's silver 8 years ago, but Kingston University's first gold.

Ambassador Coe #London2012

I quite delighted and not in the least surprised that Lord Coe has been given the role of Legacy Ambassador following on from the London 2012 Games.

Ever since he retired from the track he has been working to inspire others, even when he was still competing he was looking out for the interests of others. Since he stepped in to the role to head the bid and then deliver the Games he has been working with all the national sports bodies to get the best for their sport, their athletes and and their fans at these Games.

The venues have all appeared accessible and friendly from the spectator at homes point of view. The commentators on all the sports (and I have watched all the sports at some point or other) have been informative but not patronising on any aspect, especially when it came to some of the intricate specifics at times of tension, controversy or deciding factors.

I have no doubt that Lord Coe, or Seb if you want will be able to inspire and lead on to make sure that British sport form the grass roots to the elite level continues to aspire to the greatness that we have seen this last fortnight. We have some of the best elite facilities in the world in so many sports, but we need to continue to identify the ability in our young people and direct them in the right direction. To do that we need to inspire them and give them the opportunity to shine, not just around our Olympic venues this fortnight or the Paralympics to come, but we need to spot them shining at schools, local sports clubs or wherever and take them forward with the coaching and other facilities that we have. Coe is well placed for that task he has the respect of many, the authority of experience not just in competing but of delivering.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Royal Mail fail Team GB & NI #London2012

I mean it is not like I have already successfully ordered 25 of these, and received my first batches of them.

But it appears that between gold number 25 and 26-28 we have been cast out of the United Kingdom by the Royal Mail at least...

Uodate: I tired again this morning and this fault appears to be rectified.

Royal Mail Golden Stamps 9 #London2012

It is hard to believe that there are now less than 24 hours of these Olympics left. But after another day with a lack of gold the penultimate day of competition saw Team GB extending their success. So after the first stamps issued on a Sunday by the Royal Mail last week there will be more tomorrow.

First up just as many may have been sitting down to breakfast the last day at Eton Dorney saw yet another gold medal on that stretch of water. It may only have come over the last 200m and therefore the last 10% of the other four golds there, but then Ed McKeever is a sprinter in his kayak. It is another Bradford that gets a golden post box, though not this time the one in Yorkshire, but Bradford-on-Avon.

Then every Saturday you watch athletics in the Olympic stadium one thing happens. Mo Farrah wins gold. By winning the 5,000m to add to the 10,000m he joins the likes of HannesKolehmainen (1912), Emil Zátopek (1952), Vladimir Kuts (1956), Lasse Virén (1972 & 1976), Miruts Yifter (1980) and Kenenisa Bekele (2008) in doing one of what is the hardest double of the Games.

There was more to come as in the boxing ring we saw a little bit of history in the first time that Team GB faced Ireland in a gold medal match in 100 years of the sport at the Olympics. It was the Brit Luke Campbell who came out victorious at bantamweight to take the GB medal taking the tally to 28. His gold post box will appear in Hull.

We have two gold medal boxing matches tomorrow, the women's modern pentathlon and the men's mountain bike. Dare we dream of being the 5th nation since the First World War to end the 30 club of Gold medals in one Games joining USA, USSR/Russia, China and (East) Germany.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Royal Mail Golden Stamps 8 #London2012

So Team GB decided to give the Royal Mail stamp designers a day off after a busy week yesterday.

But they had them called back into action today.

First up over at Greenwich Park Charlotte Dujardin on Valegro were back on the top step of the podium in the individual dressage. Well ok Valegro's hooves were firmly planted on the ground. But in an event we have never medaled in before we come away both golds.

Then it was across the river into the ExCeL for a little bit of history. The first ever medal in women's boxing went to the hosts so Nicola Adams enters Olympic history as the first female winner in her sport as well as being Team GB's 24th gold of these home Games. Another golden post box for Yorkshire as this one will appear in Leeds.

At 10:32 PM after a long day of fighting from 10amin the morning the Royal Mail ended up having to add one more. Jade Jones took Gold in the -57kg women's taekwondo. Wales will gain another gold post box in the village of Flint in North Wales.

Irish flag bearer takes gold #London2012

Ireland came to a stand still before 5pm today.

The Katie Taylor carried their flag into the Olympic stadium. She has previously played Gaelic and Association Football, in the latter she has scored for the senior ladies team. But at the ExCeL arena this afternoon the stands were full of Irish fight fans (who I think were cheering on Nicola Adams in the previous fight on the card the Flyweight final) to see if Ireland could claim their first gold.

Taylor is the reigning European and world champion, indeed she has a long golden trail in both those championships. She was facing Sofya Ochigava from Russia herself a past European and World Champion, but the last time they met she had lost to Taylor in that World Championship title fight.

The final was a tight affair on the scoring going 10-8 over the 4 two minute rounds, but it  was in favour of Taylor, securing Ireland's first gold of these Games only 24 hours after they won their first medal.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

USA making history for all the wrong reasons #London2012

So all three Jamaicans are into the final of the men's 200m.

Wallace Spearmon - but is he unique?
But there is something amiss. From the USA only Wallace Spearmon will line up alongside them.

So I decided to look up the record books to find out if this had ever happened before, I will of course ignore 1980 which the USA boycotted. Firstly before 1960 there were only six lanes on the bend of the tracks, but even then we go back many years still searching for such an event.

The music that plays before each medal ceremony is a clue as to who the last American to be the sole representative in the 200m final, but not it was not 1924. It was however, 4 years later and the man in question was Jackson Scholz . Although as Charlie Paddock and Henry Cumming both of the USA were fourth and the next fastest losers in the semi finals it isn't really as poor a show.

So I'm now wondering if in any of six games that the event has been run were there less and one American in the top 8?

Jackson Scholz (number 566) last time sole American in 200m final
Not in 1924 where a certain Eric Liddell's bronze, behind Scholz and Paddock prevented them taking the top four places and a certain Harold Abrahams was the sixth man in the final.

Nor in 1920 when Paddock was again stuck in silver behind team mate Allen Woodring with another in fourth with Great Britain again denying the clean sweep. So we have to look pre-Great War.

In 1912 the top three were again USA, USA, Great Britain with two more Americans in the final.

1908 there were only 4 lanes but the USA still managed half the finalists and two of the medals though Canada took gold in the first London Games. 1904 in St Louis they had all four finalists and in 1900 there were two of the four finalists again from the USA.

Therefore on a equal basis the USA have never failed to get at least two men into the top 8 of the 200m in history! Only once before in 1928 have they failed to get two men into the final.

So Maurice Mitchell posting the only the eighth fastest loser time (outside the top two in the three semis) and Isiah Young posting the slowest of the 23 men who finished have set a little bit of USA Olympic history that nobody was expecting.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Royal Mail Golden Stamps 7 #London2012

Today was the day that Team GB not only equaled their best* Olympic performance in modern times, but soared past it. It was a Tremendous Tuesday. So those folks at the Royal Mail have had their work cut out for them once again with four more stamps to produce and ship.

First up in and around Hyde Park there was the men's triathlon where the hot favourites were the Bradford Brownlee brothers (adding to Yorkshire's top ten position in the medal table). They were both in the lead group in the water, stayed ahead at the start of the cycling and then formed a trio with Javier Gomez in the run. But the elder brother Alistair was the first to cross the line by the Serpentine.

If you had signed up for the Royal Mail First Day Covers you're twentieth was free, so the one you will be receiving will be for Team Dressage. Carl Hester on Uthopia, Laura Bechtolsheimer on Minstral Horjis were sitting on the best and third best scores with all the German's completed before Charlotte Dujardin on Valegro came in and rode the best test of the day to secure another historic gold as Britain's first ever medal in dressage. So a gold post office will appear on one of the smallest of the British Isles of Sark for Hester, Apney St. Peter the adopted home in Gloucestershire of Bechtolsheimer, maybe the London borough of Enfield will try and claim a golden post box for Dujardin as that was where she was born as opposed to Newent Glos. where she is based.

At this point the GB medal table read 20 12 12, I don't think anyone would have guessed that at any point we would have read the  year in the number of golds and silvers.

Just over an hour later it was the turn of Laura Trott to get her second gold of these Games. She won three of the six disciplines of the Omnium the most important being in the last the 500m time trail where she had to win and come three places higher than Sarah Hammer (USA). That was exactly what she did, she is the first British women cyclist to win two golds at one Games.

Within an hour the velodrome awarded the next gold, sadly not in her last race to Vicky Pendleton who had to settle for silver, but for Sir Chris Hoy making him the British Olympian with the most gold medals taking his sixth in the Keirin, despite being passed in the last lap by the German Levy.

* Ok only second best after 58 in London 1908 but things were a little different then in the early days....and no I don't think we can match that number.

Doctor, Doctor I'm too ill to run #London2012

Well here is a note for the IOC and rest....

Except Taoufik Makhoufi of Algeria did not rest for very long as his doctor's note to cover his failure to run more than 200m of the 800m heats yesterday.

Makhoufi well clear and heading for gold
Yet this evening he not only lined up in the 1500m final, but he zoomed down the last back straight was so far in the lead off the last bend that there was no way to catch him.

As I said yesterday he was being punished because of an impossible schedule double up and his national association had entered himn in both, maybe as a back up, but failed to withdraw him from one when it was clear he had done enough in the 1500m.

Of course he wasn't ill. He could not have run the last 400m of that race the way he ended up doing if he were ill. But justice was done and the winner of one of the semi finals was there in the final and came through to win.

Maybe the IAAF should look at the schedule for Rio and ensure that this historic double up is still possible. The semi finals for the 800m had taken place less than an hour before the 1500m was won by Makhoufi.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Royal Mail Golden Stamps 6 #London2012

No five day week for the Royal Mail stamp design team as Team GB continue to bring on the Gold rush.

Over at Greenwich Park our show jumping team of Nick Skelton, Scott Brash, Ben Maher and Peter Charles were taken to a jump off by the Dutch team, but they had three clear rounds in  the jump off while the Dutch had three fences down between two riders so they couldn't discard both.

The gold paint will be out for post boxes in Peebles (Scott Brash), Alton (Peter Charles),  of Bishops Stortford (Ben Maher) and Alcester (Nick Skelton)

 The second stamp is for someone who already has a share of one. But this one is on his own. Some thought that when he was picked instead of Sir Chris Hoy who was looking to defend three golds from Beijing that they were stopping a legend. But Jason Kenny has he second gold from these Games in individual sprint to go with the team one, his third overall and going with the silver in this event four years ago behind only Hoy. So Bolton will get a second golden post box.

We talked about this team being Team GB's greatest team. Well with six more days of competition they are one short of the target from Beijing with three very good shouts in the cycling tomorrow with Hoy in the Keirin, Victoria Pendeton in the women's sprint and Laura Trott leading the Omnium after day 1.There are also the Brownlees in the triathlon, Robbie Grabenz in the high jump plus the chance of more horsey gold in the Team Dressage. So we are close to nut just equaling Beijing but zooming past that total.

Athlete excluded from one final of amost impossible double #London2012

I have no idea why the first round of the men's 800m is taking place today between the men's 1500m semi finals and the final. Historically to allow doubling up one of these two events have been completed before the other began. But this rather bizarre scheduling has claimed a victim.

The easy winner of the first semi final yesterday Algeria's Taoufik Makhoufi lined up today in the heat five of the 800m. When the runners entered the back straight he was already far behind and by the end of that straight he had stepped off the track.

But he has been excluded from the Games and all future participation in these Games just like the badminton players in the women's doubles. His offense is the same of not trying hard enough. His federation had failed to withdraw him ahead of yesterday's deadline. His federation may be regretting the pride with which he showed of his nation's name on his running vest last night after qualifying for tomorrow's night final which is actually in the same session as the 800m semi finals.

My personal opinion is that the IAAF have made the middle distance races an impossible schedule for anyone who wishes to double it. Sadly rather than getting around the 800m one of the athletes that was entered for an almost impossible schedule decided to take matters into his own hands which has cost him that final he did try for.

Update he has been reinstated.