Space – The Final Fronteer

So, Space is the last real place that mankind is engaged in real pioneering exploration right. So does the idea of space inspire you enough to want to get involved in this exploration? Does the idea of being involved in the discovery of something new, unique and completely unknown make your juices flow enough to make you excited enough to want to take part in making some amazing discovery?

Meh

That all sounds too expensive, difficult, time consuming, and frankly Mr Yettie, I have no intention of joining the space program I hear you muttering.

:lol:

No Fear, I’m not asking you to expand on that childhood dream of becoming an astronaut or going out and buying some really expensive kit to explore the skies. No way Hosea! What I am talking about is taking part in a project that was started a few months ago, and promises to make 2013 a pretty special year in the exploration of the Red Planet, our next door neighbour Mars.

This is an image of fan like structures that have been observed on the face of Mars by a satellite in orbit of the Red Planet that has for the last few years been photographing every square foot of the planet over and over again. This has resulted in the production of literally millions of photographic images of the planet in various stages of the season, and it is now known that these fans appear every year in the Martian Spring, what scientists suspect are gaseous eruptions much like geysers here on earth. It is believed that there is a warming of ice below the surface in the spring as the planet warms, and this is what leads to the formation of these structures that can be seen on the planet.

The thing I found amazing about this discovery is that it was made by a Joe Blogs like you or me, who had registered on a website to take part in a project to help map and explore the pictures taken from the surface of the Martian surface. And this, spurred me to go and have a look, and suddenly become really enthused about taking part.

It is simple really. You visit www.planet4.org where you can join over 55,000 other every day explorers who are given a piece of Mars to explore and classify to help scientists catalogue abnormalities on the surface and discover new and interesting formations on the surface. In this way, over 2 million images have now been classified, helping scientists to zone in and focus on findings that are leading to new and exciting ideas, theories and discoveries about our next door neighbour. The amazing thing. You could be a part of all that, and from the comfort of your over stuffed chair.

It is not just Mars that these guys are exploring either. The main program, Zooinverse, located at www.zooniverse.org/projects has all manner of projects on the go, from exploring the moon, to helping to classify cyclones or explore the ocean floor. If you really want to, you can even help to classify cancer samples.

It’s nice to feel that in some small way, maybe something I did to help will be used to make some sort of breakthrough or fascinating discovery, and while maybe that is me being just a little bit delusional  it is still a good feeling to be a part of something that is charting the exploration of parts of our universe we know nothing about. It also felt pretty amazing in that while I was working on the pictures I helped to classify, I couldn’t help but think to myself that just maybe I was looking close at a portion of the Red Planet that had never been studies or looked at in such detail before. That is quite a remarkable feeling. I guess it’d be even better to be the first man to stand on the same spot and see it visually, but for now, this small effort on my part is as much as we can do, and yes, I can say that a Yettie was a part of that.

2013 will in many ways be a pretty remarkable year as spacial events go. On the 15th February 2013, the largest object of recent history will pass a mere 35,000 miles from our surface, the asteroid 2012 DA14 a chunk of rock 45 metres wide. Make sure your valentines day is a special one this year. :p

And then, come November December 2013 the mega comet Ison will come within 800,000 km of the surface of our sun, meaning we could have a feature in the sky that could be even brighter than a full moon in daylight hours. If that does indeed happen, surely it will be one of the most dazzlingly spectacular astronomical features of our night sky in our time. No wonder they are coining the term Comet of the Century for Ison’s pass through our system.

Two big events in a great year for star gazing if you are so inclined. Anyway, enough of me babbling on about something I’ve really enjoyed checking out, and I hope that in some ways, just maybe you’ll be able to get as much interest out of it as I did. Hugs to you all and hope January is not treating you too badly.

Thought for today – “Dream as if you will live forever, Live as if you will die today.” – James Dean

Song for today – Fill My Little World by the Feeling

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The Top 5 Television Adverts of 2011

We are all subjected to a barrage of television advertising each year.  If you are anything like me, then there will be methods of advertising that really work on you, and others that very firmly put you off ever using or trying the product being advertised.

Personally I like to be wooed by an advert. If its clever, emotive and well thought out, it meets with high praise from me. If its tacky, cheap and bloody irritating to listen too or watch, there is nothing more certain to make me determined to never go anywhere near the product than a stupid advert.

I tend to think that as people we are sophisticated, and while certain products can get away with a certain level of stupidity or playful hilarity at the expense of their product, it is a fine line to walk and takes a brilliant script writer to get it right. A perfect example of this is the ‘One Sheet does Plenty’ adverts. Far more effective than the old drag adverts, the play on accent makes the poor chap sound like he’s advertising a rather unfortunate accident, and can illicit a smile now and then.

On the other hand, the irritation of the Go Compare adverts does nothing but make me seriously consider assassination and make me ever more determined to never ever make use of the product. I would welcome the makers of the Video Game Assassins Creed to put a character similar to the operatic Richard Smith in their game, and I’m sure they’d find a huge surge of people lining up to pop the character off.

But rant aside, there have been some remarkable adverts this year, and here are a selection of what I think are the top five adverts of the year. I hope you enjoy. If you agree or think that there is one or two that I’ve left out, or deserve closer consideration, be sure to comment and leave a link.

Happy Christmas and may you all have a wonderful New Year.

1. Possibly the cutest advert of all time.

2. Time. A very poignant advert.

3. Boy Band takes to Yoe Valley

4. A total classic Star Wars Theme

5. Possibly the best Airline Advert ever.

There are a few others that were strong contenders, but of all the adverts that I went through, these are defiantly my favourite. What do you think? Which one is the best in your opinion?

Genderless Child…I don’t think so!

I was somewhat surprised today as I was driving around to hear on the radio the presenter asking the public what their take was on a Canadian Couple who had chosen to raise their child genderless. I was completely baffled as to how it was physically possible to have a genderless child, and so when I got in this evening, I had to sit and have a look at the news online.

It always amazes me that people are so determined to change the shape of the world in which we live. Nature herself chooses to give every human being a gender, and trying to hide this from the world is something that still mystifies me. According to newspaper reports, the parents are apparently determined to allow their child to grow up without influences and biases based on gender issues.

So many things come to mind when considering this, that I am left wondering to a large extent not what the effect will be on the child, but what ever gave rise to the parents entering into such a bizarre decision in the first place. There has been considerable commentary through many various professional people that points to areas of concern in the development of the child, and others that say it will do not harm to the child at all. But no one seems to have asked the question, “Where does this crazy concept come from?”

Apparently the family already have children who have not been brought up in this fashion, so one has to wonder if it has something to do with the way their previous children have been brought up? Has something terrible happened to make them feel that bringing up a child that has no clue whether it’s male of female would be a good thing to do? Could there be some other explanation behind it, or is it just some weird trail to see what happens?

I have before been criticised for not having any understanding of how a parent feels about their child, and while I may well not have any children of my own, it does not mean that I have no concept over what is best practice and what is somewhat wayward. There is most certainly no guide book on how to bring up a child, and it’s very easy to get it all wrong, but I do essentially believe that there is a moral basis of responsibility to seek to provide the best for our children.

As an adult we make the choices that will affect our children’s lives far into the future, and yes I agree that in the early years gender is certainly not a major issue to the development of the child, but where is the logic in such an idea when it comes to interaction with a society that sees in gender terms. Children in their nature are cruel and harsh, as they have no idea of the emotional sensitivity that exists in their words. Without even realising it the world we live in may only complicate the life that the child leads by the things that the child’s peers say. Imagine trying to explain to another child in kinder garden that wants to know is Storm a boy or a girl that this child is neither!

I am not going to fall into the trap of predicting the future for Storm. In some ways I take my hat off to the parents for trying something new, however in this instance I not convinced that the choices have been made for the right reasons or in the long term interests of the child. For this child’s sake I hope that this adventure works out and he or she becomes a well balanced member of society. For societies sake, I would say perhaps gender issues are a fact of life, something that we are born with and something that is not always as simple or straightforward as ignoring who or what we are. Far too many people are already mixed up and have difficult lives over gender issues without going out of our way to potentially cause them. Nature does what it does best, and I personally feel that accepting this and living within the roles we are given is probably the best practice.

New Labour dies in the hands of Gordon Brown

It is with some finality and a collective sigh of relief that the nation can tonight be thankful that Gordon Brown has finally conceded that defeat in the General Election was not something he could deny in some vain attempt at being like the Robert Mugabe of Western Politics. No, he finally had to accept that the English public had spoken with no small measure to remove Gordon from power from his coveted seat of power in Downing Street and from the head of one of the most powerful nations in the world.

As an outsider, I have very defiantly been a loud and often vocal critic of Gordon Brown’s time and term in office. For three years, Gordon sat in a seat which he claimed not through a fair electoral process, but by appointment of a party whom had most certainly lost its way along the way. In that time, no other British Prime Minister has shown such a complete disregard to public opinion, the general feeling and mood of the people and the common decent thing to do when facing such appalling dislike by people on the whole.

Had the Labour Party had a little more of a back bone prior to the Election, I honestly believe that they would have had a very different turn out come polling day. Yes it is easy to sit and talk in terms of retrospect. It is easy to now play the devil’s advocate and say well if things had been a little different then yes the results would have been in Labour’s favour, but as a keen adversary of Gordon Brown’s politics I can quite comfortably sit here and say that I honestly believe that had Labour ousted the man earlier we’d still be watching a Labour Government set itself up for 5 years of power under new leadership.

Watching the deafness of Gordon Brown, and his inability to listen to the public at large, and for that matter those who had the gumption and bravery to risk a private whipping at the expense of their public calls to Mr Brown to step down as PM and Labour Leader, I have often felt ill at heart at watching his blatant disregard for the will of the people. From his monumental cock up with the 10p tax reform, to his underhanded dealing in taking us into the Euro Zone Treaty without the referendum he promised us, he completely shut himself off in his own little bubble where only Gordon knew what Gordon was doing.

It was common knowledge from early on when he had reshuffle after reshuffle in his cabinet to make way for people he’s upset or pissed off enough to resign, or anyone he suddenly decided spoke out just a little too close to the bone and was no longer an ally of Brown and someone he wanted to shut out. It was never a happy party or contented party and with so much in bickering and dark, quiet, hush hush deals taking place in the quiet halls of Whitehall, is it any wonder that the Labour party is where it is today?

You cannot bread trust among people when the very leader of the party of elected officials we have chosen to represent us the people do not trust the leader they work under themselves. You cannot expect a nation to fall in line as the ministers bullied into submission by over jealous chief whips in the corridors of Parliament have to fall in line in order to keep their jobs. Is it a democratic society when anyone who dared to speak out against Brown in government did so at the risk of their jobs? And let’s look back now at the road littered with careers of men and women who stood up to Gordon Brown. How on earth can a party with a leader with this kind of record pragmatically expect to wow the will of the people and pretend to have the best interests of the people at heart when out campaigning at the doors in their constituencies.

I’d shadow a private guess that if you sat down every single Labour MP, or their staff now that Gordon is gone, and asked them honestly what their view was, that you’d find a very different support for the man now in his absence. That is not to say that the party are eager to plant the dagger now his back has turned. Hell his party hated him from day one if the truth were to be told. Let’s not ask who was the best man for the job. Let’s not fudge the question nor the answer by looking to other reasons for why people tolerated Gordon Brown. The real truth as it comes to light in the cold light of day now, is that Gordon Brown was not just disliked internationally, but on a local scaled was despised by a great many people in power.

A vast amount of that contempt and hatred was stirred by Gordon’s inability to be humble and listen. It was Gordon’s way or the highway, and it didn’t matter who got trampled nor who got sidelined along the way. Right up to the end, when the public had their face firmly pressed up against the window screaming at the top of their voices, Gordon was unable and completely unwilling to accept that people were talking to him.

Even after the most humiliating defeat since the war, with well over 100 seats being stripped from them, and in excess of an additional 2 million votes leaving Labour this time around, Gordon still wanted to bully his way into No 10 for another six months. After their bullish insistence that the Leader of the Labour Party would not be chosen by the Lib Dem’s, he failed to realise that the people had just given him and his party the biggest two fingers in half a century. Of course the people and leaders of another party don’t choose the leader of a party, but they have a massive say in who they will and will not work with, and so a fairly rapid climbdown took effect as Gordon offered the Lib Dem’s a deal which still saw him in power for another six months. I was stunned at his arrogance as it continued to be the marking characteristic of a man who’d just shown his party how effective he was at inspiring people.

It’s unreal that the man honestly thought he could go on. The biggest turn out at the polls in a generation, a humiliating defeat for a party that romped home to victory thirteen years earlier, and a nation that were clearly saying get rid of Brown, and he assumed he still had grounds to call himself leader. Admittedly the Welsh and Scotts did not choose the Tories to lead in their neck of the woods, but let’s be honest, the Welsh and Scotts feel so hard done by the Tories after Margaret Thatcher closed their mines and took their jobs, that even if Gordon had a gun to their head while Labour MP’s poured molten tar down their throats the Celts would still vote Labour. Had there been another choice other than Labour and the Conservatives, with a real chance of being a party in power at Westminster I think you’d find that even the Celts would have given Gordon the good old heave ho.

It has been the most amazing election to watch. With one party saying that it’d never consider an alliance with another, and yet another saying that a Hung Parliament would force the parties to talk. It is ironic that the British politician who essentially is a member of the British public first and foremost, can be so out of touch with the general feeling in this country. We are the men and woman that make Britain work. We are the ones that pay taxes, read, listen and watch more closely today than ever before. We know far more about the economy and the state of affairs in the world than any of them give us credit for. We are brought up to speed faster, more comprehensibly and with far better understanding than at any other time before in the history of our world. It is about time that the power behind the wheels of government realise this fact, and begin to understand that we the people form an effective part of the process of government today. We know our mind and can deliver a verdict that will make it just as difficult for any of you to do your job, as it is for us to do the every day job of living and working under your yoke.

Lets be honest, when the Labour Party has its thinking cap on its a massive power for the will of the people in this country. What the party really needs to do now is step back and take heed of the message its just been given. We are not fools. We do not want idiots at the head of our government. We do not want spendthrift, power hungry people making decisions for us about the future for our children in this mighty land of ours. Listen to what we are saying and do what is right by the people and we’ll step in line behind you once more.

As I listened to the Brown departure on television this evening, I was saddened at his farewell. His bitter pill at the hands of the British Public was more than the man could stand. He paid tribute to the British Troops, and while I do not want to take anything from a National Defence Force I greatly respect, I did feel that once more Gordon completely missed a chance to rise up to the challenge and be a bigger man. Let’s just think about it. There is a far bigger group of people that were due consideration and mention. The British People themselves. Yes, while this is a very frustrating nation to live in at times, and it has some of the most troubling trends in social break down, crime and an uncertain future, the British People are what make this country work. In my own personal opinion, even though it was at their hands that defeat was handed to Gordon Brown on a plate, his biggest move would to have been humbly accept defeat, step aside and congratulate the British People for being the nation they are. It’s not perfect, but it’s a great nation all the same and it’s you and me that make it so.

The Labour party need to spend time getting to grass roots with the people. Take six months out and visit as many people in their homes as you possibly can. Spend fifteen minutes with each family and listen. Don’t talk, don’t even open your mouth but to introduce yourself, and listen, look and learn. You’ll know after you’ve visited 100 of us. You’ll know even more when you’ve visited 1000 of us, and but the time you’ve clocked up 1000000 of us you’ll be so in touch with the feeling of the people that your manifesto will spill off the tongues of common people as if it was written by us for us.

Re organise, re arrange your policy, recruit strong diligent people. Seek to find common ground with industry far more than commerce. Provide good sound and well thought out perks to attract the rich back to Britain. Get the health service sorted out with more staff and less managers. Put together a plan that makes Britain strong again, and we’ll put you in power for years to come. You’ve lost your way. Politics in Britain and to be fair the world over has lost sight of the fact that we are the power that elect you and it is for our greater good that you work.

This is no place for Robert Mugabe’s or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s type of politics. Vain, haughty men of power and prestige that think themselves better than the rest are a thing of yesterdays politics. We are not impressed by high class society anymore. We are not overwhelmed by people that appear to be of a better class than ourselves, and we most certainly are not won over by arrogance. Learn these lessons while you can, and be humble, profound, inspirational and have compassion. With these things you will win the support of not just a nation, but a generation. Let’s hope that after such a humiliation and defeat that the Labour party really wake up and listen to the will of the people of this remarkable land.

Denmark has the X Factor

It’s no small secret that I’m a massive fan of the X Factor here in the UK, and I have to say, over the last couple of years I’ve become a huge fan of Simon Cowell and the rage that is the X Factor phenomenon. So I guess in some ways its little surprise that a friend found some great clips of the 2010 X factor competition that has already taken place in Denmark.

With absolutely no disrespect to Denmark, I’ve never really paid much attention to music out of the Scandinavian region, and didn’t even consider that they’d have an X Factor, but I am mildly surprised at the talent that I discovered, and stand totally corrected. Not only did I discover that the Danes can sing, one of the guys that made it right through to the Live Finals did so singing in a category that I class as my favourite genre of music.

Brit Indie Pop is now more widely regarded as Indie music per se and has possibly one of the widest followings in the younger generation of today’s trend setters. With the likes of Snow Patrol, The Killers, Keane, Feeder to name but a few, Indie music has a unique place in any live music fan’s heart. The joy of Indie music is that its better live, and has a dynamic catchiness that not many other groupings of music beats can boast.

Having admitted that it is my favourite core genre of music, I have to admit that I am particularly fussy about anyone who’d dare to copy or cover any proper indie song. Unfortunately a world of dodgy karaoke clubs, and Monday open mic nights, have lead me to have a intense dislike for an average voice torturing a perfectly great piece of music. So when I hear the beat of a classic song start in an X Factor audition, my face falls much the same as the panel of judges as I fear what is coming.

It was welcome relief then to find that Jesper Boesgaard a 16 year old fresh faced, young guy takes on the challenge of impressing me. Haha, check me out thinking like a judge! LOL. But quite simply it’s a pleasure to find someone who actually manages to make you stop and think, “whoa hang on, this guy is quite good!” Though he may look a little camp, (skinny jeans always makes a guy look camp!) the boy has a fantastic voice on him, and taking on a number of my all time favourite songs, by groups I adore, I have to say, Jesper won me over as one to watch in years to come.

So as he takes on the greats like Coldplay, U2, Muse and my current favourite all time song, Firefly by Owl City, sit back, smile and enjoy.

Two Choices – A Quandry of Life

I received this message in the form of an email this afternoon, and as I read it, it brought a tear to my eye. Its a strong message, a powerful theme and a dynamic quandy of mankind.

What would you do?….you make the choice. Don’t look for a punch line, there isn’t one. Read it anyway. My question is: Would you have made the same choice?

At a fundraising dinner for a school that serves children with learning disabilities, the father of one of the students delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended. After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he offered a question:

‘When not interfered with by outside influences, everything nature does, is done with perfection.

Yet my son, Shay, cannot learn things as other children do. He cannot understand things as other children do.

Where is the natural order of things in my son?’

The audience was stilled by the query.

The father continued. ‘I believe that when a child like Shay, who was mentally and physically disabled comes into the world, an opportunity to realize true human nature presents itself, and it comes in the way other people treat that child.’

Then he told the following story:

Shay and I had walked past a park where some boys Shay knew were playing baseball. Shay asked, ‘Do you think they’ll let me play?’ I knew that most of the boys would not want someone like Shay on their team, but as a father I also understood that if my son were allowed to play, it would give him a much-needed sense of belonging and some confidence to be accepted by others in spite of his handicaps.

I approached one of the boys on the field and asked (not expecting much) if Shay could play. The boy looked around for guidance and said, ‘We’re losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we’ll try to put him in to bat in the ninth inning.’

Shay struggled over to the team’s bench and, with a broad smile, put on a team shirt. I watched with a small tear in my eye and warmth in my heart. The boys saw my joy at my son being accepted.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shay’s team scored a few runs but was still behind by three.

In the top of the ninth inning, Shay put on a glove and played in the right field. Even though no hits came his way, he was obviously ecstatic just to be in the game and on the field, grinning from ear to ear as I waved to him from the stands.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shay’s team scored again.

Now, with two outs and the bases loaded, the potential winning run was on base and Shay was scheduled to be next at bat.

At this juncture, do they let Shay bat and give away their chance to win the game?

Surprisingly, Shay was given the bat. Everyone knew that a hit was all but impossible because Shay didn’t even know how to hold the bat properly, much less connect with the ball.

However, as Shay stepped up to the

plate, the pitcher, recognizing that the other team was putting winning aside for this moment in Shay’s life, moved in a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shay could at least make contact.

The first pitch came and Shay swung clumsily and missed.

The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly towards Shay.

As the pitch came in, Shay swung at the ball and hit a slow ground ball right back to the pitcher.

The game would now be over.

The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could have easily thrown the ball to the first baseman.

Shay would have been out and that would have been the end of the game.

Instead, the pitcher threw the ball right over the first baseman’s head, out of reach of all team mates.

Everyone from the stands and both teams started yelling, ‘Shay, run to first!

Run to first!’

Never in his life had Shay ever run that far, but he made it to first base.

He scampered down the baseline, wide-eyed and startled.

Everyone yelled, ‘Run to second, run to second!’

Catching his breath, Shay awkwardly ran towards second, gleaming and struggling to make it to the base.

B y the time Shay rounded towards second base, the right fielder had the ball . the smallest guy on their team who now had his first chance to be the hero for his team.

He could have thrown the ball to the second-baseman for the tag, but he understood the pitcher’s intentions so he, too, intentionally threw the ball high and far over the third-baseman’s head.

Shay ran toward third base deliriously as the runners ahead of him circled the bases toward home.

All were screaming, ‘Shay, Shay, Shay, all the Way Shay’

Shay reached third base because the opposing shortstop ran to help him by turning him in the direction of third base, and shouted, ‘Run to third!

Shay, run to third!’

As Shay rounded third, the boys from both teams, and the spectators, were on their feet screaming, ‘Shay, run home! Run home!’

Shay ran to home, stepped on the plate, and was cheered as the hero who hit the grand slam and won the game for his team

‘That day’, said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face, ‘the boys from both teams helped bring a piece of true love and humanity into this world’.

Shay didn’t make it to another summer. He died that winter, having never forgotten being the hero and making me so happy, and coming home and seeing his Mother tearfully embrace her little hero of the day!

AND NOW A LITTLE FOOT NOTE TO THIS STORY:

We all send thousands of jokes through the e-mail without a second thought, but when it comes to sending messages about life choices, people hesitate.

The crude, vulgar, and often obscene pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion about decency is too often suppressed in our schools and workplaces.

We all have thousands of opportunities every single day to help realize the ‘natural order of things.’

So many seemingly trivial interactions between two people present us with a choice:

Do we pass along a little spark of love and humanity or do we pass up those opportunities and leave the world a little bit colder in the process?

A wise man once said every society is judged by how it treats it’s least fortunate amongst them.

You now have two choices:

1. Pass by and forget you’ve ever read this; or

2. Direct your friends to this page so they too may read and be touched.

May your day, be a Shay Day.

Blood on the hands of our Media


I have watched the latest press coverage of the Haitian earthquake with some irritation at the sheer lack of responsibility with which our modern press portray national emergencies. In writing this post I do not in any way want to take anything away from the pain and suffering of the Haitian people, nor the impact of what they have had to endure and go through since the disaster struck their homeland just a few short days ago. To them my condolences and respect I give gladly. I do however want to put a bit of perspective into our minds of this world that we live in and the irresponsibility of the international media in focusing our attention at things they feel or deem important enough to make the new, and corrupt our minds into forgetting what we cannot or no longer see.

My feeling of discontent at the direction of the British press core in Haiti had been felt from the start, when almost immediately they began to look for blame at the lack of support from the international community at reacting to this disaster. With all the good will in the world, there are logistical and monetary issues that face the entire world at this moment in time that would mean any response would have been met by this problem. I am struck at this time at the audacity of the British press in demanding that the USA do more and look to blame them for security issues on the ground that make distribution of AID a headache for everyone, not least the US.

What disturbs me the most is that while we appreciate that the US and Europe, and much of the world have been gripped in the worst economic disaster for the last twenty four months, that it is once more to the Western world, namely the US and Europe that the victims of this disaster look too for their salvation. Why I ask myself are the British media not asking why more has not been done by the Asian community, whom have we are told, completely avoided the economic crisis that has befallen most of the modern world. Surely in a time such as this it is into their pockets that they should be dipping, and surely in a time like this their military might could have been swung into action and flown in just as easily as US troops.

Ok, fair enough, distance might prose its own practical issues to this argument, however I am sorry but I am sick and tired of hearing people blame the US and the West for its lack of support and delay at getting help in. Since as far back as the great earthquake that levelled the centre of Mexico City, I have heard disaster appeal after disaster appeal go out to the giving and generous people of Great Britain, and every time they have risen up and met the call. Billions of pounds of money has been risen over time for all manner of disaster appeals. In the same way I have never seen America fail to step up to the plate and deliver, even when it cannot really afford to itself, it has never let the greater world down.

Whenever it is a disaster around the world, it is always the same people and countries that time after time reach out and touch the lives of those who have been dealt a devastating blow. Be it the earth quakes in Pakistan, China, India, Indonesia, Iran and many others around the world, or the Boxing day Tsunami, or the famines of Africa, Hurricanes of the Gulf of Mexico, to almost any kind of human suffering, the press make a good job of showing us the vivid impacts of these disasters, emoting us into action, and demanding reaction and support from the same corner every single time. Never before have I heard the press condemn the Chinese or the Russians for the lack of support or assistance.

I have to ask myself as the seats of power swing in other directions as things change in our world today, if things shouldn’t be slightly different. I cannot help but feel that if AID workers had been rushed into the field in Haiti and violence had broken out resulting in the deaths of AID workers, that the press would have been the first to ask why security had not been organised, and press long and hard for heads to roll to satisfy their ill placed passion with pointing a figure and finding blame.

The main reason that I write this evening is that in my own opinion, I feel that the press themselves are the root cause of much of the blame for inciting and creating a news that they feel is sensational and worthy of hitting our screens. I firmly believe that the press go out specifically looking for stories that they are able to twist and manipulate into witch hunts of blame and fault and hatred. Imagine a reporter stood before you, well clothed, well educated, healthy and well fed, at a time when you have lost family and loved ones, at a time when hunger is a pressing issue on your mind as your stomach gnaws within you. Imagine if you can a man who seems to be in charge at a time you feel the world around you is falling at your feet, presenting you with a question like, “Do you feel that the USA should do more to help you?” What do you really think your answer would be?

This evening as I sat watching the ITV evening news, the straw on the camel’s back finally broke for me. I sat and watched as the news teams jumped on a story of the thousands of children caught up in the confusion of Haiti, rushing to sensationalise how it was children now who were starving and suffering the worst as AID failed to reach Haiti. I was angered and sickened at this gross display of pure irresponsibility on the part of the reporters. I was saddened to think that for one moment in time, the suffering of every child anywhere else in the world meant nothing as these reporters could manipulate and emote its watchers to the plight of the children of Haiti.

It is not that I do not feel for those children, but I was sickened to my stomach as I thought to myself, that in a day, week or month, when they have totally thrashed and exhausted everything that they can out of the Haitian disaster that those children that today were so credible as a news story will be forgotten about, and left to fend for themselves just as much then as they are now, while the spot light falls on them in the aftermath of this disaster. Yes I was angered at the way that our so called perfect press would stoop so low as to use children’s suffering to make its news worthy for our screens tonight, when in a year or two’s time, when the AID given now dries up and the world is focused on the next big news story, those very children that the press were so willing to sensationalise tonight will be forgotten about and left to a life of misery and pain.

Could it be so true in this day and age that our press could be so corrupt and work with such scant regard for human life and suffering? Please, wake up. This is 2010. Think if you will of the orphans of Eastern Europe where children have systematically been abused, abandoned and brought up in some of the most extreme conditions imaginable. Children who were gagged to stop them from crying, children who were left without clothing for months. Children who were starved and abandoned because they had birth defects, or were slow or stupid as the institutions of the Soviet state believed. Orphanages in the Ukraine where if you had enough money you could go and buy time with any child you liked. In their time, they were an adequate news story to shock and sensationalise the news we were watching, but today, the British press couldn’t give a damn about the conditions which according to any number of agencies that are working with organisations based in Eastern Europe are just as bad if not worse in some places.

Then there are those who’ve been orphaned by war. Huge blocks of children brought up by the state in places in Europe where the press dare not tread for fear of being beaten like the thugs they are. Chechnya and the Balkans, Rwanda and Brunei, Congo and Uganda. In these places millions of children have been completely left to their own devices. In many of the African conflicts children fell into war lords clutches and we fashioned into armies of little value, put on the front line to be slaughtered till the enemy ran out of ammunition and the elite forces of the war lord could then sweep in an annihilate their enemy. Are we as a society so dull as to imagine that the moment that the press stopped telling us these stories that the problems went away? Visit Africa today. Take a walk around in Darfur right now and look at how many of the rebel soldiers carrying AK47’s are kids of 13 and 14 years of age, high on marijuana to keep them controllable, and ever ready to die for their precious leader who cares not for anything but his position in power and maintaining it behind his army of children for as long as he can.

Could we believe that those children that were shown to us just last year as the Burmese cyclone wiped out half a nation as unprecedented flooding brought the country to its knees? I recall then how loudly the press shouted about the lack of AID given, despite the military junta’s refusal to allow the AID in. But in the press’s eyes, it was far more sensational to blame the international world for the failure, and show the suffering of the people, children, men and woman alike, while they painted a vivid picture about how inept the leaders of the world were at putting pressure on the government of Burma to allow the AID in. Do any of us pretend now that since our esteemed press core choose no longer to tell us of their suffering that the people of Burma have it any easier? The truth is that the military Junta kept the aid that was allowed into the country for itself, and the people continue to suffer as they struggle to rebuild a life shattered in the waters of that cyclone. But that wouldn’t be a very exciting story, and report it as they might, it would not change the status quo, nor make any difference to the people on the ground, so they are left to suffer, as sensationalising that story and emoting us would be futile and worthless, and so the story is now not news worthy.

For far too long the media have reported with scant regard to the effect of such sensationalism in the press. Let us take for example a few years ago right here in Wales. An area close to where I live became known as Lynch Rope Central or Suicide Alley, as a growing number of teenagers fought to get their name on the headline news through acts of suicide. For a bunch of teenagers it became cool and hip to get your name and story on the news, and have everyone talking about how wonderful you were and for a moment in time your name was a celebrity as the media pounced on the news of “WOW, yet ANOTHER suicide victim in Bridgend and the number of teenage suicides goes up in the town! Police are baffled as they fail to find any link!”
The link was you, you idiots! The very press who didn’t even consider for one moment that your actions were the root cause and reason for such an sudden growth in teenage deaths. Right up to the end the press fought a vicious and costly campaign to maintain that they were whiter than white and had a right to report the news. It eventually took a direct order and “agreement” from the press to stop reporting on teenage suicides in the town, before the war was won, and what happened? The moment that kids realised that their stupidity wasn’t going to get them on the national news, none of their mates were going to get interviewed, no one would talk about how wonderful they were, it stopped. And so it was that the mighty body of the press right here in deepest darkest Wales were taught a lesson. That their lack of foresight and sensationalism of one simple act of stupidity on behalf of one teenager who now lies in a box, six feet under, and whose name is probably forgotten by the very reporter that sensationalised his death, started a trend that took over twenty lives before it was forcibly stopped. This is the wreckless disregard for their reporting standards that I talk about when I say that the press don’t care. Today’s suffering doesn’t simply disappear because you stop talking about it, and reporting in this way is callous and wrong.

I am Zimbabwean, and a passionate one as anyone who knows me would agree, and so as I watched the television last night, and saw them walking among the orphans of Haiti, I was angered. Perhaps in reality my anger towards the failure of the press core has a lot to do with the situation in Zimbabwe. You see, Zimbabwe has to daily deal with over 2.1 million orphans, who have little in the way of assistance to survive. Those agencies on the ground in Zimbabwe are given little in assistance by the world to feed, cloth, educate, provide health and safety to these children. Many live on the streets, fending for themselves. Many are cared for by people who have other uses and ideas in mind for them. Many are abused and mistreated. Most of them have little future if any. Today 1 million Haitian children need our help. So does that mean that 2.1 million Zimbabwean children today are no good to care about? Does that mean that those trying desperately to make a difference for these kids in Zimbabwe, don ‘t need anything today, because your attention is now focused somewhere else where you can sensationalise your story and make the world watch your news coverage? No the reality is that you’ll make your millions out of covering this disaster and forget about the plight of those children just as quickly as you forgot about those in Zimbabwe. You see Mr. Reporter, power lies in your hands. Responsible reporting would be to continually apply pressure, to constantly remind the world and keep those vulnerable and in precious need of help daily in the front line of your reporting. Not just when you need numbers to watch your program or buy your rag.

And it is for this reason that I am sickened when I hear our reporters on a front line trying to make out that nowhere else in the world are their people suffering, because now their story is no longer applicable or exciting to you as a reporter. Such irresponsibility would be subjected to a government being removed from power, or department heads being changed were it a different organisation, and they acted in such a manner. News is news, but exploiting those who befall the news, and making their suffering and hardship the centre of attention of your news for the simple demand of ratings or sales is both disgusting and scandalous. It is high time that reporting became more about the story and less about the visual impact and sensationalism of preying on those unable to protect themselves. I hope in time that our generation become more in tune with people’s feelings and less interested in such diabolical reporting.