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22 May 2006

ONE person a week is killed with a knife in Scotland.

The F-ZONE can reveal the horrific statistic the day before a nationwide knife amnesty is launched.

And today, the Lord Advocate will announce a radical shake-up of how Scotland's justice system deals with offenders.

The most up-to-date figures show that in the eight years since 1998, 395 people across the country have died in attacks involving bladed instruments - an average of nearly one fatality a week.

Those deaths account for more than half of all the murders in Scotland, making the country, statistically, one of Europe's most violent.

And with over a dozen fatal knife attacks this year already, the total number of such deaths since 1998 has now hit 400.


Tomorrow, Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson will be in Edinburgh to launch the knife amnesty which is part of the Safer Scotland campaign.

It follows a similar project organised by Strathclyde Police in 1993. Codenamed Operation Blade, it saw 4500 weapons handed in.

Jamieson said: "We have all seen the impact of Operation Blade and I would now like to see that replicated throughout the country."

The amnesty will run until Friday, June 30 and all weapons handed in will be checked forensically to see if they have been used in any crime.

Despite repeated efforts by the Executive and police to crack down on knife crime, the problem remains a major headache.

Last year, 72 people died from stab wounds in Scotland, the highest number since 1998.

Politicians from all parties have repeatedly attempted to find a solution to the situation which has seen Scotland branded one of the world's most dangerous countries in a recent United Nations' report.

But despite their efforts, they are struggling to curb the so-called "knife culture".

This was again highlighted at the weekend after the suspicious death of a teenage boy in Glasgow.

The so-far unnamed 19-year-old died following an incident in the city's Ruchill district late on Saturday night.

The youth was attacked in Parkbrae Drive and was taken to the Glasgow Royal Infirmary but he died a short time later.

A police source said that it was understood a knife had been used, but an exact cause of death could not be established until after a post-mortem examination.

In the year after the 1993 amnesty for all types of weapons, murder rates dropped by 26 per cent.

But Jamieson knows that the roots of the knife culture lie deep within Scottish society.

The minister said: "Such a deep-seated problem cannot be solved overnight but action needs to be taken to make communities safer. I now call on all those people who carry a knife to think about the consequences.

"Use the amnesty as an opportunity to put this behind you and stop more young people being killed or maimed through such thuggery."

The precise details of what Lord Advocate Colin Boyd will announce today have yet to be revealed, but police sources expect he will press for increased sentences and more stop-and-search powers.

Announcing the amnesty in February, he said: "I have commissioned a review of prosecution policy on knife crime which will ensure that prosecutors maintain a robust approach to such cases.

"They will give careful consideration to prosecuting persistent and violent offenders."

A report issued by the Executive last summer about the problem showed that "knives and other sharp instruments are the most common method of killing in this country".

The report continued: "We cannot allow people to carry them for 'protection' or as a status symbol.

"Carrying a knife can be the first step towards becoming a criminal' the first step towards taking a life' the first step towards tearing apart the very fabric of our communities."

One part of the Safer Scotland initiative is the violence reduction unit, who are a group involving police forces from all over the country.

Their head is Detective Chief Superintendent John Carnochan from Strathclyde Police.

Yesterday, he said: "The knife amnesty is only the first stage in a 12-month campaign aimed at tackling the culture of violence.

"A weapons surrender alone will not solve this deep-rooted problem, however. It is part of the 'contain and manage' phase of our long-term violence reduction strategy.

"The amnesty is an opportunity for people to make that potentially life-saving decision and hand in their locking knives or whatever weapon they choose to carry.

"We hope to take as many knives and weapons off the streets as possible."

Another part of the campaign will be launched in Inverclyde on Wednesday with the introduction of special bins where people can dump their weapons.

Bins will be put in Cathcart Street, Greenock, and the Fore Street car park in Port Glasgow, with others located in the foyer of the region's police stations.

Superintendent David Stewart of Greenock police said: "Some people are reluctant to enter a police office and surrender a knife,.

"However, we want to maximise the opportunity for them to get rid of their weapons.

"We will be going after the most violent individuals in Inverclyde who carry knives and engage in violent behaviour.

"We want to send out a strong message to those who engage in such behaviour and carry weapons that it is not safe to carry a knife because, if you do, you will get stopped, searched and arrested."

He added: "We are delighted that Inverclyde Council is supporting the knife amnesty.

"We want to ensure that this campaign is a real success and take as many knives off the streets as possible.

"Before we took this decision with the council, we carried out a full risk assessment and ensured all aspects of health and safety legislation are covered."

The controversial UN report published in June last year claimed that Scots were three times more likely to be the victim of a violent assault than an American.

It also alleged that the country had a higher murder rate than the United States, Uzbekistan and Chile.

And according to its findings, around 2000 people a week are attacked in Scotland, 10 times the official police statistics.



PEGGY Weir was 93 when she became one of Scotland's oldest knife victims.

The frail pensioner was stabbed nine times and left in a pool of blood after confronting intruder Daniel Jebb in her Glasgow flat on Christmas Eve 2004.

Last September, Jab, 22, admitted killing Peggy.

He was given a life sentence with a recommendation he serve at least 16 years before being considered for parole.



THUG Derek Ferguson had been released early from a previous jail sentence when he attacked and killed a teenage boy.

The 23-year-old was convicted last November of murdering Steven Pettigrew in Airdrie, Lanarkshire, in April.

Ferguson had served just five years and four months for his previous attack, which left the victim brain-damaged.

He is serving a life sentence for killing Steven, 16.



HEROIN addict Adam Gallagher stabbed his victim to death after finding him lying collapsed on the ground outside a pub.

Czech fruit worker Marek Smrz, 21, awoke in the street in Arbroath to find Gallagher, 18, trying to rob him.

Gallagher stabbed him through the heart with a steak knife as he tried to resist.

In March, a jury at the High Court in Perth convicted Gallagher of murdering Marek.

'A weapons surrender alone will not solve this problem. But weare hoping to take as many knives off the streets as possible'




22 May 2006

HUNDREDS of prisoners including murderers and rapists have escaped from an open jail in the latest scandal to hit the Home Office.

Since 1999, 393 prisoners have absconded from Leyhill Open Prison in Gloucestershire, according to Home Office figures.

Of those, 22 were murderers, five had manslaughter convictions, seven were rapists and 24 were drug dealers.

The figures were released in a written Commons answer to Lib Dem MP David Laws.

He said the disclosure was another example of the "shambolic" Home Office and called for an urgent review.

Law added: "Murderers, rapists, burglars and robbers are escaping from this one prison at the rate of almost two per week.

"Serious criminals who should be locked up are getting out to commit extra crimes."







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Health boards face lawsuits over lack of alternatives to Carstairs...

  • Rehabilitating mentally ill prevented from leaving high-security units
  • Rules dictate recovering patients must move after seven months
  • Shortage of units leaves health board vulnerable to appeal from patients

Key quote
"Rehabilitation is a long and slow process and to hold that up further by stopping people going to a local hospital can be very soul-destroying for those people and their families." 




Story in full THE head of Scotland's Mental Welfare Commission has warned health boards that they face legal action at the Court of Session from 20 mentally ill patients who he says are "entrapped" in Carstairs.


Patients - including those sectioned for rape or murder - were recently given the right to be moved to a medium-security unit when their condition improves. But a lack of available accommodation has left patients with nowhere to go.

Dr Donald Lyons, director of the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland, said around 20 patients are waiting to be moved from the state hospital in Lanarkshire, including four who have been waiting for two years or more.

He is now expecting patients to go to the Court of Session as early as December, to challenge the failure of Scotland's health boards to provide them with suitable accommodation.

"There are about 20 people in Carstairs who have been on the transfer list for more than three months who are 'entrapped'," he said.

Those understood to be among the first to challenge their imprisonment include Alexander Reid, who stabbed a young mother to death and Karl Tonner, who killed a schoolgirl.

New rules dictate that patients who are judged to be recovering must not be held in "excessive security" for more than seven months. They can appeal to the Mental Health Tribunal and, if they agree they have a case, the health board will be ordered to move the patient to a lower-security unit.

But a lack of available accommodation in Scotland - there is only one medium-security unit - means that health boards are now opening themselves up to legal action in Scotland's courts. Ultimately, this could lead to a significant fine.

The Mental Welfare Commission has been writing to health boards, including chief executives, as well as senior officials in the Scottish Executive, to tell them of patients who are entrapped in Carstairs.

Dr Lyons said the wait causes great strain on families: "Rehabilitation is a long and slow process and to hold that up further by stopping people going to a local hospital can be very soul-destroying for those people and their families."

The fear is that health boards - facing the prospect of a large fine - will now be put under such pressure that they may send patients to inappropriate units.

Last night, opposition politicians called for a reassurance that public safety will always come first.

From the beginning of this month, provisions in the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) Act 2003 allowed patients held at Carstairs to appeal to the tribunal. Health boards are initially given three months to find a place for the patient. If they fail they are given a further three months. If the patient is still in Carstairs after this, they can appeal to the Court of Session in 28 days.

The main problem is a lack of medium-secure units as building is often held up by concerns in the local community, Dr Lyons said. At the moment there is only the Orchard Clinic at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital in Morningside. Another clinic for 50 patients is planned for Stobhill in Glasgow by March 2007. A unit for Tayside is also in the planning stages and for Dykebar near Paisley.

Dr Lyons said patients could be sent down to English units as a short-term measure. However, this is not an ideal solution as families have to travel long distances to visit relatives.

He said there are around 240 beds in the state hospital but it is usually full, so moving patients on is important for protecting the public. "The secure care system will not function well if people are not able to move through the system properly," said Dr Lyons.

Kenny MacAskill, justice spokesman for the SNP, warned that health boards could be forced to make hurried decisions about dangerous people.

He called for increased understanding of mental health, so more medium-secure units can be built in communities.

"There are people in Carstairs who frankly should not be there and that is a tragedy for them," he said. "But there is no alternative place for them to go and we need to address that."

Bill Aitken, the Tory chief whip, said public safety must be the prime consideration.

The Scottish Executive said patients will only be moved on if it is safe to do so.

A mother's pain at seeing son trapped in maximum security

TO SEE her own son sectioned in the state hospital was hard enough for Lisa. To see him trapped in the forbidding place when it was no longer necessary was almost too much to bear.

Like many families of the mentally ill, Lisa has had to travel for miles and suffer months of anxious waiting before seeing a loved one moved to a medium-security unit closer to home.

Lisa's son John, who suffers from schizophrenia, was sectioned in 2000 after attacking someone.

After two years, John was sent to the only medium- secure unit in Scotland, the Orchard Clinic in Edinburgh.

This was some three hours from home, but at least the family could see John in a more friendly setting.

After a further three years John is now studying at art college - living proof of a mentally ill person able to live peacefully in the community.

Other families are not so lucky. Lisa said there is a shortage of medium-secure units because communities are frightened to have the mentally ill living on their doorstep. Indeed she is so terrified of her son being targeted by vigilantes she refuses to give her real name.

"The biggest problem is not Carstairs itself but the lack of other facilities," she said.

"Until they actually get these places built, patients are stuck. People do not care because they just see them all as the high-profile cases, but a third of people in Carstairs have committed no crime."

"It is about gauging what is best for that person and then moving them on."

• All names have been changed to protect the anonymity of the patient.

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The TRUTH is out there...........

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Man killed with samurai sword in drug feud

Martin Wainwright
Thursday May 18, 2006
The Guardian

Police are hunting two men after a drug feud ended with the murder of a suspected dealer with a samurai sword. A second man, who was cornered in a bedsit, was in intensive care after the late-night attack.

Two men in hooded jackets were seen running from the flat in Corby, Northamptonshire, where the victim was named by neighbours as Garth Muir, 30.

The other victim, known locally as "James" and also in his 30s, is critical in Kettering General hospital.

The killing followed violence in an alleged turf war between rival gangs in the town, which has only gradually built up new industries since iron and steelmaking ended in the 1980s.

A neighbour on the Hazel Leys estate said: "In the past few weeks people have been beaten up in the town and or taken out to woods and had a gun put to their heads as warning. It would not surprise me that a sword was used because they want to scare off others." The wanted men were described by police as white and in their early to mid-20s. One was wearing a baseball cap, hooded top, dark trousers and dark shoes. The second was slim and wearing a black hooded top, dark hat, dark trousers and dark shoes.

Detective Chief Inspector Neil McMahon of Northamptonshire police said: "This was a very violent and brutal assault that has left one man dead and the other fighting for his life. Both men sustained numerous wounds and whoever was responsible for this would be covered in blood. We would also like to speak to anyone who may have private CCTV installed in their homes or at local businesses in the area or to anyone who may have found any discarded items of clothing."


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Hi All... thanks for you rpost with regards to 'F-Zone News' - some very interesting articles.


Police plea over unwanted knives
Police hope the amnesty will cut the number of knives in circulation
People in Devon and Cornwall are being urged to hand over illegal or unwanted knives in a weapons amnesty being held by police.

It is part of a Home Office initiative to highlight dangers of having knives.

Secure bins are being set up at police stations where people can leave knives without fear of prosecution.

The force said although there were no significant knife crime issues in the region, the amnesty would allow people to dispose of unwanted weapons.

Confrontation concerns

Officers believe this will reduce the number of illegal knives in circulation.

Police said people carrying knives might find the weapons turned against them during confrontations.

The amnesty is running until the end of June.

People taking knives to police stations should wrap them securely, using tape and cardboard before disposing of them.


Similar amnesties are being held by neighbouring Avon & Somerset and Dorset police.


Stiffer sanctions on knife crime
22 May 06 |  Scotland
Knife amnesty nets 1,600 weapons
22 May 06 |  West Midlands
Amnesty aims to reduce knife risk
22 May 06 |  Bristol


I'd rather be hated for what I am, than loved for what I am not".

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Are knife amnesties worthwhile?
Amnesties aiming at tackling knife crime have begun across the UK.

It is the first such major initiative since 1995, when amnesties took place following the murder of London head teacher Philip Lawrence - but how effective can such campaigns be?




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Eddie was wearing a football top and pushing a toddler in a 

buggy when I stopped him in a car park just off Shettleston Road

in Glasgow's east end.


He was the last person I talked to after a fairly fruitless afternoon

canvassing opinion on the city's knife crime problem.


One young man with a three inch scar across his left cheek had

grinned - enjoying the lie - as he told me he'd never carried a knife

and didn't know anyone who would.


Another boy boasted that he was carrying a knife as we talked -

would I like to see it?


His friend said it was just a mobile phone before going on to boast

that he himself had served time in youth custody after attacking

someone with a knife.


But I could tell that Eddie was being truthful when he said:


"I was about twelve when I got a knife.

"It's to do with peer pressure and making yourself feel big.

"Once you get to a certain age it's about protection.

"You either grow out of it, round about 18, or you don't."


'Nothing to lose'


He has grown out of carrying a weapon, he told me he'd got a job,

met a girl and had a child.

He realised he'd lose too much if he got into trouble.

But a lot of his friends felt they had nothing to lose.


Some of them are in prison. Some of them have stabbed and cut

another human being.


Eddie remembered being a teenager, comparing weapons with his mates.

He said:


"You're running about asking who's got the biggest knife, who's got

the best knife and you would just want to own different types

of knives."

Would he ever have thought of using a knife on someone else?

He'd talked about that, he said, but "looking back it was all just talk".


He added: "Obviously things can end up developing, and you could end

up in serious trouble or, I mean, hurting someone."

Deprivation and education

Eddie was sceptical about the knife amnesty announced on Wednesday.


He said: "It does work in the sense that you do get knives off the streets but they're easily replaced.

"It's never the long-term answer.


"You have shops in Glasgow - and in all major cities - that sell

weaponry of different sorts and you can buy it quite easily.


"When I was 16, I was kidding on I was 18, and I went into a shop

in the town.


"I was able to buy the likes of machetes for £10, which was cheap

for the type of knife that it was.


"We all thought that was great back then."


If amnesties aren't the answer, what is?


Eddie was bleak.


He said: "The solution is tighter regulation on the shops and

maybe a bit of education.


But you're talking about the east end of Glasgow.


"You've got a culture here for, probably a couple of hundred years,

of being deprived and having to fight your way out.

"It's going to take a lot to change that.

"I don't know how to stop it. Maybe it's a part of our culture"

The TRUTH is out there...........

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25 May 2006

THE wife of disgraced peer Lord Watson last night told how her world fell apart the moment he was jailed.

Clare Watson, 32, revealed she had never contemplated her husband being locked up - despite the former MSP admitting wilful fire-raising at a hotel.

And she was rocked when the reality began to sink in.

She said: "I hadn't really believed he would go to prison. When the sheriff said 'prison', my world fell apart.

"I was hysterical. I looked at Mike as he was led away and, without saying anything, I could see in his face that he wanted me to know he loved me."

She added: "I cried solidly for the next few days. I was grieving. It was as though he had died. It was his strength that kept me going in the end and I knew we would get through it."


Clare told how it was only after seeing enhanced CCTV footage of Watson setting fire to curtains in Prestonfield House Hotel in Edinburgh that it finally hit home he had committed the crime.

But she insists she may never be able to come to terms with what he did.

She said: "To this day, I still find it very hard to accept that Mike would do something like that. That's not the man I know. I am not in denial but I still can't get my head round it."

Ex-Labour MSP and Glasgow Central MP Watson, 57, was released from Saughton Prison on Tuesday.

He served half of a 16-month sentence for his moment of madness after an awards bash in November 2004.

Speaking exclusively in yesterday's Record, remorseful Watson admitted he could have killed someone by starting the late-night fire and apologised.

He also recalled the moment he was jailed and about his life behind bars.

Now, he and Clare are trying to put their lives back together.

They met seven years ago when she was a computer trainer in the House of Lords. Their affair began in July 1999 after a lunch meeting in London.

Clare said: "He was charming and easy to get on with but nothing happened right away."

Both were married, Clare for two years to Matthew, and Watson to Lorraine, his wife of 13 years.

However, he rang Clare during the summer recess at the Lords and told her he couldn't stop thinking about her.

Over the next three months, their relationship intensified. They agreed to leave their partners and in October 1999 rented a flat in Glasgow.

Clare said: "I just fell head over heels in love with him. My marriage wasn't brilliant and I wasn't happy. Mike made me feel that this was how it should be.

"I wasn't proud of what we had done but we had to be together and there was no point in continuing either marriage. I never regretted it. Being with Mike was just perfect."

The 25-year age gap was an issue but Clare says Watson was always more concerned than her.

She said: "He was worried he would drag me down and make me feel older but it was just never a problem."

Watson had no children from his first marriage but wanted a family with Clare. And they started trying for a baby as soon as they settled together.

They turned to IVF treatment in 2001 at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

Clare said: "I was open and honest and told him I wanted kids. It was kind of a condition.

"It was a tremendous pressure on us. IVF is a rollercoaster of emotions. It is full of disappointment but in many ways, it made us stronger."

It was on the fifth attempt that she became pregnant, two months after they married in February 2004, and Watson "was on cloud nine".

However, they suffered heartache when Clare's eight-week scan showed the baby had no heartbeat.

She said: "I think that scan was the worse for Mike. He kept asking the doctor to keep looking for a heartbeat.

"I think deep down I knew something was wrong but he'd built his hopes up."

Clare miscarried in July 2004. She added: "We were devastated. I felt guilty because I'd put the idea of having kids in Mike's head. He was so upset."

When Watson pleaded guilty at Edinburgh Sheriff Court to fire-raising, the loss of the baby was raised in mitigation.

The court heard Watson had been devastated and had been drinking more.

Clare said:"Mike was under more pressure than I realised. He was probably trying to shield me. I wish now that he had discussed it more with me."

On the night of Watson's crime, Clare was at their flat in Glasgow and she spoke to him the next morning. He seemed hungover but fine.

Later, after the Press turned up at the flat, Watson explained to her that grainy CCTV photographs had been captured showing someone starting a fire, but assured her it wasn't him.

Clare said: "I just laughed - that's how ridiculous I thought it was. I thought there was no way the Mike I knew would do something like that."

Watson was charged but denied the incident, claiming he'd had an alcoholic blackout. But he changed his plea after seeing the enhanced CCTV footage.

Clare said: "I knew when I saw the CCTV it was him but my gut reaction was still why? He must have been so drunk, he lost all rationale."

She has always remained devoted to Watson and despite moving to London, flew up every weekend to visit him.

She wrote over 160 letters to him and they spoke in the morning and last thing before lock up at 8.30pm.

Clare was also heartened by the kindness and support she had from other prisoners' wives. She said: "They showed me the ropes and were there for me."

Clare added: "I had never lived alone before and it was lonely without him.

"My life was in a box and all I could think of was having my husband out of there and getting our lives back."

On Tuesday morning, Clare wept as Watson threw his arms around her.

The couple will now move to London permanently to be nearer Clare's job in IT management. And she's confident they can rebuild their lives, although it is unlikely they will try again for a baby.

Clare said: "Who knows what the future holds? I'm just so excited to have him home. It's the best feeling in the world. I'm so happy. Thank God the last eight months are over.

"We have always had a strong marriage and this whole thing has just made us stronger. But I don't ever want us to be apart like that again."

The TRUTH is out there...........

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27 May 2006

POLICE must quiz George Galloway over a claim that it would be "morally justified" to assassinate Tony Blair, MPs said last night.

Galloway said it would be "entirely logical" for a suicide bomber to kill the PM in revenge for the Iraq war.

The maverick anti-war MP's remarks were condemned by politicians of all parties.

They demanded an investigation into whether the Scot broke laws on incitement to murder.

New anti-terror measures also ban the "glorification" of terrorism.

Labour's Anne Moffat led calls from MPs for a police probe, saying: "I would throw everything we have got at him.


"This is the worst thing I have heard George Galloway say.

"It is absolutely sickening, even by his standards - unbelievable."

Moffat, MP for East Lothian, added: "This is a police matter. We have anti-terrorism laws. The Prime Minister should be calling for that with the support of all parties."

Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell said Galloway's words "could well be regarded as providing encouragement to someone who might be disposed to carry out a crime of that kind".

He added: "No politician, ever, by act, word or deed should give any support to the notion that violence might be justified."

Scots Tory MP David Mundell said: "My concern is these remarks will be heard in the Arab world and can be presented as an endorsement by a prominent Western figure of suicide bombings."

Scotland Yard said any official complaint would be investigated.

Galloway, who formed the Respect Party after being expelled by Labour, made his remarks to men's mag GQ.

Asked if a suicide bomber would be justified in targeting the PM over the Iraq war, he said: "Yes. It would be morally justified.

"I am not calling for it but if it happened, it would be of a wholly different moral order to the events of July 7.It would be entirely logical."

Galloway, who has been in Cuba to appear on TV with leader Fidel Castro, later stood by his remarks.

He claimed he was just echoing Cherie Blair's suggestion that she understood how suicide bombers were "sucked in".




Alarm clock that won't give up...

AN ALARM clock that will not switch off until the slumberer has shown they are fully awake has been invented by a student at Strathclyde University.

The puzzle clock, created by Liam Hastie for his engineering degree, is designed to overcome "sleep inertia" - the groggy feeling which, scientists say, can impair mental faculties for ten minutes, but sometimes for up to two hours after waking.


The wall-mounted alarm clock can be switched off only when its user climbs out of bed, stands directly in front and repeats, by pressing coloured buttons, a sequence generated randomly each morning. If the user fails to repeat the sequence swiftly, the alarm will continue to blare until the task is completed correctly.

Research into "sleep inertia" has discovered the pre-frontal cortex - the area of the brain which is responsible for problem-solving, emotion and complex thought - is among those that take longer to operate properly after sleep.

Mr Hastie, 23 - who designed a prototype as part of his degree course in design, manufacture and engineering management - was inspired by his own experience of repeatedly pressing the snooze button on his alarm as many as 20 times rather than getting up. He said: "Alarm clocks are good at waking you - what they are not good at is actually getting you out of bed.

"Then I read about the concept of 'sleep inertia' and decided to invent an alarm clock that not only got you out of bed, but would only go off when you demonstrated that your pre-frontal cortex was actually online."

Dr Neil Stanley, a past president of the British Sleep Society, described the new invention as "a good idea". He said: "What is interesting is that we don't know exactly how long sleep inertia can last. Some morn-ings I leap out of bed and others I'm much more sluggish."

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SSP official jailed over papers
McCombes punching the air
Alan McCombes claims the SSP has a right to confidentiality
Senior Scottish Socialist Party official Alan McCombes has been jailed for refusing to hand over party documents to the Court of Session.

The News of the World has requested the internal minutes, which it claims would help defend a defamation case brought by former SSP leader Tommy Sheridan.

Judge Lady Smith jailed Mr McCombes for 12 days after he ignored a deadline to release the papers.

The party insists the minutes of an executive council meeting are private.

The documents in question cover the meeting where the resignation of Mr Sheridan as leader was discussed.

You are flouting an order of court. No-one is entitled to do that
Judge Lady Smith

At the Court of Session in Edinburgh on Friday, Lady Smith granted a News of the World motion and ordered Mr McCombes to hand over "all and any" documents.

The normal rule in such circumstances is for documents to be submitted in a sealed envelope and for arguments about confidentiality to be made then.

Paul Cullen QC, representing Mr McCombes, had told the judge his client did not intend to comply.

Court punishment

When a deadline of 1430 BST passed, Lady Smith ordered Mr McCombes to be held in custody until a week on Tuesday to consider his position.

"It has been made quite clear to you that you are flouting an order of court. No-one is entitled to do that."

She warned him that if he did not change his stance it would be "highly likely" she would make a finding of contempt of court and he would be punished accordingly.

I've said all along it's a matter of principle, it's a matter of conscience
Alan McCombes

Lady Smith also granted a warrant for messengers-at-arms to search for the documents in question.

Speaking just before he returned to court Mr McCombes said: "I've said all along it's a matter of principle, it's a matter of conscience."

He added: "It's not the first time as a Socialist I have been in conflict with the court, I'm sure it won't be the last time."

Aftetwards, SSP party convener Colin Fox said: "Our colleague, comrade and friend, Alan McCombes, has been sent to jail for defending a fundamental principle - the private and confidential documents of the SSP should remain the property of the party."

It is thought the party leadership has urged Mr Sheridan to drop his libel case against the News of the World.

Rather than wanting to help Mr Sheridan by refusing to release papers, it is thought the SSP is more concerned over the effect his defamation action is having on the party.

Newspaper allegations

It is believed he may even be expelled from the party he helped set up over the issue.

The Court of Session hearings stem from the time Mr Sheridan was leader of the SSP.

The Glasgow MSP, who co-founded the SSP with Mr McCombes, agreed to step down in November 2004 citing family reasons.

His decision came shortly after allegations about his private life were published by the News of the World.

He denies the claims and a full hearing is due to begin on 4 July.

The QC for the News of the World has claimed that Mr Sheridan's local branch of the party was about to consider a motion, which had already been put forward, to destroy the minutes in question.


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It's such a crying shame that yet again the black community has to face another death. I understand that the youths of today need support but at the same time common sense must tell you whether you wish to live or die. I personally value my life and I am grateful for every breath that I take. If the youths of today cannot see the damage which the gun violence is causing in the black community then they will perish at their own will. I pray for the family for losing someone so close and dear and I hope that this sends out yet another message that you live by the gun - you die by the gun. MTV dedicated a show to this violence it's not about talking sweetly to these youths it's about keeping it real and stating the fact. No-one wants to die so young in life as there is so much to acheive. The black youths must not be disheartend as our ancestors suffered in many to give us the freedom we have today. EDUCATION is key but it is down to the indiviual who wishes to learn.
There is no excuse for violence thats for sure, but what we have here are young people whos only sense of identity and self esteem comes from this type of behaviour and association. When will organisations realise that until you invest in the young people this will keep happening. Britain doesn't have strong leadership or role models for them, it doesn't have boundaries and such that they can respect. Young people live in a confusing world, they need the guidance and to be taught respect from an early age. Its sad watching so much talent going to waste, young people not reaching their full potential, what they are capable of. And regarding the policing of the area, whilst it is true to say that to a point they do a good job, for they are only people themselves and some not very old, but until they understand the history and struggle of black people, and understand the culture more things won't ease. I urge the young people to respect themselves and to prove what they are capable of through education (education is by far the most powerful tool, much more powerful than weapons). There are some of us in the community that believe in you all, and we know that you can become people whom we can be proud, and even more, we know you are capable of becoming the person who you are proud of.

Hey that shark has pretty teeth dear and he shows 'em pearly white.
Just a jackknife has Macheath dear And he keeps it way out of site.

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Crime exposés spark death threats...

Key points
• Daily Record & Sunday Mail anti-crime campaign leads to death threats against journalists
• Police fear a drugs turf war after a recent spate of shootings in the city
• Record journalist given 24hr protection after similar threats 2 years ago

Key quote: "Several main players are obviously throwing their weight around and we take specific death threats made to newspaper staff very seriously indeed." Strathclyde Police officer.

Story in full: EXPECTING nothing more than a mundane meeting about staffing issues, Daily Record and Sunday Mail journalists were summoned to attend a briefing in their office canteen late on Friday afternoon.

As they reluctantly filed into the ground-floor cafe overlooking the River Clyde, the journalists were confronted by two detectives from Strathclyde Police’s Serious Crime Squad. They had come to brief senior staff members on disturbing information force intelligence had received about death threats made to journalists at two of Scotland’s biggest-selling tabloid newspapers.

Earlier that day, editorial executives from both titles had themselves been summoned to Strathclyde Police Headquarters at Pitt Street to hear specific details of the threats, understood to have been made by one of Glasgow’s most notorious and widely feared criminal clans.

Both newspapers remain adamant that this will not deflect them from exposing evil-doers -

According to senior police sources, several members of the underworld fraternity in question had taken "extreme exception" to the Sunday Mail’s high-profile "Crime Inc" campaign, the title’s circulation-boosting initiative to name and shame the leading figures in Scotland’s underworld and "Vice in Scotland," a separate Daily Record campaign to expose the scale of the nation’s sex industry.

For many of the assembled journalists such threats were not exactly surprising. They had been there before. Two years earlier the same criminal group had threatened to take out a contract on a member of staff at the Daily Record, forcing Strathclyde Police to install a panic button in the journalist’s home and offer 24-hour protection. The threat finally receded, but the lengths to which Glasgow’s gangsters would go to avoid publicity had become abundantly clear.

According to one senior member of staff at the Daily Record, the timing of the latest threats, coming as they have against a backdrop of gun violence in the city over the past five days, was causing serious concern.

Yesterday, across the Clyde from the Daily Record headquarters, in the drab lounge of Howden’s Bar in Cardonald, the muffled talk was of an escalating turf war - a gangland conflict of succession to determine who controls Glasgow’s lucrative drugs trade.

Despite being a Monday afternoon, business in Howden’s was booming. The bar’s closest business rival, the Parkway Tavern three doors down, had become a crime scene following the shooting of a regular in the doorway and the nearby murder of one of its barman.

It is the job of investigative reporters to highlight areas of concern to the public and police, and they must be protected in doing their job - NUJ

Strathclyde Police confirmed last night that they had launched a murder inquiry after Stephen Clark, a 39-year-old barman, was shot a number of times while answering the door of his home in Finsbay Street at 10:15pm on Saturday. Fifteen minutes earlier a 21-year-old regular of the Parkway in Paisley Road West, was shot in the leg as he was about to go inside. Strathclyde Police fear Saturday night’s incidents are linked to the shooting of two men in the Royal Oak in Nitshill Road last Thursday.

It is believed the Royal Oak victims, John McCartney, 41, and Craig Devlin, 31, who are still recovering in the Southern General Hospital, were driven to hospital by Tam McGraw, 51, a leading figure in the Glasgow criminal underworld.

The worst fears of the police is that the shootings are part of a turf war between gangs fighting over the city’s drug trade after the death of notorious underworld figure Stewart Boyd in a car crash in Spain last year.

Last night, one top Strathclyde Police officer claimed the timing of the shootings and the threats to newspaper titles was causing grave concern.

He said: "Several main players are obviously throwing their weight around and we take specific death threats made to newspaper staff very seriously indeed. It is too early to say if the recent shootings in the city are linked to a turf war but the fact that the incidents came only 48 hours apart has to be a concern."

A spokesman for Trinity Mirror, which owns the Daily Record confirmed the threats against staff members, he said: "Death threats had been made against individual members of staff, but both newspapers remain adamant that this will not deflect them from exposing evil-doers."

A spokesman for the National Union of Journalists said: "This is an extremely worrying development in Scottish journalism and a threat which all of us must take seriously. It is the job of investigative reporters to highlight areas of concern to the public and police, and they must be protected in doing their job. We cannot allow journalists to become the targets."

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The Sunday Times May 28, 2006

Brown: McConnell 'panders to nationalism'


GORDON BROWN is involved in a bitter dispute with Jack McConnell over what the chancellor believes is an attempt by the first minister to pander to nationalist sentiment.

Brown has accused McConnell of “draping himself in the Saltire”, claiming that he will not win next year’s Scottish parliament election by trying to be more nationalistic than the Scottish National party. The chancellor, who is expected to play a key role in Labour’s Holyrood campaign, has told allies the Scottish Labour party must not engage in a debate about who is the most patriotic.

McConnell’s announcement last week that he would not support England in the World Cup was interpreted as an attempt to play the nationalist card.

It was in conspicuous contradiction to comments made by Brown days earlier when he let it be known that he would be backing Sven-Goran Eriksson’s side.

Internal Labour polling has suggested McConnell is a greater electoral liability than Tony Blair, causing political analysts to suggest he should portray himself as more pro-Scottish.

The chancellor has told allies it would be a mistake to engage with the SNP in an “I’m-more-Scottish-than-you bragging match about nationality”.

He is also opposed to plans by McConnell to lead a presidential-style election campaign based on his personality. Brown and Douglas Alexander, the Scottish secretary, believe the Holyrood election should be fought over who has delivered most for Scotland and who will go on doing more for Scotland.

A senior Labour source said: “They will base their case on the economic record, getting more people out of poverty and the fact that the handling of the UK economy makes it possible to put more money into dealing with Scotland’s problems and improving public services.”

  • While McConnell may not be supporting the auld enemy in the World Cup, it has been revealed that he has sassenach blood flowing through his veins.

    His family tree reveals his great-grandfather came from across the border making him one-eight English.

    Records show that the Labour leader’s ancestor, James McConnell, was born in England in 1877.

    The cabinet machinist and farmer is believed to have lived in Carlisle before moving north to Beith, Ayrshire, where he married Margaret Woods in 1901.

    His grandfather, James McConnell, was born four years later and became a farmer in Lugton, Ayrshire, where he wed Barbara Watt Wilson in 1934.

    Barbara then gave birth to Jack’s father, William Wilson McConnell, in Beith in 1937.

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    Socialist Party at war with Sheridan...  

    • Tommy Sheridan claims senior SSP figures spread malicious rumours
    • The former party leader sent an open letter to all SSP members
    • Accusations included women-trafficking and using prostitutes

    Key quote "I do not think there is any truth in what he is saying. They are clearly strongly held views, but I think he is wrong. There is no question of anybody in the party out to get him. There is no campaign to do in Tommy Sheridan." - Colin Fox, SSP leader

    Story in full THE Scottish Socialist Party descended into open warfare last night when Tommy Sheridan, the former leader, accused a "cabal" of spreading lies to discredit him.


    Mr Sheridan sent an open letter to all SSP members claiming that senior figures in the party, including MSPs, had spread malicious rumours about him, including allegations that he was a drug dealer, that he trafficked women from eastern Europe and that he used prostitutes.

    The Glasgow MSP warned that the SSP was in danger of becoming a "gender-obsessed discussion group" rather than a "class-based socialist party".

    He said the tactics used against him were nothing more than "a political witch-hunt" redolent of the "dark days of Stalinism".

    He added: "Today, there exists an unsavoury cabal of comrades at the core of the leadership, their hands on the apparatus, who are more interested in pursuing personal vendettas, through vile lies and slander, than conducting the class struggle."

    Mr Sheridan denied all the allegations and attacked those he claimed were responsible for the smears.

    His outburst represents an astonishing escalation of an internal battle which has been rumbling behind the scenes for about a year.

    There seems nothing the party leadership can now do to keep a lid on the savage in-fighting, and there is a very real possibility the party will tear itself apart before next year's election, putting in jeopardy all the gains made in 2003, which left the SSP with six MSPs.

    Mr Sheridan has been involved in a feud with some senior figures in the party since he stood down as convener 18 months ago after launching a libel action against the News of the World, which had made allegations about his private life.

    Some influential SSP members believe Mr Sheridan was wrong to sue the newspaper and that it might cost the party much-needed money and electoral support.

    Last week Alan McCoombes, the SSP secretary, was jailed for refusing to hand over to the court a crucial set of party minutes believed to contain a record of a discussion about Mr Sheridan's libel action.

    Mr Sheridan said in his open letter yesterday that he supported Mr McCoombes in his stand against the courts but he called on the party to hand over the minutes.

    He was strongly supported in this by the membership at a party meeting yesterday.

    The members voted to hand over the minutes, and they gave Mr Sheridan a standing ovation when he arrived.

    It was clear that Mr Sheridan still enjoyed the backing of most SSP members in his battles, both against the News of the World, and internally.

    However, what surprised many was the depth of his anger and frustration at the alleged actions of some of his SSP colleagues, which poured out in his long and vitriolic letter.

    In it, Mr Sheridan said some "comrades" had "spread cruel lies knowingly and in a fashion calculated to discredit me as an individual and as a socialist".

    He said: "Over the last 18 months I have been accused of heinous crimes in a co-ordinated fashion by a group of comrades so blinded by their personal hatred and spite towards me that they have failed to see the enormous damage to the party."

    Mr Sheridan said that one female MSP accused him of "being involved in woman-trafficking, eastern European women to be precise".

    He claimed other members had "spread poison" that he "regularly used prostitutes".

    Mr Sheridan added: "According to comrades picking up stories on the pub/club and party circuit I 'regularly go to lap- dancing bars'. I am also apparently involved in 'drug dealing'."

    Mr Sheridan said his fight against the News of the World was directed against the SSP's "mortal enemy" and should have the support of all the party.

    He said he was aggrieved that this had not happened.

    Colin Fox, the SSP leader, said last night he did not believe Mr Sheridan's accusations.

    He said: "I do not think there is any truth in what he is saying. They are clearly strongly held views, but I think he is wrong."

    He added: "There is no question of anybody in the party out to get him. There is no campaign to do in Tommy Sheridan."

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    Reply with quote  #14 
    29 May 2006
    Spar stick-up.. then cops shoot suspect



    Officers searched the scene of the shooting but did not recover a gun. A police source confirmed: "No weapon has been found so far."

    The scene was still cordoned off last night and a large tent had been put up so forensics officers could work inside.

    Police were also studying the security camera tapes from the shop.

    Some residents near the shooting scene were prevented from returning to their homes for some hours.

    One local man, John Devine, said: "We thought it was pretty unreasonable not to be allowed in but the police were having a fingertip search.

    "It's a surprise what's happened. This is anice quiet area."

    It is routine in cases where police shoot suspects for an outside force to be called in to investigate. And Strathclyde Police yesterday confirmed that Lothian and Borders assistant chief constable Ian Dickinson is looking into the Somerville Drive incident.

    Mr Dickinson said: "We already have secured a great deal of evidence but are still anxious to speak to any witnesses.

    "In particular, I would welcome an opportunity to speak to anyone who saw the arrival of armed police officers and what transpired thereafter."

    Strathclyde deputy chief constable Ricky Gray said: "We take the issue of deployment of armed officers very seriously and we are well aware of the potential consequences of dealing with incidents involving firearms.

    "The rigorous training our officers receive aims to minimise any risk to life."

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    Reply with quote  #15 
    2 June 2006

    A cattle rustler was nicked by cops in New York after he crammed seven calves into the back of his two-door sports car. One cop said: "Seven cows in the back of a car is not going to go unnoticed."




    2 June 2006

    A GRAN has been arrested for hiring a hitman to kill her own grandchildren on the orders of her son

    - himself accused of child molesting.

    Versie Jackson, 59, and husband Robert, 60, were trapped in a sting operation when they met their "hitman" at a Florida motel.

    They tried to pay a $100 (£54) deposit to the assassin, who was really an undercover policeman.

    Officers believe the couple, who wanted their daughter-in - law Karen and the family dog executed alongside the three children, were carrying out a plot devised by their son Jason.

    Jason Jackson, 31, was in prison facing child abuse charges and had learned his wife and kids were due to give evidence against him.

    Versie and Robert Jackson were last night being held without bail at the Lake County Jail in Florida.


    Yesterday, daughter-in-law Karen spoke of her shock at the sick plan.

    She said: "I never saw this coming. I loved him with all my heart. He was good to me and good to the kids.

    "He was a nice guy, everybody's friend. He was like a charmer. He has to be a psychopath."

    Karen said that her in-laws had stopped speaking to her after her husband's arrest last year.

    She said she still planned to testify against him and both his parents when they appear in court.

    Investigators claim the Jacksons promised to pay more money after the family had been wiped out.

    Police spokesman Christie Mysinger said: "The couple met with the so-called hitman, where they paid him $100 cash as a down payment for the murder of the wife and her three children."



    Scotland tops list of world's most violent countries...

    A UNITED Nations report has labelled Scotland the most violent country in the developed world, with people three times more likely to be assaulted than in America.

    England and Wales recorded the second highest number of violent assaults while Northern Ireland recorded the fewest.

    The study, based on telephone interviews with victims of crime in 21 countries, found that more than 2,000 Scots were attacked every week, almost ten times the official police figures. They include non-sexual crimes of violence and serious assaults.

    Violent crime has doubled in Scotland over the past 20 years and levels, per head of population, are now comparable with cities such as Rio de Janeiro, Johannesburg and Tbilisi.

    The attacks have been fuelled by a “booze and blades” culture in the west of Scotland which has claimed more than 160 lives over the past five years. Since January there have been 13 murders, 145 attempted murders and 1,100 serious assaults involving knives in the west of Scotland. The problem is made worse by sectarian violence, with hospitals reporting higher admissions following Old Firm matches.

    David Ritchie, an accident and emergency consultant at Glasgow’s Victoria Infirmary, said that the figures were a national disgrace. “I am embarrassed as a Scot that we are seeing this level of violence. Politicians must do something about this problem. This is a serious public health issue. Violence is a cancer in this part of the world,” he said.

    Detective Chief Superintendent John Carnochan, head of the Strathclyde Police’s violence reduction unit, said the problem was chronic and restricting access to drink and limiting the sale of knives would at least reduce the problem.

    The study, by the UN’s crime research institute, found that 3 per cent of Scots had been victims of assault compared with 1.2 per cent in America and just 0.1 per cent in Japan, 0.2 per cent in Italy and 0.8 per cent in Austria. In England and Wales the figure was 2.8 per cent.

    Scotland was eighth for total crime, 13th for property crime, 12th for robbery and 14th for sexual assault. New Zealand had the most property crimes and sexual assaults, while Poland had the most robberies.

    Chief Constable Peter Wilson, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland, questioned the figures. “It must be near impossible to compare assault figures from one country to the next based on phone calls,” he said.

    “We have been doing extensive research into violent crime in Scotland for some years now and this has shown that in the vast majority of cases, victims of violent crime are known to each other. We do accept, however, that, despite your chances of being a victim of assault being low in Scotland, a problem does exist.”

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