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December 4, 2008 Posted by | Chai- Int'l Current Affairs | Leave a comment

Travel to waste or travel to save?


globemoney1

The economic crisis will inevitably affect the tourists. A good thing is that travellers is a completely different species, and with a bit of a wise planning, they can turn it into their advantage.

If you are just out of university and you are struggling to find a job while paying all your bills maybe it’s time for that break you were dreaming of since high school.

road1If you have enough money to pay your rent for the next two months, then you have enough money to spend a few more months in a cheaper country.

It is easier to organise a trip like that now, thanks to the internet. Sites like The Backpacker and the backpacking site will give you tips, ideas and guides to specific countries.

You can plan ahead your accommodation with websites like the hostel-finder and hostelword. map

It wouldn’t make much sense to travel to a country like Luxembourg or Switzerland. If you want your money to last longer, try Latin America, Africa, Asia or Eastern Europe. The British pound is still strong there and you can spend much more time in these countries than you would here, with the same amount of money.

For the practical minds, you can use this trip to gain work experience, while saving money. Either by volunteering or with part-time jobs, you can save on your accommodation and make your CV more unusual and interesting. The Prospects website offers advice but there are literally hundreds of websites with projects abroad. Be careful though, because some of them charge with ridiculous prices for their services.

Remember, when the time comes for you to find a job and settle down, it will be much harder to take a gap year or a break to travel. This period is an ideal time to do it. Leave your stuff at your parents’ house, stop spending your money on your rent and get through the economic crisis in a distant and exotic location.

When you come back, you will have more energy and experience to look for a job and let your CV stand out. Even though we can’t tell how long this crisis will last, it seems that a gap year now will give you nothing to lose.

Not to mention the places that you will see… But that’s another subject!

sky

Author: Dimitra Rizou

dimitra.rizou@my.westminster.ac.uk

all photos from microsoft clipart

November 21, 2008 Posted by | Dimitra - Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Magistrates Courts – how they operate

Virtually all-criminal cases start in the Magistrates courts.

The less serious offences are handled entirely in the magistrates court.

Over 95% of all cases are dealt with in this way. The more serious offences are passed on to the Crown Court, to be dealt with by a judge and jury.

Magistrates deal with three kinds of cases:

  • Summary offences. These are less serious cases, such as motoring offences and minor assaults, where the defendant is not entitled to trial by jury.
  • Either-way offences. As the name implies, these can be dealt with either by the magistrates or before a judge and jury at the Crown Court.
  • Such offences include theft and handling stolen goods.

A suspect can insist on their right to trial in the Crown Court. Similarly, magistrates can decide that a case is sufficiently serious that it should be dealt with in the Crown Court – which can impose tougher punishments.

Indictable – only offences, such as:

These must be heard at a Crown Court.

If the case is an indictable only offence, the involvement of the Magistrates Court is brief. A decision will be made on whether to grant bail and other legal issues, like reporting restrictions, will be considered.

The case will then be passed to the Crown Court.

If the case is to be dealt with in the Magistrates Court, the defendant will have to enter a plea.

If they plead guilty or if they are later found to be guilty, the magistrates can impose a sentence of up to six months imprisonment or a fine of up to £5,000.
If the defendant is found not guilty (if they are acquitted), they are judged innocent in the eyes of the law and should be free to go – provided there are no other cases against them outstanding.

Cases are heard either by three lay magistrates or one District Judge.
The lay magistrates, or Justices of the Peace, as they are also known, are local people who volunteer their services.
They don’t have formal legal qualifications, but are given legal and procedural advice by qualified clerks.
District Judges are legally qualified, paid, full-time professionals and are usually based in the larger cities.

By Andria Greaves, e-mail andria_greaves@yahoo.com

To see an article about a case at Brent Magistrates court, click here

November 14, 2008 Posted by | Andria - Home Current Affairs | , , , , | 1 Comment

Brent youth stays in jail rather than take early exit

Brent Magistrates Court in Willesden, North West London

Brent Magistrates Court in Neasden, North West London

By Andria Greaves

A 21 year-old Somalian from Alperton has been remanded in custody after his plea for bail was refused.

Brent Magistrates heard how on the 21st October this year, two cars had been broken into around 4.30am on St John’s Road, off Wembley High Road.

When the second vehicle was robbed of its Satellite Navigation – commonly known as Sat Navs – its owner was woken by the noise of the car alarm and saw Sayeed Ismail next to the vehicle. Police arrested him when he was boarding the number N18 bus outside Primark, Wembley. When searched, police found two Sat Nav devices identical to the ones reported missing.

Mr Ismail, of no fixed abode, has constantly declined to have a legal representative to stand for him. He’s adamant he was given the Sat Navs that he was caught with by a friend called Z, saying: “I don’t know his address or where he lives. Anyway he won’t turn up.”

When told that Z could be summoned to testify, Mr Ismail said: “ I know he’s a thief, so there’s no point in trying to get him here!”

When Mr Ismail denied the allegation, he was give the chance to have the case heard in a Crown Court but decided he would prefer to have the case held in the same magistrates court, adding: “Yeah boss, I’d rather have it heard here, get it over and done with boss.”

During his application of bail, Mr Ismail, who wore a dark blue t-shirt with a white and red logo on front with white collars around the arms and grey jogging trousers, kept saying: “I ain’t done nuttin wrong boss.”

The CPS stated there were grounds to reject bail for Mr Ismail, which was upheld by the court.

Mr Ismail, who denies the charges, is remanded in custody. The case is suspended until 9.30am the 22nd December 2008.

To find out how Magistrates court operate, click here

If you want to know more about me, don’t hesitate to contact me or view my personal blog by clicking here

November 14, 2008 Posted by | Andria - Home Current Affairs | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Barack Obama: The next President of the USA

Barack Hussein Obama was born Aug. 4, 1961, in Honolulu, Hawaii.

His father, Barack Obama, Sr., was born of Luo ethnicity in Nyanza Province, Kenya.

Hawaii

He grew up herding goats with his own father, who was a domestic servant to the British.

Although reared among Muslims, Obama, Sr., became an atheist at some point.

•    Obama’s mother, Ann Dunham, grew up in Wichita, Kansas.
•    Her father worked on oilrigs during the Depression.
•    After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, he signed up for service in World War II and marched across Europe in Patton’s army.
•    Dunham’s mother went to work on a bomber assembly line.
•    After the war, they studied on the G. I. Bill, bought a house through the Federal Housing Program, and moved to Hawaii.

Kenya

Meantime, Barack’s father had won a scholarship that allowed him to leave Kenya pursue his dreams in Hawaii.

At the time of his birth, Obama’s parents were students at the East–West Center of the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Obama’s parents separated when he was two years old and later divorced. Obama’s father went to Harvard to pursue PhD studies and then returned to Kenya.

Language

His mother married Lolo Soetoro, another East–West Center student from Indonesia.

In 1967, the family moved to Jakarta, where Obama’s half-sister Maya Soetoro–Ng was born.

Obama attended schools in Jakarta, where classes were taught in the Indonesian language.

Racism

Four years later when Barack (commonly known throughout his early years as “Barry”) was ten, he returned to Hawaii to live with his maternal grandparents, Madelyn and Stanley Dunham, and later his mother (who died of ovarian cancer in 1995).

•    He was enrolled in the fifth grade at the esteemed Punahou Academy, graduating with honors in 1979.
•    He was only one of three black students at the school.
•    This is where Obama first became conscious of racism and what it meant to be an African–American.

Degree

In his memoir, Obama described how he struggled to reconcile social perceptions of his multiracial heritage.

He saw his biological father (who died in a 1982 car accident) only once (in 1971) after his parents divorced.

•    He admitted using alcohol, marijuana and cocaine during his teenage years.
•    After high school, Obama studied at Occidental College in Los Angeles for two years.
•    He then transferred to Columbia University in New York, graduating in 1983 with a degree in political science.

Development

After working at Business International Corporation (a company that provided international business information to corporate clients) and NYPIRG, Obama moved to Chicago in 1985.

There, he worked as a community organizer with low-income residents in Chicago’s Roseland community and the Altgeld Gardens public housing development on the city’s South Side.

By Andria Greaves, e-mail: andria_greaves@yahoo.com

For more information about the journalist who said what he thought, click here

November 14, 2008 Posted by | Andria - Home Current Affairs | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Diwali: A brief history

Diwali, the Festival of Lights, is celebrated with fervor and gaiety.

The festival is celebrated by young and old, rich and poor, throughout the country to dispel darkness and light up their lives.

The festival symbolizes unity in diversity as every state celebrates it in its own special way.

Naraka Chaturdasi

The celebration of the four-day festival commences on Aswayuja Bahula Chaturdasi and concludes on Kartika Shudda Vijiya.

The first day of the festival Naraka Chaturdasi marks the vanquishing of the demon Naraka by Lord Krishna and his wife Satyabhama.

‘Puranas’ have it that Naraka, son of Bhudevi, acquired immense power from a blessing given by Lord Brahma after a severe penance.

Death

He soon unleashed a reign of terror in the kingdom of Kamarupa, harassing celestial beings with his invincible might.

•    Unable to bear the tyranny of the demon, the celestial beings pleaded with Lord Krishna to save them from his torture.
•    But Naraka could not be easily killed as he had a boon that he would face death only at the hands of his mother Bhudevi.
•    So, Krishna asks his wife Satyabhama, the reincarnation of Bhudevi, to be his charioteer in the battle with Naraka.

When Krishna feigns unconsciousness after being hit by an arrow of Naraka, Satyabhama takes the bow and aims the arrow at Naraka, killing him instantly.

Later Lord Krishna reminds her of the boon she had sought as Bhudevi.

Bonds

The slaying of Naraka by Sathyabhama could also be taken to interpret that parents should not hesitate to punish their children when they stray on to the wrong path.

The message of Naraka Chaturdasi is that the good of the society should always prevail over one’s own personal bonds.

The second day is Amavasya when Lakshmi puja is performed.

It is believed that on this day Goddess Lakshmi would be in her benevolent mood and fulfill the wishes of her devotees.

Land

One version says that it was on this day that Goddess Lakshmi emerged from Kshira Sagara (Ocean of Milk) when the Gods and demons were churning the sagara (ocean) for nectar (Amrit)

The other version is that when Lord Vishnu in the guise of Vamana, sought three feet of land from the generous demon king Bali, the latter had to surrender his head as Vamana had conquered the earth and the sky in two strides.

•    Lord Vishnu banishes Bali into the Pathala Loka (netherland) by keeping his third stride on Bali’s head.
•    Later, pleased by his generosity, Lord Vishnu grants him a boon and he in turn requests the Lord to guard his palace at Pathala Loka.

Riches

Meanwhile, the Goddess is unable to bear the separation and her grief affects the functioning of the entire universe.

Brahma and Lord Shiva offer themselves as guards and plead with Bali to relieve Vishnu.

So, on the Amavasya day, Lord Vishnu returns to his abode and Goddess Lakshmi is delighted.

It is believed that those who worship Goddess Lakshmi on this day would be bestowed with all the riches.

Homes

The third day is “Kartika Shudda Padyami.” On this day Bali would come out of Pathala Loka and rule Bhuloka as per the boon given by Lord Vishnu.

Hence, it is also known as “Bali Padyami”.

•    The fourth day is referred to as “Yama Dvitiya.” On this day, sisters invite their brothers to their homes.

•    However, in the northern part of India it is celebrated as the return of Ram along with Sita and Lakshman from his 14 years of exile after killing Ravana.

Year

To commemorate his return to Ayodhya, his subjects illuminated the kingdom and burst crackers.

For the Gujaratis, Marwaris and other business community Diwali marks the worship of Goddess Lakshmi and also the beginning of the new financial year.

For Bengalis, it is the time to worship Goddess Kali or Durga. The Goddess Durga continued her “Vilaya Tandava” even after killing demon Mahishasura.

By Andria Greaves, e-mail: andria_greaves@yahoo.com

To find out about Diwali in Harrow, click here

November 14, 2008 Posted by | Andria - Home Current Affairs | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The reporter, the resignation and Trinity Mirror

Be careful what you wish for, you might just get it! That’s an old saying that rings true for Adam Smith – no, not the economist famed and immortalised by an institute but by a reporter for the Birmingham Mail, who made a spectacular blunder.

It was only after seeing the historic win by Barack Obama that friends told him to check YouTube last week, when he saw his drunkard resignation speech, recorded by a Dutch tourist.

History

The video shows Mr Smith leaning against railings, trying to send an e-mail.

Mr Smith says: “As an ill-advised promise, I’ve decided to say to my paper back home that I’d write about the American election. I wanted to be here because I’m here for history… The trouble is, the readers are going to get my version of history. And I’m just a little pissed.”

Redundancy.

Clearly drunk, he continues by admitting plagiarism (taking credit for work that’s not yours) by admitting he lifted a story from the BBC – which has since been withdrawn – then gives a two finger salute to his employers and adds: “My name is Adam Smith…who has just resigned from the Birmingham Post and the Birmingham Sunday Mercury, to set up my own magazine…Fuck you.”

Mr Smith, along with 65 other employees, is thought to have accepted a redundancy package and is due to leave their employment by the end of the week.

Embarrassed

Now however he could be left without a redundancy package, thanks to his red-faced rant, which has forced Trinity Mirror, the parent company behind the Birmingham Mail, to deny plagiarism.

Ironically, Mr Smith is now on YouTube, trying to rectify the situation. Clearly embarrassed and stone cold sober, he states: “I was off duty, I am on official holiday working at the South Beach Miami Barack Obama campaign where I had just done an 18-hour shift trying to make the world a better place.

Fame

He goes on by adding: “Please check every BBC News outlet and see if I have cut and pasted anything. I have not, it was a joke and should be taken in the spirit it was said.”

Needless to say, Mr Smith wasn’t available for comment about his 15 minutes of fame so it was left to the editor of the Birmingham Mail, Steve Dyson, to diplomatically state: “This is an internal matter, we cannot discuss it.”

November 11, 2008 Posted by | Andria - Home Current Affairs | , | 1 Comment

Michael Crichton: A Background

The late author Michael Crichton was famous for his thought-provoking and sometimes controversial novels dealing with the possible affects of medicine and science.

He originally chose to study medicine at Harvard College, and graduate summa cum laude in 1964. His knowledge of medicine and science often became an important factor in his novels.

mcrichton2

His first bestselling novel, ‘The Andromeda Strain’ was written and published in 1969 while he was still at university, though he wrote it under the pen name John Lange.

He went on to have 25 bestselling novels from 1969 until 2006, with 13 of them being made into films: the most successful of which was the 1993 blockbuster ‘Jurassic Park’.

Strange Habits

Crichton was noted for the strange habits he picked up while writing. For his first six years as an author, he tended to write under a psydoneum: either John Lange or Jeffrey Hudson.

  • Both were a comment on his height of 6 feet 9 inches – Lange meaning tall in German and Sir Jeffrey Hudson being a famous dwarf.
  • It is rumoured that at times he could write up to 10,000 words per day – although Crichton himself said that doing so was excruciating and often left him with writers block.
  • During the process of writing, he tended to eat the same meal every day, and would start writing earlier each day towards the end of the book.

He believed that it was important to make sure the information in his books was accurate, and so throughout his life he has reseached in depth topics such as Nordic myths, genetic engineering, medieval European history and airline deregulation.

Books into Film

Many of Crichton’s bestselling books have been turned into movies, beginning with ‘The Andromeda Strain’  and including ‘The Terminal Man’ in 1974, ‘Rising Sun’ in 1993 and ‘Disclosure’ in 1994.

Jurassic Park in 1993 is the most noted adaption, and grossed $914 million: currently the 11th highest grossing feature film.

It was also thought to be a landmark film, with the use of computer generated imagery. Since the film’s release, there have been two sequels, and a third is currently being developed.

Writing Passion

Crichton has said on his website that he started writing when he was very young, after he saw his father, a journalist, typing. “I was the weird kid who wrote extra assignments the teacher didn’t ask for. i just did it because I liked writing so much”.

Although he had wanted to be a writer from an early age, he “didn’t think it was likely [he] could make a living at it, so [he] went to medical school”. He continued to write while studying however, and after graduation decided to pursue it as a career.

Michael’s family have said that he “challenged our preconcieved notions about the world around us – and entertained us all while doing so…he will be profoundly missed”.

For an article on Michael Crichton’s influence on sci-fi, Click Here

Kirstie Nicols

November 8, 2008 Posted by | Kirstie - Lifestyle | , , | 1 Comment

Sci-Fi Dies With Michael Crichton

The Jurassic Park author Michael Crichton passed away this week after a long battle with cancer, aged just 66.

He was famous for his futuristic novels, many of which have been made into films, as well as creating the hospital drama series ER.

Considered by some to be the leading authority in writing futuristic novels, his death is being seen as a severe loss to the sci-fi community.

His family have issued a statement saying that he “served as an inspiration to students of all ages, challenged scientists in many fields, and illuminated the mysteries of the world in a way we could all understand”.

Jurassic Park

One of his most famous achievements surrounds his bestselling novel ‘Jurassic Park’, published in 1990 and telling the story of genetically grown dinosoars on a secret island.

The book was made into a blockbuster hit in 1993, and was quickly followed by it’s sequel ‘The Lost World’ in 1995.

Director Stephen Spielburg said of his death “Michael’s talent outscaled even his own dinosoars…there is no one in the wings that will ever take his place”.

End Of An Era For Sci-Fi

Crichton has sold over 150 million books worldwide, many of which deal with the possible affects science and medicine could have on the world.

His agent, Lynn Nesbitt said “he had a ferocious, brilliant intellect and the ability to write entertaining narratives…I can’t think of many writers who can match that”.

Comments on The Times website following the news suggested that his works were considered both thought-provoking and entertaining. John Gibbs from Manchester said “he was the only sci fi writer for me. I wonder how many others will lose their love of sci fi with his death”.

ER Drama

The author also drew on his own history as a medical student to write stories that were set in the present. In 1994 he created the medical drama ‘ER‘ , and it is now one of NBC’s longest running dramas.

Over the years it has won five Emmy awards, one Golden Globe and three Screen Actor Guild awards. It has recently been announced that it will end its run after 15 seasons in February 2009.

The executive producer of the show John Wells, has called him “an extrordinary man. Brilliant, funny, erodite, gracious, exceptionally inquisitive and always thoughtful”.

Climate Change Scandal

In 2004, Crichton’s book ‘State of Fear’ was released. It soon recieved severe critisism for its denial of the effects the human race may have on global warming.

In an interview with the BBC he defended his suggestions, saying that “they do computer simulations and conclude that this is of human origin. The difficulty that I have with that is that I simply don’t believe computer simulations”.

The book reignited the debate between human driven global warming followers, and natural global warming followers showing the influence that Crichton had by this time.

It was awarded the American Association of Petroleum Geologists Journalism Award in 2006, and Communication Director Larry Nation told the New York Times “it is fiction, but it has the absolute ring of truth”.

The author’s newest novel, which was due for release next month and published by Harper Collins, has been postponed indefinitely.

For background information on Michael Crichton, Click Here

Kirstie Nicols

November 8, 2008 Posted by | Kirstie - Lifestyle | , , , | 1 Comment

A Rankin photoshoot? Yours for £20

Renowned photographer Rankin, who has taken the portraits of celebrities from Kylie Minogue to the Queen, today offered his photographic skills to the public – for just £20 a time.

Isobel Smith gets the Rankin treatment

Rankin fans queued outside the National Theatre on London’s South Bank to have their portrait taken against his trademark white background.

Isobel Smith, 26, from London was one of those to get the photoshoot experience.

She said:

“It was pretty amazing. I was a bit nervous but excited at the same time”

Another person waiting her turn was Jessica from Canada. She told Don’t Know? that she was excited about getting her picture taken by the celebrated photographer.

“I mean, how often do you get that chance?” she added.

Congo Crisis

The event is being held on behalf of Oxfam, with all proceeds going to the charity.

Rankin explained:

“I’m down on the South Bank today because we’re seeing a catastrophe unfolding in Congo. I visited before the current crisis and even then the level of suffering there was horrendous. I hate to think what it’s like now”

Earlier this year, Rankin travelled to the Democratic Republic of Congo to photograph refugees in the country’s Mugunga camp.

'Jasmine, Photographer' by Rankin (courtesy of Oxfam)The resulting photographs are currently being shown in an exhibition called “Cheka kidogo” outside the National Theatre.

Cheka kidogo means ‘laugh a little’ in Swahili.

Rankin shot his subjects in his traditional celebrity style. He says:

“I think we have become anaesthetised to traditional photographs of conflict victims. By taking my celebrity portraiture style of photography and applying it to the survivors in the camps in Congo I have tried to get beyond the statistics and show the human side of the conflict”

Celebrity Conflict?

But is there a risk that the involvement of a fashion photographer could trivialise the conflict?

Sean Kenny, a Press Officer for the charity, doesn’t think so. He defended the partnership with Rankin:

“He can talk to people who we wouldn’t usually hear from”

This could prove crucial as Oxfam plans to expand its presence in Congo from helping 85,000 people to 200,000. Kenny says that this will cost an extra £1 million.

The Rankin event won’t have raised quite that much this time around; only about 35 people had signed up to have their photos taken by 12.30.

The principle behind it is sound though, thought one woman waiting to have her picture taken:

“If you appeal to people’s vanity,you’ll do well” she said.

For background information on Rankin, click here.

By Helen Catt

helen.catt@my.westminster.ac.uk

November 7, 2008 Posted by | Helen-Culture | , | 2 Comments