The sudden death of 55 year old ex-Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy due to a haemorrhage brought on by alcoholism should be a wake-up call to us all. It demonstrates just how damaging to the body alcohol is and it’s no doubt that if people reduced their intake by a few glasses a week, they not only could they lengthen their lives and improve the quality of their lives, but the NHS would have millions of more pounds to spend on people who are not suffering self-inflicted injuries. If you eliminated all the costs involved in treating people with all their self-inflicted obsessions – like drinking and smoking- the NHS would be rolling in cash (to say nothing of the improvement to people´s quality of life).  TV flashbacks highlighting Charles Kennedy´s life showed how gifted in plain common sense he was. He was also a great orator and had a sharp wit too, like when he appeared on TV shows like Have I Got News For You. But perhaps his greatest claim to fame was his total opposition to the Iraq war, pointing out that Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction was not proved(It’s a shame that Parliament and the US chose to believe the rantings of Bush and Tony Blair, both men puffed up with religious fervour and claiming God was on their side). Well, look at the results – no weapons of mass destruction and instead, the removal of a regime, giving birth to something far worse, more religious extremism in the shape of the Islamic State. But back to Charles Kennedy. Yes, he drank too much, but his political opponents should never have used it in the way they did to effectively destroy him. The SNP need to look long and hard at themselves, their tactics, their motives and what they are actually doing to Scotland. They bombarded Kennedy with hate messages on social media sites, verbally abused him, even upturning rubbish bins and strewing litter all over his garden. All this must have been appalling for an already vulnerable man. This is not the sort of behaviour you expect from a civilised society – it’s the sort of nonsense you get when sufficient numbers of people become obsessed with a cause. It happened in Germany and eventually led to WW2, and what´s more worrying, it´s happening in Russia today spurred on by nationalist rhetoric from Putin. Nationalism is a powerful tool for good in the right hands, and a total destroyer if it gets out of hand.

TONY MAYES BEWARE OF NATIONALISM

Politicians are well known to slant facts to suit themselves, and religious leaders are also adept at the same thing. Put the two together and you’ve got the recipe for a huge cocktail of half-truths.
Tony Blair’s Faith Foundation contains an article examining the rise of the Islamic State but makes scant reference to Britain’s involvement including that Iraq war again! The background piece gives an in-depth analysis of the emergence of the IS terror group from its roots in 2002 – a year before the invasion – to its current stranglehold over vast swathes of Iraq and Syria. But it makes little mention of the role the US and British operation played, referring only to ‘Iraq’s descent into chaos between 2003 and 2007’. The invasion of Iraq and the ousting of Saddam Hussein is widely regarded as the catalyst for the rise of sectarian extremism in Iraq. It was also reported that a US prison camp in Iraq effectively created the terror group because jihadists were housed in the same vicinity with free time to devise their terror plans. Blair has a lot to answer for in the mess created in the Middle East and society needs to understand and learn the lessons, and we don’t need people with political or religious motives to try to re-write history.

The NSPCC is drawing attention to an appalling video on Facebook. It showed a “terrified, sobbing baby” being dunked repeatedly in a bucket of water. She was twisted by her arms and held upside down from her legs as she was picked up and partly submerged in the water dozens of times. This is a new “craze” of baby yoga – but the NSPCC says it is nothing less than child abuse and wants the Government to step in with far greater control of the content on social media sites. I cannot agree more. I belong to one site and am appalled at the drivel which gets posted on it by people. I cannot think of anything more boring than sitting in front of a computer putting every aspect of their lives for people to read. Are people so vain that they believe others want to know that they’ve had a walk along the beach; where they’ve gone for lunch or dinner and who with or whether they’ve had a hard day at the office? But that’s just boring crap from people who haven’t got much going in their lives. It’s a whole lot worse when hate messages are posted. People have learned down the centuries to control themselves most of the time in public – until drink or drugs loosen their tongues. But when those same outwardly controlled people get behind a computer in the privacy of their homes or behind the wheel of a car where they feel they are ‘safe’, the true then comes out.
I’ve received the most appalling e-mails from people who appear so meek and mild and would never say boo to a goose in public. It just demonstrates to me that we may act as though we are civilised, but the primitive animal lurks just below the surface, itching to get out in front of a computer screen.
There’s an interesting State versus Church clash happening in France over euthanasia. Normally I´m condemning the European Court of Human Rights for blocking the British government from deporting foreign criminals, saying they should have the right to a family life where they are living.
But now I am applauding them for upholding a court verdict to allow a 40-year-old man who has been in a coma for seven years following a motorcycle accident, to be taken off life support. The case was taken to Europe last year after France’s highest court had ruled in favour of ending his life support. It sparked fierce debate in France where euthanasia is illegal, although doctors can withdraw care. His wife and some of his brothers and sisters had agreed with the recommendation that his life be ended as there was no hope of recovery. But Mr Lambert’s parents – devout Roman Catholics – and his other siblings argued that his life was not over and that he simply needed better care. Here´s another clash with religion I hope will soon be resolved, as people should have the right to choose to die with dignity.

I couldn´t possibly let my column go without some reference to FIFA, corruption and the appalling damage the revelations have done to world of football. Power (and money) corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. How true that is! Whether it´s top flight football, big business, or international politics, money will be used as leverage. But it’s sickening that corruption adds 10% on global prices and the poorest nations and the people living in them get hurt the hardest by it. In Europe, Romania has topped a league table of EU fraud investigations, with a quarter of the cases coming from there. The top four countries were all Eastern European, with Romania followed by Hungary, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic, whilst Britain came bottom of the list. The EU fraud watchdog has now called on the EU to try and recover more than 900 million euros of taxpayers’ money lost from its budget to suspected fraud last year, which is double the figure of the previous year. It just shows, the bigger the organisation, the larger the number of crooks there are likely to be in it. How you stop it heaven knows, but one thing is for sure – we would all be a lot better off without it. And Britain would be a lot better off if it wasn´t importing fraudsters from Eastern Europe via the EU!!

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