It’s that time, when one sits back and reflects and comprehends what we saw in a year that went too fast for some and not enough for many more. A year that exploded with talks and murmurs of the Euro Crises and Arab Spring uprisings in Egypt and Yemen led to the western world holding its break as North Korea launched and defied sanctions with a rocket that came down faster than it rose.
The Summer months saw a build up of election madness in the US that carried controversy after controversy before London 2012 temporarily reduced unemployment in Great Britain and produced stars and inspired a generation. Mr Munch’s Scream, moved on for just shy of the cost of Christiano Ronaldo as CERN and The Mars Rover push the boundaries of science and exploration.
The first Bionic Eye opens a window to a new world as Islamic blinkers are tightened with the Innocence of Muslims while Felix Baumgartner shows the potential of the human mind and body with Hurricane Sandy reminds us Mother Nature can take lives in the blink of an eye.
The Gaza crisis heightens as children are blown to pieces in Connecticut without the feeble excuse of a superhero movie while lunatics and fanatics destroy one of the greatest monuments from the ancient world as the world almost ends.
Why the EU got a peace prize and Obama got awarded is still a wonder to most as Dick Clark and Whitney Houston show awards are worth very little when life ends and we move into the next realm of our existence.
With a world that didn’t end surely we can dare to dream and hope for a better 2013, a year where less innocent people die where drought and mother nature can be tackled better and harnessed and where many must not only see a new year but also a new fishing bowl of possibility where all one can do is cast a line and wait for a bite.
“Running into debt isn’t so bad. It’s running into creditors that hurts”
With the lack of job prospects in the UK affecting so many, hundreds of Britons are being forced to turn to alternative means to get enough money to get by, week in week out.
The Sheffield Debt Support Unit has found it’s resources pushed to the limits over the past twelve months as the number of debt related issues get more common and more complex. The main issue with the cases Steve Wilcox and his team are dealing with seem to be with money lenders who charge inflated interest rates to those who are desperately in need of pay day loans and emergency loans.
With banks getting more restrictive and credit ratings plummeting, the uptake in online loans and demands on doorstep lenders is getting to the point where the bubble has to burst.
Getting advice and good advice at that can either bring you out of debt quickly and effectively or push you further in. With debt advisors popping up across the UK and online, getting impartial and full advice seems to be the key to moving forward. Yet many advisors are only in the game to prey on those who are vulnerable and tie them into five and six year debt management plans that leave many in a far worse situation than when they started.
Ralph Keene, is a debt advisor with charity Christians Against Poverty and feels that debt is an issue that can easily affect any or all of us in our lifetimes.
“Internet is the quick and easy option”
With mounting debts and the current recession showing few signs of recovery, Jacqueline Halliwell of Sheffield Credit Union feels Yorkshire and the UK needs to curb over spending and cut down on a lifestyle that British citizens take for granted due to credit cards and loans. She says she has found that the internet is proving to be the get out card for people in Sheffield and beyond when they owe money to loan sharks. She said the Credit Union has found that they are now dealing with clients who not only owe money to doorstep lenders but money to e-loan websites to keep the doorstep lenders at bay.
With stricter licensing laws for money lenders and caps on interest rates may come the suppression of lending at the outrageous rates of over 100% apr that have affected so many in the past few years. Yet it seems as though while as soon as the Office of Fair Trading shuts some lenders down others will appear or the previous ones will reappear under different names. As long as demand exists for quick loans and we continue to buy beyond our means then loan sharks and shrewd debt advisors will continue to practice.
Ireland as a getaway from London, not Scotland, not Wales, but a different country! Seems daft, but could be quiet a clever move for the recession hit nation.
During the Celtic Tiger years the Irish tourism industry boomed. Riverdance, dodgy international boy bands and a history of strong American visitors helped the nation establish itself as a beacon of peace and tranquility for visitors.
Now with just under ten days until the Olympics kick off, Tourism Ireland is never one to miss a genuine opportunity. Whether it was drafting in Jedward after their Eurovision appearance for an ad campaign or now hopping on the Olympic bandwagon.
The clever and quirky campaigns feature the theme of “escape the madness” with Ireland portrayed as a quieter, relaxing alternative to the bustle and madness of inner city London.
The video is partially voiced by The IT Crowd actor Chris O’Dowd and maximizes the humorous side of a culture known for its happy-go-lucky attitude to life.
Over 2600 years ago the tragedy Oedipus Rex by Sophocles touched on the issue of incest in our society.
With the high profile case of Gerry Ryan and Penny Lawrence and now Mistie Atkinson and her teenage son, it is an issue that is making headlines across the world.
In the late 1980s incest was elaborated on and a new term GSA, or Genetic Sexual Attraction was created by Barbara Gonyo, the founder of Truth Seekers In Adoption. The GSA website states “Genetic Sexual Attraction or GSA occurs between two adults who have been separated during the critical years of development and bonding and are reunited years later as adults.”
With relaxation of adoption laws in the 1970s and now with more prevalent use of sperm banks the issues of impregnating your unknown or recently known offspring or siblings has come more and more into mainstream media.
Gonyo herself met the son she put up for adoption when he had grown up and found herself sexually attracted to him. With the advances in social networking those who are put up for adoption can trace their birth parents quicker and more effectively. This was the case in both the Ryan/Lawrence and Atkinson examples.
When not growing up in the same environment the desire for a connection between family members can manifest itself in the form of the Atkinson and Lawrence/Ryan scenarios. The Westermark Effect coined by Finnish anthropologist Edvard Westermark, has found close domestic proximity between children and parents during the first few years of their lives leads them to becoming desensitized to later sexual attraction which was lacking in the aforementioned situations.
Atkinson says that “I don’t feel like I should have the charge of incest because there is something called genetic attraction that is a very powerful that happens to 50% of people becoming reunited with a long-lost relative”. Her use of the defense of Genetic Sexual Attraction more than likely will not stand up in court and she faces charges of lewd contact with a minor and distribution of lewd material to a minor.
Yet her drawing on the issue will generate further discussion on an issue that psychologists have and continue to argue over for the past three decades.
In a society that tells us being famous is perfection, becoming a celebrity is a goal and true success comes in magazine covers and news headlines one man has achieved all he ever dreamed of.
Luka Rocco Magnotta desired fame to the point of creating a life he did not lead. His social networking profiles and pictures showed a jet setting lifestyle yet behind it all was a young man taken in by celebrity culture. He desired fame so much he associated himself with serial killer Karla Homolka to gain exposure in media circles.
In an audition tape for Cover Guy, Luka whose birth name is Eric Newman seemed uneasy with taking criticism to his physique when auditioning as a model but compensated by mentioning he was “devastatingly good looking”. The young man with a deep voice also surfaced in a NakedNews interview where he spoke of his career as an escort and model. He portrayed his lifestyle of “lots of sex and lots of travel” as an enviable one and described himself on more than one occasion as a “people person”.
Luka came across as proud that through his escorting he moved in circles of influential people and those with power, he felt in turn that he held power through his sexual prowess of which he alluded to on numerous occasions in the NakedNews interview.
It is a bizarre world where the search for fame leads you into lap dancing and escorting to feel influential and “celebrated”, but one that is not uncommon.
Last summer i spoke with a young escort in New York who also dreamed of fame and fortune and said his tale was not unique. A broken home, rejected for his sexual orientation and taken in by a life he desired but could only live through selling his body lead to situations where Luka Magnotta’s are created.
Luka once tweaked Karla Homolka’s wikipedia page to gain fame and see himself as a celebrity but now his own page stands as a testament to the fact he has fulfilled his life goal. Luka Rocco Magnotta is known the world over, not for being a model but for being a cannibal.
When Fabrice Muamba collapsed when playing for Bolton against Tottenham Hotspur the worlds media stopped and stared. On March 17th of this year his life changed and so did the views of many youth athletes looking towards a summer of sport. With the London Olympics and England in European Football action the summer promises to take Britons into the parks and and onto the jogging tracks.
With an alarming 26% of British citizens male and female classified as obese according to a 2012 NHS report, one would think this summer of sport would be a welcome one. However with such focus on extreme exercise comes the risk of cardiac arrest.
The uptake in marathons and half marathons in the UK has been rapid in the past half decade with 1.8 million amateur athletes currently in the UK and according to the United Kingdom Athletics Association this is set to rise further.
I spoke with Professor Sanjay Sharma of St Georges Hospital who is also the Medical Director of the London Marathon. He warned of the dangers of not training effectively and preparing the body for such extreme strain. He said the amateur athletes most in danger are the ones who are not running around in rabbit costumes but the young men especially who push themselves from the four to the three hour mark. With the issue of Cardiac problems being brought into the mainstream media regarding Muamba he said there are times when electric imbalances in the heart due to genetic disorders can affect what seem like perfectly fit and healthy sports men and women.
Professor Sharma’s words proved accurate when looking at the case of Sean Rodgers a triathlete from the Doncaster region who has died twice. With out any prior warning or any affects and in perfect health, his heart stopped for fifteen minutes and he woke up a week later after entering a coma. The second time his defibrillator kicked in after 37 seconds and said that the device saved his life and will aid Muamba’s heart moving forward.
Very little is still known of these sudden and unexpected heart attacks that affect 1 in 50,000 Britons every year and the C-R-Y institute in London and Professor Sharma are working hard to find a solution knowing it will be some time before the issue of Sudden Death Syndrome is fully understood.
” It’s been a long road and an eventful twelve months for Richard and Julia O’Dwyer. The Sheffield Hallam student and his mother now know their journey is not over yet.
The young web designer will have to potentially up to six more months before his appeal is addressed.
The fight to keep Richard in the country has led to thousands of supporters online and his petition has been signed by over 25,000 people.
With his appeal being pushed back from it’s original date of July 30th it will mean a long summer lies in wait for the computer science student who is entering the final year of his degree.
Home Secretary Theresa May ruled in January that Richard could be extradited to the US where he could face up to five years in jail.
His mother Julia spoke to me earlier and once again reiterated the fact that this case is not over and she will not giving up fighting for justice for her son.
When Obama was questioned on the Tvshack.net creators potential extradition he refused to address the case directly and said “i can say broadly, intellectual property should be protected”.
The case was brought against Richard by the US Immigration and Customs agency which says that TVShack.net earned more than $230,000 (£147,000) in advertising revenue before US authorities seized the domain in June 2010 and then a few months later in January 2011 produced a warrant for the seizure.
The website only held links and did not host any copyrighted content. A recent freedom of information request to the UK home Office showed that no US citizen has been extradited to the UK for any crime committed on US soil, this recent revelation supports the voices of campaigners in the UK who have long argued that the extradition treaty is imbalanced in favour of protecting US citizens who have additional protections in the First Amendment.
A Sheffield shop keeper has been violently attacked by hammer-wielding thugs merely six months after being stabbed three times in an armed raid.
Michael Wiles, 58, has been running his shop on Langsett Road for over 35 years, suffering over six robberies since 2002. His father was also a victim in 2007 when he died after an argument with youth offenders over selling single cigarettes.
Michael is determined to carry on though and will not give in.
“You’ve just got to keep battling, get through the rough and jog on. I’ve been here for nearly 40 years and its only in the last 10 I’ve had this problem”, he stated.
“There’s a target on smaller business, because bigger places have got security. They won’t attack there, but I’m just on my own. There’s one or two who just want to be Mr Big Gangster”, Michael said.
The latest attack occurred after a football game when two hooded thugs attempted to rob the shop of its day’s takings. After Michael tried to defend himself and the shop, one attacked him with a hammer hitting in him the side of the head and shoulder five times, while the masked accomplice kept guard of the door. Police are investigating the incident, using CCTV footage.
“They know they get away with it a lot of the time, if they want to cause trouble, you can’t stop them really ” Michael said.
It is nearly six months to the day that Michael was stabbled in the stomach, ribs and shoulder after a group of armed raiders attempted to steal cash from the till. Michael said: “You’re just never expecting it. I check my doors every five minutes, when I see any doubtful characters I just clear off. If I don’t get it someone else will.”
In 2010 Michael was also attacked by a robber who tried to gouge his eyes out with a tent peg, and in 2002 he was smashed in the head with a wrench. Michael also receives frequent abuse from drunks and underage teenagers who want to buy cigarettes.