Sunday, 25 March 2012

Stories that Seized the Day

(A review of stories that emblazoned headlines last week)

Citizen X

A crazed gunman in France, who claimed to be avenging the deaths of Palestinian children and military operations abroad, went on a killing spree, ending the lives of seven innocent people. He was cornered in his flat by the French police. A 36-hour siege ensued. A bullet through his head sent him over the hedge.
The story got a bit fuzzy at some point. First we were told he had links with Al Qaeda. Then later, he had no links with Al Qaeda. Some commentators on news sites claimed it was convenient propaganda by the French government as Sarkozy seeks re-election. 

I can’t tell because I am not an aficionado of French intercultural relations. What baffles me is when a ‘citizen’ of a country turns on his/her own. I hate French people, I hate France, and oh, by the way I’m a French citizen! How incongruous! It’s like speaking from both sides of one’s mouth.  Citizenship is a lot more than a piece of paper allowing uninhibited entry into the borders of a country…or would you disagree? What does it mean to be a citizen of a country?

B is for Brouhaha
The big brouhaha in Britain last week was all about the B word. British Chancellor, George Osborne, revealed his budget for the year. In a nutshell, it entailed apportioning more taxes for some and reducing taxes for others. The tax increase that made jaws drop was the nicknamed ‘granny tax’. Simply put, over 65-year-olds (pensioners) would no longer enjoy tax allowances that enabled them save up to 85 pounds a year. The backlash was furious. These are old, frail people that have worked their backs off in their youth, and now the meager income they are surviving on is being taxed even further.
But here’s the fact: the British government borrowed millions of pounds in the thick of the recession. It is saddled with enormous debts and has to make up for it. A country that is not resource rich has to claw back the pennies somehow.
Big question: Who should be made the donkey that bears the burden?
The rich? So now people are punished for hard work and ambition!
The middle class? Come on! They are not immune to financial struggles you know!
The poor? THE Poor THE POOR – how dare you!!!
Corporations? Nah…we’d only be shooting ourselves in the hands and feet – that will be shutting down the economy!
All right then, who should bear the brunt of taxation???

Man's Worst Friend
While dogs might have the reputation as being man’s best friend, some breeds are better off in the bush!  Poor English policemen that went on a raid only to walk away with chunks of flesh missing from their bodies and their blood bathing the pavement, all thanks to a ferocious pit bull dog that was living in the house they broke into.

I have one thing to say: it’s high time the policemen are armed. It’s not a good idea to have law enforcement agents walking the streets with a truncheon that cannot even defend them against a dog! Last week a policeman was buried after committing suicide. He was blinded by a fugitive who shot him at point blank as he sat in his car. In the end, he couldn’t cope with the upheaval to his life.  
In this day and age, it is far too idealistic to have unarmed policemen walking the streets…something’s got to change. I’m sure you’ll agree. 

No Money No Wine 
Bad news for young people in Britain who equate fun with getting smashed on booze, throwing up, going naked and ending up in Accident and Emergency; the cost of alcohol is going up. The government last week unveiled plans to tackle binge drinking – a nationwide scourge – by increasing the cost of alcohol. A heavy drinker could pay 135 pounds more annually.  Supermarkets are also banned from discount deals.
Million-dollar question: will it work? When I was a student I always asked classmates who enjoyed getting sloshed on alcohol, why? Why not just go for a pint without getting wasted. Honestly, not a single soul could tell why. It was just something they did.
The government is tackling the symptoms not the root cause. But how do you tackle the root cause? Is that really practical or even possible?

These were the stories that lit my headlines last week. What do you make of them?  What stories lit your headline in your part of the world – Canada, United Kingdom, Nigeria, South Africa, Russia, Germany…?
And PLEASE PLEASE don’t go quiet on me. Your comment is the fuel that keeps my passion for Fresh Angle running. Kindly indulge me with your views! Thanks a million in advance.


  1. Well i don't think the french citizen is crazy at all. I think he had his anger misplaced. Yes a lot of children and women have been killed in many third world countries but the world clearly doesn't value each life equally. However, I don't believe going about killing people is the right way or justified in anyway.

    The Pit-bull attacking the officer is just unfortunate. However i don't blame it one bit. Considering a pit-bull is genetically inclined and trained to protect its owner. So it is expected that it attacks when 5 able bodied men bust into its home without any caution.

    Keep up the good work fresh angle!!!

  2. Chuks, thank you for your comment. The French guy might not be crazy but he is certainly ga ga. If his aim was to avenge the deaths of his brothers abroad, he should target the perpetrators of violence. And I stand by my opinion, if he is a citizen of France then how can he reconcile his hatred for the country with his nationality?

    About the pit bull, it is incredulous that five able bodied men burst into a house unarmed! I think the pit bull and its genetic inclination is better off some Siberian forest.

    I appreciate your comments & encouragement. Fresh angle will certainly keep up the good work. Thank you.

  3. Thanks for the Outlook Fresher Angle. I agree that the 'Frenchman' must have been a bit nutty. Most likely his greatest problem was the inability to integrate in a multicultural society. I don't think he really saw himself as fitting into the present 'French' society.
    The British 'granny tax' doesn't seem easy to swallow. If those that are still able to work find it difficult to cope, how on earth can those retired be expected to handle increased taxes better. I think the government could have shared it amongst the non-pension and non-children class. They are the ones with the ability to work right?

  4. Having watched the officers fight with the pit bull dog, I agree with your perspective FresherAngle, weapons are needed for effective defense against crime in any country.
    On the other hand, ironically, the first thing that came to my mind when watching the video was if more effective use couldn't have been made of the elements at the officers disposal? I thought police officers in the UK wear extremely strong boots? Couldn't one of them have pitched the dog a kick in the jaw (or private parts)? That would have made it run for its dear life! Maybe I am mis-reading the video, but that was supposed to be 5 officers against one dog. Were they a bit too tentative? Or is this one of the things that comes from our attitude of seeing a dog as a freind of man to an over-extensive extent? Since I was not in their shoes, I cannot sufficiently analyse the situation.
    As for the increased price of alcohol, I still saw vomit all about the street last Friday here in London, England, so I don't think that the prices will make that much difference. The only difference might be in where the drunkeness takes place, but it will not prevent it. What needs to be changed is an attitude, which not only will a few pounds not change; but worse still I am guessing that Cameron and his government don't know how to change. Who knows, they themselves may be subjective to the binge drinking habit, the only difference being that they can afford it!

  5. Dlaw, thank you very much for your comments. You made a good point about the French guy not being able to integrate into a multicultural society. That is a big problem.

    On the pit bull attack, I also think the policemen were a bit too scared to tackle the dog. They were running round it and weren't proactive in rescuing their beleaguered colleagues.

    Once again, thank you for your comments. I appreciate.

    1. Oh how i knew the statement "target the perpetrators of violence" was coming. The question i want to ask you is who exactly are the perpetrators? Who should afgan and Iraqi citizens target for killing over 1 million of their people? Who do Nigerians target for polluting the Niger delta and essentially giving us 40% of our crude oil while taking 60% after all is said and done? Who do you target when multi-corperations use towns in several countries in Africa as a test ground for some medical drug? Its really not black and white and i find it particularly annoying when I hear that phrase "target the perpetrators of violence" because there isnt exactly a figure head if you havent noticed.

      Again I do not condole violence so the only option is awareness. Just maybe enough exposure to these facts will rise awareness that will facilitate change. But the next question is How do you raise awareness when most of the new outlets are just moppets of the so called "perpetrators" who can make a common cold sound like its the end of the world (bird flu ). What chance does anyone stand against a well oiled propanganda machine? Not a great deal of chance i tell you

  6. Chuks, honestly, blame namby pamby countries should blame themselves not the multinationals and the West. By nature man is greedy, selfish and depraved. The oil giants in Nigeria care about profit first of all & if the government is too much of a wimp to enforce environmental standards - too bad. If you don't take care of your own biz, nobody else will.

    I can only make exception for countries like Afghanistan where civilians are killed randomly.

    As for propaganda machines; everything is propaganda - it cannot be helped. What the 'third world' can do is go back to the drawing table and have another stab at NWICO - New World Communication and Info Order. It failed but has a good platform - info about developing countries by developing countries for developing countries; basically they will take control of their news.

    Anyway, it's nice we are having this debate. Thank you once again for your comments.

  7. A French citizen killing French people because some bad guys killed French people...the thought of it is crazy. If he wanted to kill anyone, then maybe he should have targetted those in power who didn't do anything about the killings.

    Even dogs understand survival of the fittest. In the first place, why should policemen enter a house unharmed? What if they met a crazy man pointing a shot gun straight at them? I guess they were lucky that it was just a dog. Anyway, I think they didn't want to take it all out on the dog because it's an animal and it doesn't belong to them. In this part of the world, if that should happen, all we need is to fling a tyre on it, pour some fuel and light a match (I wouldn't do that but I know guys who will).

    As for tax, the government just has to take it out on someone. But doing that to the old people is really not fair. They've stopped working and have no other source of income. The government could have just taken it out on those still working so they can plan their retirement.

  8. I agree, Lanre, but those in power are far less accessible so that would be a problem.

    The big surprise would have been if the police broke into the house and the dog sat tamely watching them, or worse still, wagged its tail and welcomed them with open arms. They broke down the door of its house so it warranted violence on the dogs part. But as I said, they should be armed. Their lives are too precious not to be.

    The working pay most of the tax most times. Right now the government is really scraping the bottom of the barrel, so the poor pensioners will have to feel the bite too.

    1. I agree, Lanre, but those in power are far less accessible so that would be a problem.

      The big surprise would have been if the police broke into the house and the dog sat tamely watching them, or worse still, wagged its tail and welcomed them with open arms. They broke down the door of its house so it warranted violence on the dogs part. But as I said, they should be armed. Their lives are too precious not to be.

      The working pay most of the tax most times. Right now the government is really scraping the bottom of the barrel, so the poor pensioners will have to feel the bite too.

      I appreciate your comment.