County Council: Death By A Thousand Cuts

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Lingchi was an an ancient Chinese torture method which is more widely known in the west as death by a thousand cuts, a torture method this council seems to have adopted as its model for local government policy.

Make no mistake that sooner or later people will die because of the butchering of our local services, make no mistake that people are already suffering under the brunt of the county councils new torture regime.

This is an ideological restructuring of local government, the Tories have already committed themselves to destroying the state on a national level, and now their cronies at a local level are going full steam ahead with this ideological mission in their destruction of local services.

Removing lifelines for some and completely changing the face of our local services, is of course spruced up with fancy words like “efficiency savings” but regardless of what words they use to make these cuts more palatable it will never disguise them from the cold hard reality, and when reality bites believe me people will be angry.

Earlier this year the County Council agreed to outsource all its services, and now it is going to be cutting a further £77 million from its budget, no doubt they love to gamble with the future of our town, sadly the only losers in this will be us, the people of Northampton.

As it was reported the budget “Proposals include a reduction in children’s centre services, a reduction in funds for the fire service and highways maintenance, a cut in the subsidies given to the bus services, the cessation of Nourish school meals service and decommissioning two care homes run by Olympus Care Services.”

Just how much more do they think the people can take? Just how much more of this burden do we have to shoulder? We were never responsible for the recession, yet time and again we are the ones footing the bill.

These cuts, like the cuts at national level are being billed as the only way, that there is no alternative, but this is pure political posturing, there is always an alternative. When these cuts continue to hammer home just keep one thing in mind, there is but one group of people to blame for them; The Conservative Party.

We are now locked into a race to the bottom, and who knows where it will end? No support for young people, no care for the elderly? Just how far are they willing to fall, and how much suffering are we going to have to endure?

Instead of a council with a commitment to slash and burn, how great would it be to have a council committed to helping the people? To homing the homeless, to protecting those that need it, to investing in the future of the town.

Because that is the alternative, investment, investing in the future instead of planting the seeds of this towns suffering, creating revenue outside of tax. We are expected to believe that outsourcing and businesses (which we will be paying to carry out these services), will be more efficient.

Well why is that the case? Instead of throwing money at private companies (making them very rich), surely the brilliant minds in government can operate these things as good, if not better. Instead of them being operated for the profit of private companies they should and could be operated for the improvement of the town, for the benefit of the people.

The governments in post war Britain recognised this, that is how they dug their way out of a 200% deficit, through investment, through public ownership, and ultimately through a commitment to helping people, instead of cutting them piece meal.

Just how much more can the council take? How much more can we take?

What are your views on the cuts? Are you afraid of the future? Let me know in the comments.

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FFVII – Is The Hype Train Running Out Of Steam?

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A new trailer – is it the end of the line for the hype train?

Fears were perhaps realised by some over the nature of the new battle system with the release of the new trailer, and a further announcement about an episodic release has caused quite a stir around one of the best stories ever told.

Every FF fan and his dog has been waiting for this game for a very, very, very, very, very, very, very loooooonnnnnngggggggg time. If you are like me you would have had an untold amount of late night beer fueled discussions about your hopes and expectations for any future possible remake.

Ultimately they would boil down to two camps, the traditonalist/purist camp which believes everything should stay exactly the same with updated graphics, and the modernisation camp which in and of it self is so diverse that it could mean anything from including additional content, to reworking systems.

I personally fall somewhere between the two but it doesn’t matter anymore, those late night beer fueled fantasies are now becoming final with the remake, and with each piece of new information we receive, peoples nostalgia will either be attacked or eased.

The job they have is a difficult one, it will be impossible for them to please every fan, and even harder for them to fulfill the expectations of those waiting a decade or so for their dreams to be realised.

Playing with dreams is a bit like playing with fire, someone is going to get burnt.

The new battle system, it may or may not work but until we actually play it, it is going to be impossible to tell, but I have to admit I was disappointed to say the least that we were not getting a new and improved ATB-turn based battle system and instead getting a button-mashing action based system.

But you know I let that slide because well FFVII REMAKE!?!??!!?!

Then I heard the news; FFVII is going to be an episodic release. At first the voices inside my head brought me to my knees and all I could do was hold the side of my head in despair.

After passing out for a while and getting brought to my senses by a strange passer by in nothing but a thong, a few deep breaths passed before my original skepticism abated and I began to rationalise and come to terms with the news.

An episodic release could work in fact it could work really well, if the content of each episode is a million times more than what we are accustomed to with telltale, and the releases are close enough that we do not have to wait years or months between falling through a church roof and leaving Midgar.

Imagine a cringe worthy cliff hanger as the game cuts out as Sephiroth falls to the ground his sword aimed at that special someone, only for the screen to fade to black and the words “CATCH US NEXT TIME… BROUGHT TO YOU BY SHIN-RA INC” flash across our screens – how long would your console last before you threw it out the window in anger and disgust?

The news that each episode will have a different feel and be as big as a game in and of it self helped to alleviate some fears as well, after all if each episode is going to have a different feel, maybe they will release an episode that has a battle system true to the original?

Either way  a new trailer and some new announcements later, make no mistake this old beauty has plenty of steam left in her.

ALL ABOARD THE HYPE TRAIN, NEXT STOP SECTOR 1 STATION!

Syria: Too many bombs spoil the broth

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By the time you are reading this the die would of already been cast, parliament will of already decided to extend its war into another country, or it will have not, but one thing is for certain there is no end in sight for the war on terror.

Ask yourself do you believe the world is a safer place?

A safer place after Iraq, after Afghanistan and after Libya?

After Mali and all the other skirmishes against the war on terror. Have all the bombs, all the dead soldiers and all the wasted life made you feel more secure in your home?

When you turn your light off at night and put your head down to rest do you rest easy and comfortable in the fact that you know British bombs are being dropped on foreign countries, and people and soldiers are dying in far flung lands?

I for one do not feel any safer in fact if the media is to be believed I should feel less safe now than I did in 2001.

In Afghanistan and Iraq we brought our full military might to bear, as did the coalition forces and what did we ultimately achieve? Did we wipe out Al-Qaeda, did we stamp out terrorism?

Nope, in fact we did the complete opposite.

As the former head of MI5 Baroness Manningham-Buller stated: “Our involvement in Iraq radicalised, for want of a better word, a whole generation of young people – not a whole generation, a few among a generation – who saw our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan as being an attack upon Islam.”

She went on to state that our military involvement in both places substantially increased the terror threat to this country.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, if then with our full military might we actually made this country unsafe, then what do we expect to achieve with just our air force?

The phrase “if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail” comes to mind but we don’t just have a hammer, we have a multitude of tools that we could be using to bring about an end to ISIS, so the question has to be asked, why are we not using them?

A military solution with no end game in sight, no way out, no plan for victory is just a repeat of the same mistakes which brought us to this dreadful place in the first place.

We need to be utilizing all the tools available to us to combat ISIS, throwing more bombs into the war will not defeat this enemy, it is an ideology you cannot defeat it with bullets.

The generals in the First World War are discredited in history for their pig headed stubbornness in throwing young lads over the tops to their deaths, even though the tactics were not working they continued onwards.

The same can be said with the war on terror, our military actions have been counter productive, it is time we look at changing our tactics.

We can put pressure on regional countries which are making ISIS possible, go after the source of their income, cut off their weapons and ammo supplies.

Look into diplomacy with Russia and Assad, while at the same time support regional forces which have proven they can be reliable, the Kurds for example.

The choice isn’t between bombs or more bombs, there is more than one way to combat and ultimately defeat ISIS.

Funnily enough our allies Turkey have been bombing the hell out of one of the only forces in Syria which have been truly successful against ISIS, the Kurds in Rojava, and their allies.

Our efforts however to pursue non-military measures against ISIS are hampered by the fact some of our “allies” are less than willing to help.

In the end the only people that will profit from dropping bombs are arms companies and terrorist organisations which can use it as a propaganda tool. If anything with each bomb dropped we are further away from our goal, because inevitable each bomb either causes civilian casualties or takes us that much closer to the bomb that will.

For example when the USA bombed a Doctors without Borders hospital, I’m sure that caused a lot of terror to those involved but it is ok, because well they apologised so it makes it all better, right? I’m sure the victim families really understood that by killing their loved ones we were doing it to protect them in the long run of course.

If our recent history is to believed however one thing is for certain this will end in failure. What are your views on Syrian intervention and ISIS? Let me know in the comments below.