Saturday 17 December 2016

Thoughts On Saturday. Aleppo, Fake News and Southern Rail


Thoughts On Saturday. Aleppo, Fake News and Southern Rail.


I don't think any one could avoid the horrors of Aleppo this week. I am in a quandary though. I do not know who to support. As I understand it, it's a civil war in Syria between the government forces and rebels. Rebels who rose up four years ago in the Arab Spring and one of their strongholds is the second city of Syria, Aleppo. The government forces are being backed by Russia and the rebels by the USA. So the rebels are good then? Well no, part of the rebel group is ISIS and they are bad. 

On Thursday it was reported that government troops had retaken Aleppo and there would be an opportunity for the children and sick to leave. On Friday the evacuation was suddenly halted with Russia saying all were out but other news reports (BBC for example) were quoting 50,000 still stuck in Eastern Aleppo. In every war and every disaster it's the innocent and the children that seem to suffer the most. Civilians are caught up in this war, being bombed relentlessly every day, whilst the United Nations just sits on its hands and does nothing.

Fake News

It appears that Facebook is going to protect us all by removing Fake News from our timelines. You know the sort of thing Freddie Starr Ate My Hamster, Muslims want to ban Christmas in our schools, David Bowie has died. Hold on, the last one isn't Fake News its the truth, isn't it? Yes, unless Facebook decides that it's fake and bans it. Censorship by the back door.
I don't want someone censoring my news, I want journalists to tell the truth and to expose the stories that are fake, and if people are hurt or harmed by it then the originators should be suitably punished. We have tabloid papers making up stories every day just to boost their sales, will they be censored? Then censor the more respectable news outlets until we only have one authorised, government funded news source. 
Fake News hurts people, it ruins lives and shouldn't be allowed to go unchallenged but I do not want some self professed truth police editing my news. Maybe Facebook could just show my posts to my friends instead.

Southern Rail

I'm glad I do not need to travel to work with Southern Rail. For three days this week, and more are planned, they have been on strike. No trains have run and hundreds of people have had to find alternative ways to commute. I am not taking sides, workers have the right to strike and if their jobs or working conditions are at risk then they should be allowed to do this as a last resort. The protestors are against changes in practice one of which is that the drivers will be responsible for ensuring that passengers are safely on the train and that the doors are closed, the role of the guard. The management are saying that no jobs will be lost, the guards will be used in other roles and it is all about streamlining the service. Drivers say it's dangerous, management say it is not, that it works elsewhere safely. I do not know the answer, I have no expertise in driving trains but how has it got this far that the complete network comes to a grinding halt? 
Train companies received their income from ticket sales, no tickets sold, no money. Except Govia Thameslink Railway (the umbrella company for Southern Rail). They just run the service and give the revenue to the Department for Transport, this unique contract means they do not get fined for cancelled trains and they do not lose money during a strike, the government does, that's you and me. It seems to me that the management of Southern Rail have no incentive to end this dispute quickly and because of it the commuter suffers.

Noiseless Fireworks

Thank you for reading this far, my last thought this week is of noiseless fireworks. I didn't know there was such a thing but apparently Disney in Paris uses them. Edinburgh is debating whether to use noiseless fireworks for it's annual Hogmanay display. Whilst I am not myself a pet owner or parent of a small child I do understand those that want fireworks banned due to the distress they cause. 
I do not think this is the real problem though, one night, one public display. It's the unpredictable noise of fireworks for weeks before and after November 5th and again at New Year that cause the distress. It is not possible to keep animals in and sedated for so long, and the frustration of children woken up night after night or not settling at all is what drives people to plea for the banning of fireworks. Maybe fireworks are OK and there should be a ban on the noise. Make it illegal to sell or set off fireworks that make a noise with the only exception being public displays on 5th November and New Years Eve. That way those that want to can enjoy the excitement of the loud bangs and beautiful colours and everyone else can rest easy knowing it is over for another year.

Have a good week and don't forget you can comment below, just be nice and not rude.




  1. I've been confused over Aleppo too, it's all incredibly complicated and if it wasn't for ISIS I do think the rebels would get more compassion. It's awful the way the entire country has been treated.
    I've never really trusted Facebook for news, and in fact me and some of my FB friends do mock it, we sarcastically say when reporting something must be true, Facebook said so. I really don't think Facebook should police it all though, I'm sure it would be an impossible task anyway. You are right about the newspapers being the biggest perpetrators of false news though, I never read them these days.
    I believe the Southern Rail strike will continue to spread if they do not reconsider their choices. I know a lot of regular passengers will not be affected but as a wheelchair user I don't know if I would use a train without a guard. I need a lot of help getting on board and I'm not sure that would be available like it is now because in smaller stations it's the guard that gets me on and off the train. As I say, I've not really looked into this fully but I guess I should if it does spread to other networks.
    I'm totally with you on the fireworks. We don't go to big displays anymore because of my autistic daughter, but I love them and the noise. However, it is unfair that people feel they can let off fireworks at times around those big events disturbing everyone.

    Great round-up of thoughts :)

    1. Thank you so much for taking time to comment. Aleppo is just heartbreaking, it is always the children and vulnerable that suffer regardless of the rights or wrongs of the cause.
      I'm sure the rail company haven't considered the effect on disabled passengers removing guard from trains, it's hard enough to use public transport without making it impossible. I feel they are only looking for more profit and not happy customers or staff.
      We are lucky with fireworks as it isn't too bad where I live but I do have friends who suffer for weeks either side of Nov 5th and New Year, anything would really help them.


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