Archive for October 2005
EVENING CHRONICLE (Newcastle, UK)
Yet again it’s time to turn on, tune in and drop out. Yes, the drugs debate is back. After last week I thought I’d drawn a line under this one, but those determined to see cannabis dispensed from your corner shop along with your Chronicle have been in touch. You may recall we did a piece on the law surrounding cannabis where drugs gran Patricia Tabram insisted it should be legalised, while John Fisher, whose son was killed by a driver who’d been smoking cannabis, spoke passionately against it. £2m plan to turn old college into rifle range Lincolnshire Echo November 9, 2005 From some of the letters I’ve received, you’d think some people want cannabis use to be compulsory. Kirk Muse from Arizona, I kid you not, wrote: “I submit that the question shouldn’t be Should Cannabis be Legalised? But should cannabis be completely unregulated, untaxed and controlled by criminals? Criminals who often sell other, much more dangerous drugs, and who offer free samples of the more dangerous drugs to their cannabis customers.” Meanwhile, the Rev Paul Farnhill, from Manchester, ranted: “I feel it is extremely cynical of you to use Mr Fisher’s anguish to promote the political ideals of your newspaper by invoking the natural sympathy for his loss.” Err, what about Ms Tabram’s views? Were we promoting our political ideals there? He went on: “While it is understood you must follow the instructions of your owners in attempting to prolong the racist and inhuman prohibition of a God given medicine it shows your publication in highly dubious light. Using personal bereavement as a propagandist tool is low even for prohibitionist racists.” And he went on: “Cannabis is used as a medicine by many tens of thousands of people in the UK for whom it should be legalised immediately.” Oh yeah? When I was at university it was used by bleary-eyed layabouts who rarely emerged from their smoke-filled rooms. And on he went: “It is also being used religiously once again by an increasing number of people who have seen through the lies of industrial protectionists and racists, and who intend to prosecute the criminalisation of their beliefs through the European Courts.” And he went on some more: “But, even without any mitigation of it’s [sic] use, as the legal drugs tobacco and alcohol are currently killing over 10,000 UK citizens per year, while cannabis has killed none in 10,000 years of use, there is no logical justification for prolonging this racist law. “I would ask you as a human being whether you feel it right for the government to torture it’s [sic] citizens by withholding available medicines? Or to ban a herb which was used in the anointing oil of Christ? Or to continue a law who’s [sic] architect is quoted as saying: ‘The main reason to ban marijuana is it’s [I’ve given up now] effects on the degenerate races’.” Personally speaking Rev, and I’m not following the instructions of my owners here, Yes I would. Right. I’m glad I’ve cleared up that one. Molly Brown from South Shields has been in touch about our new Saturday puzzle pages. We now carry four pages of terrific puzzles every weekend and she wrote: “I just wanted to say how much I appreciate the re-vamped Saturday Chronicle. The puzzles and quizzes pass a happy half hour with a cup of coffee as the nights draw in and cool down, and the Sudoku keeps my husband quiet for even longer! “We are also very much enjoying your new TV critic who seems to have a great sense of humour [I can assure you Mrs B, she doesn’t] as well as a slightly wicked turn of phrase [you’re right now] which makes us laugh a good deal. Keep up the good work.” We got it wrong in an article about an incident at Stocksfield Avenue Primary School in Newcastle. We said a pottery kiln overheated causing smoke damage and burning pupils’ work. Why the kiln overheated is unknown, but no pupils’ work was destroyed. Sorry about that. On Monday we reported how asylum seekers are being forced out of Angel Heights hostel in Newcastle which is Dopey debate EVENING CHRONICLE (Newcastle, UK) October 7, 2005, Friday owned by the Angel Group. The national Asylum Support Service was quoted as now working with the Angel Group to provide alternative accommodation for the asylum seekers. The reporter should have emphasised that the Angel Group contacted NASS to say it wanted to cease housing asylum seekers in Angel Heights in Newcastle and the Group continue to provide rooms for asylum seekers and refugees around the country. Finally, Bob Smith, chief executive of Gateshead Primary Care Trust, wrote to thank us about our coverage of specialist nurse for teenage pregnancy Angela Star. You may recall she hit the headlines after revealing at a conference that she’d once given contraceptive help to a girl in the loos of a McDonalds restaurant. Mr Smith wrote: “It could so easily have been sensationalised but your news story and the comment linked to it were balanced and fair and very supportive of the work we are doing. “It is encouraging to know we have such support from our local paper which, I know, is highly-regarded by the people of the North East.”
EVENING CHRONICLE (Newcastle, UK)
A controversial hostel for asylum seekers is closing. Asylum seekers and refugees are to be moved from Angel Heights as its owners sell up. The old nurses’ home in Westgate Road, Newcastle, was bought by the Angel Group in April 2000 and transformed into a hostel. Angel Heights provides 200 rooms but this year only 70 women asylum seekers are on full-board and the owners have decided to sell up. Shortly after it opened Angel Heights hit the headlines when asylum seekers rioted after having their pocket money slashed. Council bosses, who transported around 200 refugees from Kent to the hostel cut the refugees’ weekly allowances from 7 to 5. It was claimed they caused more than 600- worth of damage. They also staged another violent protest into conditions they were living in. Now the women, some of whom have lived at the hostel for nearly two years, are being split up and sent across Tyneside and perhaps even further afield. “Providing Homes ‘s motto but most of these women do not know where their new homes will be. The women were told to pack their bags this week and some were taken to Gateshead to be shown their proposed new home. Senot Mels, 25, from Eritrea, who has been living at the hostel for four months, said: “I have been ill the past few months so I am worried about leaving the hostel and moving somewhere that is dirty and smelly. But they told us that we don’t have any choice because we are asylum seekers.” The women are refusing to sign a contract for their new rooms. Monica Bishop, area manager of North of England Refugee Service, said: “We have had problems for a long time with Angel Heights. The trouble is these women could be moved anywhere in the country.” The Angel Group earns millions annually through Government contracts for housing asylum seekers. It has had contracts with the National Asylum Support Service [NASS] for five years, mainly in Yorkshire and the North East. Although Newcastle City Council is not directly involved in the issue of housing asylum seekers, West End city councillor, Sir Jeremy Beecham said: “I am very concerned. The closure is very worrying for the asylum seekers. I believe it must be a breach of contract with asylum seekers.” The NASS said Angel Group contacted it to say it wanted to cease housing asylum seekers. NASS is now working with the Angel Group to find alternative accommodation in the region. The Angel Group declined to comment.