How far can you throw your knob?

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Dorset knob throwing contest attracts thousands

The savoury biscuits must be thrown underarm and one of the competitor’s feet must remain on the ground

More than 5,000 people have attended a “knob throwing” competition in Dorset.

The Dorset Knob Throwing and Food Festival event in Cattistock involves participants tossing the locally made, spherical biscuit as far as they can.

The longest throw was by Dave Morrison, who tossed his knob 21.8m (71ft).

Organiser Nigel Collins thought up the idea after seeing a Yorkshire pudding throwing contest at a Yorkshire food festival.

‘Very rural’

He said: “We used to throw knobs occasionally as a child because they’re the size of a golf ball, so the whole thing gelled from there.

“Most of the contest is taken in good heart and there is no food wastage. Everything that is left over – even the broken bits on the ground – goes to feed local chickens.

“We needed funding for the playing fields, village hall, cricket club, and football club. We’re a very small village, very rural, and we needed a unique event to get people here.”

The savoury biscuits, made by the Moores family since 1880, have to be thrown underarm and one of the competitor’s feet must remain on the ground during the toss in order for it to count. The best of three is measured and recorded.

The winner receives their winning biscuit and a plaque, while their name is added to a board in the village hall.

The record is still held by Dave Phillips with a throw of 29.4m (96ft) in 2012.

Other events included a knob eating contest, knob darts, knob weighing, and knob painting.


Chagos Islands

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Dispute: court to rule on UK sovereignty claim

Success of case could lead to return of hundreds of exiled islanders who were forced to leave archipelago

Chagos islanders: in the 1,500 residents were deported in 1971 and the largest island, Diego Garcia, was leased to the US as a strategic air base. Photograph: David Levene

Chagos islanders: in the 1,500 residents were deported in 1971 and the largest island, Diego Garcia, was leased to the US as a strategic air base. Photograph: David Levene

Britain’s sovereignty over the Chagos Islands and America’s lease for the Diego Garcia military base could be thrown into doubt by an international court hearing due to open in Istanbul on Tuesday.

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I sincerely hope the Brits and Americans get egg all over their faces in this debacle. It should never have happened.

UK in the Limelight

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Northern Lights illuminate the UK

The Aurora Borealis – better known as the Northern Lights – has been giving rare and spectacular displays over parts of the UK, from the north of Scotland to as far south as Essex and Gloucestershire.

The lights have also been clearly visible in places such as Orkney, Norfolk and south Wales.

The display, which is caused by electrically charged particles from the Sun entering the Earth’s atmosphere, led to scenes such as this one at the Stonehaven war memorial, Aberdeenshire.

Mark Thompson, presenter of the BBC’s Stargazing Live, said he had not been expecting a display as spectacular as it was in places such as Wick, in Caithness.

More brilliant photos

More brilliant photos

Quintessential Stupidity

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Yes, the textbook stupidity of an Englishman and a Frenchman are probably the main cause of the current Middle East crises…

Why border lines drawn with a ruler in WW1 still rock the Middle East

The original secret Sykes-Picot map of 1916: “A” would go to France, “B” to Britain.

A map marked with crude chinagraph-pencil in the second decade of the 20th Century shows the ambition – and folly – of the 100-year old British-French plan that helped create the modern-day Middle East.

Straight lines make uncomplicated borders. Most probably that was the reason why most of the lines that Mark Sykes, representing the British government, and Francois Georges-Picot, from the French government, agreed upon in 1916 were straight ones.

At a meeting in Downing Street, Mark Sykes pointed to a map and told the prime minister: “I should like to draw a line from the “e” in Acre to the last “k” in Kirkuk.”

Sykes and Picot were quintessential “empire men”. Both were aristocrats, seasoned in colonial administration, and crucially believers in the notion that the people of the region would be better off under the European empires.

Both men also had intimate knowledge of the Middle East.

The key tenets of the agreement they had negotiated in relative haste amidst the turmoil of the World War One continue to influence the region to this day. But while Sykes-Picot’s straight lines had proved significantly helpful to Britain and France in the first half of the twentieth century, their impact on the region’s peoples was quite different.

The map that the two men drew divided the land that had been under Ottoman rule since the early 16th Century into new countries – and relegated these political entities to two spheres of influence:

  • Iraq, Transjordan, and Palestine under British influence
  • Syria and Lebanon under French influence

The two men were not mandated to redraw the borders of the Arab countries in North Africa, but the division of influence existed there as well, with Egypt under British rule, and France controlling the Maghreb.

A secret deal

But there were three problems with the geo-political order that emerged from the Sykes-Picot agreement.

First, it was secret without any Arabic knowledge, and it negated the main promise that Britain had made to the Arabs in the 1910s – that if they rebelled against the Ottomans, the fall of that empire would bring them independence.

When that independence did not materialise after World War One, and as these colonial powers, in the 1920s, 30s and 40s, continued to exert immense influence over the Arab world, the thrust of Arab politics – in North Africa and in the eastern Mediterranean – gradually but decisively shifted from building liberal constitutional governance systems (as Egypt, Syria, and Iraq had witnessed in the early decades of the 20th Century) to assertive nationalism whose main objective was getting rid of the colonialists and the ruling systems that worked with them.

This was a key factor behind the rise of the militarist regimes that had come to dominate many Arab countries from the 1950s until the 2011 Arab uprisings.

Tribal lines

The second problem lay in the tendency to draw straight lines.


Sykes-Picot intended to divide the Levant on a sectarian basis:

  • Lebanon was envisioned as a haven for Christians (especially Maronites) and Druze
  • Palestine with a sizable Jewish community
  • the Bekaa valley, on the border between the two countries, effectively left to Shia Muslims
  • Syria with the region’s largest sectarian demographic, Sunni Muslims

Geography helped.

For the period from the end of the Crusades up until the arrival of the European powers in the 19th Century, and despite the region’s vibrant trading culture, the different sects effectively lived separately from each other.

But the thinking behind Sykes-Picot did not translate into practice. That meant the newly created borders did not correspond to the actual sectarian, tribal, or ethnic distinctions on the ground.

These differences were buried, first under the Arabs’ struggle to eject the European powers, and later by the sweeping wave of Arab nationalism.


In the period from the late 1950s to the late 1970s, and especially during the heydays of Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser (from the Suez Crisis in 1956 to the end of the 1960s) Arab nationalism gave immense momentum to the idea that a united Arab world would dilute the socio-demographic differences between its populations.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the Arab world’s strong men – for example, Hafez Assad and Saddam Hussein in the Levant and Col Muammar Gaddafi in North Africa – suppressed the differences, often using immense brutality.

But the tensions and aspirations that these differences gave rise to neither disappeared nor were diluted. When cracks started to appear in these countries – first by the gradual disappearance of these strong men, later by several Arab republics gradually becoming hereditary fiefdoms controlled by small groups of economic interests, and most recently after the 2011 uprisings – the old frictions, frustrations, and hopes that had been concealed for decades, came to the fore.

Identity struggle

The third problem was that the state system that was created after the World War One has exacerbated the Arabs’ failure to address the crucial dilemma they have faced over the past century and half – the identity struggle between, on one hand nationalism and secularism, and on the other, Islamism (and in some cases Christianism).

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Bad Animals…


Or Bad Owners?


Python escapes from pet shop and strangles two brothers

Boys aged five and seven sleeping in friend’s apartment above shop in Canada when snake escaped through ventilation system

A python escaped from its enclosure at a pet store in Canada, worked its way through a ventilation system into an upstairs apartment and killed two young boys as they slept, police have said.

The brothers, aged five and seven, were visiting the apartment of a friend above Reptile Ocean, an exotic pet store in Campbellton, New Brunswick, said Royal Canadian Mounted Police Constable Julie Rogers-Marsh.

Police arrived at the apartment around 6.30am and found the two boys dead. A friend of the boys was sleeping in another room and was unharmed, Rogers-Marsh said. She said the owner of the pet store lived in the apartment.

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Owners of killer dogs could face life in prison

Government launches online consultation to determine whether there is public support for increase in maximum penalty

Owners of dogs that kill people could face life imprisonment if an online consultation run by the government demonstrates public support for more severe penalties.

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Life’s different here in Gib…

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Gib – A small rock roughly attached to Spain in a geographic manner, but British.

Or so the treaty of Utrecht says, in perpetutity.

But the Spanish want it back.

The Gibraltarians don’t want to be Spanish.

Each time Spain has domestic problems, they roll out the problem to hide the bad news from the people in a wave of patriotism. It’s a bit like the Falkland Islands problem, but different.

Gibraltar’s jubilee party sends signal to Madrid

Political tensions have escalated again between the UK and Spain over a territory eager to prove once more that it is ‘more British than the British’

Gibraltar prepares to celebrate: a diamond jubilee poster on the parliament building. Photograph: Jon Nazca/Reuters

In Gibraltar, said chief minister Fabian Picardo, children learn history fast. “They can say ‘the treaty of Utrecht’ when they are around a year old,” laughed Picardo, an Oxford-educated socialist with a picture of the Queen in his office. “We start them young.”

It was that agreement, signed in 1713, that granted the 426m-high rock jutting out where the Mediterranean meets the Atlantic to the British “in perpetuity”. And as Gibraltar swathes itself in red, white and blue to celebrate the Queen’s jubilee, it is revelling in its reputation for being “more British than the British”.

“It’s about the symbolism, really,” said taxi driver Eddie Castle. “We do like to irritate the Spanish when we can. But they get their own back: whenever there is a row, they get their own back by making things very difficult for people at the border.”

The queues of cars waiting to cross from the tiny 2.6 sq mile territory into Spain have lengthened dramatically in the last week, as Spanish border patrols have been ordered to make things more difficult for motorists and workers, increasing security checks in a move condemned by Picardo as “childish”.

The latest row in the centuries-old fractious relationship between Gibraltar, London and Madrid is, as many have been over the years, about royalty….

…Out on a main street bristling with bunting – where pubs sell British grub and M&S advertises “UK prices” next to little shops selling T-shirts saying “Proud to be British” – political views are generally relaxed. Schoolgirls in white and burgundy uniforms crowd into Top Shop chattering in a mix of Spanish and English. “I’m Gibraltarian, or maybe English, both,” said Catherine, 14. “My dad would kill me if I didn’t say British but I think, for me, Gibraltarian,” said Rose, 14.

“Are you kidding me?” said a 15-year-old boy in designer sunglasses with a Spanish surname, when asked if he feels linked to Spain. “Nobody hates them or anything, but it’s a different world in Gib.” And as far as the majority of the inhabitants are concerned, it’s a case of bring on the jubilee.

Source: The Guardian Read more

Georaphically attached to Spain, but British


Falklands War: UK and Argentina mark invasion 30 years on


The candle is lit at the National Arboretum

Services are being held in Britain and Argentina to mark the 30th anniversary of the start of the Falklands War.

A total of 255 British and about 650 Argentine troops died after the UK sent a task force to the islands to combat the Argentine invasion on 2 April 1982.

The anniversary comes amid renewed tension, as Argentina has reasserted its claim to the archipelago.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron suggested the day is used to remember both the Argentine and British dead.

In a statement, Mr Cameron also said that he remains committed to upholding British sovereignty over the islands.

Meanwhile, the Royal Navy has confirmed HMS Dauntless – one of its newest warships – will leave the UK on Wednesday for a six month routine deployment in the South Atlantic.

Britain has controlled the Falklands since 1833 but Argentina claims the territory – which it calls the Malvinas – saying it inherited rights to them from Spain.

Source: BBC News Read more


Since my previous posts on the subject of the Falkland Islands sovereignty I have found two very full accounts of the histories involved whereas, my previous sources were somewhat brief and favoured the British.

Debatepedia clearly shows that on 22nd January 1771 Spain and Britain signed an agreement where both nations rights were reserved.

As this agreement existed 45 years before Argentina existed with its Independence in 1816, Argentina had no sole claim over the Falklands being inherited from Spain without accepting they were in effect, co-owned by the British who had not acknowledged any such succession of sovereignty.

The British left the islands in 1774 while leaving a plaque maintaining their political claim.

The Spanish then governed the islands from Buenos Aires (not Argentina) until 1811 when they too abandoned the islands. This was still before Argentina’s Independence.

The British arrived back in 1833 following a series of incidents between Argentina and the USA over fisheries rights in 1831/32. See: U.S. and British Diplomacy in the South Atlantic (2007) Where the Argentine Governor and others were imprisoned by the Americans.

The claim by Argentina that the Falklands were included in the independence is refuted by the fact that none of Spains territories were relinquished in terms of sovereignty until 1836, after the British were already in residence.

Both these articles are worth reading in order to understand the complicated story. More complicated than I had previously been lead to believe.

The crux of the matter is, the Falkland Islands appear to legally be a British Overseas Territory.

In response to this recent altercation of words between Argentina and Britain, I have proposed a solution. While, I am not a diplomat and make no such claims, simply I have suggested a working model that should be explored diplomatically and any government, British or Argentine, ought to be able to respect as a solution by 21st century people.

Is there a Falklands Solution?

Meanwhile, both Argentina and Britain should forget the folly of 1982 and remember the people who were lost on both sides. Because, they, not the politicians, were the honorable ones.


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